Would a 2x10 or 2x12 provide more headroom?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs' started by pookie, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. pookie

    pookie Member

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    I have a blackheart little giant (5W) half stack that I was using for home use/ recording. I'm starting up a band now so although I'll be using it mainly for overdriven sounds, I'd like a little more flexibility. Would adding another cabinet give more headroom or will it pretty much sound the same, but louder? I know I won't be getting clean tones out of it but will adding another cab help some?
     
  2. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    Depends on the speakers in the cabinet and how efficient they are compared to what you already have. Eminence are usually pretty efficient, so I doubt you'd gain much, if anything as far as headroom and volume go.
     
  3. freaksho

    freaksho Member

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    a new cab will give you more volume only if the speakers have a significantly higher sensitivity rating that what you already have. and there are some speakers that have rather high sensitivity ratings (Eminence, for ex). so you could seek out some of those but i doubt it's really gonna be too dramatic of a difference.

    but i know your question is not really about that. it's about adding more speakers in general. the answer is no, extra speakers will not give you more clean headroom nor extra volume, as hard as that might be to believe. adding speakers really only changes the character of the tone, specifically making it deeper and fuller (bigger). ironically this shift can actually cause you to hear yourself less because if your tone is overall deeper you run the risk being lost in the bass guitar and drum frequencies. iow extra speakers can actually make you seem less loud in a band context. nothing cuts through a band mix like a 1x12, though it may not always be as fun for you if you like big guitar tones.

    so if you want cleans with a band you need more power than 5W. even maxed out and dirty that 5 watter might have trouble keeping up with a band, depending on the band.

    edit: oops GCDEF got in first. great minds think alike i guess.
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012
  4. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Headroom is a measure of how much clean power the amp can put out in response to a surge of sudden demand for a short burst over an above a certain clean level. So say you're playing along at X volume and you hit a note or chord particularly hard -- how hard you can hit that note without the amp distorting is the amp's headroom. If you're already playing distorted, you're already out of headroom.

    Whether you're using 2 10s or 2 12s shouldn't really change the amp's own headroom.

    However, two things. First, you might get more apparent headroom by using more efficient speakers. A speaker that's 3 or 6 dBs more efficient than another speaker is going to produce more volume for a given amp output, so maybe with more efficient speakers you can keep the amp turned a little lower and still get the same or more volume in the room allowing you to play cleaner, louder. Second, speakers themselves will distort too, so some may distort later given you more ability to play clean at louder volumes (which isn't exactly the same thing as headroom).

    But a 5W amp, at least unmic'ed, is going to struggle to keep up in a band context even dimmed and dirty.

    You will get louder with more speakers though. If you're playing, say, with a 1X12 and you add an identical 1X12 you'll wind up 3 dBs louder, which is kinda like doubling the power of your amp, but still might not be enough w/ a 5 watter for you to be able to play at a setting where you're playing clean.
     
  5. pookie

    pookie Member

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    Thanks guys. I bought this amp thinking I would never be in another band. These small amps are a lot of fun though.
     
  6. GCDEF

    GCDEF Supporting Member

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    It's nice to have reinforcement though. A lot of people get this wrong, as is the case two posts above this one. This topic gets beaten to death and never ends well.
     
  7. chervokas

    chervokas Member

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    Well, assuming an appropriate matched impedance load and identical speakers, a tube amp driving a 2X12 will produce higher spls for a given output than driving a 1X12. What the perceived loudness difference will be, or what happens with phase cancellation based on driver placement, sure, will have an impact on what one hears and the perception of loudness. But at the identical signal level the two speakers will produce higher spls than one.

    But headroom is a measure of what the amp circuit can deliver. And, again assuming a properly matched load, the amp's headroom will be the same whether it's driving a 2X12 4 ohm load, or a 2X10 4 ohm load, or a 1X8 4 ohm load or whatever.
     

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