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Ampeg BA115, but louder?
Old 6 days ago
Ampeg BA115, but louder?

I'm after some advice and to hear of other guys experiences.

There's a bit of a preamble below to give some context and explanation, but basically I am looking for a head or combo which has a very similar sound to the early BA115, only louder.

Back story:

I have an ampeg ba115 combo - the early version that tilts back, is 100w, and does not have the scrambler circuit. Once I disconnected the hf tweeter I loved this amp. Still do. It sounds great to my ears for rehearsals for recording, and just playing at home. The 5 voice switch is incredibly useful for re-voicing the amp when switching basses, and aside from lacking things like efx loop, graphic eq, compression, or much distortion it has been an all round job to use for the last 8-9 years.

But it is not loud enough to gig with unless in conjunction with a PA, or used for quiet acoustic shows.

I figured it was and is time to get a louder bass rig together that can keep up with loud drummers and tube guitar amps. Not looking for a massive rock god stack, but I figured a 1x15 cab of good quality and a 200-300w solid state head to match.

I'll add that I am basically an ampeg guy. I have tried other bass amps in this range from the usual suspects and either disliked them (Marshall, orange, peavey, trace elliott, markbass, aguilar) or else found them to not be the sound I was looking for (gallien Kruger, fender). This narrows/focuses my search somewhat.

I am also set on solid state amps for now, somewhat preferring the tone and headroom for bass. I also prefer a 1x15 cab to a 2x10, or even 4x10.

So, I explored most of the options I could find by ampeg in this range. I acquired a used Ampeg SVT 15E cabinet (at a great price too) figuring that it would sound at least similar, and probably better than the 1x15 cabinet and speaker that my stock ba115 has.

Now all I needed was a head to match it that could put out 200w or more into an 8ohm cab. The one that looked most promising to me given my tastes and criteria was the pf 500. I tried the pf series as well as the pf-20T in a shop, and the solid state ones were more to my liking. I ended up taking the plunge and picking up a 2nd hand pf500 on eBay (again for a good price) which arrived this week. I was fairly excited, but when plugged in, A/B-ing between the two, with all settings flat, the BA115 just sounded deeper, rounder, less 'pokey', smoother, and generally better. Not to mention the pf500 fan noise was much louder than any noise or his the other amp has.

The pf500/1×15 setup just didn't have the low end or fullness. With the bass at 11 o'clock on the combo, it had way more depth than the pf500 with bass at 3o'clock and the lo switch engaged. I was pretty confused and figured maybe I had rigged it incorrectly, but I took a speaker cable from the output on the back of the head, and tried connecting it to both of the speaker inputs on the back of the cab, and there was no noticeable difference.

I understand it takes a while to get to know a new amp or piece of gear, but experience has also shown me that good gear sounds good from plugging in straight away, and tweaking to refinement is more of the cherry and icing than the cake itself.

So, anyone have experience with both amps and know if I'm going wrong somewhere? If it's just a case of the amps having a different sound, are there any heads that can get me closer to the BA115 sound or something in that ballpark at the kind of volume I am after?

Any help or pointers much appreciated.

PS Apologies for the post length, I am just trying to be specific and clear.
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
frans's Avatar
If your amp has 100 watts than it can be loud enough, with the right cabs. Most cheaper caps don't have much in the way of efficiency and better cabs can be twice as loud with the same amp. My main gigging amp back in the day was 100w (Hiwatt DR) and with two Trace Elliot 15"s it was more than loud enough for every drummer and clubs up to 500 people. Most of the time i couldn't even turn it up like i would have wanted. It wouldn't have worked that good with a single 15", so you have to carry big enough cabs to move air.
Old 6 days ago
Originally Posted by frans View Post
If your amp has 100 watts than it can be loud enough, with the right cabs. Most cheaper caps don't have much in the way of efficiency and better cabs can be twice as loud with the same amp. My main gigging amp back in the day was 100w (Hiwatt DR) and with two Trace Elliot 15"s it was more than loud enough for every drummer and clubs up to 500 people.
It can be loud enough and has been for most occasions. As I mentioned, I am trying to upscale so that I have more power at my disposal to meet the demands of other situations where my combo amp is not loud enough, and there is no PA to make up for it.

I am also aware that the amp itself is not so efficient and that not all 100watts are created equally.

It might be that changing to a more efficient speaker would help, but l already have an svt 15E cab which is supposed to take care of that for me.
Old 6 days ago
Here for the gear

Frans: You were spoiled...LOL!! 100 watts rms from a quartet of EL34s - especially a Hiwatt - is a very different animal from a portable solid-state bass combo. I feel for the OP because 100 watts from that little amp trying to move enough air to let the bass be heard is a tough thing.
Old 6 days ago
Lives for gear
frans's Avatar
Originally Posted by samuraisoundman View Post
Frans: You were spoiled...LOL!!
Of course i'm spoilt - my amp is the best sounding bassamp i have heard in 30+ years of doing FOH, including a few other Hiwatt that weren't serviced properly. It has a few watts more, measured on the bench of a tech. But it's really the cabs here that determine how loud it gets: to double the SPL you have to roughly pour ten times the power into the same cab. So give and take a few watts doesn't do much. I guess the original posters dilemma is having a sound like he craves with more volume in a package that's not too big.
There would be other solutions as well, like taking a feed from the amps output (not D.I., but from the speaker output), getting it in a clean transistor power amp and feeding another cab with it, but that would result in more weight and ... more cabs.
Another possibility would to double the cone area pushing air, that is roughly double the SPL (or ten times output watts) (grossly oversimplyfied, okay?) Ever wondered why Ampeg lovers like two 8x10" cabs...? Cone surface area. Playing bass is attrition warfare.
Old 5 days ago
I get what you are saying about speaker surface area and pushing air, but it shouldn't be too unrealistic to want a little more volume from a 15" speaker by using a bit more amp power?
Old 5 days ago
Anyway Frans you were kind of on the right track. I had a chance to play around with the amps a bit more last night and open up the cabs to check the speakers.

The SVT 15E had a Chinese made Eminence speaker. Couldn't find any markings to indicate a particular model. It weighs a fair bit and seems sturdy and well built.

The BA115 had a plain, lightweight speaker by comparison, far less solid. It says SLM electronics acoustic lab on the back, a small row of numbers, and little else.

Out of curiosity I switched the speakers around (in hindsight I should've checked they were both 8ohm and so on), but the sonic issues reversed. The combo sounded bodies, harsher in the upper mids, and less bass, whereas the pf500 through the cab now sounded great. Pretty much exactly what I was looking for (fan noise notwithstanding).

So basically, my issues with the amp were BS nonsense. It was the speakers that were the defining factor.

This begs the question, or questions as to whether I should replace the cab speaker or not. I wonder if the SLM speaker sounds so good partly because it has been broken in and played for years, whereas the eminence one has not, or whether I should just ditch it as a poorly made Chinese piece of junk and put a real speaker in it? Or will it improve in tone after enough hours of use?
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