Closed back vs. Open back

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by Julia343, Apr 10, 2008.

  1. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

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    Most combo amps come with an open back cabinet for obvious reasons. one of those being heat. My home stereo speakers are old and have passive radiators and come from an era when acoustic suspension was considered the best. New systems usually have a subwoofer which is ported. I realize these are serving different needs from a guitar amp. But that's about all I know. I'm thinking of getting a speaker cabinet and would like some help besides manufacturer hype.

    I notice various speaker cabinets out there. Some are closed back. Some are open back, some are ported. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?
     
  2. Dave Orban

    Dave Orban Gold Supporting Member

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    I prefer an open-back cab because it's not beaming the sound out in a straight line into the audience 20 feet in front of the stage.

    Open back cabs radiate a bit more on stage, so the musicians can hear better. For some, the tradeoff might be a little less focus, particularly in the lower register, but for what I do, it works much better than a closed back cabinet.
     
  3. hamfist

    hamfist Member

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    I prefer closed-back cabs because of their greater attack, punch and clarity. Find I'm needing at least a 4x12 to get enough "spread" of the sound though.
     
  4. lannyhall

    lannyhall Member

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    I generally use open back, but often use a closed back when volume is an issue and everything is miced (especially when In-Ears are used).
     
  5. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    I like the sound of a closed back a little better, but open is more practical. It spreads the sound around better. Whenever I play my half stack, bandmates, particularly the drummer can't hear me as well because the sound is more directional. We can always feed him a bit in the monitors, but depending how much PA we're using, we don't always have independent mixes.
     
  6. branny

    branny Member

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    There's also the option of beam-blockers on closed-back cabs (or on open ones, too). I tend to prefer the sound of open-backed cabs but in my band I feel like I need the extra punch and clarity of a closed-back cab, so I'm gonna throw beam-blockers on a closed-back cab and see how it works out.
     
  7. 1973Marshall

    1973Marshall Member

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    I think open back is HIGHLY underrated

    In fact, producers like Bob Rock love using open back little combos for recording - and has done as such when he started with Metallica, etc. I read this in interviews, but my personal experience with recording reinforces it.

    There is an "open" quality and balance to open backs that is just wonderful both live and recorded.

    My 3 fave cabs are my Shiva 2x12 Open back, Mesa 2x12 Recto, and my Bogner 4x12 straight cab in that order.
     
  8. jay42

    jay42 Member

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  9. jgyn

    jgyn Member

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    +1.
     
  10. Julia343

    Julia343 Member

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    Thanks for the quick replies. It is appreciated. I'm pretty much absorbing this stuff like a sponge. In my tone hunt I need to know what's going on, and why things are certain ways, what works and what doesn't, etc.

    What I can hear is that the open backed cabinets are very dependent upon positioning for tonal quality. My experience in my studio is put the Deville in a corner and it sounds like mud -- I guess bass frequencies tend to really get reflected and mids and treble get lost. Put it 2 feet away from a flat wall and it has a different tonal character. I haven't tried it in the middle of a room yet. Probably would sound even different if I put a 45 degree slant board behind it reflecting up to the ceiling.

    Stuff about the closed cabinets is ringing a bell about acoustic suspension and why I didn't get a pair of those back in the day. more directional sound. But this beam blocker sounds interesting.
     
  11. shredtrash

    shredtrash Supporting Member

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    Depends on the gig for me. Anything rock is a closed back cab for me. Otherwise, I tend to reach for an open back combo.
     
  12. Miles

    Miles Member

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    Open backs, to my ears fill a room better with the frequencies that the electric guitar is supposed to voice. You need to be above the bass, below the cymbals and the open back lets your tone project around the room better. Closed backs have more thump, but the mic, to my ears, doesn't pick that up, as that slightly enhanced thump is only noticeable to those on stage. Secondly, to my ears, the closed back sound is more congested and constricted. I always feel like I sacrifice a bit of response and resonance throughout the room as though my tone is fighting me a little bit.

    The differences are subtle, but with good speaker(s), an open back sounds marvelous to me.
     
  13. Miles

    Miles Member

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    But then notice the disclaimer of needing the 4x12 to get that same spread.

    I don't notice any sacrifice in clarity at all with open backs. In fact, I find that the upper midrange is more articulate and jumps out of the mix a bit better, even if using a darker voiced amp/speakers.
     
  14. rockon1

    rockon1 Member

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    Recently bought an oversized 2x12 Lopo cab. It was nice but the bass was a bit weak and it didnt "open up" until I cranked it up a bit. I converted it to open back it it sounds much fuller with better bass response especially at meduim volumes. This is with a G12H-30 and G12-65 in it. Bob
     
  15. zerocharisma

    zerocharisma Supporting Member

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    I've played mostly Marshall type amps most of the time so I'm used to playing closed back cabs. As others have stated, they can be tighter, thumpier, more directional and more limiting in terms of sonic dispersion. But then again that formula has been tried and true for decades so it may be your cup of tea. That said, I saw Scott Henderson and his trio at the Baked Potato in Hollywood a few months ago and he sounded amazing with his Suhr Strat into a Suhr OD100 (?) and a ported back 4x12 built by Kerry Wright in Orange County (I've no affiliation with him but hear he does great work). Anyway, Scott has one of the most beautifully thick, juicy single coil/Plexi sounds I'd ever heard and I was surprised his tone was so clear and articulate--not to mention he was not very loud at all. Of course he was using a quad of 20-25 watt greenbacks but still, you don't normally see rigs like that anymore in small venues these days. Anyway, his guitar sat perfectly in the mix with the drummer and bassist, and people in the front row were spared their eardrums. Here is a photo of his cab from his website:

    [​IMG]

    Inspired after that night I "commissioned" Jeff Swanson to build me a similar 4x12 cabinet for much cheaper that what other builders have quoted. I'll get it in a few weeks and until then I'm on pins and needles...
     
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  16. SRVTWO

    SRVTWO Member

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    I find myself favoring open back (usually combos) on stage inside as it bounces off the back wall and creates a more dispersed sound. When I am outside I need closed back as I find the tone is more consistent. When I have tried open back outside it never sounds right as their is no reinforcement and I end up hating the gig. On the flip side closed back cabs inside tend to be way to directional, like a laser beam killing all in its path. Food for thought.
    Mike
     
  17. plan-x

    plan-x Supporting Member

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    I have a convertible. Half the back comes off with screws allowing open or closed back option. What really sounds good is running 2 cabs, one of each. Best of both worlds. Just bring your screwdriver to the gig!
     
  18. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    I believe you are thinking of a detuned cab and from my experiences with them, they have the best sonic advantages of both open back and closed back cabs. Unfortunately, almost no one makes them so you have to build them yourself or have them built and they are very big and heavy.
     
  19. bosstone

    bosstone Member

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    Those look like the scaled proportions for the rear baffle I made for my Marshall 1965B rear baffle. It works very well for me.
     
  20. jay42

    jay42 Member

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    Thank you. That's the right term. fwiw, in the late 80's & early 90's, both Clapton and Knopfler used 1960A cabinets stuffed with two EV12L's and the other two holes open. It's not the London Power design, but apparently it was better than other things they tried. When EC was using Music Man, he had the backs off and was using JBL's.

    I think it's interesting that the oval rear port is catching on now. I'm not sure if Dumble did it first, but I've never seen an older example.
     

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