amp for bass synth

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piper
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amp for bass synth

Post by piper » Wed Jun 02, 2021 9:13 am

I play bass synth in a band. I've been using a 15" mackie thump PA speaker as an amp. It works, but the sound is kind of muddy. It also doesn't have as good a bass response as I'd like.

I'm thinking maybe a better PA speaker is the way to go, but I don't know how to figure out what would be better (aside from looking at the prices).

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by MoyaMoya » Wed Jun 02, 2021 9:18 am

What does your signal chain look like?

Have you considered an EQ pedal like a MXR 10 band or Boss Bass EQ?

usually can be had for $50-$60
and is an indispensable tool cleaning up the low end

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Wed Jun 02, 2021 9:28 am

Go to 10" speakers or a PA cab for one thing. Large speakers that have large main cones do not respond fast enough to produce all of the upper transients of the synth sound (hence "muddy sounding"). This is why PA cabs include a large woofer and usually (at least) a tweeter. When a large cone is hit with fast transient sounds, the cone is heavy and it cannot move fast enough to produce the highs. Smaller speakers respond faster ... that is to say the cones are lighter in weight (less mass) and can respond to sonic changes much much faster than a big heavy speaker cone. By the time the big cone begins to move to produces those transients, they're already "gone" (in time). A smaller (aka "lighter weight" ... as in less mass) can produce those fast-dying high frequencies before they're "gone" ... so in the end it amounts to greater fidelity. Think about ~why~ cabinet manufacturers brag about how light weight their tweeters are (titanium this and aluminum that) ... the lower mass allows it to produce those fast dying high frequencies before they die off.

Look at what "slappers" ... funk bass players ... look at what they use ... it's not big speaker cones (like 12"s or 15"s) is almost always a cab full of 10" speakers. Back about 20 years ago SWR even offered this wild ass bass cabinet that only had 8" speakers ... like 16 of them ... the 8" speakers (being of lower mass) produced those highs (as in "clarity") very well, it was just a poor seller and it was dropped from their line up after a few years. Point being that this concept is well know and has been addressed a number of times over the years.

I'd say your best pick would be some type of PA speaker ... a PA cab will generally have three speakers (lows, mids, tweeters). You'll cover all of the frequency spectrum far better than a single 15" woooofy.

I use a combo of 2x10 front ported cabinet that has a tweeter with an attenuator as well, 2x8 floor wedge I converted into a bass cab, and over 1K watts of 4ohm solid state power provided by Mackie PA rack amps. Tons of headroom, plenty of top end, and most importantly a very nice midrange voice. Low end? ... pfft ... y'ever heard a front ported cabinet with responsive 10 inchers? ... yea, puhLENTY of low end ... handles my 5 and 6 string basses easily (with detuning, the low B is dropped to A) ... handles it all no problem, synth or bass guitar.

:)
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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by misa » Wed Jun 02, 2021 9:33 am

I often use a Markbass Little Mark III and a 4 x 6" speaker (I think they no longer make that one or it might actually be a different model -- I can't find it, I have four very small speakers in a relatively light cabinet).

I love the sound and the response of the MarkBass system. If I'd buy again I'd go for a combo with 4x10" with an output for an additional speaker cabinet to put a 15" or worse in there for increased subbass.

But the Little Mark III is loud enough for most situations where I have played. I often elevate and/or angle it towards me.

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by piper » Wed Jun 02, 2021 11:21 am

MoyaMoya wrote:
Wed Jun 02, 2021 9:18 am
What does your signal chain look like?

Have you considered an EQ pedal like a MXR 10 band or Boss Bass EQ?

usually can be had for $50-$60
and is an indispensable tool cleaning up the low end
I have an Empress ParaEQ pedal, but it doesn't help much compared to the EQ built into the speaker. The problem with the bass response seems to be that the design works fairly well down to about 45 Hz, and then it just drops off a cliff.

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by levelhead3 » Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:09 pm

piper wrote:
Wed Jun 02, 2021 11:21 am
The problem with the bass response seems to be that the design works fairly well down to about 45 Hz, and then it just drops off a cliff.
Full range PA speakers usually have a pretty step low end roll-off by design, larger systems almost always have subs for this very reason. I'd shift your focus over to bass amps in general.

The other issue with using larger speakers on stage is that the low frequency fundamental wavelengths are loooong - the sound is usually developing far out into the room. So with larger speakers a sufficient stage volume often ends up being boomy as hell out in the audience. Smaller speakers tend to provide more controllable sound onstage, and that tends to make the folks doing your sound happier too.

A 4x10" cabinet is a great starting point, although I found stacking two 2x10" cabs vertically to be the ideal balance between stage volume and projection. Also easier to carry too. :tu:

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:27 pm

the roland keyboard amps are amazing. they come in different sizes. the behringer keyboard amps are ok. it depends on your needs.
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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by Technologear? » Fri Jun 04, 2021 5:48 am

Consider getting a PA sub with a variable crossover. Synth into powered sub, set crossover around 100hz, then the rest into your Thump. Each unit then has less frequencies to reproduce, thus they are more efficient and ultimately clearer (sounding louder).

I do this but using passive speakers and external power amps and crossover. But that's because I'm old-school and have collected this style of gear, sticking with powered gear makes sense for you.

You could hire a powered sub and try it out. Getting that Thumb raised to head height will make a massive difference too (if you haven't already). So will upgrading it, but consider that after you've confirmed you want to stick with PA gear and not transition to bass guitar gear.

And definitely stand as far away from your rig as space permits. In our rehearsal space I'm 6m away from mine. On stage I always set a loop and jump out into the audience space to check how it sounds. Those sub frequencies can really throoOOOOOOOoowwwww.

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by MindMachine » Sat Jun 05, 2021 1:41 am

How loud does it need to be?

I have an Acoustic B-100 Bass Combo 1 x 15" that has a lot of thump and various control options. Reasonable price and loud. You can dial in a lot of different tones.
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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by piper » Thu Jun 10, 2021 12:54 pm

MindMachine wrote:
Sat Jun 05, 2021 1:41 am
How loud does it need to be?
Coffee shop; house party. That kind of thing.

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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Thu Jun 10, 2021 2:08 pm

EATyourGUITAR wrote:
Wed Jun 02, 2021 2:27 pm
the roland keyboard amps are amazing. they come in different sizes. the behringer keyboard amps are ok. it depends on your needs.
I've got a couple of KC150s on hand ... nice midrange ~hump~ but not nearly as muscular on the low end as I like. The 150 also really colors the sound ... a lot ... adding a lot of midrange (around 1khz with a fairly large bandwidth). I use them to actually fill-in the mids on my system, that's how much midrange presence there is. I've had to actually disconnect the tweeters inside of the cabinet because it was just too tweety for my purposes.

For shits 'n giggles ..... picture with annotations taken from my project synth thread, from a few years back. I see I noted that the Roland "covers roughly 500hz to 3khz pretty well" .. which is why there is also a 2x10 front ported cab powered by Mackie solid state rack mounted PA power amps ... which makes the lows fill in nicely.

Point? The Roland KC150 is good, but "amazing"? .... no, not quite ~amazing~ .. very colored, a bit anemic in the bottom, but it does have some features that make it very worthwhile addition to one's rig (4ch mixer built in, other features). HOWEVER, it should be noted that there is no high impedance input, which is absolutely necessary for instruments such as passive bass guitars and passive guitars. Worth $499 new? ... hmm .. all depends I suppose.
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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by EATyourGUITAR » Thu Jun 10, 2021 3:34 pm

The KC150 is the worst one. With a 10 inch speaker you won't get that extended low end. The 1KHz bump I thought was good because a lot of keyboard amps are rolled off on the highs but the KC150 has it if you need it. EQ that out if you don't want it. I would never buy a KC150 unless it was used for practice at home alone. But at that point I might go for the Yamaha small powered monitors they sell for digital piano practice. Those have 3 inch woofers.

The KC550 is a beast. It sounds great all over. Really good extended range. Really clear defined sound. Never muddy. The Beringer sounds really muddy compared to the Roland but I understand why people buy the cheaper Beringer to play in a band.
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Re: amp for bass synth

Post by Rex Coil 7 » Thu Jun 10, 2021 6:06 pm

Sounds good! ... all that stuff I said about the KC150 ... it's just my opinion .. I'm certainly no expert on the matter .. that is for danged sure ... :)
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