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Subwoofers de Bocina Vs Ventilados

Will the debate ever end? Which is better, Horn Subs or Vented Subs? Well, which is better, chocolate or vanilla? Your choice, in either case, will likely be based on your preference, your past experience, but not on empirical data. Let’s dig into the data…

During all my years in the business, I have been on a quest for the ultimate subwoofer. Horn-loaded subs were my preference and I started BASSBOSS originally based on the performance of the B-One and B-Zero horns. We developed a lot of horns over the years, and continue to do so, because horns have a number of desirable and beneficial properties compared to vented boxes. There was, however, just one thing I was always missing from the horn-loaded subs: Really DEEP bass!

Other than building individual horns that are absolutely massive, or building a segmented horn comprised of many separate elements that combine to make one massive horn, there was not a practical way to build a subwoofer horn that was portable and would reach a minimum frequency of 30Hz. I had to look for a more practical way to deliver the deep bass I wanted to incorporate into the horns.

Eventually I designed a hybrid box that incorporated a vented section with a long, partially folded horn-loaded section. It was 45″ square and 24″ tall. Although the box was also quite large, heavy and complicated to build, it was smaller and lighter and less complicated than the B-Zero… and it produced massively low bass compared to the B-Zeros. That particular design was really time-consuming to build, so it was impractical from a size and cost point of view. It did go low but the long horn and the vented section still left something to be desired. It didn’t have the dynamic impact that the B-Zeros did, and the box could have gone just as deep and been a lot smaller without the horn section.

What I then did was begin to develop a vented box to see what I could achieve with a highly optimized vented box. What I got was a really magnificent, musical and ruler-flat subwoofer with massive deep-bass output capabilities and virtually unlimited power handling. As good as it was, it still lacked the impact I loved about the horn-loaded boxes.

In order to deliver both impact and depth I started combining the two types of boxes and found it to be challenging to integrate the two types. I could get the super-deep bass I wanted from the vented boxes and I could get the massive impact from the horns but getting them to line up and do it together took a great deal of time, measurement and experimentation. When I finally got them to work together properly, it was magic! Massive shock impact with a thick, rich depth I’d never heard or experienced from any horn subs alone, especially since they had to at least fit through a door!

Not only do I understand and agree with the love for the impact of horns, I have improved upon it, to make it even more impactful. Think of it this way, if a 160 lb guy (80 kilogram) hit you in the chest with a solid punch, it would be a hard hit, but if that man was 320 lbs (160 kilograms) that hit would move you much farther! Why the reference? To go an octave lower requires four times (4x) the power, and displaces four times the air for the same sound pressure level. If you can extend the power behind that initial hit by an octave, then it effectively hits four times harder because it literally is four times the mass of air behind the hit.

This is effectively what we can do with the combination of the horns and vented boxes. The reason we do it with vented boxes is because to do it with horns would take up more than four times the space and that becomes impractical for both portability and for floor space in a nightclub.

In this case, for this purpose, I’m not using vented subs in the place of horn-loaded subs, I’m using vented subs to extend and improve the impact of the horn-loaded subs.

Done correctly, horns are awesome and wonderful things, but they have limits. There are three factors that essentially limit a horns performance. The first is its length. The horn’s low frequency limit is determined by how long it is, so its length, from driver to mouth, multiplied by 4 is the wavelength below which it is relatively ineffective. For a horn to be effective at 30Hz, it needs to be 112.5”, 9.375’ or 2.86m long. Some people say they have found ways to break that rule but any breaking of that rule involves compromises, and I’m not a fan of compromises.

Si me pidieras que diseñara un sistema con lo último en cuanto a calidad de sonido, podría elegir algo diferente que si me pidieras que diseñara un sistema con la máxima confiabilidad o NPS o máxima simplicidad. En algún momento debemos tomar decisiones y todas las opciones implican compromisos.

Las bocinas tienen 3 factores que dictan su rendimiento.

Su primera limitación es la longitud de la bocina. La longitud de trayectoria interna entre el driver y la boca debe ser lo suficientemente larga como para soportar un cuarto de la longitud de onda de la frecuencia más baja que la bocina (o array de bocinas) necesita reproducir. Si la bocina no es lo suficientemente larga, la onda de presión saldrá de la boca mientras el cono sigue empujando hacia adelante y la «carga» en el driver se caerá, perdiendo eficiencia y permitiendo que el driver se hiperextienda. Por lo tanto, una bocina debe ser lo suficientemente larga como para soportar la expansión de la onda en la frecuencia más baja que necesites reproducir. Suponiendo que 30 Hz es tu objetivo de frecuencias bajas, las bocinas que elijas deben tener AL MENOS 2,85 m de longitud.

La segunda limitación es la constante de ensanchamiento. Esto es qué tan rápido o lento el área de la bocina aumenta a lo largo de la trayectoria. Las bocinas de bajas frecuencias requieren un ensanchamiento lento, lo que hace que su construcción sea más complicada cuando se pliega en gabinetes de tamaño razonable. Cuando se diseña una bocina con un índice de ensanchamiento para frecuencias bajas, se debe elegir un continuo entre la eficiencia y el tamaño. La mayoría de las bocinas que se fabrican en un tamaño razonable NO se construyen con una constante de ensanchamiento baja NI un camino lo suficientemente largo. Uno, el otro o ambos están comprometidos. Esto conduce a respuestas picosas y «bocinazos» y una total falta de profundidad en su desempeño. Estos son compromisos con los que no estoy dispuesto a vivir.

A partir de esta información puedes deducir que para instalar un sistema de subwoofers de solo bocinas con respuesta de frecuencia plana a 30 Hz se necesitaría una gran cantidad de espacio, gabinetes y dinero. PERO la respuesta de frecuencias bajas NO es lo que la gente ama de las bocinas. Es el impacto y la inmediatez de su entrega. Es lo apretado y fuerte y la respuesta transitoria tremendamente dinámica. Por lo tanto, si usas las bocinas para ESA función y usas radiadores directos para la respuesta de frecuencias bajas, puedes usar bocinas más pequeñas que estén específicamente diseñados y perfectamente adaptados para brindar el impacto que las personas aman de ellos.
The reason direct-radiating boxes can’t deliver the impact of horns is due to the limitation of coil/cone inertia. In most cases, the vented boxes can’t reach equivalency with horns before they reach either an excursion, thermal or distortion limit. In the past, the answer has been to add more vented boxes until there are enough drivers to match or beat the SPL of a horn-loaded array. Unfortunately, all those vented boxes might be able to match the output LEVEL of a horn-loaded array but not the transient dynamic response and impact of the horn-loaded array.

This is the point at which the Sub-Mergence system was developed. Its low-frequency component is the ZV28 subwoofer, which extends system response to 21Hz, and its horn component is called the Z5/D. This solution takes advantage of both technologies’ strengths to create a system that offers the benefits of both with the weaknesses of neither. The combination overcomes the limitations of both the boxes and the horns. In the Sub-Mergence system, the cabinets are properly aligned and integrated with each other, so the shocking impact of the horn combines with the extended depth of the boxes while keeping the size and the power requirements reasonable and affordable. The boxes weigh 220lbs each, are the same size and they interlock with each other.

If you want the best of both worlds, the trick is combining the right horn with the right box in the right way. The vented box you choose MUST offer low frequency extension, well below the horn, and must be capable of output sufficient to match that of the horn. Horns are naturally more efficient than vented boxes, so they require less power. Within their operating band, they convert more of the electrical energy into acoustical energy. Boxes are less efficient than horns, so in order to have a box (or boxes) able to match the output level of a horn an octave lower than the horn, that box must be able to handle a great deal of power. In essence, the trade-off between horns and boxes is size and complexity versus power demand. Vented boxes can invariably be built smaller and lighter than horns but they require more amplification to reach equivalent output.
So why is it called Sub-Mergence? Two reasons: The first is because we’re merging the benefits of two different loudspeaker technologies.

The second is the experience the system delivers. Its the experience of being immersed in the music, submerged in it, swimming in it, being a part of it. Its beyond hearing it. It turns the air into a liquid. Its the transcendence that happens when you fully integrate the senses of hearing and feeling into the experience of music and dancing. For those who get it, its an instant addiction. It takes your breath away, modulates your voice, caresses your skin, moves your clothes, blows your hair and gives you warm chills…. Its what happens when you hear a familiar song and realize there are layers in the music you’ve never heard before. Frequencies below the capability of what you’ve heard before, dynamics above it, textures behind it and subtleties within it.

Such a system will allow you to listen at very high levels and not be in pain. It sounds big and effortless and open. From barely on to dangerously loud, it will be crystal clear at any level and will keep the same character no matter how high you turn it up. It offers tremendous loudness with no compromise in quality. Its intelligently designed so that you have enough headroom that you never force it to strain and distort and compromise the experience of the audience.

With the Sub-Mergence system there is no need for you to have to choose tight over deep or deep over tight or make any compromise. BASSBOSS knows subwoofer systems better than anyone.

Now, if you want the best of both worlds fitted into a much smaller package, into one box in fact, now you know the path that led to the VS21. V for Vented, S for Short-horn, 21″ woofer. The merging of the depth and the impact characteristics everyone can agree are good but can’t decide which one they like better… Why choose? The VS21 is a deep-bass, punchy-bass swirl of chocolate vanilla and cool!

And there is also something very big on the horizon! It’s called B.O.S.S Concept and it’s the ultimate realization of the uncompromised subwoofer horn!

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18 Comentarios

  1. Leo R

    Awesome article. Well written. I would love to get my hands on some of those double 18 boxes. Probably out of my price range though.

  2. Tim

    Ever experimented with a ‘tapped horn’ design? I haven’t heard one but I’ve read about them, they are said to have the deepest high efficiency bass for their size and Danley Sound Labs uses them a lot in PA subwoofers.

    • morethanbass

      A tapped horn is an interesting idea, and seems impressive in some ways. I’ve never built one because it’s someone else’s technology but I’ve modeled them in software and heard the Danley TH115, TH412, TH812 and TH221. My software models indicated that they would have to be really big to gain any deep-bass advantage from the technology and I concluded I had more practical ways to achieve what I believe to be superior results.

      The claims about tapped horns are absolutely mind-boggling and at first exposure they are impressive. As good as they seem to be on paper, they do things I just don’t care for, particularly at high levels. During testing they have made noises and smells that would make me very reluctant to run them hard for long periods. Still, like anything else, if you have enough of them, you don’t have to run them as hard! In my opinion, they do upper bass really well but their capacity for deep bass is limited, particularly the smaller ones.

      The really big 12″ ones CAN do deep bass and they CAN go really loud but something happens when you try to do both at the same time. It’s appears to be a limitation of the technology related to the combined path lengths and driver limitations but it sounds odd when it happens. The average person might not notice it unless they had heard something play the same thing and NOT do it. Like I said, not my design. The (also) really big TH221 goes deep, but to me the size is totally impractical and the upper bass isn’t there any more. The coils also started to smell hot when tested at the same drive level that my 218s could handle for days… So, they are said to have the deepest high efficiency bass for their size. Interesting claim. Their size is enormous if you want them to go deep. And what does high efficiency really mean?
      Let’s look at the medium-sized TH412 tapped horn in comparison to a conventional vented dual 18”. The TH412 efficiency is quoted to be 110dB, that’s with 2.83 volts into “rated impedance” which is stated to be 2 ohms, which translates to 104dB at 1 watt. That’s only 3dB more than one of my SSP218s at 101dB at 1 watt, specifically 2V into 4 ohms. The TH412 weighs 357 pounds, 153 pounds more than the SSP218, and the TH412 doesn’t include an amplifier where the SSP218 does. The overall exterior volume of the SSP218 is 18 cubic feet, the TH412 is 31 cubic feet. The TH412 handles 4000W continuous, the SSP218 handles 3200W continuous. Two of the SSP218s will deliver higher output at lower frequencies for less money and in only 5 more cubic feet and at 50 more pounds. And, in a lot of venues, moving two lighter boxes is often a lot easier than moving one very heavy one. This point is more clearly made against the bigger tapped horns.
      They make a point to mention output at 200Hz that is 10dB higher than the rated output. A very impressive number but totally undesirable. An increase of 10dB/octave between 90 and 180Hz means that a 24dB/octave low-pass crossover slope will result in only 14dB/octave roll-off. Would you use a 14dB/octave crossover on your subwoofers? With the TH412 that’s the result unless you go with a steeper filter. The increased upper bass output from the TH412 may account for why they seem impressive at first listen because that range tends to give the impression that they are very loud. It’s just not loud where I want it to be loud.

      The Tapped Horn is different, but different isn’t necessarily better, it’s just different. A TH412 is bigger, heavier, more complicated, more expensive and louder than an SSP218 but in my opinion the SSP218 is a better, more practical choice if you’re looking for a real subwoofer that can be run at very high levels and deliver very low frequencies, trouble-free, with outstanding sound quality.

      So, the answer to your question is yes, I’ve experimented with the design and with existing products but I concluded they didn’t offer what I wanted.

  3. gjsanchezm

    David, this article was so good and answered so many questions, in such a clear and easy to understand way, that I can only thank you, not only for writing it, but for making it easy for anyone to grasp the basics of the somewhat complex to explain concepts you wrote about, while at the same time, eliminating so many misconceptions and myths on the subject. Thank you for sharing your experiences, opinions, knowledge and tips. Very appreciated. Can’t wait for more intelligent, interesting posts like this.

  4. gjsanchezm

    Hi David, I was thinking that linking your blog from Bassmaxx’s website would be a good idea. I don’t know, maybe there’s a link already, but I couldn’t find it. I mean, articles such as the above are a must read for anyone visiting the website / interested in Bassmaxx, not many people know what you state in the article, certainly not many clients (if any), and not even many who claim are knowledgeable, this would make them understand, and articles like this, linked from Bassmaxx’s website, would gain you (even more) credibility and respect from people who are not directly in the sound reinforcement world (those, already know you). It also would make you gain visitors to the blog (and the site if you link back from here), and even brand fans (most of which might never need / buy a Z-5/D, but would talk about Bassmaxx everywhere and in every forum).

    I’m just a guy who found this blog while researching folded horn / horn loaded subwoofer enclosures, I knew about Bassmaxx’s subs and their great reviews, since long ago, heard them at UMF and well, knew mostly what everybody knows about Bassmaxx’s subs, but I had no idea about this great blog. You can become the go-to resource for people who do not work in sound reinforcement but are just enthusiasts, amateur DJs / producers, hobbyists , grow the company’s reach, marketing and fan base, you never know what the future holds. Get everybody talking good things about Bassmaxx’s blog, the knowledge and associated brand. Just an idea.

  5. gjsanchezm

    Why tractrix instead of exponential or exponential / hyperbolic horn flare?, doesn’t the faster expansion rate of the tractrix horn make it less than ideal?, wouldn’t this mean a bigger horn mouth than with a hyperbolic horn flare?. Why do you prefer tractrix instead of hyperbolic?.

  6. morethanbass

    You’re right about the bigger mouth but the mouth is bigger relative to the other horn types and that alone isn’t a bad thing… if you can make it fit. If the horn is long enough, the flare constant is low enough and the mouth is big enough, the result is better with Tractrix. (JMHO) The sound quality is the reason I prefer the Tractrix flare type. Listening to different horn types I’ve found that hyperbolic are very effective and efficient but the trade off is they are more honky. The L36 comes to mind. Comparing a Tractrix to an exponential, the sound is more similar, like an EAW KF940 or KF760 IIRC, and all other things being roughly equal, the exponential will be more efficient… But, in direct comparisons, to my ear the Tractrix has a more natural, dare I say un-horn-like sound. Yes, the down sides are that they tend to require slightly bigger boxes but the upside is that you can really enjoy listening to them.

    • gjsanchezm

      As always, VERY informational and straight to the point. Thank you!.

  7. acoustican

    A few Pictures of your endeavor would have been awesome.

  8. Anthony Rosa

    You know I really wish I had the money to even purchase 1 of the ssp218’s =( I have 2 peavey folded horn subs but the Xmax on them is only like 9mm and I don’t get the low end I want. I just went and saw hardwell in niagara falls new york on Monday and I know for a fact they were using these subs. I’ve never heard a sub reproduce low frequencies like bassmaxx!! I would probably do anything to get one of these subs!! wish there was a giveaway or something lol. I’d do anything =(

  9. morethanbass

    Hey Anthony,

    So you’d do anything? That covers a lot of ground…

    I’m glad you liked the subs. You should check out the new ones… 🙂

    I realize that the products can seem expensive when compared box-to-box but when compared in terms of output-per-cost they are extremely competitive. Add in the reliability and life expectancy that comes with the bassboss build quality and the price looks even better. Then add in the number of hours you save on setup because you’re using less equipment to do the same shows. And then there’s the question of your reputation. What would being able to deliver the sound you love to your customers do for your business?

    I challenge you, and anyone in your field, to add up the total cost of your system, honestly, including amps, racks, processors, speaker wire, repair costs and anything else required to make your system work over the last 12 months. Then ask me for a quote on a system that would outperform yours. I think most people would be very surprised by how cost effective these systems are when compared to any other. Unfortunately, by the time most people figure this out they have already spent too much on something else that doesn’t work as well.

    So you’d do anything? Would you sell all your old gear and invest in a new system?

    • Anthony Rosa

      Oh yea definitely. I’d sell all of my old equipment and invest everything into bassboss! Just wish I had the money to invest more into it =/

  10. morethanbass

    I’d be curious to find out what your entire system consists of and whether I can be truly cost-competitive with it. Send me a list of all your gear and I’ll look into it. Not to try to sell you anything, just to validate my claim. Are you willing to do that?

  11. Anthony Rosa

    Well my mixer is an American Audio vms4.1, which is the newer version of the vms4. So it has the updated sound card which is nice because everyone in my community that dj’s hears how loud and clear my set – up is and see that my gains on my powered speakers are barely touched. Not even a quarter of the way up. I’ve been waiting to go to the pioneer cdj’s but I just don’t have that kind of money. I don’t have any eq’s or sonic maximizer ‘ s which I wanted to get for my subs but there just not giving me what I want. For the low end I have two Peavey SPFHBX 18In Passive Folded Horn Subwoofer’s. They run off of an American Audio xlt 2500. Bridged at 4 ohms I believe putting out 2,000 watts. It was a cheap amp that I could am offers at the time. For my tops I have two
    Peavey PVX-P15 15 inch Powered Speaker’s. That’s pretty much all I have . It’s not much just because it was all I could afford but I would honestly give all of that up for just even 1 of the dual 18 inch bassboss cabinets =/.

    • morethanbass

      Since we don’t get into mixers and sound cards I considered your speakers and amp to figure out a budget. I came up with a rough estimate of $4000.00 to buy what you listed from internet retailers. You didn’t mention cost of cables, amp rack, tripod stands, etc. so I didn’t count anything like that in your budget but our systems include those types of items. You may not have bought the gear new but it’s a fair way to compare. In truth there isn’t a complete BASSBOSS system package I can provide for $4000.00 new but I will work on that for future product plans. We are working on a single 18″ subwoofer and satellite set that I believe will give you what you’re looking for in the low-end. As of this moment the price hasn’t been determined. It’s safe to say that the set of 4 boxes, (2 subs, 2 tops with 6000W of amplification, DSP, cables and speaker poles,) will sell for more than $4000.00 but it will kick serious butt and take up half the space of your current rig.

      It’s hard to fight a low-price war while using premium components so we focus on performance and value. Ultimately one of our systems might cost double what your system cost but every metric of performance is far better. From sound quality to reliability to ease of setup to appearance to electrical current draw to weight to size to longevity to customer service, you get that much more value for every dollar. It does take more dollars for us to deliver all that but we believe guys like you can appreciate that and will make the investment when the time comes. Does that sound right to you?

  12. Ian Lewis

    Hi David, almost a year ago I purchased 1 ssp218 sub(2000 Watt Version, I use it with 2 QSC KW153 tops), I have played with cerwin vega,QSC , yorkville ls801, ls2100 (2400 rms, 135spl) this box is loud, and highly regarded, but ssp218 does lower frequencies much smoother, this sub is in a different league, I have played that box with R&B, Reggae, Soca, Salsa,it hits those lows so much smoother, I will puchase another one. I am not a DJ, but Iam a sound enthusiast.Good job David. Iam the guy from Toronto Canada.

  13. January

    This was a fantastic article! I can tell that I am not even in the same league as you as far as experience and expertise go. I really appreciate you taking the time to put this together, I have never owned a horn loaded speaker before. I currently have a Peavey SP218 that seems to produce very low tones easily but I have not been able to get the «chest thumping» feel out of it. I was thinking about a horn loaded speaker because when I read articles it seems that this might be a good solution. I appreciate all the info you have given and the way that you made it understandable for a person like me, I have had a bit of schooling on this subject but most of what I know is self taught and yet I was able to follow what you said in the article. Thank you so VERY much for the info. God Bless!

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