Schroeder 1212 Bass Cabinet (2×12) Price: $840 (£534) Website: http://www.schroedercabinets.com/
I purchased the Schroeder 1212 after spending several years looking for a rig that would cut through a loud band on stage without me having to turn the volume to 11 and endure distortion and fart. I’d previously worked my way through a variety of rigs including Trace Elliot and Ampeg stacks. After much shopping around and consulting talkbass.com I settled on the idea of using a separate preamp and power amp so my power issues could be addressed separately. This resulted in me purchasing a Glockenklang Bass Art preamp and a QSC RMX 1450 power amp. The Glock ticked all the boxes in the tone and features department and the QSC was a good compromise between weight and power (at the time). But this still left me wondering what speaker cabs to use. I needed something that could handle something in the 700-1000watt region but I was also trying to avoid multiple cabinets.
At that point in time (2004) Schroeder Cabinets had just started making a name for themselves on the talkbass.com forum and many bass players in the US were raving about them. They seemed to be a good choice but I was a little wary after being disappointed with most amps/cabs I’d used in the past based simply on recommendation. Every musician and every musical situation is different and you can only make a correct decision based on first hand experience and use, anything else is just luck. But, after a few days correspondence with Jorg Schroeder I decided to purchase the 1212 cabinet. Jorg is a great guy who always has time to give advice or support for his products. I was amazed he actually talked me into buying a cheaper, smaller cab than my own first choice because, based on my description of the gig, he thought it would be a much better option.
The cabinets are pretty much custom built on order and you can specify various mods and addons. I ordered a 4 ohm 1212 with a locking front cover and an additional soft cover. This is a 2×12 cabinet with the right facing speaker side angled as to be almost hidden, although the latest 1212 has both speakers front facing and is fitted with neodymium chassis as standard. It took a couple of weeks for the build and shipping to the UK and it arrived by courier in perfect condition.
The cabinet is surprisingly small (considering the power handling) and of average weight for the size. However, my first playing experience of it was not particularly good. I plugged my Fender Jazz into the Glock/QSC rack and instantly found a very ‘non hifi’ hump in the low mids. Many players may like this sound as standard but the Glock preamp is close to transparent and I found this colouration a little annoying. Playing unaccompanied seemed quite farty as I pushed the volume up and I found myself pulling back the mids a little on the preamp. On the upside, I was very impressed by the power handling. The QSC was bridged mono providing 1600 watts into 4 ohms and the 1000 watt Schroeder appeared highly efficient at low levels although this could be as a consequence of the mid hump. I then tried testing the Schroeder alongside an Ampeg rig (1×15 and 2×10)using the SVT head for both the Schroeder and the Ampeg’s, one at a time. This highlighted the hump even more and the Ampeg cabs sounded much more conventionally pleasing to the ears on the face of it but I wanted to reserve judgement for a gig before looking for a different solution.
My next gig was a 5 month cruise ship contract in which I would be playing a wide variety of styles at plenty of different volumes from quiet cocktail sets to loud outdoor pop sets. The outdoor gigs were always the problem for me because strong winds can play havoc with sound and I would find myself turning up into distortion while trying to hold my own with the PA and brass section blasting away either side of me.
The minute I used the Schroeder with a band I realised I’d made the right decision. The mid hump was suddenly perfect for sitting in the mix and I found myself running the amp at a fairly low level even during moderate to high volume sets. The outdoor sets that I’d always struggled with became a pleasure as the Schroeder sat beautifully controlled in the mix. The deep low end frequencies are less noticeable at close range, mainly due to the prominence of the low mids, but once you walk around the stage and out into the audience the bass becomes stronger which is perfect for gigs or rehearsal situations where there are no bins with the PA etc. Once I’d acclimatised to the low mids of the cab I found myself adjusting tone controls to emulate the Schroeder ‘hump’ while using other amps and cabs in an effort to hit that frequency range sweet spot as it always seems to sit in the mix unhindered by the surrounding instruments.
As far as pure brute volume, the Schroeder is an absolute monster regardless of its size. The efficiency of the cab often forced me into pulling back on the amp volume for small to medium size venues. I am yet to play in a situation where I need more cabs than a single 1212 and I love turning up at gigs to bemused looks as I wheel my small shopping trolley size rig to the stage before watching the faces change to astonishment as this colossal sound comes from seemingly nowhere. It is certainly more than adequate for monitoring in pretty much any gig which lends credence to the claims I’d previously seen stating a single Schroeder 1212 can stand up to an Ampeg 8×10. Of course, the tone and overall sound you create through the cab will be the sum total of the other parts of your gear and your individual playing style but for fulfilling the criteria I laid out, it definitely hits the spot. If you need volume but hate carrying multiple, heavy cabs around then you should seriously consider a Schroeder cabinet.