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Microphone Month 3

Sweetwater Forums [Archived]

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Difference between Sub and Bass Amp


Hi... I am a music player in a church. Now we have two jbl EON speakers for our sound reinforcement. I feel that we need more power for the sound system. We don't have bass amp and also subwoofer. I am a bit confused the difference between subwoofer and bass amp. Since we have limited budget. Can you guys recommend which one should i buy first? Thanks
August 30, 2006 @03:32am

A bass amp is typically speaker with a built-in amplifer (or a speaker and amp in seperate units) to amplify the bass guitar on stage (like a guitar amp, but for bass). It's not part of the sound system.
A subwoofer is a loudspeaker integrated into the sound system which only handles low frequency information. Its input is filtered using a crossover and it is usually wired into the mixer's main outputs, though it is occasionally fed by an aux send.
If you want more power and low end for the sound system, you want a subwoofer. If you just want to make your bass player happy, get a bass amp.
August 30, 2006 @11:15am

hello.........we have a similar situation at out church.........first , if your bass player runs directly into sound board , unless he has an active bass it is not gonna sound good , plus your gonna muddy up the vocals in the monitors with his bass........best thing to do is get a decent bass amp , something like the hartke kickback (small and tight sounding) , ...that way your player has an amp , which has all the eq settings and gain etc for sound shaping and he (and anyone else onstage) will hear the amp like a monitor , then run the line-out of the amp to the mixer.........your sound guy can dial in more bass (for the audience) thru the JBL's if needed.........if you dont get enough bass still(most likely not) your gonna need a sub or two.........which sub to get and hooking it in the system can be tricky too.........post another for that
August 30, 2006 @08:56pm

Thanks for your suggestion guys.... If I decided to buy bass amp, do you have any suggestion which one? and if I decided to buy subwoofer, do you have any suggestion also? the room is about for 200 people... Thanks
September 1, 2006 @12:34am
Matthew Skinner

Try posting on the site below as churchs have special concerns which need to be thought about instead of just putting together a rock and roll setup. Post a full list of the gear you use and what type of style your church is and where it wants to be in the future and other churches can give you advice.
Also in most cases the best sound is not attained by placing the subs in the corners of the room, in fact the sound improves as you move any speaker especially subs away from walls and corners. Keeping all speakers time alined will result in huge jumps forward in sound quality and feedback rejection. These things for a church should be a much higher priority.
September 6, 2006 @02:13am

Hello....i have a question that's been botherin me for a few weeks now. We just bought a new bass amp for our church worship team, and the old bass amp works fine except for the stereo input where we connected the bass....it has an XLR imput that works fine and i was wondering if we could use that one as a subwoofer for the main sound system we have , instead of puttin it in the storage and let it go to waste...anybody with any suggestions? i'll appreciate it. :D
October 24, 2007 @01:40am

Hello....i have a question that's been botherin me for a few weeks now. We just bought a new bass amp for our church worship team, and the old bass amp works fine except for the stereo input where we connected the bass....it has an XLR imput that works fine and i was wondering if we could use that one as a subwoofer for the main sound system we have , instead of puttin it in the storage and let it go to waste...anybody with any suggestions? i'll appreciate it. :D

DERV you didn't mention what kind of bass amp you have wattage, size speakers etc.....I don't understand about the stereo input for a bass guitar, I have never seen a bass plugged into a stereo in, but it may be possible, most bass guitars are simply a single 1/4" plug in cord from bass to amp, I think some Music Man basses had an XLR connect....stereo inputs are usually reserved for keyboards. If the amp has an XLR input which is a balanced line in, this may work as a powered sub, depends...best bet is to plug it in and test it out, if it sounds good use it. Try using it from an auxillary out, feed all the bass instruments to that aux channel ie bass guitar, kick drum. It never hurts to experiment.
October 24, 2007 @11:46am

i think i didn't explain myself too good..the stereo plug wasn't wat i meant..i meant the 1/4" plug. Im not really sure about the wattage...but the amp is pretty big...when we turned it all the way up it shook everythin inside the church...the church is medium sized.....anyways....i'll try it out and see how it sounds....i just wnated to kno if it WOULD work....thanks alot
October 25, 2007 @03:05am

Welcome to the audioforums DERV0627...let us know how that set-up works (or not) with a bass amp.
October 25, 2007 @10:44am

nope it didn't work..it sounded awful! i think im just gonna get a subwoofer.....and even if it was possible..i really don't have the time to play around with it until it sounds good....thanx anyways every1
October 27, 2007 @08:26pm

hey all, I'm brand new here but thought I'd chime in. The reason it didn't sound good, is that a bass amp isn't really designed to reproduce low frequencies efficiently. A bass amp uses full range drivers because a bass guitar produces a range of frequencies. They are well suited to the low sounds of a bass, but it generally won't reproduce the lowest sounds of the bass guitar. Ever notice that the best bass amps actually use smaller drivers? There's a lot more to bass guitar than rumble. Subwoofers extend much lower and most don't reproduce sounds above 400hz or so very well. Almost all instrument amplifiers use full range drivers and won't sound very good as a full range PA. (some keyboard amps are basically powered 2-way PA speakers however)
October 29, 2007 @02:03pm

hey guys,
just wanted to clear some things up.
a sub woofer or sub cabinet for a sound reinforcement system is designed to reproduce and reinforce frequencies below 200 hz,
you need 3 things to make a sub frequency system work with your existing reinforcement system
first you need a dedicated amplifier.
this amplifier is nothing special, but a high quality amplifier is essential to producing clean high power bass frequencies.

in general the amplifier is run in bridge mode.
in front of the amplifier, you need an active crossover, you will be sending this a line level signal that is a composite of the whole signal from the mixer.

the crossover will let you select pass filters frequency, by using a crossover, you will eliminate the distortion caused by having all of the frequencies going to the bass drivers.
then last, you need the cabinet itself which is usually an exponential horn loaded with one to multiple 10 - 15 inch drivers like the EAW LA400

this is a good augmentation for a small venue sound system.
So what does the Bass player bring?
well, the bass player has his guitar,

then he has his bass head

which is the amplifier and other signal bending circuitry in it like EQ, and other neat stuff.
this is what the player connects his guitar to. this is considered to be a part of the instrument as with out this, the bass player is only playing on part of the instrument.
then he has his stack which is connected to the head.
which is also part of the whole instrument.
so in essence, an electric bass is the instrument, head and stack.
the player cannot reliably plug his guitar into the mixer and expect it to sound good as the head and stack are what really form the true bass tone.
in general, the bass stack is sufficient to fill the space with enough bass to be heard in a relatively loud mix so no extra reinforcement is really needed unless the area is big, then it is a good idea to reinforce the bass player.
the ONLY way to do this is to place a microphone in front of the stack and then route the signal through the mixer to the mains.
October 29, 2007 @05:56pm

The EAW LA400 is great for a budget sub, and easily toted around because of the integrated wheels and handle. Highly recommended for mobile dj's. I would disagree however, that it's a typical design. There are lots of high end subs that use a simple front loaded 18. The LA400 is rather unique. (in a good way :))
October 29, 2007 @06:22pm

the EAW looks to be a bass reflex cab, probably rear loaded...we used this type cab design alot back in the day, but most "typical" subs nowadays are front loaded...the defining factor in the bass amp not working for DERV is the "amplifier" built into the bass amp, not the bass speakers. I'm sure the cab design of the bass amp (whatever kind it is) would lend to the quailty of the sound, but if you have ever (i know ya have) bought raw speakers then you know selecting from PA and Bass rig specified sytems are usually an all in one selection....meaning they work well with pa or bass application.
October 30, 2007 @11:24am

If I recall the LA400 is a folded horn design with a single 12 in it. (been a while) Fairly remarkable the amount of sound it produces. Doesn't throw as far as one would want with a full on concert, but great for dj's and small clubs.
October 30, 2007 @06:43pm