The science of bass cab design has come a long way since the old back-wrecking 4×12. Back in the day, they were little different to the guitar speaker cabs of the time, just heavier. I think it was the jazz and funk boys with their smiley-face graphic EQs and scary chops who first realised that a smaller, lighter bass speaker could deliver volume and high quality tone if it was well designed and made from quality materials, rather than relying on a chipboard wardrobe with four guitar speakers tacked to the front panel. Fast-forward to today and, as my dad always says, we don’t know we’re born. There are plenty of boutique bass cabs available now and with the development of neodymium drivers, most are light and compact, if pretty expensive.
BUILD QUALITY AND FEATURES
The CN212 cabinet is made from best quality void-free Baltic birch ply, and covered in a woven textured hard tolex, not unlike that used on the old Ampeg combos in the 1960s. Two 12” cast frame neodymium speakers plus the high frequency driver are mounted onto the front baffle, and on the back panel there are two neutrik and two ¼” jack parallel in/outs. Next to these is an attenuator allowing you to adjust the HF unit gain. Although this is a compact cab, and a lightweight one at that, flush-fitting grab handles mounted just above centre on either side make shifting the CN212 safe and easy. The speakers are well protected by the black steel grille, and there are black steel corner protectors and rubber feet underneath. It looks classy and expensive, which of course it is.
Amplifying and reproducing bass presents a whole range of specific problems, one of which is that it takes a great deal more amp power to reproduce low frequencies than it does to shift high ones. Because of this, the loudspeakers in your bass cabinet need voice coils that can handle the high transient voltages from the amp, and the speaker’s cones must be able to cope with the greater ‘back and forth’ displacement which these higher voltages cause. One solution is to have heavy-duty 15” or 18” speakers, but these have their own inherent problems in that they’re slow to respond and lack the frequency range which most modern bassists need.
Now, 12” speakers mean a fast transient attack, and the two high quality custom drivers used here mean that slap sounds immediate and rhythmic, with the presence and articulation you can only get from high quality, efficient speakers. Normal fingerstyle playing reveals that the CN212 has a remarkably flat frequency response too, with the extremely low frequencies reproduced as perfectly as those all-important mids. As a result, the sound is full and natural with no particular frequency highlighted above any other. However you set the EQ on the amp, you’ll find that your own bass’s natural tone arrives at your ears totally unaffected. It’s actually quite unnerving to hear it like this, but with a powerful amp such as the Markbass Tube 800 and a good quality instrument such as the Ken Smith which we used for the test, the sound is pure hi-fi.
There’s no shortage of headroom or volume, either. Because of the almost total lack of distortion, the speakers never really sound loud: it’s only when you realise that you can’t hear the rest of the band that you appreciate just how much volume is being pumped out.
Jim Bergantino, like fellow amp-maker Phil Jones, honed his speaker design skills early in his career while building high-end audiophile hi-fi systems. Playing through this Bergantino cab, it’s easy to see how that experience has influenced both the sound and the design of this speaker. It’s beautifully made, with no apparent compromise to either cost or time.
I’ve noticed more and more Bergantino cabs on stage recently, and not just behind the jazzers either. This 2×12 is plenty powerful enough for most rock backlines, and the quality of the sound is amazing. It’s so accurate, and yet with a depth and body that makes you wonder how you ever played through that old 4×12 and thought it was a pretty good bass sound.
The downside? The fact that this cab is four ohms is a bit of a mixed blessing. On the one hand it means that the amp you use with it will be working to its full potential: on the other, you can’t really use this as part of a larger system, as adding another cab would lower the impedance to a potentially amp-exploding level. However, as a one-cab solution to almost any situation, the Bergantino CN212 is as good as it gets.
Bergantino 210T Cab
Price | £950
SPEAKERS | 2×12 Custom Neodymium drivers with 7oz magnets, 1” tweeter
CROSSOVER | Phase coherent with tweeter level control
CONNECTIONS | 2 x ¼ jack and 2 x neutrik (parallel)
POWER | 700W RMS
FREQUENCY RESPONSE | 30Hz to 20kHz
IMPEDANCE | 4 Ohms
DIMENSIONS | (HxWxD) 790 x 460 x 380mm
WEIGHT | 20kg
COVER | Fitted cover available
BGM Rating Out Of 10
BUILD QUALITY 9
SOUND QUALITY 10
What We Think
PLUS | Best quality speakers and materials combine to make perhaps the only bass speaker cab you’ll ever need
MINUS | It’s quite expensive. Four ohms means it can only really be used on its own
OVERALL | One of the best single bass cabs you can buy. Used with a powerful, good quality bass amp, the CN212 will be perfect for nearly any situation, recording or gigging