Players & Reviews

The Sonusphere B18 Bass Speaker

Rob Kohler, Bassist

 I road-tested the Sonusphere B-18 bass cabinet extensively over the last year. On every kind of gig, it works amazingly well. The most spectacular aspect of this speaker system is the transparency and wide dispersion of sound. It doesn’t push air in a conventional way. So you can play at lesser volumes and still be heard by everyone one on stage and in the audience. I can get my sound (i.e. hear myself) at a comfortable level without being too loud. As a jazz player I like to cut through the band when I solo without having to turn-up. This speaker system is perfect for that way of playing. I can set my level acoustically and still have headroom to step out front without having to artificially turn-up.

 rob k sonus 1On the other end of the spectrum due of the passive sub-woofer design, while performing at ballad volumes I can achieve a full bodied low resonance without overtaking the mix. That characteristic is probably my favorite part of this speaker. To be able to get warm sub tones without a lot of volume is a very musical experience. I think it works the best in rooms and on stages that are notoriously rough acoustically. We have all played those rooms either no reflection or way too much upper mid-range bounce! I think that because of the non-directional throw, it doesn’t add to or exacerbate a bad sounding environment. This speaker literally leaves physical space for the other instruments.

 The Sonusphere works even better in pristine sound environments. One gig I had was in an old acoustically musical church. The sound radiated from everywhere, and my old Italian upright never sounded better. The speaker dispersed the sound in such a way that the audience had the sensation that it was just a big sounding acoustic upright.

 Over the last year, I have played on very bright, reflective stages, in completely dead square spaces, large stages, small rooms, outdoors, and concert venues. In every instance it performed admirably and the rest of my band mates liked the transparency and the ease with which they could hear my bass lines. The only drawback was that I didn’t have a place to stack my amp! Powered by an Eden 550, and as an external speaker from a SWR Workingman 12. I play a Burrows 5-string, a Beck 4 string (w/ a Moses neck), a Moses KP-4 Solid Body Upright, a Fender Fretless, and an 1840’s Italian Upright.


The Sonusphere B14 Guitar Speaker

Ralph Novak, Novax Fanned Fret® Guitars  March, 2015

The Sonusphere is exactly what I expected – it works great!

I took it to a jam party and used the full-range driver with my amp. Great sound. Difficult room for a good tone with traditional equipment, but the Sonusphere was a stand-out. Many comments on the wonderful tone.

Interesting – I turned the bass control on my amp all the way off, and still had more than enough bottom. Not muddy, just rich and warm.

Took both Sonuspheres to rehearsal with the vocalists and violins. Used them with a small 100W power amp and their mixer. Everyone was visibly impressed – they want them! … audiences will appreciate sound that complements the voices.

The Sonusphere B18 Bass Speaker

Niels Miller, bassist  May 14, 2017

Upright bass players face a common dilemma for amplifying live
performances – either put the cabinet on the ground and get better low
end response at the sacrifice of hearing the upper registers, or place
the cabinet on something to point the speaker at the player’s ears so
they can hear the higher frequencies, and lose some of the low end.

Recently, I met a bass player who tried to convince me that I didn’t
have to choose between the two. I could have a bass cabinet that both
put out great low end and let me hear the entire spectrum of my tone,
from double digits to the tens of thousands hertz. The cabinet he was
talking about is the Sonusphere.

After searching for a great amplified sound for over twenty years, I
was pretty skeptical. My Acoustic Image Coda combo is a great sounding
amp. It puts out a very neutral tone and moves quite a bit of air. I
love the way it surrounds both me and the musicians on stage in a
“bass bubble” of fat tone. Still, I’ve never been completely satisfied
with the sound of the Coda. I get great low end, but I don’t get much
in the high frequencies.

Enter the Sonusphere. Like the AI cabinet, it has a down-firing woofer
to produce that big low end. Unlike the AI, the Sonusphere has a large
speaker pointed straight up to give your ears (and your bandmates)
access to all those spectrums above 100hz. The speaker is round and
lets the top speaker project in all directions. The bottom speaker is
merely a passive resonator responsible for the range under 100hz. Does
it work? And then some! My recent experience on two very different
gigs confirmed how great this cabinet is for upright bass.

The first gig was a run of three shows at an 825-seat theater where I
played music from opera to jazz to arranged rock standards. To start,
I pretty much require that I can carry my bass and my rig in one trip.
Weighing in at around 15 pounds, I could easily carry the Sonusphere,
my upright and my overstuffed gig bag, and throw an electric bass on
my shoulder as well!

Positioning the cabinet on stage is very flexible. For these kinds of
productions, I usually put the cabinet it in front of my bass on my
left closer to the front line players and the drummer. With my long
cable, I’ve even been able to put it under the grand piano when the
soundman didn’t have enough channels to run me through the monitors.
Wherever I put it, it sounds great: big and full on the low end and
nice string detail. The winds and the brass appreciated that they
could hear me really well, and I didn’t have to compromise on being
able to hear myself. If it’s not loud enough, I can easily reposition
the cabinet a little closer to me.

For this gig, I was running an AMT mic attached to my bass and a
Realist Lifeline through my AI head, which has two channels. I took
this great little head out of my Contra. Just because I replaced my
cabinet doesn’t mean I don’t love AI products anymore! Since there was
a lot of arco work on this show, I really wanted to use the mic to
bring out the rich tones of my old French bass. It’s also really nice
on pizz as well to bring more clarity to the front of the house.

Bottom line, this cabinet/amp setup is great for shows where you don’t
need to push a whole ton of volume and the quality of your sound is
most important to you and your fellow bandmates. Great, great tone it
is.

The second gig was the polar opposite. My friend is a band director,
and he needed some players to fill out his thin big band for a
combined music/dance showcase. The venue was a large dance theater at
the local university. The band was made up of students supplemented by
local professionals. The stage was a huge mess spread wide across the
dance floor. Horns on my left from 5 to 25 feet away, drummer right
next to me, and grand piano about 20 feet on my right. Singers about
15 feet in front. No monitors whatsoever. Pretty much no rehearsal
either.

My job on this gig was to maintain time and hold together the two
sides of the stages that couldn’t hear each other.

Loading into this huge stage/dance performance space, I wondered if I
should have brought a larger rig. I do have half stack for outdoor
shows and electric bass, but it would have been much more work to haul
up the stairs of the building. No problem. I’m not sure if some of my
huge sound had to do with the floor construction, but the Sonusphere
produced a massive low end that projected all over the stage. I didn’t
bring a mic to this show, only the Lifeline, but it was just what we
all needed: a big, warm, clearly definable pitch to anchor the band.

After the gig, I also reveled in the fact that I could walk out the
3rd floor fire escape and carry my whole rig to my car in one trip.
How very convenient.

In case you can’t tell, I’m quite enamored with the Sonusphere. The
low end is great, and the detail in the mid and upper ranges is
fantastic. I feel so much more confident of my pitch because I can
hear so much more of my range. I used to think that my rig did a great
job of reproducing the sound of my bass and nothing more. When I first
played through the Sonusphere, I thought it might have been coloring
the sound of my bass because I’d never heard so much detail in the mid
and upper registers. Then I played my bass toward a wall, and the
sound bouncing back at me had all of those colors as well. I realized
that I’d been shortchanging my ears of all those frequencies for
years.

On top of all that, with a perfectly round shape that gives no hint to
its function, the cabinet looks like a cool piece of 60s modern art
that would be perfectly at home in a James Bond flick from that era.
Thank you Sonusphere for your great cabinet. The quest is over!

___________________

The B-18 sounds great with a guitar and my Vivid head. Essentially, with an archtop and upright mostly, with some electric bass here and there, I think it would certainly show the versatility. (Overall) the interesting thing is that you can hear a huge difference in cabs with the (for instance) Hartke versus the Sonusphere. You can actually tell the Hartke cab “colors” the tone where the Sonus doesn’t. Most of the differences are in bass or lows. You lose all or most of the highs when using the Hartke or regular cabs and they are boomy. Being both (Sonusphere and the Hartke) cabs area about the same specs/rating makes this a great comparison.

TOM RICHARDS
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