Generation Three Enclosures

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(This is the old Barefaced Bass website, which has not been updated since 2018)

In short:

Barefaced enclosure designs are the result of our radical decision to use thin-walled heavily-braced plywood construction on our very first designs in 2008, and then 5 years of constant evolution and change to develop and refine this concept for even better tone, performance and durability. We've looked at a lot of other lightweight bass cabs and often been unimpressed by their inadequate stiffness and thus 'lightweight tone' despite marketing hyperbole claiming the contrary...

Big Twin 2 Bracing

The nitty gritty...

Historically the way of judging if a loudspeaker was good, without listening to it, was to pick it up. Heavy = good. This was for two reasons:

  1. A loudspeaker with a powerful magnet has much better performance than a similar speaker with a weaker magnet. The more powerful the magnet (assuming the same magnet material), the heavier the magnet is and thus the heavier the whole speaker is.
  2. A loudspeaker with a very stiff enclosure has much better performance than a loudspeaker than a loudspeaker with a less rigid enclosure. If you build an enclosure the simplest way then the thicker the walls, the stiffer the enclosure and the heavier the cab.


So why is this received wisdom not correct in all cases?

  1. Neodymium (and alnico to a lesser degree) magnets are far more powerful for their weight than ferrite magnets. A neo magnet need only be about 10% of the weight of a ferrite magnet for comparable power. If the magnet is lighter than the frame supporting it can be lighter so the whole driver becomes much lighter. If the whole driver is lighter than the baffle it's mounted on doesn't need to be as strong so that becomes lighter too.
  2. The best way to build a loudspeaker enclosure is not as a simple six sided box - that's basically the worst way! The ideal midrange and treble enclosure is arguably a perfect sphere in fact. The ideal bass enclosure is a cuboid where none of the three dimensions are equal or harmonically related and the whole enclosure is cross-braced with a matrix of perforated panels. This is far far far more rigid than the thickest walled simple unbraced box. Do it right and it can end up much lighter too.


So regarding point 1, you already know we're using extremely high-ouput neodymium drivers. They're actually heavier than the drivers in most neo cabs because they're much higher output, with larger magnets, bigger voice coils and so heavier cast frames etc. What about point 2, the actual cabinets?

The Barefaced solution is to use a unique dual-density plywood, which has greater stiffness and impact strength than a standard plywood of the same weight, and then build an enclosure which has a complex interlocking structure of internal braces. We put the plywood where it needs to be for maximum stiffness and strength and take it away wherever it isn't doing anything useful, for minimum weight. Why wouldn't you do this? In short, it's far more complicated than a thick-walled unbraced box, which means it's expensive to design and expensive to build. However the end result is a cab that is much lighter yet very strong, smaller (thin walls take up less space) and sounds better in every way. (This has most effect at lower frequencies).

100% stiffness is impossible

You only have to see how skyscrapers sway in earthquakes or bridges move in the wind to realise that complete rigidity is physically impossible. So if we can't make our enclosure infinitely stiff it is inevitable that the walls will resonate to a degree. Our solution? Wherever possible, no two spans of enclosure wall between braces are of equal length, so none of the resonant fundamental frequencies match. Furthermore, the variations between span lengths are such that you have to get a long way up into the harmonic series of each panel resonance before any harmonics match. This ensures the drive units can do what they're designed to do without the output suffering interference from panel resonances. (This has greatest effect at lower midrange frequencies).

Mids should come straight from the driver, not also bounced around the box and out

Once you put a woofer into a box, be it ported or sealed, it becomes a single source a low frequencies - in a sealed box the output from the front of the woofer creates all your sound (with the output from the rear of the woofer being lost as heat inside the box). In a ported box the output from the front of the woofer works down to a certain frequency, then the output from the back of the woofer driving the port takes over. In both sealed and ported cases this is a monopole, a single source. At higher frequencies the output from the rear of the woofer is no longer simply contained by the box or used to drive the port - instead it can bounce off the internal walls of the cab and come back out through the speaker cone. If it does this then it will be delayed compared to the sound from the front of the woofer - like an echo but the delay is so short that it isn't perceived as a separate sound but instead adds output to the front wave at some frequencies and subtracts output from the front wave at other frequencies. This would turn a woofer with a smooth flat midrange response into a woofer with rough peaky midrange response. Not good!

The solution is to damp the back wave using a suitable lining material. This must be thick enough to damp midrange reflections but thin enough to not over-damp the low frequency resonance which drives the port. In generation three models we take advantage of the internal bracing to position the damping at high velocity wave points rather than high pressure points, which increases the damping effect in the mids. We also use twice the thickness of damping where the reflections are close to perpendicular and thus most significant. The internal bracing also means that all the large flat plane surfaces inside the cab are subdivided into unequal areas , further helping to scatter and then damp reflections. (This has greatest effect through the mids and treble).

Enclosure dimensions: The Barefaced form-format

You've probably noticed that our cabs are a different shape to the norm. So why is this? We need to balance the following points:

  1. Aligning woofers vertically for better polar response
  2. Fitting in our unique side port for better lows and reduced power compression
  3. Making the cab tall so it's easier to hear
  4. Making the cab wide enough to look right under amps but narrow enough to fit through doorways easily
  5. Making the cab deep enough to give it enough internal volume for the LF response we want but shallow enough to take up minimal space on-stage


The convention in the bass cab world has been to make most of your cabs the same size and shape so they can be stacked and look right without any consideration as to whether that will sound right! With our cabs you can make up modular rigs, the best performance usually coming from multiple identical cabs (or 1x12" + matching 2x12", e.g. Super Compact + Super Twin, or Big Baby 2 + Big Twin 2), or through keeping within a model range ('Super' cabs together, 'Big' cabs together, 'Retro' cabs together). These rigs still look good when stacked - and more importantly they sound AWESOME!







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