Bass Gear Issue 7 : Page 78
Reeves 1x15 and 4x10 Bass Cabs TEST! bass gear By Tom Bowlus The Company Line We introduced you to Bill Jansen and the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Reeves Amplification back in issue #2, where we reviewed the very impressive Custom 225 all-tube bass head. At the time, Reeves Amplification did not make any bass enclosures of their own, but the Custom 225 impressed when paired up with a variety of other cabs. Up for review now, we have not one, but two Reeves-branded cabs to consider: a 1x15 and a 4x10. To refresh your memory, Bill Jansen hooked up with the folks at Music Ground (“HIWATT, U.K.”) to manufacturer amplifiers to be sold in the USA under the name “Reeves Amplification.” For the uninitiated, the late Dave Reeves was the engineer and driving force behind the original HIWATT brand (and Sound City). The HIWATT brand name also continues, but it is a completely different company. Reeves Amplification currently builds their bass heads (Custom 225 and Custom 400) and cabs here in the USA. Building a New Foundation One of the cabs that they used back when they were testing the Custom 225 prototype was a Sunn 2x15 with slotted ports. Everyone liked the way that cab sounded with the Reeves head, so when Bill and co. set out to build their own line of bass cabs to support the C225 (the 400 would come later), the first thing he wanted to try was a slot-ported 1x15. I believe this was a smart call, as was enlisting the help of a number of local bass players to assist in the process. Through a process of trial and error – which included swapping out lots of different drivers and trying a couple of different cabinet configurations – they came up with their first official bass cab design. The driver which they
Reeves Amplification 4x10 & 1x15 Bass Cabinets
The Company Line <br /> <br /> We introduced you to Bill Jansen and the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Reeves Amplification back in issue #2, where we reviewed the very impressive Custom 225 alltube bass head. At the time, Reeves Amplification did not make any bass enclosures of their own, but the Custom 225 impressed when paired up with a variety of other cabs. Up for review now, we have not one, but two Reeves-branded cabs to consider: a 1x15 and a 4x10.<br /> <br /> To refresh your memory, Bill Jansen hooked up with the folks at Music Ground (“HIWATT,U. K.”) to manufacturer amplifiers to be sold in the USA under the name “Reeves Amplification.” For the uninitiated, the late Dave Reeves was the engineer and driving force behind the original HIWATT brand (and Sound City).The HIWATT brand name also continues, but it is a completely different company. Reeves Amplification currently builds their bass heads (Custom 225 and Custom 400) and cabs here in the USA.<br /> <br /> Building a New Foundation <br /> <br /> One of the cabs that they used back when they were testing the Custom 225 prototype was a Sunn 2x15 with slotted ports.Everyone liked the way that cab sounded with the Reeves head, so when Bill and co. Set out to build their own line of bass cabs to support the C225 (the 400 would come later), the first thing he wanted to try was a slot-ported 1x15. I believe this was a smart call, as was enlisting the help of a number of local bass players to assist in the process. Through a process of trial and error – which included swapping out lots of different drivers and trying a couple of different cabinet configurations – they came up with their first official bass cab design. The driver which they settled on is a custom version of the ceramic-magnet Warehouse Guitar Speakers BG15C.<br /> <br /> This new 1x15 seemed to be a hit with nearly everyone who tried it, but one of the rules in design and manufacturing is that some people will always be more interested in what you don’t offer than what you do offer. To silence at least a few of those folks, Reeves later developed a 4x10 enclosure. This process was a lot more straightforward. To maintain a consistent look and to maximize production efficiency, Bill wanted the enclosure to retain the same exterior dimensions as the 1x15. To work well with their tube head, he chose to go with a sealed design.From there, it was a matter of picking a 10” driver which would work well in the box they had in mind. Fortunately, this time around, the first try was the charm, and the off-the-shelf, neodymium-magnet Eminence Deltalite™ II 2510 hit the nail on the head.<br /> <br /> Both cabs are very attractive, sturdy, and lighter than you’d expect from their size. The neatly applied tolex and thin white piping provide a nice contrast to the reserved, but classy salt-andpepper grill cloth. The real beauty, perhaps, lies beneath, where the 18mm void-free Baltic birch plywood enclosure features fingered joints and rounded edges. The hardware is simple – recessed metal handles, large rubber feet, and a single ¼” input jack – but effective.<br /> <br /> Would You Like That With a Twist of Orange?<br /> <br /> When I was talking to Bill Jansen about their design process for these cabs, he mentioned that the Orange OBC115 was one of the 1x15’s which they referenced when developing the Reeves 1x15. Ironically, I had just recently finished up some comparative testing between the Reeves cab and – you guessed it – the Orange OBC115. It’s a great cab, and it routinely gets slammed by an all-tube head, so it makes sense for use as a reference point. Head to head, the Orange and the Reeves have definite similarities. The Reeves has a more extended high end and a bit more u p p e r -mi d r a n g e presence. The Orange is a little more full down low (through the low E) . The Reeves sounds like it might go a little lower, but again, it is not as fullsounding through much of the lows.The Reeves is more tight and clear, and the Orange is more warm and round.With some EQ, either cab can be made to sound close to, but not exactly like, the other.<br /> <br /> Sticking with the brand-to-brand comparison, I broke out my Orange OBC410 to compare to the Reeves 4x10. This comparison is a little different than the 1x15’s, seeing as how the Reeves 4x10 is sealed and the Orange is rear-ported (both 1x15’s are ported). In addition, the Orange has a tweeter, and the Reeves does not. The Orange has noticeably more low end going on, and the Reeves is more midfocused (not surprising, given the ported vs. sealed thing going on).What did surprise me was that the Reeves has almost as much high frequency extension, despite not having a tweeter. It is also noticeable that with the Reeves, the upper mids surge right up to and through the high end. With the two-way Orange, it sounds like there is a bit of a dip in response between the driver and the tweeter. This is no slam to the Orange. In fact, in comparison to your “typical” 4x10 (most of which are ported and have tweeters), the Orange’s response is closer to average. Rather, this goes to show that the Reeves is doing something special, here.Overall, the Orange is more warm and full, and the Reeves is more articulate and mid-punchy.<br /> <br /> Not having any modern sealed 4x10’s on hand, I turned to my 1975 vintage Ampeg B-40 as a second comparison point. I’d always loved the B-40, especially with its matching V-4B, but this comparison points out just how much more efficient modern drivers have become. The Reeves 4x10 is notably louder and more sensitive, but the most dramatic difference was in the mids. The B-40 has a definite scoop going on, and the Reeves just pours it on throughout the mids. The B-40 did have a bit more fullness and warmth down low, and a very strong low-midrange response.The Reeves, however, is much more defined in the lower frequencies, especially when playing on the B string (which in all fairness, the old Ampeg just was not designed to handle). The B-40 does have surprising highend reach, which is a bit on the thin side (relative to the Reeves, at least), but sweet and clear.Once again, the Reeves just has a lot more output, especially up top.<br /> <br /> Which One Should I Get?<br /> <br /> Okay, so Reeves now has two killer bass enclosure options, but which one is right for you? They do share some common tonal qualities, such as controlled low end, strong midrange presence, and more high-end extension than you’d expect from cabs without horns. The 4x10 has a bit more of a balanced response through the mids, and it’s a tad more fullsounding, as a result. The 4x10 is the louder of the two, and has a bit more life up high. Overall, it is a little warmer than the 1x15. The 1x15 is no slouch, though, and has a bit more note separation down low. I tried both cabs with a mixture of different basses, and I found that I tended to prefer the 4x10 with passive 4-string axes.Conversely, I tended to prefer the 1x15 with active basses and 5- strings. Not that either cab wouldn’t do well with a variety of basses, but for my preferences, that’s how things panned out.<br /> <br /> How about driving them both as one big happy stack? Granted, these two cabs sound and behave more alike than you would expect from two such different cabs (more on this in the Cab Lab portion of the review). But when you begin mixing up the radiation patterns of cabinets with different driver configurations, the results are less predictable than when y ou st ac k simi lar c abs.Som etime s, you are pleasantly surprised by the mix-n-match, but more often than not, the sum of the part s is greater t han t he whole. Such is the case, here. If you are inclined to drive two Reeves c abs, I would sugg est making it a matching pair. Oh, and grab some earplugs, because at most sane volumes, either cab is going to be plenty capable of handling gig duties on its own. I have to admit, though, two of those 1x15’s would make for a pretty darned sweet stack. But then again, so would two of the 4x10’s…<br /> <br /> Speaking of Gig-Worthy… <br /> <br /> I have gigged my Custom 225 with a var ie ty o f ca bs, m os t typically of the 6x10 or 8x10 variety. It’s safe to say that these covered the gig nicely. Turns out, though, I was bringing way too much c ab… E ithe r o f the s e Reeves cabs when paired up with the C225 are capable of covering a large gig with FOH support, or a smaller gig with no PA support.Most of my gigs nowadays are one form of rock or the other, and – with the he lp of a fe w choic e pedals – I can cover any of them with the C225 pushing ei ther Ree ves cab. From time to time, I fill in with some friends in a country band, and on one s uch oc ca s ion , I brought the Reeves C225 and 4x10, and this was a match made in heaven when paired up with either my Sadowsky P/J 5 or my ’74 P-bass.<br /> <br /> I should point out that I have been running my Custom 225 with Tung-Sol KT120’s, instead of the original KT88’s. This obviously requires a re-bias, but the transformers are definitely up to the task. We didn’t get a ton more output from the KT120’s (maybe only 12% more power, or so), but it did change the tone profile a bit, with less of a dip in the midrange, so the perceived volume to a definitely jump in the right direction. The C225 is not lacking in volume with the KT88’s, but if you want a bit more midrange and little more output, those KT120’s work very well in that head.<br /> <br /> The Bottom Line <br /> <br /> I have to admit, the Custom 225 really set some high expectations for me. That is one of my all-time favorite heads, and when I heard that Reeves Amplification was going to come out with a cab or two support their sweet all-tube head, I was really hoping that they’d be up to the task. I needn’t have worried. These are two excellent cabs that each pair up very nicely with the Reeves head.Oh sure, they work well with other heads, too, but they look so darned classy with a matching head, why would you want to? <br /> <br /> These cabs do a great job of taking the best that classic enclosure designs had to offer and blending this with the best modern materials and techniques. The black tolex, white piping, and salt-andpepper grill cloth present a classic, almost retro, look. The finger joints are rounded over nicely on the edges, and the entire cab is made from 18mm void-free Baltic birch plywood. The frame for the grill is made from ½” Baltic birch, and the grill is held in place by six strips of Velcro, which do a nice job of holding it in place. I noticed no rattles or looseness in the grill, even after several gigs and even when pushing the cabs pretty hard.Pull tabs on the bottom of the grill make removing it a breeze.<br /> <br /> The drivers are held in place with my preferred fasteners, bolts threaded into Tnuts.Eight are used on the 1x15, and four per driver on the 4x10. The input jack on the rear of the cab also follows a classic theme, sporting only a single ¼” input jack.Most modern cabs in this price range have two or more input jacks (to make “daisy chaining” multiple cabs easier) and most offer Speakon™ connectors.The Reeves heads do offer two speaker outputs, so the daisy chaining function is not a major issue, but some heads which folks might want to use with these cabs might only have one 4-ohm output jack, making it difficult to drive two of the Reeves cabs.Similarly, the ¼” speaker jack has worked fine for most folks over the past several decades, but on higherpowered amplifiers, like the Reeves Custom 400, Speakons would be preferred.<br /> <br /> The handles are large, recessed metal jobs, and they are well positioned to allow a comfortable carry. At 62 and 68 pounds, respectively, both cabs are a little lighter than they look to be, though both are plenty sturdy. The large, textured rubber feet make for a solid foundation. Casters are not provided and are not listed as an option.<br /> <br /> Both enclosures have the same exterior dimensions, though the 1x15 is slot-ported (bottom, front) and the 4x10 is sealed. Despite these differences, both cabs have similar overall tunings (see Fig. A), though the 1x15 has a few more dips in the midrange and the 4x10 has a couple of peaks in the 2kHz range. In addition, the impedance curves line up fairly closely (see Fig. B), though according to Bill Jansen, both of these similarities are more by happenstance than by design.<br /> <br /> The wiring in these cabs is very nicely done, with heavy gauge wire; nothing to complain about at all. Insulation is of the pink fiberglass variety and securely applied. There’s nothing too fancy about these cabs, but that is part of their appeal.
Using a screen reader? Click Here