Interview:Musician’s Friend’s Exclusive Interview with David Nordschow of Eden
This little chat with David Nordschow, founder and chief engineer of Eden Electronics, should be a big hit with bass players and gear geeks everywhere. He dishes lots of cool insights on gear design and the philosophy he uses to make Eden gear some of the best bass amplification in the biz. Bassists everywhere would do well to read up . . .
Musician’s Friend: Hey, David, how’s it going?
David Nordschow: Hey, good morning.
MF: So how was NAMM [summer NAMM 2006] for you guys?
David: It was good. Everyone seemed excited and engaged. Things are going really well.
MF: What new products did you have there?
David: We showed our new combo series and we showed the new Rocco Prestia 810. We also had our new studio monitors there, too, which isn’t our central area.
MF: Was it cool designing the 810 with Rocco?
David: Oh yeah. Rocco’s a great guy to work with. He’s got a very demanding style.
MF: How’s his health? [Tower of Power bassist Rocco Prestia received a liver transplant in 2002 and is recovering from hepatitis C.]
David: He seemed pretty good. Aside from a cold, he seemed good.
MF: How do you transfer your PA expertise to designing bass gear? And how are you so passionate about bass amplification, especially considering you aren’t a bass player?
David: Well, I used to be a brass bass player. I used to play tuba, trumpet, and baritone back in the day.
MF: Did you march in the Minnesota winters?
David: Iowa winters.
MF: Iowa winters—cold enough!
David: Yeah, it was cold enough. I just chipped the ice out of the mouthpiece. [laughter] Very pleasant! I played in band and orchestras; I’ve always enjoyed music in a lot of different forms. But I did live sound for about 25 or 30 years and my buddies were almost always the bass players. And back in those days, everyone’s rigs sounded from horrible to bad. [laughter]
David: I remember one day my friend who played in a band showed up with a brand new rig and he was so excited. He had a MusicMan bass and a Randall folded 118 cabinet—this was probably the mid-’70s—and it was the worst thing I’ve ever heard in my life. [laughter] I figured, how hard could this be? [laughter] So I started developing my ideas over the next few years. But bass guitar reproduction, technically, has a much closer relationship to PA reproduction than guitar. The guitar is a whole different thing; lots of different technical criteria that would be great with lead guitar would never work with live sound or bass.
With a guitar cab, you’re usually dealing with a heavily effected sound. There’s distortion, there’s lots of midrange frequencies and harmonics, there’s all sorts of electric and mechanical things going on in a guitar cabinet that are not standard to a PA cabinet. You can’t really put anything else through a guitar cabinet except a guitar, unless it’s for an effect. But you have to put everything through a PA: bass, drums, guitars, all of that stuff. And it has to come back out like you put it in.
My view of bass playing has always been the same way. Bass players tend to need and want something that will reproduce the musicality of their fingers and their bass accurately, but with a little warmth. What they’re doing should come through clearly, which is pretty much the opposite of most guitar rigs. A jazz or classical guitarist might be looking for something that clean but your average electric guitarist is looking for something totally different than a bass guitarist.
MF: So after that encounter with the Randall folded horn cab, did you build your friend a bass cab?
David: Yeah, not long after that I built him a single 15 box with a 12 on top.
MF: So that was your first true bass design?
David: Yeah—and we also built a little stereo bass preamplifier about 1978. I think we built about 40 of them or something; we didn’t build very many. It was one little batch.
MF: Wow, that’s probably rare.
David: Yeah, we also built a 2x12" cab in the late ’70s that did really well. It was a tour box. It had a pair of EV12Ls in it, was very small, and was just stompin’ loud. It would cut right through a band. There are still a bunch of them floating around. Every so often I run into an old blues guy who’s got one.
MF: When you were first starting to design this bass gear, nobody—other than maybe Alembic—was really doing hi-fidelity bass sound.
MF: What made you think that it was viable?
David: Well, mostly because I didn’t see anything out there that everybody liked. Every bass player I talked to wasn’t happy with his sound. They wanted something better or something different and everybody was always looking for a good system.
With guitar systems it’s more a matter of taste, style, and trends. A certain sound is "in" for awhile . . . first it was Fender, then it was Marshall, then it was Boogie, and it goes on and on and back and forth. But bass guys are more technical. What sells is louder and cleaner. And as changes came through, you could see bass players buying according to the technical advances made in the gear more than the brands or trends. They’re more driven by the technical aspects.
MF: So what is it about the bass signal you’re thinking about when you design Eden stuff? How do you get the speakers to reproduce the frequencies the way you want?
David: That gets a little tricky. What I try to do is make sure the speakers are fully neutral—nice and linear. Above all, they’ve got to have speed and the ability to follow the transients and level shifts in the material. I think that’s one of the big reasons our stuff works so well. The way we do our drivers is a bit different. We use a low-mass driver to make them fast and quick so they track the notes well.
One of the things about bass guitar I find is that it’s kind of like piano. You’re not really listening to the average sound like you do on a guitar, you’re listening to the peak—all the time you’re listening to peak notes. You need a lot of headroom to track big signals to the speakers quickly and accurately without problems like overshoot or missing the signal pulse. An example is pushing a car up a hill. It takes a lot less muscle to push a Volkswagen up a hill than a Cadillac. [laughter]
David: The same is true for your speakers. If you’ve got a speaker that weighs four times as much internally as another speaker and you hit it with a sharp pulse—like a thumb slap on a bass—that speaker needs to start, get out there to reproduce the peak of the wave, and then come back and stop just like the note does. A really heavy driver starts late, never gets all the way out before the pulse is gone, and comes back and slops around a bit before it stops dead. So you’ve got three or four other things happening in addition to the note: you’ve got delay, you’ve got amplitude distortion, you’ve got a change in sonic character, and you’ve got extra notes coming on the back end.
MF: It’s impressive how much low end you get out of your boxes while maintaining that accuracy and high-end response.
David: Yeah, it takes a little extra work. Getting the speakers to respond cleanly and quickly and having deep bass are opposite ends of the spectrum, in terms of physics. It’s about compromises and blending technology to get it all to work. The really heavy drivers deliver the low bass but don’t have much high-end response and they have poor transient response. The lightweight drivers, as a group, tend to have less low frequency response. So getting it together is always kind of interesting. It’s a juggling act. Building the right cabinet to support the driver is real important.
MF: You’re famous for pioneering the 4x10 bass cabinet design. What did you find attractive about that design?
David: Well, I don’t know if I was the first, but I guess I’ll take it [laughter]. I like the 4x10 design because it gives you about the same speaker area as a single 15" speaker but with the advantages of a smaller driver. You’ve got less mass per driver so everything accelerates faster. You’ve got four voice coils so you’ve got four times the power handling. The multiple drivers give you a good efficiency and really good transient response.
MF: Four 10" speakers are equal to a 15" speaker?
David: Yeah, they’re about equal to the size of the diaphragm. It’s not a perfect equality but it’s close. And so you’ve got the amount of air moving you want, but you can move it faster, quicker, and with more precision. From a musical perspective you also get some interesting interaction between the drivers. You get a little cone filtering and some stuff going on in the midrange. Psychoacoustics play a big part in all this stuff but no one ever talks about them because they’re hard to quantify.
Think about the microphones all musicians like and how we use them. When you put a microphone on a stand, then put your face up next to it, you form a series of cone filters with the reflections from
the floor, the microphone, and your body. Over the years we’ve come to include those cone filters as part of the sound. The [Shure] SM58, for instance, has been around long enough so when people use that mic, it sounds like what they’re used to hearing. It’s actually a horrible-looking thing when you examine the frequency response—it’s full of holes—but we all listen to it and say, "Yeah, that’s cool!" [laughter]
The sound is affected. That’s one of the tricks I use—making the "right" mistakes. There are all these acoustic errors—anomalies or mistakes, if you will—but the right set of them sounds really musical; it’s additive instead of detractive. You can pick the wrong group of nuances, you know, pretty easily. [laughter] But that’s been done.
MF: Some of your cabinets have a PA-style square port but others use a more typical round bass port. How does that affect the low-end response and overall sound?
David: Yeah, some of our ports are actually over a yard long in there. The D210XST has ports 36" long.
David: You don’t see it from the outside, but that port actually goes to the back, turns up and goes all the way up the back of the box. If you take that cabinet apart and look inside there’s actually a box inside that box. In the XLT series cabs, the ports come from both sides. One of the things I’ve found is that if you have high power, you need as much area in the ports as you can reasonably have to give you the best transient response and control the driver.
If you take a box with a small port and you really stand on it with high power levels, it sounds different than at lower power levels. The bass kind of chokes off and you lose bottom end. That happens because you’re overdriving the port’s ability to move the air in a linear fashion and it backs up.
It’s just exactly like taking a five-liter racing engine and sticking an exhaust system on it from a four cylinder. You can turn it on, but every time you run up to speed it’s going to start choking on you. I love the car analogies because they’re so true—it’s all physics. You can think of the ports on a bass cab like a tuned exhaust. You’ve got to match the movement ability of the system with the amount of energy you’re pushing through it.
MF: That’s a great analogy.
David: There are some tricks you can do too, if you want to protect your system. One of the things you can do is undersize the ports so when somebody gooses it the bass shuts down and the drivers will only move so far. You can kind of choke the system back and keep it alive, but it eliminates performance. There’s a bunch of ways to use ports. We want to get maximum operational efficiency and sound out of our stuff, so we tend to go for optimum, maximum type stuff.
MF: Yeah, all the low end that comes out of even your small cabinets would seem to bear that out.
David: They have to be really well made too, because if the cabinet starts to move you lose speaker energy, which takes away some definition and bottom end. It starts leaking out the sides, back, and top of the cabinet and it’s not really useful. The sound becomes kind of cluttered. One of the reasons our cabinets have such nice focus is that they’re pretty rigid. The same rules that apply to a good hi-fi system apply to this.
MF: So the depth of the cabinet really just has to do with the amount of porting you want to put inside?
David: To a great extent, yeah. And to the amount of space the speaker needs. Every speaker needs a unique amount of space to match it. Not to get boringly technical but a cabinet is really a mechanical transformer that works to match the speaker and the air. You have to match the speaker compliance to the air compliance and the cabinet is part of that system. It helps tie the speaker and the air together so you get sound output.
MF: So how much of the Eden design philosophy transfers over to the Nemesis line?
David: Oh, all of it. I approach it the same way. It’s designed to be a little less than, you know, full-blown professional stage gear. It’s more for club work—bar, garage-band level work. The speakers have a good response without quite as much power handling or output as the David series cabinets.
We try to keep the quality level right there with a slightly less extreme performance envelope. The Nemesis line sounds just a little different as well. The speakers are a little different. They run a little smaller magnet structure. Sonically they’re just a little mellower in the midrange. The Nemesis cabs don’t hit quite as hard as the David series cabs. The horn is also a little more laid back and covers a little broader area because the Nemesis stuff was meant to be used in a smaller room. So they don’t quite have the out-in-front impact as the bigger stuff does but they’ve got good spread in the medium-sized room. They’re just designed for different venue and user level in terms of loudness. Not that they don’t get loud—because they do—but they don’t have quite the full-throttle performance of the David Series stuff.
MF: One of the other cool things about the Nemesis line is the material you use to build the cabinets.
David: Yeah, it’s recycled cellulose. I was looking for something new and unique and one of my friends had worked with some people on using some similar stuff for speaker cone construction. I got involved and they had some engineering problems they couldn’t quite solve and I figured out the solution. At the same time my friend left to do something else, so I took over the whole operation and process.
I finished up the technical side of it and decided it had some great potential for building a lightweight, efficient speaker structure. And I liked the way it sounded. It doesn’t have the sharper resonance points of plywood. The material has its own set of resonances, but they’re very broad and damped down because it’s a multilayer construction. Plywood boxes have a little ping in the midrange, a little more snap in the 400- to 600-cycle range and this material has a softer, flatter peak. It’s more mellow and gives it a different flavor. There are no huge performance differences but the character of the reponse changes a bit.
MF: Is the material itself lighter than plywood or do you just need less of it to form a rigid structure?
David: It’s a little lighter weight. It’s maybe 25-30% lighter than plywood would be in the same construction.
MF: But the panels are about the same thickness?
David: Yeah, very similar. The David series cabs are all solid, furniture-grade plywood . . . double A, full core, no plugs or fills. The wood we use is a little softer than birch and a little tougher than poplar, but it has the right density. The birch stuff, to my ear, is a little hard and harsh in the midrange because it’s so rigid.
MF: And what about the heads that sit on top of these cabs? You mentioned earlier you want to reproduce a clean, accurate full-range signal, but your rigs are also known for their warm sound.
David: Right. That’s the one thing I like to add—as a color—is a bit of warmth. You can design that into the preamp but you can also handle it in the output amplifier. The Nemesis amps are all solid state including the preamp—there aren’t any tubes in it. We use FETs for the outputs instead of bipolar transistors like the World Tour heads. The FETs have a very similar harmonic response to a tube circuit, so they give the sound some warmth. The bipolars have a little different character to them. You can make either one sound like the other but it takes a fair amount of work, so we just go with the natural sounds of both. On most of the World Tour amps we use a vacuum tube in the front end to add warmth. On the 405s [WT405 Time Traveler head] we have an op amp circuit that emulates the two [solid state and tube] pretty nicely. We do those things to give them character, but they’re also all very good in terms of performance.
MF: Speaking of which, you’ve got a pretty big lineup of artists out there performing with your gear. What kind of feedback do you get from those guys? Do they ever ask you about certain features or anything?
David: Oh, sure. In fact we solicit comments from our artists and our forum guys. Every so often we’ll throw a post up on the forum, "What would you like to see in products?" or "What things would you like to see that you don’t see on something else?" We like to talk to our customers—we think that that’s a really good thing.
MF: You have a very active forum.
David: Yeah, I think we have the most active one in our industry. Actually, I’m not sure anyone else is running one right now. I know Ampeg shut theirs down this year.
MF: It’s kind of a hard thing for a manufacturer to do.
David: It’s difficult, but I’ve got one guy I brought onboard to just do our web stuff for us and some other things and I think that’s what it takes. You’ve got to have somebody there to do it, and spend a good piece of time on it. It takes a pretty big commitment to have one of those operate well.
We were pretty lucky, too. We started out and early on we had the normal startup-related problems, but I figured out right away I needed somebody good to sit in that chair and handle it and I got that person. We set some ground rules too, and said, "Look, we want to have a positive forum. We want people to respect each other and be considerate and not have any flame war-type stuff going on." The first couple of guys who crossed the line, we dealt with nicely but summarily and now the tone is pretty much set. The members even help keep everybody else in line. We have a really great, professional group of guys talking about what they like and they’re passionate about it in a really nice way.
MF: Are you ever surprised by the amount of knowledge some of your players have?
David: Oh, yeah! I mean some of these guys are really, really knowledgeable. They have a lot of education and training. I’m surprised sometimes by the calls I get from them; they’re an engineer for so-and-so, or they’re in charge of this for such-and-such . . . you never know. A lot of people play music part-time for the sheer love of it and they are quite good, but they have a really demanding day job. Some of our players are doctors and lawyers and stockbrokers. It’s amazing. On the weekends they play Dixieland.
MF: It’s got to be pretty flattering to have professional guys who know a lot about sound pick your stuff.
David: Yeah, it makes you feel pretty good. We’ve got a slightly different program for artist endorsements than most companies. We don’t pay endorsers. If someone endorses our products, it’s because artistically, they work for them. The only way we’ll take an endorser is if they like the product from a musical and artistic standpoint. Personally, I think that’s the correct level of endorsement.
In a business sense it’s perhaps a little naive. On the other hand, a genuine endorsement—in my view—is worth 10 times what a paid endorsement is worth. I also think people are pretty savvy these days. I think they know the difference between a guy who’s getting paid to say, "This is cool" and somebody who genuinely likes and plays whatever product they’re endorsing. I think players see that.
MF: Sometimes you see the same face endorsing a 100 different products . . .
David: There are those guys. "This week I love . . ." [laughter]
David: Anything like that doesn’t last long. After it happens five or six times your value as an endorser goes away because you have no credibility. I mean, it’s not a good move for the artist, either, but a lot of people aren’t thinking long-term about these things.
MF: It says a lot when you look at Eden’s list of endorsers and there’s none of those types of players on your list.
David: No, and I don’t think there ever will be.
MF: So what’s the most valuable piece of feedback you’ve gotten from your artists or the forums?
David: I think maybe the best thing I’ve gotten from them is how much the players appreciate the commitment of the company and us of being connected to them. Taking them seriously and making them part of our family, if you will. I think that would be the most important thing, because it really is a—and I hate to use this word because it’s so P.C.—community. [laughter] God!
MF: It’s painful but you got it out!
David: As painful as it is, it happens to be true in this case. There really is a community of people; these guys all share interests and values and connections and all those things and it really comes through in the forum. People helping with each other’s problems . . . there’s some very cool stuff happening behind the scenes between the members as well as with us, so the term does fit effectively. It’s a lot of fun!
MF: Speaking of problems, isn’t that why you use a modular design with your amps?
David: Oh, sure. When I was in the repair tech business before I was doing this, I used to fix, you know, normal stuff: TVs, hi-fis, all of those things. Most of the engineering guys that work with me have also been repair technicians. When we started designing our stuff, we all had bad experiences to share. One of the things we all hated about repair is when you want to fix anything, you have to take it apart, fix the problem, then put it all together again to test it. You have to repeat this process three or four times to discover the problem. It’s lengthy and annoying and occasionally things blow up and it’s difficult.
So one of the things I wanted to do was to start off with a fresh page and take a lesson from the military. They build pretty reliable stuff as a rule, and they’ve set all of it up so it can be fixed by any reasonably competent technician. Then I wanted to take it a step further. My initial goal was to have it dumbed down enough where any average guy with a screwdriver and a pair of pliers could fix anything we make.
David: That turned out to probably not be my best goal. [laughter] The concept was pretty valid, but not totally practical. Basically with an Eden amp if you have a problem with an output module or something you can take the cover off, unhook one header, take out two screws, and the entire amplifier comes out in your hand. Then you can set it aside and take another one, stick it in, put the two screws back on, put the plug back in and you’re done. Finished. Repair’s over.
And the power supply comes out the same way. There are more connections, but that comes out by itself. The preamp can be taken out. Every section is standalone so you can repair these on a modular level, a board level if you need to. It makes it very slick, a simple repair.
Another nice thing is you can actually take the power modules out; take the preamp out and lay it on a piece of cardboard or something; then lay the amplifier module on the desk; fire it up; and you can play the entire amplifier fully operational with the pieces hanging outside the case.
MF: That’s not recommended though, right?
David: No, only for testing purposes. [laughter] The technicians love it because they can solve a problem really easy with our stuff.
MF: Are the Nemesis amplifiers built the same way?
David: They’re very similar. It’s not quite as modular because there are a few more solder connections in there; but essentially, yes. The power amplifier comes out as a complete unit if you unsolder a couple of connections. The power supply is separate. The preamp is separate. It’s not quite as slick as Eden stuff, but it still follows the same basic modular structure. It’s a little different process, but they come down the same assembly line, basically.
MF: Wow, I didn’t realize that.
David: Well, I think we’ve probably undermarketed the Nemesis line a little. Not on purpose, but just because you only have so many resources to devote to marketing and you can’t get everything you want done.
MF: Right. Well, the Tour Series is indestructible. The case is, in my opinion, the strongest casing I’ve seen.
David: The WT550?
David: I think it probably is, bar none. If you look on our website under "Why Eden?" there’s a picture of a Highwayman that a guy dropped off a tractor trailer and then backed over with the rig. [laughter] The band sent it back to us to get fixed and it was working fine when we got it. It hadn’t even sprung the case.
David: You can see the dual tire tracks spreading across the top of the amp. The tires sheared off a couple of controls but that’s all the damage it did. We replaced the controls and dug a couple of pieces of gravel out of the bottom and sent it back to him.
MF: Nice! That’s amazing!
David: There’s also an amp on there that was burned in a studio fire. The guy literally took it out of the ashes. He sent me pictures of the whole thing. You can see the console is melted and running off the table, the guitars are just ashes with strings on them, and he dug this 800 amp out of the ashes and hosed it down in the driveway and played it for several months. He sent it back to me to get some new knobs and to get it cleaned up but it was working perfectly! It was so cool I swapped him a newer amp for it because it was such a great story. [laughter]
MF: That’s cool.
David: It’s pretty cool. The knobs were so hot they melted like candle wax down the front, but the thing was still in full spec.
MF: Nice! What is the warranty on your stuff?
David: Two years. Two years parts and labor, and we back it to the hilt. I was a service guy for a long time and I’m a real strong customer service
advocate. I think you can put any warranty you want on stuff, but if you don’t back the warranty up it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. These are professional tools and if a guy’s tools aren’t up to speed, he can’t work. So it’s really important that: A. he gets good stuff, and B. if he has a problem, he can get it fixed properly and quickly. A lot of this business is a service business. All of the gear and branding aside, it’s a service business.
MF: Well, I’m sure you’ve seen it with your forums, if someone is unhappy . . .
David: Oh, they’ll shout to the sky. [laughter] Quickly and loudly. If they are really happy, they may tell somebody, but the people who are upset will tell everyone.
MF: Speaking of branding, U.S. Music seems to be a very nice marriage for your company.
David: Yeah, they let me run the majority of the operation and they give me a pretty free rein, which I really appreciate.
MF: Yeah, they seem to be pretty cool company all in all.
David: They’re a really good group of people and we’ve got a really good working relationship. I like and respect all of the people I work with and they have a lot of resources we never had as a small company.
MF: Do you still do some of the building in the Minneapolis area?
David: Actually, we still do all of the amplifiers and loudspeakers in our original Minneapolis shop.
MF: And the speaker boxes are done . . .
David: In Chicago. We ship the speakers down and do some assembly at some other divisions as well. We build some pieces for other parts of the company as well in our plant.
MF: What actual resources did U.S. Music give you to use?
David: Marketing departments, a full customer service department, a full sales department. You know, all those things a small company really can’t afford to have.
MF: What new stuff are you working on? What can we look forward to from you?
David: We’ve got a bunch of fun stuff coming out this year or next year. I can’t really talk about most of it . . . [laughter]
MF: What about the head for the Rocco cabinet? [Ed. note—the Eden D-810RP4 cab developed for Rocco Prestia]
David: Yeah, we got the cabinet done and we’re starting to work on the head. We already did some work on it. With Rocco we went in the shop and hooked up a piece of a preamp from this amp, an EQ section from this amp, a power section from that amp, [laughter] and then put it all together. Then we tweaked all that stuff back and forth for quite a while until we kind of got the Rocco curve out of it. I’ve transcribed that curve so when we go to build his amplifier we’re going to build him a fairly simple straight-ahead amplifier with a lot of guts to it. Rocco likes very straight ahead kind of stuff. If he had his way, he’d have one knob. [laughter]
MF: The Rocco Knob!
David: Just give him two controls—On and Loud—and he’s a happy guy. Obviously, we’ll have to provide a few more controls to sell it to other people. [laughter]
MF: The simpler, the better!
David: One of the things we attempt to do is keep the efficiency as high as physically possible for our cabinets.
MF: So you get more performance with lower-powered heads?
David: Oh yeah. It gives you a lot of performance envelope and extra headroom to take advantage of the full power of your head when you need it. It also helps eliminate clipping.
MF: With the popularity of five-string bass and guys playing extended-range basses with a low F# and crazy stuff like that, how do you equip your cabinets to deal with those frequencies?
David: We tune our stuff so it’s usable down into the mid-20s [Hz]. The amps can actually go lower than that but we tailor them at the bottom because once you’re below about 30Hz the signal is mostly artifact. You’ve got noise and other stuff that’s not musical. So we try to protect the very, very low part of it and we do the same thing with the upper register. Past a certain point we roll off the high frequencies to get rid of some unwanted noise.
If you look at the really expensive hi-fi amplifiers that audiophiles like, you’ll find those units are engineered with a very wide bandwidth but are subtly tailored within a narrower bandwidth based on the human ear. Those amplifiers are the ones people tend to judge as sounding the best and we do something similar with our stuff.
MF: That kind of accuracy would seem to appeal to upright and acoustic players.
David: Oh, yeah, we’ve gotten a pretty good group of Broadway players and orchestra guys using our little Eden combos. They sound great with the uprights and most importantly, they’ll fit in the orchestra pit. [laughter] We’ve got a handful of Broadway touring groups using those cabinets.
The voicing we give our amplifiers plays a big part in the entire playing experience. It’s a really personal, visceral kind of thing. People have a personal connection with their instruments and the amplifier system a player buys should be able to deliver the sound of his instrument. So I look at the design of the amplifiers and cabinets with the instrument in mind. I voice them so there are some "flavors" available to match people’s tastes and styles.
The XLT series is voiced so it’s a little pushy, with a little bit more midrange in it. Bassists playing rock and pop kind of like that little bit of growl and push down in the lower midrange. The XST doesn’t have that; it’s more even, flat, and goes deeper. It’s voiced to appeal to an Alembic player or a hi-fi kind of player. Guys who play synth bass plus regular bass and maybe a little keyboard could do all of that through the XST and it would sound great. But I try to have different flavors available for people’s preferences.
The little D112 XLT is voiced very smooth but with a beefed up, aggressive upper midrange. You can actually cut through a Marshall stack with a couple of those. It’s more aggressive than the 4x10 and 2x10 cabs. They have a little more neutral voice. Our cabinets that use a 15" speaker are voiced pretty smoothly because they’re generally being used for low-end support or for an old-school, traditional sound. Rock guys like the 2x12 box because it’s got a fat, thick midrange with a lot of character. But I also see a lot of blues and country guys playing them.
MF: How much of what you design has to do with the parameters of the equipment being used?
David: We do our testing with a wide variety of stuff. We try everything from a vintage P-bass through 5-string MTDs and all the stuff in-between. All those basses make a little difference and we make sure the design is broad enough to sound good with all the instruments. We get all the different basses and we play everything from acoustic flattops to entry-level basses through our gear just to see how it all reacts.
MF: Those are probably fun sessions.
David: Yeah, they’re a lot of fun. Unless I’ve made a mistake some place. My guys will find it and just sit on that note and say, "Hear that?" [laughter] I’m like, "All right already! I got the point! Let me go fix it!" They live for those moments. But it’s all in fun and it makes for a much better product.
MF: Well, that’s cool, David. I think we’re done here. Have a good day and thanks for giving up your lunch break to talk shop.
David: Oh, no problem. It was great talking to you.