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Al Krow

Single FRFR or Bass Combo?

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Posted (edited)

If you were going for a single powered speaker such as the RCF 745A or the QSC K12.2, then does it not also make sense to go for a dedicated bass combo such as the Fender Rumble 800? 

I'm guessing that the 'general' FRFR is geared to provide very good sonic response across the range of instruments and vocals whereas a bass combo will be specifically geared for...bass.

Then there's the BF FR800 which seems to be essentially a very expensive bass combo? Why get that with its 600W power module rather than a dedicated amp plus a BB2 and keep all the benefits of separates?

(Appreciate that this topic may have been covered at length in the FRFR mega thread somewhere - but thought it might be useful to have this particular angle covered separately).

Edited by Al Krow

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Excellent point Mr Krow.

I'll be following this with interest to see the comments from all sides. 

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I use that RCF745A as a reference: https://www.rcf.it/c/document_library/get_file?uuid=f5efcbdd-7c61-42c2-bff6-14e1aa148f97&groupId=20195

The 15" driver has a 500 W amp. I think this is adequate. The box is relatively small and at 20 kg also pretty lightweight. Partly because of the small size, the SPL is only 125 dB at 1 meter distance (at what frequency? 1 kHz?). It is not overly loud, but if this is going to be a monitor or the use is in smaller space, you probably manage well.

I am not so sure, how low the box can really go as there are no reasonable specifications about the frequency response (you should find out, where the -6 dB point is). At 45 Hz the level may be -20 dB and that you can hear in quiet studio but not on stage. Producing very low frequencies equals very much energy. Remember that is not that important, as the (approx.) 60 - 150 Hz area gives more audible stuff to the audience.

The panel has only few adjustments. If you need to tweak the response, you need a bass or a preamp that can do it.

The angle of the back gives few possibilities to put it to the floor as a monitor.

I would say that this box works well with vocals and piano and whatever, but it would not be my choice for bass. There is a reason and place for a dedicated bass amp. This RCF lacks adjustments, very likely the lowest end power and this FRFR nonsense has nothing to do with really flat response with this box.

*** Some technical stuff related to physics:

If you know something about photography, you have to choose from the Trinity of Time (volume), Aperture (size), and ISO (sensitivity). It is the same with bass speaker box: you need to play with the Box Volume, the Lowest Frequency and the Sensitivity. You change one parameter and at least one other will be affected. If you make the box bigger, you can go lower or you get louder box (enhanced Sensitivity). A small box like this RCF has very likely a somewhat limited low end response. If you use an EQ to straighten it (to get more of the lowest end), you need to attenuate the power from the middle (because of the limited loudness reserve) and the max SPL may be only in the ballpark of 100 dB or so.

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Posted (edited)

@itu - really helpful, balanced, comments thank you! And doubly so, given that they are from a RCF 745A owner, which seems to be one of the most highly regarded active FRFR, and who is not saying that this is necessarily the best thing since sliced bread for bass players.

Edited by Al Krow

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The advantage of FRFR for me is the fact that the effects I use sound far better. I had gone back to using two bass rigs. One for straight bass and one for effects only.  I use a delay that needs a lot of top end, which sounds muddy and gets lost with only one bass rig.

I can get what I want with 2 rigs but it's a pain in the arsenal lugging all the gear around. A BF FR800 or an RCF 745 can do the job on its own and the sound is excellent. Also, we can use the FRFR cabs as a PA and I can use in ears or run the FRFR from an aux on the desk and use it as a monitor with everything coming through it.

i suppose it's how you want to use the tools you have got.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Al Krow said:

If you were going for a single powered speaker such as the RCF 745A or the QSC K12.2, then does it not also make sense to go for a dedicated bass combo such as the Fender Rumble 800? 

Some speakers have a "baked-in" tone.  You might like this or you might not.  Ampeg 8x10 would be a classic example of a "good" baked-in tone. 

If however you want to modularize your tone-shaping and your amplification, then the most-logical option is a flat-response cab.
 

Edited by jrixn1
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I think it really depends on how much your on-stage rig contributes to the FoH sound. 

For me when nearly every single gig I play has the bass going through the PA and whatever rig I carry is for stage monitoring only (and big stages  not even that, since I can only hear it over the foldback when I am stood directly in from of it), going the FRFR route made total and utter sense. The big conventional bass rig might look good behind me, but when even I can't hear it over the sound coming out of the foldback because I've got to turn it down so far in order to not interfere with the FoH sound there is little point in having a dedicated bass rig.

I haven't really noticed any lack of very low bass from my RCF745, but then again, it's not a frequency I need on stage in order to be able to hear what I am playing, and in fact it might even contribute to the fact that I can hear myself far better with the FRFR than I could with any of my previous bass rigs.

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Posted (edited)
49 minutes ago, jrixn1 said:

Some speakers have a "baked-in" tone.  You might like this or you might not.  Ampeg 8x10 would be a classic example of a "good" baked-in tone. 

If however you want to modularize your tone-shaping and your amplification, then the most-logical option is a flat-response cab.
 

 

18 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

I think it really depends on how much your on-stage rig contributes to the FoH sound. 

For me when nearly every single gig I play has the bass going through the PA and whatever rig I carry is for stage monitoring only (and big stages  not even that, since I can only hear it over the foldback when I am stood directly in from of it), going the FRFR route made total and utter sense. The big conventional bass rig might look good behind me, but when even I can't hear it over the sound coming out of the foldback because I've got to turn it down so far in order to not interfere with the FoH sound there is little point in having a dedicated bass rig.

I haven't really noticed any lack of very low bass from my RCF745, but then again, it's not a frequency I need on stage in order to be able to hear what I am playing, and in fact it might even contribute to the fact that I can hear myself far better with the FRFR than I could with any of my previous bass rigs.

But why bother with the weight and cost of a RCF745 (or more typically a RCF745A) when a BF SC will do the job and by all accounts is a fairly flat-response cab?

Are single active FRFRs nothing more than a glorified combo?**

If so, we all know that combo's have their place. But a lot of us have 'moved on' to separates, given the flexibility and additional portability that they often provide.

 

** actually 'unglorified' maybe more appropriate, given that they lack a preamp!

Edited by Al Krow

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4 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Are single active FRFRs nothing more than a glorified combo? 

Yes.

Quote

If so, we all know that combo's have their place. But a lot of us have 'moved on' to separates, given the flexibility and additional portability that they often provide.

Different horses for different courses?

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Posted (edited)

Are single active FRFRs nothing more than a glorified combo?**

5 minutes ago, jrixn1 said:

Yes.

Aha! The truth is out :) 

5 minutes ago, jrixn1 said:

Different horses for different courses?

Not proposing to go down the combo vs separates discussion here, as that's a separate and relatively well trodden.

[Aside: although I am quite tempted by the Fender Rumble 800 (400W stand alone, 800W with extension speaker. Relatively sophisticated effects / amp modelling built in, 2x10, 35 lbs and under £700 all in!]

Edited by Al Krow
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2 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Aha! The truth is out :) 

I'm not aware of an off-the-shelf, high-quality, flat-response, tilt-back bass combo.

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13 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

** actually 'unglorified' maybe more appropriate, given that they lack a preamp!

But this is a good thing, as I can now use the pre-amp of my choice, rather than being stuck with the built-in one.  

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1 minute ago, jrixn1 said:

I'm not aware of an off-the-shelf, high-quality, flat-response, tilt-back bass combo.

Now there's a challenge...

How about the Eich BC 112 Pro or the Fender Rumble 800?

It's pretty easy to arrange tilt back...plenty of easy hacks / lightweight bits of kit which take all of 3 mins to assemble on stage to enable you to do that.

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7 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

 

But why bother with the weight and cost of a RCF745 (or more typically a RCF745A) when a BF SC will do the job and by all accounts is a fairly flat-response cab?

Are single active FRFRs nothing more than a glorified combo?**

If so, we all know that combo's have their place. But a lot of us have 'moved on' to separates, given the flexibility and additional portability that they often provide.

 

** actually 'unglorified' maybe more appropriate, given that they lack a preamp!

For the very occasional gig I do where there is no PA support for the bass the additional grunt of the 745 means I can be heard out front.

Also because my sound come from the Helix, I don't want a "traditional" bass amp and speaker mucking up the audio with their particular baked in sound. Plus if I do get a PA engineer who is trying to give me the standard rumbly bass sound I can march then up onto the stage stand then in front of my speaker and and tell them that I want to bass to sound like what they can hear on stage but louder.

Since I switched to the Helix and FRFR both the bands I play with have had a much better on stage and FoH sound. The wedge shaped cab means I can position it in such a way that everyone on stage who needs to be able to hear me from my cab can, and I have a lot more options for on-stage placement. One of the bands that I play with uses back run from a computer. This is housed in a flight case that goes on a smile keyboard stand at the side of the stage. My FRFR goes underneath the stand which means that the amount of room I require on stage for my gear is halved.

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2 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

Now there's a challenge...

How about the Eich BC 112 Pro or the Fender Rumble 800?

It's pretty easy to arrange tilt back...plenty of easy hacks / lightweight bits of kit which take all of 3 mins to assemble on stage to enable you to do that.

IME most hacks are a complete faff when you are trying to set up in a hurry. Best to have something that is properly designed to the the job you need. Plus for some of the bands I've played with in the past those 3 minutes saved are an extra song we can play in the set.

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31 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

IME most hacks are a complete faff when you are trying to set up in a hurry. Best to have something that is properly designed to the the job you need. Plus for some of the bands I've played with in the past those 3 minutes saved are an extra song we can play in the set.

This ?

Or just get there 3 minutes before 😛

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, BigRedX said:

For the very occasional gig I do where there is no PA support for the bass the additional grunt of the 745 means I can be heard out front.

Also because my sound come from the Helix, I don't want a "traditional" bass amp and speaker mucking up the audio with their particular baked in sound. Plus if I do get a PA engineer who is trying to give me the standard rumbly bass sound I can march then up onto the stage stand then in front of my speaker and and tell them that I want to bass to sound like what they can hear on stage but louder.

Since I switched to the Helix and FRFR both the bands I play with have had a much better on stage and FoH sound. The wedge shaped cab means I can position it in such a way that everyone on stage who needs to be able to hear me from my cab can, and I have a lot more options for on-stage placement. One of the bands that I play with uses back run from a computer. This is housed in a flight case that goes on a smile keyboard stand at the side of the stage. My FRFR goes underneath the stand which means that the amount of room I require on stage for my gear is halved.

Accepting that you've got some good points there, BRX,  the well regarded QSC K12.2 which has 50Hz to 20kHz freq response at -6dB (to take @itu's helpful guide) says it's a 2000W power module. Well further digging and that's a peak rather than an RMS or AES number. What's the typical conversion of peak to RMS - would that be more like 800W RMS?

Edited by Al Krow

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IME unless your band is massively loud on stage and you have FoH support for the bass pretty much any FRFR is going to be fine.

I've never needed to run my RCF745 and anything like full tilt. With the angled cab, the speaker is pointing at my ears rather than my knees which does more for audibility than the power available from the built-in amp.

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12 minutes ago, Al Krow said:

This ?

Or just get there 3 minutes before 😛

It's one extra thing to bring to the gig (or leave behind afterwards).

And arriving 3 minutes earlier is no use when you have 10-15 minutes between the end of the previous band's set and the start of yours in which to set up. Like the gig I played last night where there were 4 bands playing (all with completely different equipment requirements) and the whole gig was only 3 hours long from doors opening at 7.00 to the music curfew at 10.00.

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I tilt back in front of me, 45° like a monitor wedge.  You can hear yourself so much better this way. A normal bass combo hasn't really got the correct form factor for placing in front of you, even with a stand. It's too tall.

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1 minute ago, jrixn1 said:

I tilt back in front of me, 45° like a monitor wedge.  You can hear yourself so much better this way. A normal bass combo hasn't really got the correct form factor for placing in front of you, even with a stand. It's too tall.

And this.

Or fit underneath the keyboard stand holding the computer that is running the backing track.

I can place a wedge FRFR almost anywhere in stage as it's footprint is minimal.

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Personally for me I got really into pedal board-based rigs with preamps and DI boxes. I have around 10-15 preamp pedals (like Sansamp type stuff) and a Helix. What I was finding was, if I ran those through a traditional bass amp they all came out sounding the same. Or at least not as different as they should, the bass amp and speaker were imparting their own tone.

 

That's why I switched to FRFR. As you know Bas, looking back I now see the benefit of the wedge format and I'm thinking about either selling the FR800s or just adding a wedge to the collection anyway. Whatever FRFR I end up with, it'll be an FRFR and not a traditional amp, that's for sure.

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I kind of think of my FRFR set up as ‘separates’ in a sense, the QSC K12.2 as an FRFR ‘cab’ and the preamp as the eq section of a ‘head’. In over thirty years of playing I never found a combo or seperates on which I could dial a tone I really liked,  it is entirely possible this is down to my lack of technical knowledge but still, within half an hour of getting the QSC and Fishman preamp set up I had a tone I was completely happy with. It’s so versatile, I can use it as backline or as a monitor live, in fact I haven’t yet found a situation where it was problematic from playing with a noisy five-piece punk band through to my usual acoustic duo. In the end, as with anything, it’s just personal preference. I was always seeking to get the least ‘interfered with’ sound as possible from any amplification, I want the particular sound of the basses I’ve chosen just louder and my FRFR setup gives me that. An FRFR setup is not for everyone and endless technical discussions, as interesting and informative as they are, aren’t (imho) the final reason we settle on an amplification set up, it’s a set of far less tangible factors alongside practical considerations. For me FRFR is flexible and uncoloured and that’s why I like it. As much as I bang on about it I realise it isn’t for everyone, it’s just an option in the raft of possible options that I’m not sure everyone considers.

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3 hours ago, itsmedunc said:

The advantage of FRFR for me is the fact that the effects I use sound far better. I had gone back to using two bass rigs. One for straight bass and one for effects only.  I use a delay that needs a lot of top end, which sounds muddy and gets lost with only one bass rig.

I have a far more simple solution. I added a X-over to my effects and the sound changed a lot. Now the low end under 400 Hz has no effects = no mud. This way my rig is bass - effects - amp - cab. Biamp or two amps might be the ultimate, but too big and cumbersome to carry around.

I understand the choice of using a PA speaker very well. I have had the chance to try our band's JBL PRX 735 that has really convincing and truly powerful sound. It is almost 4 feet tall... just too big to carry around in my small and old car. I do like that different sound of a PA box but it just isn't my thing out there in the bigger venues. And only seldom I have connection to the PA. This means that I need a powerful and compact system and traditional amp & cab is fine for me.

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For me it's simple. A decent active FRFR with all the  DSP to make it a blank canvas enables me to spend time finding a pre I like to give me the tone I like without having to juggle an extra myriad of variables in tweeters, crossovers, speakers, amps etc that you get from a traditional bass setup. For example, with a traditional bass cab, the baked in sound of that speaker cab can really mess with you if you don't clock that it's that part of your setup which is dominating your tone. 

With the modellers that are out there, you can twiddle to your hearts content... but conversely, you can just find that one pre that you like and just concentrate on getting on with the music.... and as Frank says, the fact that you can have your core tone and then push in extra instruments and use it as a monitor also... brilliant. Vocals tend to send a bit crap through bass rigs.

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