GEAR_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
PHIL J O E PJB M 3 0 0 BEAD A I D IE O P O W E R 12B CABINET PRiCE £ 9 9 9 , £ 1 0 9 9
considered anywhere in the design and build of this rig. Despite the
impression given by the recessed bar handles on either side, the 12B
is impressively light for a cab containing 12 speakers. At just 31 kilos it
can be safely lifted and carried around, although like those tiny cabin-
bag cases you see being dragged around at airports, the four sturdy
castors mean that it's always tempting to take the easy option and push
it everywhere.
Part of the reason for the impressive lack of weight is the use of
neodymium drivers. The 5” drivers have magnets made from this
rare and ultra-magnetic material, and lightness isn't the only benefit.
It almost goes without saying that these tiny speakers can reproduce
the highest frequencies, to the point where a separate tweeter or HF
unit would be completely redundant. But perhaps less obvious is that,
as well as having a much faster response, when used in arrays such
as this they can reproduce mind-boggling amounts of clean sub-bass.
By minimising the total speaker cone surface area you minimise
distortion, meaning pure, accurate bass right down to 25Hz - it's very
impressive when you hear it.
So the cab goes deep, that's for sure, but there's more than that.
Most bass speaker cabs will reproduce low end - after all, that's the
whole point. But the 12B seems to reproduce the whole of the low
frequencies, so that even the low B-string on my bass has a clean
attack to the front end of the note. It's much the same through the
whole register, and the sparkly clean top end seems to be a seamless
extension of the high midrange.
Most people love the tone of an early Precision, right? But that view
is usually based on the sound of an old Precision heard through an
equally old valve amp, or at least one of vintage design - maybe a 60s
Ampeg B15 Portaflex like James Jamerson used, or a Marshall stack.
Play that same old Fender through this rig and it would still sound
amazing, but you'd hear so much more of the harmonic content of
the instrument that it would be quite a different sound - not better or
worse, but definitely different.
This rig is all about clean, unadulterated, accurate bass and as
such it's going to appeal most to a certain sort of player. I'm pretty
sure there are going to be many more exotic five- and six-stringers
played through this rig than there are black BC Rich Warlocks,
or ancient Fenders for that matter. For some players, clean and
accurate isn't necessarily the priority, and a powerful amp with a
good valve gain stage will be more appealing to them than a rig like
this. Horses for courses.
But if it's the most accurate representation of your bass that
you're after, then this rig is almost in a class of its own. I tried
plugging in a Rickenbacker 4003, an Overwater, a Cort A9 custom
and an Everson Caiman. They all sounded very distinctive and
they all sounded just like amplified versions of the basses played
Talking of which, if you're playing a double bass through this
set-up, then you really should think about using a good quality mic
rather than a pickup - that way you'll hear the true and natural
tone of the instrument, amplified. It's startling and almost a little
unnerving at first, but get used to it and I imagine it would be hard
to settle for anything less.
I guess the obvious question here is this: if this kind of design
is so good, how come other manufacturers don't build bass cabs
using multiple small drivers? The answer can only be the cost of
manufacture. The fact is, it's going to take roughly 12 times as long
to fit the 12B with its drivers as it would for another company to fit
a single 12” speaker. Phil Jones gets around this problem to a degree
by having his factory in China, but this doesn't mean that quality is
compromised: in fact Jones is obsessive about quality, to the extent
that most of the components used in the M 300 and 12B are made in
house. At one time they were even manufacturing their own nuts
and bolts! As Jones himself says, “How it's made is more important
than where it's made.”
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