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Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Acme Systems Low B-112 Cabinet

Gear Reviews

Gear Impressions and Luthier Spotlight With Jake Wolf: Acme Systems Low B-112 Cabinet

Review by Jake Wolf –

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Acme Low B-112 “Flat Wound” System

Frequency Response: 31 Hz to 4 kHz
Sensitivity: 91.1 dB 1 watt/1 meter
Size: 23 x 15.75 x 16.5 (D) inches
Power handling: 350 watts RMS
Loading Method: Helmholtz Resonator
Recommended amplifier power: 400-500 watts
Impedance: 4 or 8 ohms
Weight: 37 lbs
Accepts Neutrik Speakon and/or 1/4” plug

Among the hordes of boutique full-range bass cabs on the market today, many of which boast ruler-flat frequency response or various types of extended top end zing, it’s easy to forget that for a long time we bassists were content with the simplicity and coherence of well designed one-way systems. B15 combos, SVT 810 cabs, and folded horn type cabs created the old school bass tone benchmarks that few current offerings aim to reproduce. Recently, Andy Lewis of Acme Systems released a cool tribute to the cabs of yesteryear, successfully fusing old school sensibilities with modern technology.

Acme’s series II bass cabs have long been revered by loyal users, especially by the sub-happy bottom dwellers and those valuing natural fullness and depth over hyped treble response. His new series III cabs include such refinements as improved bracing (incorporating the port itself into the actual bracing mechanism for example, which Lewis says allows the cab to be lighter and stronger), quieter ports (Lewis states that rounding the edges on the internal port opening also makes the box stronger, and makes the port operate more quietly at higher volume), new finish, and new hardware. Never before has there been an Acme cab available with 12” drivers, nor one with neo speakers. As the “flatwound system” moniker implies, this cabs strength lies in the lower portion of the tonal scale. Not exactly a subwoofer as some might be inclined to think, the cab is designed around the parameters of its proprietary Eminence driver, optimized and tuned to squeeze the greatest low end performance out of a small-ish 1×12 loaded enclosure. The cab utilizes Acme’s duratex finish, which felt rugged and road worthy, and I appreciated its durable, high quality hardware.

Compared to a couple of my favorite 112 cabs, the Low B-112 has a pillowy depth that the others single 12’s couldn’t quite achieve. The Low B-112 moves a truly impressive amount of air for a 112 cab, and has a plump thickness and wooly thud that extends sweetly into the mids. Sounding quite pleasant in that range, its roundness was reminiscent of a vintage Ampeg B-15, one of the most revered studio amps of all time. Part of the reason that a mic’d B-15 is still a studio champ is its extremely smooth and coherent transition into the midrange. When properly mic’d, they sit in a track like Velcro, and have an evenness and focus that many modern day full range systems (many of which aim to provide wide, flat response) do not deliver. There is an elegant simplicity to the Low B’s sound, and it gets the job done excellently without extending itself beyond its range of usefulness, especially in an R&B or Motown setting. Cranking the treble knob on my active basses reveals just how limited the output is in the upper range, again reinforcing that this cab is not necessarily going to appeal to those seeking the twinkly, sparkly tone of hi-fi tweeter equipped cabs. As a self indulgent side note, I gotta say, if I were putting together a modular rig for a reggae band, I would love to hear 4 of these guys thumping away behind me.

As with Acme’s earlier cabs, to get the best performance out of the Low B-112, a higher than usual power requirement is needed. Many Series II users lament the performance of their cab only to discover a hidden beast that reveals itself when the cab is fed a high amount of headroom. Luckily, Acme’s great owners manual and website covers this topic thoroughly. Speaking of which, the cabs included literature was a totally refreshing and pleasant read. A nice departure from both the hype driven “magazine ad” style info sheet, or the dry and sterile “spec sheet only” type literature, Acme’s manual was chock full of easily understood suggestions and useful info that are sure to help the end user get the most out of the cab.

One of the coolest thing about the Low B-112 is the “booty to schlep” ratio (you heard it here first folks). I’d be hard pressed to mention a cab with this much boom that was as easy to move. I loved the top mounted handle. Spring loaded and feeling very sturdy, my only gripe was with its raised profile. This might be problematic for proper seating of some heads, especially the modern lightweight variety. My Mark Bass LMII teetered a bit on the handle, rather than sitting squarely on its four rubber feet. (Acme responds: when designing a loudspeaker to provide great sound, the challenge is to find a way to install a handle that doesn’t detract from the sound, and “does the patient no harm”. As stated in the manual, there is a great advantage to placing a large mass on the cab anyway, to stabilize the system, and anchor it to the floor. the handle offers a subtle hint that you might want to put a heavy equipment rack, small child, or other massive object on top, and then place your featherweight amp on top of that.”)

Acme points out that in the near future, this cab will be available with an optional co-axial tweeter, or as an easily installed upgrade to an existing Low B-112, (one that promises to be easily done by the customer themselves with a minimum of effort or technical knowledge).

More info is available on Acme’s website which also features hours of useful and interesting reading and educational material. MSRP for the Low B-112 is $499

Jake Wolf welcomes your comments and questions… drop him a line

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