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Can I achieve my goals by using an ext cab with my combo?

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  • Can I achieve my goals by using an ext cab with my combo?

    I have a 5150 III 50 watt combo 1x12.
    I play psychedelic stoner blues metal with some reggea and lots of jimi influenced stuff.
    I thought it wld b enough for a small practice room and it is, that is until our drummer steps in. He plays with ridiculous authority and i have to crank my amp near max to be heard in the mix. We are
    just a trio.
    All the bands that have big half stacks ALL get the type of volume I wish I had.
    I mean you can hear me and i get comments on my playing all the time but its not that enveloping sound I need. Im not trying to overshadow the drum and bass. I just wsnt to match their output and power.
    So im hoping i could do this by plugging i to a big 4x12. Will this do what i need or do i need an actual head?
    Also do I need a 4x12? Or will the 2x12 ext officiL evh 5150 ext cab do the job?
    Last edited by ethereater; 01-15-2017, 08:19 PM.

  • #2
    Sound output depends on Wattage and speakers. All else being equal (which it rarely is), more Wattage or more speaker area will equal more (max) volume. A more sensitive speaker will help too. Unfortunately, the only info available on the stock speaker is that it's a "Celestion special design 16-ohm speaker," which doesn't tell us much. An extension cab is certainly an option. If you're not picky, 4X12 cabs are plentiful and often cheap. Just be sure to set the impedance selector correctly.
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    • #3
      You mentioned your friends use half stacks, but you don't mention what heads they use.

      If you're using a 50W head and they are using 100W heads they will likely still over power you.
      You must understand, even if you plug into more speakers, it doesn't give you more power. The head only puts out so much wattage and the more speakers you add the more that wattage is divided proportionately between them.

      With a 50W head the speaker you have its seeing the full 50W. If you plug into a 4 X 12" cab, each speaker sees 12.5W. Less if you keep the combo's internal speaker connected.

      If the speakers are high wattage low efficiency, your actual sound level in decibels can go down - not up. It may sound bigger because there's more cab resonance. That usually occurs with a larger cab because you have the combined bass resonance of 4 speakers instead of one so the cab sounds bigger psycho acoustically, but not necessarily in actual decibels when read with a meter.

      The other thing that's important is a combo heads tone stack ay be voiced for its internal speaker. Its not uncommon for a combo head to sound overly bassy when connected to a large speaker cab so the type of speakers you have in that cab will need to have good mids and highs to compensate.

      I suggest you try plugging that head into some 4X12" cabs so you can verify this first hand.

      The speaker efficiency should be your main focus. Speakers are rated in SPL (sound pressure level) The higher the SPL dB rating the better the speaker is at converting wattage into sound and the louder the speaker for the same amount of wattage. (Its like a miles per gallon rating for a car)

      If you buy highly efficient speakers, higher then what you're friends are using you can be just as loud if not louder then they are even though you're using a lower powered amp head.

      If your combo speaker is 16 ohms my suggestion would be for you to buy a 1X12 extension cab then buy two high SPL speakers for the cab and the combo instead of just buying a cab with stock speakers (which are often budget speakers with lower SPL). This extra cab will then will give you a bigger sound from its extra cabinet resonance and the pair with they're higher SPL ratings will match any 4X12 cab with stock speakers. .

      You could also get a 2X12, 4X10 or 4X12 if you want. You'd want to be sure the speakers inside total 16 ohms so when you connect it to the combo and run the combo speaker your total load is 8 ohms.

      If the internal speaker is low efficiency however, you actually loose volume wasting it on a speaker that fails to convert wattage to sound. If the external cab has high efficiency speakers it may be better to run the external speaker by itself instead of wasting it by splitting the wattage with the combo's internal speaker.

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      • #4
        a swap of the speaker to a more sensitive one can increase the volume drastically, e.g. a celestion vintage 30 works great for me.
        second thing you do not need that much volume if you set the eq "right". especially in the bottom end bass, guitar and drums share a lot of same frequencies and stepping each other on their toe's.

        yeah i guess you don't want to hear this, but reducing bass and adding more mids and more treble can help wonders to be better heard in the mix.
        playing on your own this might sound really shrill to you, but it is the overall mix in band setting which counts. and all 3 of you fighting for space in the lower end will just increase each others volume and produce a muddy mess

        all in all you are a band and all 3 of you need to be concered about the overall sound and not only each of you about his individual instrument

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        • #5
          Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
          . . . If you're using a 50W head and they are using 100W heads they will likely still over power you. . . .
          The extra 50 Watts will only give his friends another 3 dB, all else being equal, hardly noticeable. I agree that higher SPL speakers would help. Some of the Eminence British voiced speakers have SPL ratings of 102-103 dB and they typically cost $90 or so. Whether the OP will like the result is unknown.
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          • #6
            The most likely reason for your mix issue is EQ, not power or speakers. 50W is more than enough power, regardless of speaker selection.

            To be heard in a power trio, you need to have stronger mid- and upper-mid output. "Scooped" mids only work in a bedroom. Leave the low frequencies to the bass and kick drum, and place yourself in the midrange gap between the low toms and snare/hat.
            Last edited by SteinbergerHack; 01-16-2017, 09:08 AM.
            "The historical experience of socialist countries has sadly demonstrated that collectivism does not do away with alienation but rather increases it, adding to it a lack of basic necessities and economic inefficiency." ------------------ Pope John Paul II

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            • #7
              I was playing in a trio a few years ago and went to rehearsal with a Strat, a Princeton Reverb and a Boss Blues Driver.

              There was a Marshall 4x12 cabinet at the rehersal hall so I plugged into that.

              Based on my experience, I believe you will find a significant difference in the fullness and the spread of your guitar sound if you plug your combo amp into a 4x12 external cabinet.
              As a human being, you come with the whole range of inner possibilities
              from the deepest hell to the highest states.

              It is up to you which one you choose to explore
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              • #8
                Get a Simulclass 2:90 and run two single or dual 12 cabs. Many combinations and power options for any situation and you won't go deaf standing in front of a stack all the time.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by DeepEnd View Post
                  The extra 50 Watts will only give his friends another 3 dB, all else being equal, hardly noticeable. I agree that higher SPL speakers would help. Some of the Eminence British voiced speakers have SPL ratings of 102-103 dB and they typically cost $90 or so. Whether the OP will like the result is unknown.
                  Don't kid yourself, It can in fact be very noticeable and make a difference in very big ways. The OP knows this or he wouldn't be asking about cabs and matching his levels by adding speakers.

                  We don't know what gear they are using but as you say, if all is equal, that 3db is pure clean headroom at 1000 Hz. In the real world that 50w head's bottom end is going to fart out long before a 100W head does. When you have 4 power tubes vs 2 they maintain clarity and bottom end much better once you begin to push and amp into saturation so the differences in volume are not just a matter of dB levels, its how well they maintain the full frequency of the sound as they are pushed up to saturation sweet spots that can dwarf a smaller amp.

                  Its not just wattage or saturation either, its the psychoacoustic effects a higher wattage head can have on the listener.

                  When it comes to playing with others live, and you simply cant hear your 50w amp fully cranked over those 100W monsters that not only remain solid at higher volumes, but also produce a bigger bottom end without breakup. That 3dB may as well be 100dB because you simply cant hear yourself over them and even with mids and trebles cranked up it can sound very thin in comparison.

                  Its not just about how loud you are either, its about the tone you can dial up at those louder volumes. A mix of instruments has to sound balanced each having their own frequency range.

                  If the other instruments have nice round frequency responses at high volumes, and you have to dial up a thin razor sound with a narrow frequency response so your speaker doesn't crap out, it may not make for a good mix.

                  You may get by pushing the volume up so it saturates for doing leads but what about softer parts that require clean tones?
                  Wit a 50W amp you'll likely be pushing the amp hard all that time. Dialing it back for clean tones makes it disappear from the mix completely. Its fine if all you do is play aggressive leads and power chords but its sure not going to be versatile when it comes to doing clean stuff.

                  Of course the simplest solution is for the guys using the 100W rigs is to turn them down or use a hot plate to bring the volumes down but for many Metal and Rock bands that's simply not what players prefer. The reason they use the 100W is not just about being loud. Its because you can FEEL the kick of the air from the cabs. This is hard to understand unless you've worked with bands that use big amps. You rely on the feel of that kick to maintain your groove. A 50W tube buts up against it but doesn't quite get there. Any rock guitarist that knows both will know what I'm talking about.

                  So Yes, the difference can be very noticeable depending on the amps and cabs used. The stock Peavey speakers often used in those 5150 cabs are no slouches either.
                  Last edited by WRGKMC; 01-17-2017, 06:44 AM.

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                  • #10
                    It might be time to (once again) drop a link to my Wattage, Speaker Efficiency And Amplifier Loudness article...

                    Wattage is only part of the loudness equation.
                    **********

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                    • #11
                      I remember reading about something the author was calling acoustic watts in a comparison between typical SS hifi amps and tube hifi amps and for reasons I don't remember, the tube amps all generated more acoustic watts.
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                      • WRGKMC
                        WRGKMC commented
                        Editing a comment
                        There's no such thing as acoustic watts, its a made up term. If you say one can achieve a higher decibel level then you're talking factual.

                        Amps both tube and solid state are rated in clean RMS watts. RMS is 70.7% of the peak power and is what does most of the work moving a speaker.

                        Because solid state amps often remain distortion free, (and have to use tricks to get then to sound like driven tubes) they are often rated for maximum wattage with the volume maxed out at 10 on the knob. They use a 1000hz test tone as a standard when testing wattage and without the bass tones, solid state amps don't distort much at that frequency.

                        Tube amps on the other hand may remain clean up to 50~75% on the volume knob so that's where they rate the amps RMS wattage. Most tube amps can still get louder however - its just driven/distorted.

                        So which amp can get louder. a SS amp with the volume at 50% or a tube amp with the volume at 50%? The tube amp of course. A ss amp is probibly running at 1/2 power with the volume half up and a tube amp is closer to maximum clean watts. Its got additional driven headroom left over where the amp can get louder, its just not clean watts.

                        Just keep in mind - the test tones are not full frequency signals. A single tone test is only good for giving an amp is maximum RMS rating and we know how manufacturers love to stretch the truth.

                        When it comes to actual operating conditions the real story can be very different. A guitar can put out frequencies from around 80 up to 6Khz. When the various stages in the amp see a single test tone that may not produce allot of measurable distortion. When you pump a full frequency wave through various tubes or transistors, those RMS ratings may go way down, I mean way down.

                        Also keep in mind the driven tube watts of a 100W head and 50W head can be very different. In most cases - 100W versions of the same heads wind up having allot less distortion and retain better frequency responses. This is because you have two sets of tubes running in parallel. One set of tubes may flatten out before the other set does so the waveform usually breaks up less and therefore actually sounds more solid then a single pair of tubes pushed into saturation the same percentage.

                        In other words a 50W head may get louder but be much less intelligible then a 100w head. This is why 100W amps dwarf 50 watt heads once you get up into those saturation zones. Its not that just ones louder, also cleaner sounding even when its pushed into saturation.

                        You also have things like output transformers that can pass a 1000Hz tone cleanly but feed it allot of bass or high frequency tones and those devices can distort at a much lower wattage levels. Budget transformers may have wattage ratings but how well they reproduce full frequency waveforms is a whole different ball game. Tubes themselves are another item. You have some tubes that do well at producing good midrange or bass frequencies and others flatten out immediately when pushed.

                        Bass tones are often much better with two pairs of tubes and you also have a beefier output and power transformer which can maintain inductance better and longer so the fields in those coils retain truer waveforms then a lower grade lower powered transformer can. Higher wattage amps usually have bigger and better power supply caps too so there's more clean DC in reserve and less power sag from rectifier tubes which adds to distortion.

                        What I'm saying here is its not just one factor involved. If it was life would be ultra simple. Electronics is a little more complex then that. Speakers can make a big difference no doubt, but its not the whole story when it comes to tone. if it was everybody would be using lower wattage amps and highly efficient speakers.

                        The best analogy is this. SPL is like miles per gallons in cars. You can buy cars that will do 40+ miles a gallon and still do the speed limit. Why would anyone like me own a 5.0 liter Mustang GT with a 420HP engine that can safely rev up to 6500 RPM? I get maybe 15 miles to the gallon, maybe 21 on the highway.

                        I still have to drive within the speed limit if I want to avoid getting tickets, and its not like I burn rubber at every light. I in fact drive it like a luxury car most of the time. The difference is I can go from 0 to 60 in five seconds if I want to. If I need to haul a bunch of weight then I drive our truck

                        Its the same reason why I own both high and low power amps. You use then for different venues.
                        If I'm playing out in a big arena in front of 5000+ people and the band needs to be able to melt faces, I'll pull out the big guns when I need them. I'm not going to have people complain they cant hear me over the bass and drums - pure and simple. If its a small place with 100 people I can easily get buy with a smaller combo. That's simply the way it is.

                    • #12
                      tell the drummer to lay off a bit and actualy turn your amp down, if he doesn`t respond with" i can`t hear you" then he aint listening to anybody anway .......ok that didn`t work.
                      what do you have in the way of pedals etc going into the amp.
                      but like that guy in jaws said we`re gonna have to get a bigger boat right .
                      i once tried a 50 watt Laney valve head, i couldn`t get a clean sound above the drummer ,so i took it back and got the 100 watt version, that worked.
                      Last edited by catscurlyear; 01-17-2017, 07:44 PM.
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                      • #13
                        Originally posted by WRGKMC View Post
                        Don't kid yourself, It can in fact be very noticeable and make a difference in very big ways. The OP knows this or he wouldn't be asking about cabs and matching his levels by adding speakers. . . .
                        Odd that I keep saying this to you but...Bull. 3dB is noticeable but not really a big deal. An extra 3dB won't make or break the sound of an amp. Someone who knows as much as you claim to know should be giving better advice.
                        Official HCAG “Theory-Challenged Hack”
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                        • #14
                          Originally posted by DeepEnd View Post
                          Odd that I keep saying this to you but...Bull. 3dB is noticeable but not really a big deal. An extra 3dB won't make or break the sound of an amp. Someone who knows as much as you claim to know should be giving better advice.
                          Like I said you're entitled to your opinions but when you quote me you make it personal. If you have a personal gripe - take it someplace else and allow others to have their own opinions.

                          I earned my experience first hand long before the internet was around as an amp tech and a musician. I didn't simply collect it from others who have that first hand experience on forums.Some of what you say is right because you found those facts on the net. What you cant get is the first hand experience. Its not something you can invent, imagine or gleam from others off the net. When you own a 50 and 100w amp and place them side by side and compare them running at the same time - you gain that experience. Until then I suggest you keep an open mind about other peoples opinions and experiences when they are kind enough to share them with you and stop trying to antagonize people you simply have nothing in common with.


                          By the way, if you read catscurlyear's comment before yours he verified what I was attempting to explain. You can find thousands of others. I suppose he's full of bull too and what we know to be fact is just our imagination. There couldn't possibly be any truth to what we posted and everyone is simply imagining there is only a 3dB difference that is hardly noticeable.

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                          • DeepEnd
                            DeepEnd commented
                            Editing a comment
                            Interesting quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan: ''You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.'' Look up ''psychoacoustics'' some time. It's the science of how we perceive sound and explains that what we hear is affected by what our minds tell us we ought to be hearing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychoacoustics.

                        • #15
                          the loudest amp i ever played was an original vox ac30 2x12 and to get the lovely crunch they are famous for, you need to turn them up to ear bleeding volume.
                          i also played a 100watt marshall jcm800 full stack, even fully cranked the marshall never felt as loud as the ac30...

                          they are completely different voiced, but to cut through the mix you need to add some treble and mids and not watts or speakers.

                          sure you can fight at the bottom end, buy an additional cabinet, your bass player will than buy a bigger amp and your drummer will hit even harder, you will add a second full stack and your bass player will come up with two ampegs and 2 8x10 cabinets when your drummer will start to complain that he wants to have the drums and only drums in the monitors

                          you will be completely broke, most propably deaf, but you still can't hear yourself and everything will sound like mud

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