Barefaced Bass - Ultra lightweight high power bass guitar speaker cabinets

The 12XN550 driver

In short:

If you want to compare like for like performance, compare one of our 12"s with TWO of anyone else's 12"s. The radical new design of the 12XN550 combines the very high sensitivity of a pro-audio mid-bass driver, the very high excursion of a pro-audio subwoofer and a response curve which has been optimised to sound great on and off-axis with bass guitar. Massive output AND awesome tone.


12XN550 Woofer


And in depth:

Once you get into the realms of high-end pro-audio drivers, they divide into basically two categories. One category is that of the mid-bass driver, as found in PA tops. The other category is that of the subwoofer driver, as found in PA subwoofers. All our original Barefaced cabs were built around these top-quality drivers. If you step down a level of cost/performance you find the drivers which are found in some of the best 'boutique' bass cabs on the market. These drivers sit in the mid-bass driver category in terms of parameters but often have some tweaks to make them sound better for bass guitar (usually to fatten up the default sound and modify the treble response). Come down another notch of performance and you find the drivers typically found in the classic brand name's premium products. There are a few more levels below this as magnets gets smaller, frames shift from cast alloy to stamped steel, and manufacturing tolerances become less tight, reducing manufacturing cost but also lowering sensitivity and power handling and increasing distortion.

Our original drivers

Our first generation Barefaced cabs were built around a 15" mid-bass driver (15HO: Compact & Vintage) and a 15" subwoofer driver (15LF: Big One). Our second generation Barefaced cabs added a 12" mid-bass driver (12HO: Midget, Super Twelve) and a 12" subwoofer driver (12LF: Big Baby, Big Twin), whilst continuing to use the 15HO (Compact, Super Fifteen) and the 15LF (Dubster). In the early years of Barefaced, the reason we built a reputation for making incredibly LOUD bass cabs was down to these drivers having such potent performance.

Parameter differences: mid-bass vs subwoofer

There is a clear difference in physical parameters between the mid-bass and subwoofer drivers. The former have lower moving mass and shorter voice coils, whilst the latter having higher moving mass and longer voice coils. This makes the mid-bass drivers more sensitive, with better midrange and treble response, better transient response but unable to move as much air. The subwoofer drivers are less sensitive with less even midrange response, almost no treble response, worse transient response but are able to move more air - which is why they have to be used in conjunction with a separate midrange driver for bass guitar and why they need more power to play loud. The ability to move air is critical in a bass guitar cab and is the reason why bassists tend to love BIG rigs once on the gig, as the combined cone area and excursion of all those drivers mean they move a lot of air and thus sound great at high SPL, without your lows being compromised.

The best of both worlds?

Historically it has been considered impossible to make a very high excursion driver which also has extended frequency response and high sensitivity but our investigations into newer technology suggested that with some very precise design work it might be possible to achieve the best of both worlds. Therefore in early 2011 we started an R&D project whose goal was to develop new drivers for the next generation of Barefaced cabs.

The new driver arrives!

After 2.5 years the end result was our unique new driver, which we call the 12XN550 - 12" nominal diameter, eXtended range, Neodymium magnet, with ~550cc of volume displacement and >500W thermal power handling. And most importantly, it has tone for days - it's actually cleaner, smoother and more accurate through the mids and treble than our previous 12HO driver, and really lets the tone created by your fingers, bass and amp (and any FX) be heard. It has good polar response so that tone fills the room and excellent transient response so that your sound starts and stops when it should - no lag, boom or overhang.

Putting the 12XN550 in perspective

In case you haven't noticed, for less distant customers we have a one month trial period with our cabs, so you can make sure that our cabs do what you want both tonally and in terms of loudness. But regardless, we'll work with you to make sure that your Barefaced cab will have the loudness and lows you need - be warned, we may ask quite a few questions! There is absolutely no point us using marketing hyperbole to sell our cabs - they have to do what we claim, it's what our reputation has been built upon.

What does this mean for anyone considering switching to a Barefaced cab?

If size/weight is critical and your current rig is loud/fat enough then you can go a size smaller: i.e. replace a mid-sized expensive cab (4x10", 2x12") with a 1x12", or replace a large expensive cab (6x10", 8x10", 4x12", 2x15") with a 2x12". If your current rig struggles with loudness/punch/fatness/depth then you can replace your cab with a similar sized Barefaced cab and expect a substantial leap forwards, with a comparable increase in output to doubling up your current rig but with improved tone. If your current cabs are older or less expensive then expect an even bigger difference in clean output (especially in the lows) and tone.