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Location: Fremont, Ohio, United States

I am an attorney by day, but that's really just my "backup gig" in case this whole "musician thing" doesn't work out. ;^) I was been blessed with the opportunity to write freelance reviews for Guitar World's Bass Guitar Magazine, and I contributed regularly from the Spring of 2006 up until Bass Guitar Magazine's demise. This was, in itself, a dream come true, and an opportunity for which I am truly grateful. But this was a stepping stone to bigger and better things, and I am now the Editor-in-Chief of Bass Gear Magazine (www.bassgearmag.com). Our first issue came out in August of 2008, and we are now the leading bass review magazine, worldwide. Of course, on the topic of my true blessings, I have a wife and two kids, all of whom I greatly adore, so my time for music/bass/songwriting/performing, and yes, even the occasional practicing, is not infinite. Nevertheless, I really enjoy my time spent playing bass, writing and recording songs, and just getting to "play" with all that great gear! This blog is a result of these external interests...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Mini Cab Combo Shootout

Okay, I am obsessed with bass gear. That's no surprise. I have come to grips with this affliction, and now I am always trying to find ways to satisfy my extreme curiosity in what I hope is a somewhat beneficial manner. Therefore, after participating in several threads recently regarding different combinations of smaller cabs, I bring to you, Tom Bowlus' Mini Cab Combo Shootout!

Here are the competitors:



For those of you who don't know these cabs by sight, from left to right, they are:

Bergantino EX112/HT112
Two EA Wizzy's
Epifani T-112/T-110UL
EA CXL-112/CXL-210 (I know it's not quite mini, but I threw it in anyways - plus, I don't have two CXL-112s)
EA VL-110/VL-208

Yes, it's an "EA-heavy" group, but that's the kind of guy I am! I chose these particular combination of cabs based in part upon recent threads, based in part upon common configurations among other TBers and the observed synergy between particular cabs, and based in part upon my own personal preferences. I will point out that I have some other single "mini" cabs that are very worthy (Hevos Midget, EA VL-108, ACME Low B-2), but I wanted to keep this comparision to just combinations of mini (or almost mini, in the case of the CXL's) cabs.

I should, of course, say that these are all excellent cabs in their own right (if I didn't feel this way, I wouldn't bother keeping them all around!), and personal preferences will vary greatly among different players. My observations are my own, and your opinions will certainly vary from mine. For testing, I used both my rack rig (Eden Navigator, QSC PLX 3002) and my iAMP 800. Except for use of the "Deep" switch on my iAMP 800, all EQ settings were set flat. I tried the Navigator with Enhance off or set at 12 o'clock, and ultimately left it off for testing). I would have also used my Walter Woods, but Todd VanSelus is playing with it right now. The overall sound was somewhat different, as you would expect, but the relative results were the same with either the rack rig or the iAMP. While I have used most of these cabs with URB to good effect in the past, I didn't feel like breaking out the doghouse for this one. Most of my testing was done with my favorite axe - 1991 Gibson Thunderbird IV - but 5-string response was briefly tested with my modified DeArmond Pilot 5 Deluxe (the short answer here is that all combos will reproduce the low B to an extent that is consistent with my overall impressions listed below).

In my original post on TalkBass.com, I presented my "findings" in random order, without indicating up front which combo is which. But as this blog is an effort to somewhat condense my comments, etc., I will indicate up front which is which.

Epifani T-112/T-110UL: This combo had the deepest response overall, with a hint of mid scoop, but you probably wouldn't notice it if it wasn't being compared to other, midrange friendly smaller cabs. I'd call it "polite" in the mids, more than "mid-shy." Definitely the biggest low end, though, and very nice high end. Somewhat of an "old school vibe", but not so much as Combo C. Really likes being driven hard. With the "Deep" switch on the iAMP 800 engaged, though, it became too low end heavy.

EA CxL-112/CxL-210: This was both the tightest sounding and the thinest sounding of the group. Clarity was razor sharp. With the "Deep" switch engaged on the iAMP 800, though, these two cabs really come to life and handle the extra lows without any problems. Set flat, though, it was by far the smallest sounding combo of the group. With the "Deep" switch engaged, and with the volume cranked, though, it became a monstrously full and loud rig. Ultimately, a very flexible combo, but needs EQing.

Bergantino EX112/HT112: This combo hit the "old school vibe" right off the bat. The lows weren't earth shaking, but output was respectable for the size of the cab ("Deep" worked to provide excellent fundamental support at lower volumes, but I wasn't comfortable using it with higher volumes). Articulation throughout the midrange was punchy, if not ultimately as clear as some of the others. Low mids up through middle mids are its strength. Also a little bit polite in the upper mids, but not so much as Combo A. Very punchy overall, especially in the heart of the midrange. Slightly "roundish" sound, overall.

EA Wizzy's: At similar volume settings, this was the loudest combo of the group. Articulation was very good from top to bottom. Overall clarity was a shade behind Combos B and E, but in the same ballpark. Low end was surprisingly strong, and just barely behind Combo A. With "Deep" engaged, it became huge, but still manageable, and could be used even at higher volumes. Also very punchy, but more of a high-mid punch, when compared to Combo C. A very balanced combo, but with an extra layer of upper midrange presence, and a hint of warmth.

EA VL-110/VL-208: This combo had it all - strong lows, balanced mids, smooth sweet highs, and ability to be driven very hard without breaking up. You could probably dial in the sound of almost any of the other combos with these two cabs. The "Deep" switch was pretty much unnecessary, but if used, it worked much like with Combo C, and again, I wouldn't use it if pushing the volume really loud. The only complaint of this combo compared to the others might be that since it seems to hit on all cylinders across the board, it doesn't have as much "personality" as the others.

3 Comments:

Blogger jmaines said...

Hey Tom,
Thanks for the shootout. I always appreciate your reviews. Definitely helpful in my cabinet selection(s).
Since the VL series has been discontinued; it took some watching and waiting, but I found a used 110 and a 208 (coveted by most DBers at TB). Powered with the iAmp800, this is an amazing rig. Just like you described. Nice tight low end; great midrange and clarity. I can't wait to get a DB and run through this setup. Should be a great doubling rig.
Eventually I might add another 110 or a Bergie or Epifani 112 (dang GAS), but for now I'm digging it
Peace,
Jesse

3:21 PM  
Blogger Streatham Minicabs said...

Nice Blog
Wandsworth Airport Transfer

11:44 AM  
Blogger Tom Bowlus said...

Thanks! It is a bit old, though...

1:50 PM  

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