Thomann's Cool Online Guides: PA Speakers

5. Cabinets

Cabinets are an intrinsic part of a speaker system. As well as providing a mounting for the driver and protecting it, the cabinet makes a significant difference to the actual sound produced. The art of speaker system manufacture involves achieving a good match between the drivers themselves and the cabinet that contains them.

Guitar cabinets

A typical 4x 12" cabinet configuration

Perhaps the most familiar multi-driver system is the guitar cabinet, with two or four 12” speakers. This is usually an enclosed cabinet, with strong mountings to dampen everything except the actual sound delivered at the front. Larger cabinets are often mounted on castors, and can be stacked on top of each other.

Exponential cabinets

This design uses the cabinet itself as a kind of horn. They serve to project a much bigger sound than a conventional cabinet.

Exponential speaker systems were actually developed for cinemas, in the days when amplifiers could not deliver the necessary power to make the talkies audible. Designers achieved an increase in SPL of as much as 9dB - effectively an eightfold boost for amps of only 20 Watts. Today’s systems are more compact and portable, but they still deliver high quality sound and significant increases in volume.

There are three different types of exponential speaker cabinet:

Front-loaded bins

The driver is mounted at the back of a large horn, with an additional externally mounted horn to boost high frequencies.

Folded-horn bins

The driver points to the rear of the cabinet and the horn tapers outwards. This design is particularly suitable for bass frequencies.

Rear-loaded bins

The loudspeaker points forward, but the low frequencies flow backwards and then out through a folded horn. Good for bass and mid-range sound.

The so-called ‘chute’ which can be equipped with one or two 15" speakers is an example of a rear loaded bin. While not as efficient as other exponential designs, they give a good bass sound and are particularly popular for disco systems, or as dedicated bass bins.

There are almost as many different types of exponential bins as there are manufacturers. However, in all cases the precision of the engineering involved means there is a finely balanced relationship between the length and shape of the horn, and the final quality of the sound. Don’t try building one of these unless you really know what you’re doing!

Bass reflex cabinets

These cabinets incorporate specially designed pipes to reinforce the sound. Again, some complex calculations are involved in ensuring the optimum damping and movement of air to achieve a sumptuous bass sound. Various sizes of reflex cabinet are available.

Crossover cabinets

In a crossover cabinet, a filter distributes the signal between a combination of drivers and reflex pipes according to their performance characteristics. Bass, mid-range and high-frequency drivers are all contained within a single cabinet. Often, the mid-range driver will be set in its own housing to prevent its cone being affected by the bass frequencies. Crossovers are excellent for voice and general sound reinforcement purposes in small and medium-sized venues. They are relatively easy to carry and can be stacked to create a bigger sound if required. Historically, they have not usually had enough range for larger venues or outdoor settings, but there are now some very competent crossover boxes on the market.


A vital component of any system, monitors allow everyone on stage to hear what’s going on. They are especially important when the whole band is mixed through the PA, and larger systems will often have a separate mix for the monitors, allowing each musician to hear the specific balance of instruments that suits them. Monitors are also useful as low-volume rehearsal PA systems.

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PA Speakers overview

Line6 Helix HX Effects Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1958 "Amos" Fender SQ Jaguar Special SS IL CAR Zoom F1-LP Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB Warm Audio WA73-EQ Presonus Faderport 16 Bose QC 35 II Wireless BK Yamaha DXS15 MKII Palmer PWT 12 MK 2 Zoom F1-SP Fun Generation PL 15 Sub A
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Epiphone Joe Bonamassa 1958 "Amos"

Electric Guitar Joe Bonamassa model, Body and neck: Korina, Fretboard: Certified blackwood, Neck profile: 1958 Rounded C, 22 Medium jumbo frets, Pickups: Epiphone Probucker 2 (neck) and Epiphone Probucker 3 (bridge), Lock Tone ABR-1 Tuneomatic bridge, Including case, certificate,...

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Fender SQ Jaguar Special SS IL CAR

Electric Bass Body: Agathis, Neck: Maple, Fretboard: Indian Laurel (Laurel), Neck profile: C, 20 Frets, Scale: 762 mm (30"/ Short Scale), Nut width 38 mm, Pickups: 1 J-Style and 1 Split single coil, Black 3-ply pickguard, Colour: Candy Apple...

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Zoom F1-LP

Field Recorder and Lavalier Microphone Set Two-channel audio recorder, Compatible with zoom microphone capsules, Supports WAV formats up to 24bit / 96kHz or MP3 formats on microSD / microSDHC card (up to 32GB), USB audio interface for PC and...

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Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB

USB 2.0 audio interface 24-bit / 192 kHz, 18 inputs and 20 outputs, 8 Clarett mic preamps with Air mode model and the classic ISA mic preamp sound, Low noise (-128dB ON), Up to 118 dB dynamic range, Switchable...

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Warm Audio WA73-EQ

Warm Audio WA73-EQ; 1-channel Mic-Preamp; British 1073-style; fully discrete Class A; Carnhill Transformers; 80dB of Gain (stepped gain switch); Tone Button (changes input transformer impedance); Polarity switch; +48v phantom power; Inductor based 3 band EQ: Low Band Boost/Cut (35, 60,...

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Presonus Faderport 16

16-Channel DAW Production Controller 16 Professional, touch-sensitive 100 mm motor faders (Dual-Servo Drive Belt), High fader resolution: 10 Bits/1,024 steps, 85 Background and status illuminated buttons, 104 Controllable functions, 16 High-resolution LC displays as digital labeling fields, Timecode and...

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Bose QC 35 II Wireless BK

Bose Quiet Comfort 35 II Wireless Black Noise Cancelling headphone - Acoustic Noise Cancelling, around-ear design, swiveling ear cups, volume optimized EQ, Google Assistant, up to 20 h running time, includes audio cable, USB charging cable and etui, colour: black

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Yamaha DXS15 MKII

Active Subwoofer Equipped with: 1x 15" woofer, 1020 Watt Class-D power amp, Frequency range: 40 - 150 Hz, Maximum output level: 135 dB, Black plywood housing with speaker grille that protects entire front and the front edges, XLR inputs/outputs,...

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Palmer PWT 12 MK 2

Multi power supply for effect pedals 4 Outputs - adjustable from 9 to 18V, 2 Can be interconnected with the supplied Y-cable and deliver up to 36 V output voltage, The maximum capacity of the 9 V outputs is...

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Zoom F1-SP

Field Recorder and Shotgun Microphone Two-channel audio recorder, Compatible with zoom microphone capsules, Supports WAV formats up to 24bit / 96kHz or MP3 formats on microSD / microSDHC card (up to 32GB), USB audio interface for PC and Mac...

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Fun Generation PL 15 Sub A

Active subwoofer Speaker assembly: 15" woofer, Power: 250 W RMS / 1000 W peak, Max. SPL: 125 dB, Frequency range: 40 - 250 Hz, Adjustable low-pass filter from 40 - 150 Hz, Inputs: XLR (L + R), XLR (L...

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