Bowlus Bass Blog

All things bass (electric, acoustic, and upright) related.

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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...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The 1x15 Shootout

One day, I looked around and thought to myself, "Dang, I've got, like, a bunch of 1x15's!" and so another shootout was born.

First things first. I know that people would love to see detailed measurements, as well as retail/MAP/used pricing, 'double blind' testing, and I know that there are always additional brands/models that people would like to see included in the shootout. Well, to those folks, I should probably apologize now, because that ain't all gonna happen. I'll do my best though, but I have somewhat of a 'format' down for my 'shootouts', and I'll likely stick to that format.

Speaking of that format, here are some quick links to prior shootouts:

1x8/1x10 Shootout
1x12 Shootout
2x10 Shootout
Combo Shootout
Mini Cab Combo Shootout

I should also clarify that with the exception of the Skjold/Dr. Bass cab, these are all my own personal cabs. If someone wants to send me something else to compare/contrast against the bunch, I certainly wouldn't mind, but for now, I am just working with what I have on hand.

Also, please note that I am predominantly a fingerstyle player, and I tend to favor the neck pickup (FWIW). I do, however, move my hand around a bit when doing these tests, and I also do attempt to explore the slap/pop tones (though my no means would I call myself a slap/pop player). I did not break out a pick for this shootout, but now that I think about it, maybe I will start doing that. The test bass was - as always - my trusty Skjold Custom 5. Amplification was provided by a Crest CA9, fed by a Millennia TD-1.

Okay, with no further delay, here is a rundown of the contestants (in alphabetical order):

Accugroove Tri 115L - 1x15 (neo), 1x6", 2 soft dome tweeters, 500w, 8 ohm, 38Hz to 18kHz, 101 dB, 42 lbs, 21.25" H x 24.75" W x 18.25" D

Ashdown Mini15 - 1x15 (ceramic), 300w, 8 ohm, 41Hz to 4kHz, 20 kg, 474mm H x 474mm W x 335mm D

Bergantino HT115 - 1x15 (ceramic), tweeter, 400w, 8 ohm,

Epifani T/UL-115 - 1x15 (neo), tweeter, 400w, 8 ohm, 38Hz to 16kHz, 100dB, 43 lbs, 21.50" H x 23" W x 17.75" D [note: these specs are for the current UL-115]

Glockenklang Tedd - 1x15 (ceramic), 1x6", 600w, 8 ohm, 100 dB, 31 kg, 655mm H x 550mm W x 455mm D

Orange OBC-115 - 1x15 (ceramic), 400w, 8 ohm, 30 kg, 620mm H x 510mm W x 460mm D

Skjold/Dr. Bass 1x15 - 1x15" (ceramic), 1x6", tweeter, 4 ohm [prototype - trying to get more specs]

Trace Elliot 1153 - 1x15 (ceramic), 200w, 8 ohm, 32Hz to 5 kHz, 49 lbs, 20" H x 24.2" W x 17.1" D

Trace Elliot 1518C - 1x15 (ceramic?), 300w, 8 ohm, 30Hz to 5 kHz, 100 dB, 46 lbs, 20" H x 24.2" W x 17.1" D

And here are some pics:


Another perspective:


And a flash shot (to show off that red baffle board! ):


So, here is my take on these cabs:

Accugroove Tri 115L - Very clear, articulate, and smooth. Very 'open' sounding. The high end is not as bright as some of the other tweeter-equipped cabs, but not really lacking, either, just a different character. Mids, overall, are full and smooth, with a little less low mid punch, and a litter more upper mid presence. The low B has a nice 'growl' to it, though it is not as full in the lows/low mids as the HT115. You definitely want to use this cab without the casters (it needs the coupling to fill in the low end a bit). Overall, very smooth, detailed, but not aggressive, and kinda 'laid back.'

Ashdown Mini15 - Impressively full sounding for its size, though not as full as most of the larger cabs (though slightly more full than the Tri 115L). Very punchy, and slightly honky in the upper mids. Kind of 'peaky' in its response. Doesn't go very high (even compared to the other tweeterless cabs), and somewhat muffled sounding. Handles a low B pretty well, with some growl on both the B and E strings. Sounds kind of like a smaller HT115 with the tweeter turned off. This model has been discontinued.

Bergantino HT115 - This cab has been my 'go to' 1x15 for some time. It is the most full sounding of the bunch, and has the most power through the lows and low mids. It's punchy and articulate, but somewhat darker in tone than most of the others. Generally very well balanced from top to bottom, but not as upper mid present as some of the others. The tweeter offers nice, bright high end, and it sounds very 'connected' to the woofer. Even the high notes are backed by a sense of fullness. The HT115 is not the 'prettiest' of the bunch played solo, but it dials up beefy fullness, and punchy articulation, with a nice tweeter layered on top. This model has been discontinued.

Epifani T/UL-115 - First off, I need to be clear about this cab. It started life as a T-115, and the previous owner replaced the ceramic driver with a UL series neo 15" (which, I believe, is a B&C driver). In all other respects, though (wood, tuning, crossover), it is a T-115. This obviously means that it is likely not entirely representative of how a UL-115 (or T-115, for that matter) might perform. But, with that caveat aside, I thought I'd share my thoughts on it anyway. It has a similar 'growliness' to the Tri 115L (could it be a 'neo thing'?), and is very similar in the low end to the Accugroove. It is also somewhat darker than the Tri 115L, and sounds kind of like a cross between the Tri and the HT115, though it is not quite as dark/full/punchy as the Berg, and not as smooth/open as the Tri 115L. The mids are more open sounding then the HT115's, but the high end on the two is very similar. It is not nearly as full as the HT115 on the low B, and kinda runs out of energy as you drop below the E (not terribly so, but comparatively so). This cab definitely has great potential for a 'slap cab', with a nice 'woody' and 'airy' high end snap.

Glockenklang Tedd - This cab is super articulate through the mids, and very aggressive. The high end is brighter than that of the Tri 115L, but doesn't have the same sheen as the HT115 or T/UL-115 - though the high end is really incredible for not having a tweeter. Very full and punchy, on the whole, but not as full on the low end as the HT115 (it might be, though, if laid on its side - which I did not do). The HT115 has more low mid punch, but the Glock has more upper mid punch (only the Skjold cab has more upper mids). Has a sense of 'effortless articulation' that reminds me of the Berg IP153 (maybe the secret is in the midrange drivers?). The low B response seems slightly stronger than the low E response. Great balance of fullness, articulation, punch, and clarity. This cab seems very loud for its 100 dB sensitivity rating. This model has been discontinued.

Orange OBC-115 - This cab was a bit of a surprise, as I had mostly just played it with the matching 4x10 and the AD200 head. I was really amazed at what a great stand alone cab it makes. Very full, very strong, very tight low B. Great articulation and growl on the low B. Not quite as full on the low B as the HT115, but closer than any other cab, and more articulate and controlled. I found myself just pounding away on the low B for the sheer joy of it. On the E-A strings, it was again not quite as full as the HT115 (and not as close as it was on the low B), and again more aggressive and articulate than the Berg. There is no tweeter (and no tweeter sheen), but it offers very impressive high end information, all things considered. It is not as dark sounding as the newer Trace cab, but more balanced, more articulate, and more powerful. On the whole, the competitor that most closely matches its performance is the older Trace 1153.

Skjold/Dr. Bass 115 - This cab was produced as a result of Pete Skjold looking into have a line of cabs built, and then teaming up with Marc Serio (Dr. Bass) to create an idea Pete had for a 3-way 1x15 design (which, FWIW, Pete had dreamed up prior to the introduction of the Tri 115L). This cab is not one of the more full sounding 1x15's, but it is one of the most aggressive and articulate. Compared to the Tedd, it is not as present through the low to middle mids, but it is even more aggressive in the upper mids. It has a somewhat similar low end response to the Accugroove/Epifani, but not as growly, and a tad bit more 'stout.' Please note, this cab was the lone 4 ohm model of the group, and I did do my best to correct the gains (by ear - sorry, technical types ) so that the cabs were playing at similar volumes. This model, or one similar to it, may be available through Dr. Bass.

Trace Elliot 1153 - As mentioned above, this cab was rather similar in overall performance to the Orange, and in fact, it was more similar to the Orange than it was to the newer Trace 1x15. It is not quite as full on the lows as the Orange, but has even better high end information and detail, and in some regards seemed even more articulate through the mids. Actually, on the whole, the overall midrange fullness and articulation is very similar between this cab and the Orange is very similar, but they each have their own character. Furthermore, the midrange articulation actually comes close to that of the Glock, which I found impressive considering it is a full-range design. Compared to the Epifani, the 1153 was more full in the lows, and more articulate and balanced through the mids. Compared to the newer Trace 1518C, the 1153 is more articulate and aggressive, and the 1518C is more dark (though not necessarily more 'warm'). The new Trace also seemed more 'peaky' compared to the nicely balanced 1153. Like the Orange, I just found myself not wanting to stop playing though this cab. It's truly impressive as a stand alone, and two of them sound great as well. For the pittance these go for on the used market, I'd say it's a great bang for the buck cab. This model has been discontinued.

Trace Elliot 1518C - As mentioned, above, the 1518C is not a carbon copy of the older 1153, and definitely has its own sound. It is very full down low, but sounds somewhat uneven in its response. It is very punchy, and bigger sounding that the Mini15, but not as focused. It has more low end fullness and power than the Tri 115L, but not as much as the HT115. I can't avoid feeling like this cab is really meant as a 'supporting cab' to be teamed up with a 2x10 or 4x10, as opposed to a stand alone.

In summary, I was honestly very impressed with all of these cabs. I know, I know, I tend to like everything, but please keep in mind, I am already working with gear that I liked well enough to buy. As I see them, these cabs fell into two overlapping categories. First, there is the 'tweeter versus no tweeter' thing, which is blurred somewhat by the impressive midrange of the Tedd. The HT115 and T/UL-115 definitely have the most sparkle of the group, and the Skjold/Dr. Bass cab probably has equal high end, but since it also has a tremendous amount of upper midrange presence, the highs don't seem to stand out quite as much. Some of the non-tweetered cabs had truly exceptional 'high end' articulation and detail (I still don't know just how the Orange and 1153 do this), while others were more limited in upper frequency extension (like the Mini15 and 1518C).

Second, there seems to be at least two different design goals at work here, with some cabs being designed with a goal of stand alone use, and others seeming to be destined for use with a second, complimentary, cab. The Mini15 is probably the most clear example of this second design goal. I suspect that it was intended primarily to serve as part of a two cab combo, in conjunction with one of the other 'Mini' cabs (the Mini48 makes an especially good pairing). Similarly, the 1518C is not the best of the bunch on its own, but it definitely seems more at home when used with the 1028H 2x10. Then there are the cabs which seem to do well in both 'stand alone' mode and as a supporting role (the Accugroove, Berg, Epi, Glock, Orange, and 1153 seem to fit this category).

This shootout more than any other I have done leaves me feeling like I am dealing with a number of highly capable cabs, and I can think of scenarios where pretty much any of them would be ideal. There was also quite a lot of variety in the tone and response of these various 1x15's, leading me to believe that this form factor is more flexible than some (myself included) may have believed. In appropriate circumstances, I can see where some would make good stand alone cabs, and I can also see where two 1x15's would offer a killer 'mini big rig.' And then again, there is the traditional 1x15/2x10 (which I am definitely digging right now) or 1x15/4x10 combos.

Going into this shootout, I was already a '15's kinda guy' in many regards, and I think that at the end of it all, I have even more respect for what a 1x15 can do.

More to follow, I am sure.

Thanks for putting up with my ranting (again).

Tom.

2 Comments:

Blogger V. P. Rao said...

Peace Tom!

Thanks to your blog and our various chats from years ago about TE on TalkBass, I was finally able to get my greasy palms on an 1153.

Ironically, I had to sell my OBC-115 to get some funds in my pocket, and a small portion of it was used to purchase this more than worthy replacement.

Kudos on the blog!

7:30 PM  
Blogger rosshetherington said...

I have just bought a 1153 :)

1:24 PM  

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