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Avatar Bass Cab Review

I have used many different bass cabs since 1968 including mainline makers like Ampeg, Fender, Sunn and Peavey.  Besides delivering the lowdown they had another thing in common.  They were very large and very heavy.  Iíve also used some Boutique type cabs that were very expensive and left me wondering why they sounded so dull and yet cost so much. 

 

There was a long period where I really didnít need a big gig-rig so I sold off everything but two heads which I put in the closet for the day I might need a gig rig again. 

 

About five years ago I needed a gig-rig again as my Ampeg combo wasnít adequate for the really loud band I found myself in.  I had the two heads, one of which is solid state Peavey Century 200 head I bought in 1976 which was still working great and the other one was a 1972 Ampeg SVT 350 watt tube head that weighted about 90 pounds and frankly needed some tweaking to get to 100% after sitting idle for nearly 15 years.  After a quick trip to the amp tech the Ampeg was usable.  BUT, I didnít want to drag the tube head around anymore and fortunately it turned out it was the far more valuable one, so I sold the anchor to buy some really good cabs.  I had read some magazine and online reviews for Avatar.  They all seemed to agree that Avatar was making some really good cabs at amazing prices.  So going solely on faith of the reviews I bought an Avatar 1x15 Neodymium and Avatar 2x10 Delta stack.  Each is an 8 Ohm cab which gives me a 4 Ohm load which was the minimum load for the old Peavey head I was going to use.  At that time the only option with an Avatar cab was choosing either 8 Ohm or 4 Ohm.  There are far more options now.  The part of the reviews about the cabs being probably the top value in a bass cab is very true. 

 

There are a few drawbacks with my Avatar cabs in general which Iíll discuss later, but first the good stuff, and there is plenty of it.

 

These are solid wood cabs made of 13 ply voidless birch plywood.  No particle board or any junky construction like that.  They are sturdy with rock solid construction that won't "blow apart at the seams" like other cabs on the market.  When you try to push 600 watts into a 2x10 cab it has to be solid or it will eventually come apart!   While very solid, they are no heavier than they absolutely have to be.  The jack plates are sheet metal, not plastic.  The jacks are metal and high quality. The grills on mine are sturdy metal mesh with rubber grill isolation mounts.  The corners, while plastic, do lock in securely with any other Avatar cab regardless of the speaker configuration since they are all the same width and depth.  Iíve heard of the corners cracking under heavy rough use, say when dropping a cab.  My corners are in like new shape because I move my own gear usually or at least supervise.  So far Iíve had no drops.  The handles are sturdy and easy to grip with no moving parts at all so they wonít rattle like some will.  Both cabs are front ported at the bottom which matters a lot because it projects all the bass forward instead of some of the very best tones being bounced out of a rear port and often being absorbed in backdrops or totally lost at an outdoor gig.  I far prefer front porting in a gig cab.  I realize rear porting in a combo is a compromise to keep the combo as small as possible. 

 

All Avatar bass cabs have Foster horns and Eminence woofers.  The Eminence woofers are a step up from the generic woofers that come standard in many mainline cabs.  On top of that, many of the Eminence woofers Avatar uses are beefier than the retail versions of the same speakers.  The reason for that is because Avatar has them specially made for better performance in bass cabs.  The Foster horns are used in other boutique cabs costing more than the Avatars.  There is a rotary horn level control on the jack plate which controls the horn's output from Avatarís proprietary ultra high power Mylar capacitor crossover which allows you to get anything from a modern sparkle tone cranked fully clockwise to a slight upper midrange honk at 12 Oíclock at or turn it completely counterclockwise for a vintage cab sound.  I much prefer the rotary control to the three position rocker switch prevalent on many other bass cabs in the same price class because with the rotary pot you really have infinite horn control. 

 

My Neo 1x15 cab is surprisingly light.  It is about 30 pounds lighter than the shorter 2x10 Delta cab.  This 300 watt Neo 15 is my favorite cab of the two because of the lush lows and the light weight.  Every cab and the majority of the combos I have owned before were loaded with 15ís, but this is the first Neo speaker Iíve ever used.  Some people say Neo speakers donít sound as good as conventional speakers, but this cab sounds just fine to me and it certainly is light.  The cab size is rather large and in fact is precisely the same dimensions as the Avatar 4x10 cab.  I think the cab size contributes to the deep tone of this cab and I like it.  With the Ampeg SVT I often used two 2x15 Ampeg cabs I bought with the head.  I was never a devotee of the Ampeg 8x10 refrigerator cab preferring the warmer 15 inch sound.  There is a definite warmth to the Avatar 1x15 Neo cab that really makes me smile and brings back memories of the 70ís and 80ís, but it also can do more highs because of the horn if you want or need them. 

 

Sitting on top of the 1x15 is the 60 pound plus Avatar 2x10 Delta.  This is a small but fairly heavy cab compared to the Neo 1x15, but it is rated to handle 700 watts, more than twice what the 1x15 is rated.  Still they match up quite nicely sound wise with my amp.  The 1x15 gives me the deep vibrations Iíve always loved while the 2x10 provides punch and drive.  All in all a very full range sound and both cabs project very well.  In fact the stack sounds much louder 12 feet away than 5 feet away.  I usually set both horn faders at 12 oíclock when playing outdoors.  When playing indoors I leave the 2x10 horn fader at 12 oíclock but turn down the 1x15 horn fader to about 9 oíclock depending on the room I may cut the horns even more.  What I want to do is to hear the bass clearly outdoors and feel it plainly indoors.  The Avatar cabs can do both.  I always had trouble hearing my 15ís clearly outdoors. 

 

I now push these cabs with an Ampeg 450 watt USA made SVTIII or B2RE and the Peavey Century 200 is back in the closet.

 

Now to what I donít like about my Avatar cabs, and it is a short list and some of my dislikes are now non-issues since they have made some changes since I bought my pair.  The first three issues are unresolved to date.  

1.  There is only one Speakon connector, but two ľ inch connectors on the metal jack plate.  This means if your amp only has one Speakon output that youíll have to daisy-chain to the second cabinet with a phone plug speaker cable.  I prefer Speakon cables for high power applications such as the high powered head Iím using now.  Most other makers that offer Speakon connectors do put two per cab.

2.  There are no serial numbers on the cabs.  They come only with a small white sticker on the jack plate that says AvatarSpeakers.Com and states the cab impedance.  If you report any item stolen to police or your insurance company you need to provide a serial number.  With a serial number you have a chance to get your cab back if it is recovered even years later hundreds of miles away.  With no serial number you will never see it again.  See my ďPROTECT YOUR GEARĒ link on the RESOURCES page for more information on recovering your gear after it is stolen.  So far as I know this is still the case.

3.  Avatar stopped making the 1x15 cab.  Granted we old players who love 15ís are dying off, but frankly there is no substitute for the lush tones a 15 can dish out.

4.  The Delta speakers in the 2x10 make it front heavy.  That means that when trying to carry the Delta 2x10 cab by yourself using both handles it wants to twist your wrists into an uncomfortable position.  I often carry this cab one handled or get someone to help me move it and support the bottom of the front with the free hand.  This is no longer a problem as the far lighter Neo 10ís are now standard in the Avatar 2x10 and 4x10 cabs.

5.  RAT FUR!  Since I bought my cabs about 5 years ago the fuzzy black carpet like covering which many call rat fur was your only option.  In fact your sole customization option back then was to choose 4 Ohms or 8 Ohms, which you still can do of course.  This is also no longer an issue!  Avatar now builds totally customized cabs for every taste.  Avatar offered a spray on LINE-X coating as the first cab covering upgrade option a few years ago.  LINE-X is a rubberized waterproof, rip-proof spray-on coating based on the deck coating on U.S. nuclear submarines which was later popularized as a spray-on material applied as pickup truck bed liners and LINE-X is now also a permanent unbeatable bass cab finish.  It is probably the most durable and most sonic friendly exterior covering ever put on a bass cab.  Today Avatar still comes standard with black rat fur carpet covering and a metal grill, but also gives you probably the largest choice of cabinet covering (Tolex) colors as an upgrade.   There are eleven colors in all. The Tolex upgrade costs less than Line-X and is prettier but of course Tolex is not as durable as the spray on LINE-X.  The most recently added optional upgrade is the fabric grill option.  There are seven different grill fabrics.  The fabric grills come with the larger more prominent white colored Avatar logo that has been used on Avatar guitar cabs for a very long time and also come with a choice of four different piping colors too.  Probably the standard metal grill with the LINE-X cabinet coating is the most durable in the long run, so if you are rough on gear that would be the way to go, but they sure have some very pretty fabric grill treatments and Tolex color choices that will make your cab closely match the cosmetics of the head you choose to use with your Avatar cabs.  The type of covering, the many Tolex colors, all the fabric grill options and then the piping color options combine to give you the most options of any cab company I know about. 

 

I have a few suggestions for Avatar.  1.  Bring back the 1x15 Neo cab.  This is a great sounding cab and it is a crying shame it was dropped from the line.  2.  Put serial numbers on the cabs.  3.  Add a second Speakon jack to the jack plate.  5.  Add a small 1x10 cab with horn for rehearsal and recording use to the line, but it doesnít have to be stackable with the larger cabs.  Thatís it.

 

SUMMARY:  Avatar delivers a top quality bass cabinet that handles more power than the mainline cabs at a lower price than many mainline cabs.  When you call Avatar you'll find that the owner, also named DAVE, usually answers the phone.  Todayís optional upgrades can make your Avatar cab a totally custom thing of beauty, make it as basic and inexpensive as possible or even make it nearly indestructible with LINE-X armor.  How much to spend on upgrades is totally up to you, but youíll get great tone regardless of what upgrades you choose because, beyond the impedance of course, the options are merely cosmetic.  I really like my stock issue Avatar cabs.  They are a great value and the lightest cabs Iíve ever used.  I can fit both of mine, my gig amp rack and a couple of basses into my car easily with room left over for a backup head.  There are smaller cabs out there and maybe lighter ones, but the Avatar cabs I have been using sound bigger and heavier than they actually are.  I see no real reason to upgrade them other than to get a different covering than the rat fur.  Sometimes you can find brand new Avatar cabs at a bargain on eBay as Avatar frequently sells new bass cabs on eBay as a form of advertising, but usually they are the basic rat-fur metal grill black ones.  To get Line-X or Tolex you'll have to order from the Avatar Web Site because the only place to get Avatar custom bass cabs is factory direct from Avatar.  To see their selection CLICK HERE.

 

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