Heaven in a small package – the Epifani UL110 bass speaker cabinet

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There are a number of basically impossible quests in my life: the search for the perfect mobile communication device; looking for the most powerful yet lightweight laptop (preferably one that runs OS X); finding the perfect martini (lately I’m given to Grey Goose vodka, with a twist); etc.

But probably the most impossible of these impossible quests is the maddening desire to find a small, lightweight speaker cabinet that sounds good for playing bass. Given that the wave size of the fundamental frequency of a double bass or bass guitar is somewhere around eleven feet, it’s not surprising that it usually takes a lot of oomph to move enough air to amplify the sound.

For most of the late ’70s and early ’80s I played in bands using a huge speaker cabinet that had two fifteen-inch speakers in it, custom designed for me by Porpoise Audio in Bellingham. It sounded terrific, but took two guys to move it anywhere.

In the late ’80s I moved to using a single fifteen inch Peavey cabinet. It doesn’t sound anywhere near as good as the behemoth, but I can move it by myself, as long as I don’t have to go up too many stairs – it still weighs somewhere around 70 lbs.

I’ve been starting to play some duo gigs around town with Tim Lerch, a fine jazz and blues guitar player, and realized that I had to come up with a smaller cabinet more suited to playing in coffee houses and book clubs as opposed to the loud and rowdy taverns of my misspent youth.

Today I took delivery of an Epifani UL110 cabinet like the one pictured above, and I couldn’t be more pleased. It weighs 22 lbs – I can easily lift it with one hand. And the sound, powered by an Ashdown Bass Magnifier amp head, is nothing short of astounding. It reproduces my upright bass with incredible fidelity – the lows are rich and full, and the definition of the midrange and high end is fully present without being grating. I have no idea how they get so much sound out of something so small and light.

This is the best sound I’ve had for an amplified upright bass yet, and I can’t wait to try it out on a gig, which I’ll get a chance to do on July 29 at Soul Food Books in Redmond – come on out if you want to hear how it sounds.

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