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FRFR for Bass

OmegaZero

Inspired
I posted this thread a few days ago. In retrospect, I probably should have posted it here. I play guitar and bass, and I'm looking for the elusive combined rig that does both well. Part of the issue I'm having is that, while I know a good bass sound when I hear it, I'm a little fuzzy on the details of what makes it sound that way. Is it primarily a frequency response thing? Since I have an Axe-FX, I feel like I should be able to get something serviceable in terms of amp sound and feel. Assuming my rig covers the fundamentals (pun intended), will this get me where I want to be?

To put this into context... I think a pair of XiTone wedges will work well for my guitar rig. Obviously the low-end frequency response is going to be a little shy of the 31Hz fundamental of the B string. What if I used the pair of XiTones for guitar, and a XiTone + sub for bass? This would be an easy-to-transport rig for both purposes, and I can re-use most of the stack for both. Will having the sub to cover the fundamentals do the trick? Will the guitar-cab-like feel of the XiTone somehow take away from bass sound/feel? I've never actually had a "real" bass rig - I've always used PA gear. It wasn't always perfect, but it was certainly serviceable. I could just get a PA and use it for both purposes, but I really like the advantages of the XiTone for guitar...

I know this is a bit abstract, and there is a lot of personal preference involved. I've also read similar discussions that popped up in other threads. Rather than hijack someone else's thread, I'd love to get some opinions here if anyone is willing to share.
 

406Ryan

Member
I am primarily a bass player and I use an Accugroove Whappo Jr. Before I got my AX8, a guitar buddy of mine invited me over to fiddle through his Axe II. We used a straight Crown power amp so that we could cut down on any amp coloration. We got some decent bass tones pretty quickly (and of course the Accugroove just thumped). Afterward, he plugged his guitar into the Fractal through the Crown into the Accugroove. To say he was impressed would be an understatement. He's a big Mesa fan, and as he was flipping through the Fractal cabs, he just couldn't believe his ears. He kept saying "tell me this doesn't sound like a Mark V! Tell me this doesn't sound exactly like a Fender Twin!" etc, etc. I was barely able to leave with my cab!
There are several good FRFR cab companies out there. I'm seriously happy with mine.
 

OmegaZero

Inspired
Thanks for the suggestion Ryan. I've been talking with Mic at XiTone for a bit, and purely based on that interaction I'd like to buy something from him if it'll work. Never have I experienced such willingness to help and advise from a company or their representatives. That said, I still need something that will work for me. Accugroove has been on my watch list for a while, ever since Cliff said favorable things about them a few years back. I may look there if this direction doesn't pan out.

I'm also keen to hear what guys like @jimfist and @selta think about this. I'm trying to learn the fundamentals behind a good bass rig as much as I'm looking for feedback on the proposed setup.
 

selta

Power User
You rarely want to cover the fundamental. Most of your energry is spent on the 2nd harmonic, so 62Hz for low-B. Focusing on the fundamental is just mushy crap in a live mix.. even the 2nd harmonic is pretty damn deep. I usually have a pretty stepp shelf between 80 and 100Hz to help give the low end stability and clarity, especially when I work with drummers who think that having blast beats constantly is necessary and guitarists who think their 7, 8, 9 string guitars are all the bass a band needs.

I've demoed and talked a bit with the Accugrrove folks on their new designs. They're... lacking. I suggest trying them out for yourself of course and coming to your own opinion on them, but I personally wouldn't give them a dime. To each their own, but there is enormously better execution available IMO.

The real FRFR stuff for bass comes from the fEarful designs and smaller builders like AudioKinesis. I've used both rather extensively, and slightly prefer AudioKinesis in that regard.

Beyond that, I've actually stopped caring about "FRFR". It ends up being a bit of a fleeting goal and not worth the time/effort for me to chase. Instead, I simply rock the a K12 now and work around it to get the tone I'm after. Even for my metal bands, often in Drop-A and F# tuning, it works fine for rehearsal and stage use. A couple guitarists I work with also use K10s or K12s with good results that they enjoyed. Being able to completely not think about a power amp is nice... jsut grab my AX8 pedalboard, my K12, my bass, and I'm ready to go.
 

OmegaZero

Inspired
You rarely want to cover the fundamental. Most of your energry is spent on the 2nd harmonic, so 62Hz for low-B. Focusing on the fundamental is just mushy crap in a live mix.. even the 2nd harmonic is pretty damn deep.

That... makes perfect sense. And I actually already know that from mixing :flushed:. For some reason I was thinking about this differently - sound source vs. reproduction - which in retrospect I realize is nonsense. Just over-thinking things, I guess.

So it seems like I'm not that far off in terms of frequency response. Mic says he can get me in the neighborhood of 60Hz with a custom DSP preset on the XiTone wedges. Obviously I'm going to need something bigger for real gigs, but a pair of those might actually work out pretty well for jam sessions.

I have to admit the idea of the sub was pretty cool to think about though...
 

jimfist

Fractal Fanatic
Thanks for the suggestion Ryan. I've been talking with Mic at XiTone for a bit, and purely based on that interaction I'd like to buy something from him if it'll work. Never have I experienced such willingness to help and advise from a company or their representatives. That said, I still need something that will work for me. Accugroove has been on my watch list for a while, ever since Cliff said favorable things about them a few years back. I may look there if this direction doesn't pan out.

I'm also keen to hear what guys like @jimfist and @selta think about this. I'm trying to learn the fundamentals behind a good bass rig as much as I'm looking for feedback on the proposed setup.

I'm a minimalist now. (Wish I could say that for the length of my post here!) There's not a gig I play these days that I couldn't do with only a modest modeler/multi-fx pedal plugged directly into the PA system, and being fed modestly through whatever stage monitors are available. This includes NOT having any stage speakers or stage monitoring in some cases.

When I do carry speakers, it is usually one or two of the following: a) passive Atomic CLR, or b) ported bass cabinets (Dr. Bass - do NOT buy from this speaker fabricator!) loaded with Ciare coaxial 15" Neo drivers.
FWIW, I craft all my bass tones using Active CLRs.

The Atomic CLRs are great FRFR speakers for general sound reinforcement purposes, and will yield the clearest, most accurate tone. They sound really good on...ANYTHING...but are certainly not known for being bass amp heavyweights.

The 15" coaxial speakers are used when I need more sheer volume and mass in the low frequencies, and these are FAR from flat cabinets, but they do sound and behave more like a traditional bass speaker cab.

Since my feed for interfacing with the FOH PA system is being tapped post-modeling and before my stage speaker system, the sound I'm producing on stage is pretty much for my own yucks and enjoyment (hopefully not at the expense of the others in the band). This being the case, I'm powering my stage cabinets with a GK 1001RB head (yes, TONS of power) set very clean, and using its tone controls as a means to deal with the challenges (acoustics, EQ, volume) of the stage itself. I also tend to favor positioning the speaker(s) in such a manner so that I can hear them very, very well - as opposed to sitting on the floor blowing off my kneecaps! This is done to keep the stage level manageable.

Beyond that, there's not a whole lot that I toil over these days in terms of the actual modeling and effects. It's pretty straightforward: SVT bass amp model set with a bit of overdrive grind when I play my hardest, into a cab simulation (IR) of an 8x10 SVT cabinet. I tend to roll back the lowest low "rumble/mud" frequencies (below 60hz) and slightly goose the "clarity" frequencies (around 2k), and then rely on my hands an instrument's tone/pickup knobs for various tonal flavors as dictated by my own sense of what will work for a specific song.

The rest, as they say, is up to the skill of the player. A good test of this is to do a gig with NOTHING other than your bass going DI. If you can (do better than) survive that gig and have nobody notice - or even better, get compliments on your tone and playing - then you'll have made the necessary leap toward being a quality player. Many bassists and mixers actually prefer this. Then anything else, gear-wise, is just icing on the cake.
 

selta

Power User
That... makes perfect sense. And I actually already know that from mixing :flushed:. For some reason I was thinking about this differently - sound source vs. reproduction - which in retrospect I realize is nonsense. Just over-thinking things, I guess.

So it seems like I'm not that far off in terms of frequency response. Mic says he can get me in the neighborhood of 60Hz with a custom DSP preset on the XiTone wedges. Obviously I'm going to need something bigger for real gigs, but a pair of those might actually work out pretty well for jam sessions.

I have to admit the idea of the sub was pretty cool to think about though...
Let the FOH handle that if you're going after it. Keep in mind what you hear on stage doesn't have to be at all what the audience hears. If you have lots of sub-bass going on, you'll still very much feel that on stage anyway :D
 

jimfist

Fractal Fanatic
That... makes perfect sense. And I actually already know that from mixing :flushed:. For some reason I was thinking about this differently - sound source vs. reproduction - which in retrospect I realize is nonsense. Just over-thinking things, I guess.

So it seems like I'm not that far off in terms of frequency response. Mic says he can get me in the neighborhood of 60Hz with a custom DSP preset on the XiTone wedges. Obviously I'm going to need something bigger for real gigs, but a pair of those might actually work out pretty well for jam sessions.

I have to admit the idea of the sub was pretty cool to think about though...

The key thing to work toward is having an understanding of "what works" in the context of a live mix WRT bass guitar. If you've got some live and/or studio mixing chops, that will come in handy, and you've said that you've done some live mixing. @selta is spot on with his post. Generally speaking, jacking-off on stage with a rig of doom might make YOU happy, but likely at the expense of the stage mix and probably the FOH mix, too. That said, context of usage means everything.
 

OmegaZero

Inspired
Context of usage is a bit up in the air at the moment, as I'm not currently playing regularly with anyone or in a band. I'm hoping that will change in the not-too-distant future. I don't know if my next gig will be guitar or bass though, so I'm trying to cover my bases (ha!). I'd like to put something together so that when I next have a chance to jam or fill in at a gig I don't come up short or have to scramble to buy something else. The majority of my gigging experience has been on bass, but ironically I've never actually had a bass rig. My bass setup was almost always direct to the board (jazz gigs) or bass > SansAmp BDDI > board (rock, metal, etc.). It seems like lately I've been coming into more situations where there isn't a PA though, so I've had to get creative. Maybe I'm getting more picky too, because I've found the quality of some of my latest improvised setups to be... lacking. Since I was thinking of going FRFR for guitar anyway, it seemed like I might be able to kill two birds with one stone and possibly not break the bank in the process.
 

jimfist

Fractal Fanatic
Context of usage is a bit up in the air at the moment, as I'm not currently playing regularly with anyone or in a band. I'm hoping that will change in the not-too-distant future. I don't know if my next gig will be guitar or bass though, so I'm trying to cover my bases (ha!). I'd like to put something together so that when I next have a chance to jam or fill in at a gig I don't come up short or have to scramble to buy something else. The majority of my gigging experience has been on bass, but ironically I've never actually had a bass rig. My bass setup was almost always direct to the board (jazz gigs) or bass > SansAmp BDDI > board (rock, metal, etc.). It seems like lately I've been coming into more situations where there isn't a PA though, so I've had to get creative. Maybe I'm getting more picky too, because I've found the quality of some of my latest improvised setups to be... lacking. Since I was thinking of going FRFR for guitar anyway, it seemed like I might be able to kill two birds with one stone and possibly not break the bank in the process.

Quality FRFR with enough volume to keep up with a band still isn't cheap, but it is getting less and less expensive. The best bang for the buck would still probably be a traditional bass rig, second hand. Otherwise, I'd feel comfortable with a these 12"-based speakers: Turbosound iQ12 ($749US), Yamaha DXR12 ($699US), and QSC K12.2 ($799 US) among others. These would be my minimum bench marks for off-the-shelf, known commodity manufacturers.

If those choices are too rich for you, or if you can't find a better deal on something at least that good (I got my pair of CLRs in mint shape from someone on this forum for a CRAZY good deal), then I'd just save up. Again, $700-800 gets you an awful lot of power in a traditional bass amp, used in good condition.
 

OmegaZero

Inspired
I'm actually looking at a pair of active XiTone wedges. After talking with Mic about it, he says he can give me a custom preset for bass that extends the low end to something like 60Hz (versus 80Hz normally). I was originally thinking I might need a sub with that, but from this discussion it sounds like that probably isn't the case. Assuming the XiTones behave like quality coaxial monitors with reasonably flat response, I'd expect them to work about as well for bass as mid-range PA speakers, no?
 

jimfist

Fractal Fanatic
I'm actually looking at a pair of active XiTone wedges. After talking with Mic about it, he says he can give me a custom preset for bass that extends the low end to something like 60Hz (versus 80Hz normally). I was originally thinking I might need a sub with that, but from this discussion it sounds like that probably isn't the case. Assuming the XiTones behave like quality coaxial monitors with reasonably flat response, I'd expect them to work about as well for bass as mid-range PA speakers, no?

Perhaps. You should ask XiTone what they think, and perhaps to provide the frequency response specs.
 

pauly

Fractal Fanatic
Personally, I'd get a couple of the best 15 inch two way monitors I could afford. Even a pair of the JBL PRX 15 inch 2 ways would kill in both bass and guitar gigs.

Thanks
Pauly


Thanks guys - I really appreciate the conversation. Some great points to think about here.
Hi ,
 

OmegaZero

Inspired
I ended up getting a pair of XiTone active wedges with an added custom DSP preset to extend the low end. They work great for moderate-volume bass playing, and I can turn off the extra bottom if/when I turn up. Hopefully in that case there would be a PA to handle the heavy lifting, but I was also able to pick up a KSub on the cheap just in case. I doubt I'll ever need it, but it was certainly fun to test out and dial in. "Rig of doom" indeed. :smilingimp:

Thanks again to everyone for their thoughts and advice.
 
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