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"Bigger" Sound from an Amp: More speaker or more power?

sideman

Member
Messages
2,371
Do you think that you get a bigger sound on stage by having more power or more speaker? Assume an unmiced amp in a medium sized club. I'm inclined to think that one gets a bigger sound from two 12" speakers than you get from one. But what if, instead of running, say, two 18w 1x12 amps, you use a single 38 watts (6L6 duet) 1x12? Which is bigger sounding? I can usually get on top of the mix with this particular band with an 18w 1x12, but I want big sound, particularly for solid rhythm work, as well as cut for leads. So am thinking of bringing two 18w 1x12s, or moving up to either a 38w 1x12 (or a 38w 2x12) and keeping the higher power rig dialed back (always a challenge). More wattage gives clarity and strength, but more speaker seems to add something too. I dunno. Ideas?
 
Messages
5,170
'Big' depends on a lot of things; the room acoustics will make the biggest difference to your sound. If you want a fuller sound mic-up and go through the PA. A 1x12 will be more directional than a 2x12, and a bigger cabinet will have more air in it and sound deeper. My experience is that there are simply too many variables involved to give a definitive answer.
 

ScioBro

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,388
but...
I think you're mainly on the right track with your thinking.

But, to choose more speaker over more power...I guess the more power option will provide a more dramatic "big-on-stage" effect
 

GCDEF

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
28,293
If you're having trouble hearing yourself on stage, more power, more efficient speakers, point your speaker at your head or mic the amp and put some in the monitor.

If you want to be louder for the audience, mic your amp.
 

gillman royce

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,654
'Big' depends on a lot of things; the room acoustics will make the biggest difference to your sound. If you want a fuller sound mic-up and go through the PA. A 1x12 will be more directional than a 2x12, and a bigger cabinet will have more air in it and sound deeper. My experience is that there are simply too many variables involved to give a definitive answer.
:agree
 

forum_crawler

Member
Messages
7,307
This will sound silly but I think you are wanting more mids.

I play a Mesa roadster into a 2x12 avatar cab with V30s while the other guitar player plays into a Mesa F-50. The only way I can "be on top" is be injecting more mids into my sound. Trust me, in a band situation you can be pushing 150W with a 4x12 and you wont be heard unless you are playing at ear bleeding volumes and add some mids to your sound.

Bring down the bass and treble a tad and increase the mids and you will be there :)
 

Lance

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
10,871
There are really way too many variables to determine anything concrete, imo. Speaker efficiency, output tranformer sizes, what freq. you are pushing more, etc. I would get an amp that pushes lots of midrange like a Mesa combo like a 5:50 Express. It can do 5 - 50W in 1 x 12, and I think these come with a 90W Celestion. I use a Mark III with a 200W Black Shadow, which you can run in Class A, or Simulclass. Which is EL-34's in triode, then you can kick in the 6L6's for bigger gigs. It really seems to pull off almost any sized gig. Except really small ones, that is. Well, it does have a great mv knob, but it really opens up when you can crank it a bit. I played an outdoor gig to about 100 people with it, and it wasn't too loud, and cut like a light sabre!
 

sideman

Member
Messages
2,371
Thanks fellows. You guys have some good gear! I'm big on mids - usually P90s or Humbuckers with heavy strings with alot of neck pup. Gotta have it! Have been favoring a Victoria Regal w a duet of 6V6s into 1x12. That amp is class A and allows you to swap in 6L6s to near double the output (alternatively could bring another double 6L6 amp for 2x12 or 4x10). But then I don't get that sweet, overdriven compressed 18 w tube sound at stage volumes without a box. Thinking of running the Vic w/ 6V6s and a 5E3 together.
 

Mark Robinson

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
8,865
Cone area, there is no substitute! If you need proof, plug an 18 watter into a single 12" and then compare that sound with the same amp plugged into a 4 x 12". A lot of things will become evident very quickly.
 

cardinal

Member
Messages
5,410
Don't think the OP is complaining that he can't be heard, what he wants is what he's hearing to sound "bigger" or wider. Adding speakers will help. But IME so does adding wattage, big tubes, and huge transformers. If you could only do one and not the other, which is better, is that the question? I think it's really going to depend.
 

NashSG

Member
Messages
3,680
Even with a lower watt amp, I think you get more 'oomph' from a 4x12 cabinet.

I do like the focus of a 1x12 cabinet for recording.

You want contrast, take a Blues Junior and go from the amp into a 4x12. It's really not even the same sound.

This is the kind of thing that is good to get together with friends that have different equipment and try some different things out or if you have a cool local guitar store, take your amp in and try it out on some different cabs. You can theorize, but you don't know until its plugged up and really, you don't know how it works for real until you are playing the setup with your band.
 

vibrostrat43

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,265
I see it like this. More speakers don't necessarily mean more a higher spl, but technically just as much 'force' pushing a wider area of air which gives a fuller sound than a more powerful amp into fewer speakers or more 'force' pushing a smaller area of air which just increases the volume in that section of air being pushed.

Kind of think of it as pushing a block with all 4 of your fingertips (4x12), and then the same block using just one of your fingertips (1x12) with just as much force as before. The amount of force is the same but all four fingers push the block less painfully, less pressure. I feel that spreading out the force of the air being moved keeps you from cutting as well (but really only in the area where your amp is facing), while making you fill out the room more. So basically 50watts into a 4x12 has more perceived loudness, while 100 watts into a 1x12 will have a higher spl.

This is all theory btw, I really have no idea, but thanks to my limited understanding of physics it seems to make some sense, but I have not ever recorded or tested it...I'm no scientist, but neither are most of the people on here.......:)

Of course there are a few considerations that have to be made for this experiment to yield similar tonal results with only the size or volume of the sound changing.

Like:
Would you still be able to push the higher powered amp into breakup without exceeding the amount of sound pressure that the gig will allow?
Does power amp distortion even matter for your sound, or does it just boost the volume of what the preamp gives it and not distort on it's own?
Does speaker compression and distortion add an important element to your sound, and if so will adding more speakers (splitting the power more ways) keep the speakers from compressing as much?

Those are probably more important questions if you ask me.
 

Dave_C

Member
Messages
14,095
Bigger cabs generally sound bigger than smaller cabs (I have 1x12s, 2x12s and 4x12) and higher wattage amps generally sound bigger than lower wattage amps (I have 18w, 30W, 70W and 100W amps).

That said, there is some crossover due to differences in amp voicing and other factors, like cab construction.
 

dennwall

Member
Messages
30
In my limited experience, there's less of a difference between 18 and 60 watts than there is between 1x12 and 2x12.
 

freaksho

Member
Messages
3,998
i agree with all the 'more speaker' votes.

18W thru a 2x12 will sound much bigger than 38W thru a 1x12, no question.

and 38W thru a 2x12? well now we're gettin somewhere. ;)
 

earthlydescent

Senior Member
Messages
980
Yes, more speakers will make your sound louder and fuller. This can also be achieved thru larger cabinets and open back cabinets. For instance, a Port City 1x12 OS cab sounds larger than most standard cabs. A vertical 2x12 would a great idea if you lack space.

And yes, more wattage will make your sound louder and fuller. 18 watts and 38 watts aren't gonna be that different in db's.

However, the OP is a bit vague on style and need. Especially about what amps are being considered.
 

OrganicTimbre

Member
Messages
789
I'm no acoustical physics expert, but if you think about it, a speaker will displace a certain volume of air. The volume it displaces is equal to the surface area of the cone x cone excursion. If you have 4 speakers, it will be able to displace 4 times the volume of air that 1 can.
 

Dave_C

Member
Messages
14,095
In my limited experience, there's less of a difference between 18 and 60 watts than there is between 1x12 and 2x12.
Yes, this is has been my experience too. But, the guys mentioning mic'ing up a 1x12 also have a great point, that is, if the sound system is up to the task. I've seen guys mic up nice 2x12s and even a 4x12 in one case and end up sounding smaller than I'd expect from those cabs because they were running through little 1x10 mains and not getting a lot of volume from the stage. So, you gotta' look at the whole picture. If I were a guy who generally liked my amp and just wanted a bigger sound, I'd definitely check into bigger cabs as a first step and then pay attention to how the PA is used on top of that.
 






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