We all know Hip-Hop is about the bass, the bass the bass. We like our mixes big, bouncy and full of energy (a few puns definitely intended). We like our speakers BIG, and our rides should always be pimped with the appropriate subs locked in the boot, the shopping can always be piled on the back seat.
With that in mind, who better to talk to about Bass technology and Bass management than the market leaders in Bass for over three decades, Cerwin Vega. Lady A.i. hooked up, via e-mail and a pleasant middle man (thanks Greg Mondshein!), with Cerwin Vega’s Product Manager Mike Newman and VP of Marketing Tony Rodriguez to discuss Bass!
A.i.: Could you explain for our readers what Cerwin Vega is
about, i.e. what’s your mission statement?
C.V.: Powerful. Unique. Bass. Our products lead with bass, because that is our legacy and we have over 50 years of experience in producing bass systems that are unsurpassed in the market. The products are Unique in their design, both from a technology perspective and from their looks. When you see that red speaker surround, you know it is a Cerwin-Vega speaker. When you see the aggressive styling of the grills and cabinets, you know that these speakers reflect our image and attitude, not only in their sound but in their appearance as well. And all Cerwin-Vega speakers are powerful. They stand up to abuse, they produce high levels of sound, and they are built to last.
A.i.: Why is Cerwin Vega the market leader in Bass and Bass
C.V.: Experience. Expertise. Legacy. For close to 50 years we have been known for our expertise in audio, especially bass reproduction. From the thunderous Stroker sub woofers (originally only a mobile product) to the legendary folded horn series, Cerwin-Vega has delivered high performance sub products for home, mobile and performance applications. Who better to create an educational guide for performers on bass reproduction?
A.i.: Cerwin Vega specialises in the low end of the spectrum and you’ve managed some pretty impressive feats over time with regards to being able to generate high Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) at incredibly low frequencies which at the time (the 70’s) was unimaginable. Are you still able to compete? Especially as technology evolves and more companies are able to generate the same kind of sub output levels as Cerwin Vega?
C.V.: Absolutely. Our new active CVA subwoofers provide more user controls than any other active sub series in this class. We took Stroker mobile technology into our active CVA-121 for excellent low frequency extension and high SPL levels.
Our compact CVA-28 three-way dual 8 delivers serious bass in a very compact cabinet that can be pole mounted above our subs, flown, or arrayed with Cerwin-Vega mounting accessories. Plug in a mixer, keyboard, microphone or a guitar or bass directly depending on your needs.
Our new C-Series folded horns have raised the bar for performance and looks. We have increased performance and low frequency extension in our 3 models. We added the Stroker technology to the AB-36C for increased performance and power handling.
Because we have always been the leaders in bass we stay on top of the trends better than other companies. Our drivers are designed by our engineering team for maximum low frequency extension and high SPL levels and are only available on Cerwin-Vega products.
A.i.: Why do you specialise only in the low end?
C.V.: That’s our legacy and our expertise. We see that the emphasis on bass-heavy music over the years, from disco to electronica to hip-hop has really played into our strength and helped producers of this music to deliver the studio impact into a live sound arena. That being said, we have and are developing full-range systems that build upon our bass legacy but also deliver ultra-high fidelity in the mid-range and upper frequencies. So while we lead with bass, we also bring our expertise to the entire speaker system.
A.i.: How was Cerwin Vega able to produce that kind of sound output level at that point in history when no-one else could? What was the inspiration?
C.V.: Gene Czerwinski founded Cerwin-Vega in 1954. His goal was to reproduce the live musical experience. His design philosophy was based on high efficiency drivers, durability, and value oriented products. Gene was always driven to create the best audio systems he possibly could for a specific need.
He was an innovator on many levels. He created a very efficient 18” driver in 1954 that could produce 130dB at 30Hz. From designing PA systems for Disneyworld’s Epcot Center to sound reinforcement for the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Cerwin-Vega has always been on the forefront of real world designs for music lovers, power hungry mobile fans and performers.
A.i.: Cerwin Vega has worked with well known music companies like Fender and Universal Studios, what did you produce for / with them?
C.V.: In the 1960’s, Cerwin-Vega became a principal supplier of loudspeakers and system designs for musical instrument amplifier manufacturers, including Fender, Acoustic, Sunn and Vox.
In 1974 the motion picture “Earthquake” premièred with a dramatic new innovation in motion picture sound known as “Sensurround” For the first time audio was an integrated part of the movie experience through special effects. The concept required large powerful bass cabinets which would provide very low frequencies in order to shake the movie theater, thus simulating a real earthquake. For this purpose the “E” bass horns and woofers were developed.
“Sensurround” technology and Cerwin-Vega were honored with an Academy Award for Special Technical Achievement in 1974.
A.i.: Your bass guide was very useful as a general guide to setting up PA’s and dealing with bass. What are some of the most common mistakes you hear of that musicians’, mobile DJ’s and sound engineers make when dealing with the bass end in a live situation?
C.V.: The biggest mistake is people underestimate the amount of PA they need for a given situation. So they end up turning up all of the parts of the signal chain to the point of clipping, which sends distorted signals to the speakers. This can sound really nasty. A distorted vocal channel on the mixer is only going to sound worse the louder you turn it up! So we suggest getting out there and seeing what people are using for various venue sizes to determine how much PA you actually need.
Another issue is most people don’t understand that the frequencies between the top speaker boxes and the subs need to be split, which we call “crossing over” the frequencies – and split in such a way to provide good sound and efficiency for the system. If you have your top speaker boxes sending out the same frequencies as your sub, they won’t be able to play as loud, it punishes your speakers and those overlapping frequencies tend to get muddy.
By sending the lower frequencies to the subwoofer you actually make the top boxes play more efficiently because they don’t need to reproduce all of that low end now. Your system will sound balanced for a more pleasing performance.
This topic is covered in detail in our bass management guide so we encourage people to check it out.
A.i.: What do you consider to be the main things that buyers should pay attention to or look out for when buying subwoofers?
C.V.: Users should analyze their specific needs and estimate what types of venues they will be performing in. Then go to our bass management guide, which explains the differences in the subwoofers and how they are used.
Understanding the sizes of the venues is critical. For example, you wouldn’t buy a folded horn subwoofer to play a small 50 seat night club. You WOULD buy a folded horn for mid to large size clubs or for outdoor use.
Also look at the space available in the vehicles used for transporting the PA gear. If you don’t have the room you can’t get the gear to the gig which is one reason our CVA-28 full range active speaker is so popular.
We have complete systems from a compact active 15” subwoofer to our thunderous folded horn series.
A.i.: We’ve had big, small, tiny, wireless, powerful, flat, tweaked, surround, multi-coloured speakers; how much further can you take this particular field?
C.V.: It is actually an interesting time for speaker development. One trend is for smaller, modular, and lighter with high output performance like our CVA-28. Driver development is changing too as designers look for alternatives to expensive neodymium metals which are very light in weight.
There are now some very powerful software tools for driver development that save time and money and allow the designer to come close to his goals before building prototypes. This helps our speaker engineers to achieve their results that much faster.
Active speakers provide flexible features that allow users to customize their sound for each performance, (like our parametric equalizer on our CVA-121 active subwoofer).
A.i.: What can we look forward to from Cerwin Vega over the next few years?
C.V.: We are working on expanding our system solutions for flexible, versatile choices for all types of applications. Our development efforts are focused on big systems as well as compact systems at various price points for flexible user needs.
All our products deliver famous Cerwin-Vega bass reproduction and our Powerful / Unique / Bass message and performance.
A.i.: Are there any Hip-Hop artists / producers / engineers that Cerwin Vega endorses?
C.V.: Many hip-hop artists and DJs use Cerwin-Vega products. The EL-36B is the most popular folded in the world. The CVA-28 is perfect for DJs as it is modular, compact and delivers excellent bass. We tend to not utilize endorsees as this method of marketing is overused. We have some excellent performance stories on our site so we encourage people to go there, check out the stories and learn a little bit about subwoofers and bass management.
A.i.: Last words to britishhiphop.co.uk?
C.V.: Cerwin-Vega’s new products and development plans for future products are designed to make performers lives easier and their performances first rate. We are very passionate about providing excellent value and system solutions for many types of performers. We are driven to live up to the Cerwin-Vega legacy and reputation. We have an amazing amount of loyal followers and new adopters and we will not let them down.
While bass is our legacy and will continue to drive our product plans, we are now focusing on the total PA user experience from thunderous monster bass enclosures to modular, high-powered compact systems.