Gear review: DB Bass Embee and Elbee Cabinets range

Stuart Clayton road-tests DB’s new cabs. Turn it up, that man!

The portable, lightweight speaker cabinet market has exploded in recent years, with many gigging professionals abandoning large 1×15 and 4×10 cabinets in favour of smaller, more back-friendly configurations. One such bassist was Dave Blundy, who had quickly become frustrated with the design of many of the cabinets on the market, believing that too many compromises were being made for the sake of portability. A lack of bottom end when stacking smaller cabinets up to ear level and a nondescript sound were chief among his concerns, and so he set out to build a better speaker cabinet.

Through extensive research, and after building many prototypes, Dave finally arrived at the cabinet of his dreams: lightweight, portable and with a focused tone, excellent on-stage monitoring and big cab performance. The success of his breakthrough was then expanded into a range of different cabinets – the Embee 10 and 12 cabs (both rated at 600 watts), the 210 (rated at 1,100 watts) and the Elbee 10, a second 1×10 cabinet rated at 300 watts. We’ve been sent the entire range for our review.

Build Quality

The Elbee10

The Elbee 10

The construction of the cabinets is superb. Each is constructed from high-grade birch plywood with a self-bracing design which, according to the company’s literature, reduces panel resonance. Each cabinet is finished with textured paint of the kind commonly seen on speaker cabinets in the upper end of the price bracket. This finish is extremely hard-wearing, and stands up well to a hard life on the road, making it a wise choice here. Aesthetically, the metal grille complements the finish of the cabs well and is similarly tough, with minimal flex: there’s certainly no danger of anything damaging your speakers with this in the way.

It’s hardly relevant to the build or sound of the cabinets, but we particularly like the angled logo in the top right hand corner. Appearances aside, there are some very pleasant surprises in the construction of these cabinets. Firstly, the Embee 10, 12 and 210 cabinets use the Max-Flo system, an efficient, tuned bass enclosure that directs and projects the sound through the front of the cabinet. According to DB, this delivers air movement typically associated with larger cabinets. This was one of the founding principles of the design of the cabinet.

In addition, the speakers themselves are fixed at a 45-degree angle in order to improve monitoring. This is a neat idea, and certainly a nice adaption of the kickback combo idea that has proven popular with other manufacturers over the last few years. This means that it’s not necessary to stack cabinets vertically (which can sometimes result in a loss of low end) and there’s no danger of your amp sliding off of the top of an angled cabinet.

The sides of each cabinet feature recessed carrying handles, but again, these are old features with a new spin: DB has opted to insert the handle enclosures at a 45-degree angle in order to allow for a more natural carrying position. The idea is that your wrist has to twist less when carrying it, putting less pressure on the joint. Another simple idea which works well: after a while you wonder why cab handles haven’t always been like this. The rear of each cabinet features nothing more than two recessed Speakon sockets, while the tweeter attenuator is sensibly sited on the side of the cabinet for ease of adjustment.

Sounds

The Embee 210

The Embee 210

In terms of sound quality the results are extremely impressive across the range. The 210, my first port of call, is tight and punchy while retaining significant low end, certainly not what I was expecting to hear. The angled speakers meant that the sound was being directed upwards towards my ears at all times and I found that monitoring during a rehearsal was excellent, even when standing very close to the cabinet. At a whopping 1,100W, it’s likely the most powerful 2×10 cabinet on the market: impressive stuff.

The 10 and 12 Embees were similarly impressive. Being lower to the floor I was expecting each to fare worse in terms of monitoring, but again the results were excellent. Low end handling on the 12 was especially good and the top end was equally well catered for, thanks to the tweeter. All the cabinets also exhibit a pleasing mid-range punch. If I had to pick one word to describe the sound of these cabinets it would be ‘focused’ – the combination of the angled speakers and Max-Flo construction is a winner, it would seem.

The Elbee 10 is easily the most portable of the lot. Due to lack of space, it doesn’t have the angled speaker or Max-Flo system, but is ported at the front and sides for improved bass response. I found this cabinet able to reproduce lows well overall, although as you might expect, it didn’t respond quite as well in this regard as the larger cabinets. I also found the carrying handle (sited on the top of the cabinet) obstructive: its protrusion made placing an amplifier on the top problematic, and while it can easily be rotated onto its side, this renders the rubber feet obsolete.

Conclusion

Overall, the DB range combines innovation with good looks and superior power handling to create cabinets that should prove extremely popular. Bassists looking for that much sought-after combination of portability and big-rig sounds should add these to the top of their shopping list. Like much of the competition in this upper end of the market, these cabinets will leave a sizeable dent in your wallet and will be a careful, considered purchase for anyone. But if you’re in the market for a well-built cabinet that delivers on all levels, look no further.

What We Think

Plus | Build quality, incredibly lightweight, stylish old school design
Minus | The name lacks the track record of its competitors
Overall | Simple styling and lightweight backed up with fantastic sound quality

BGM Rating

Build quality 10/10
Sound quality  9/10
Value 8/10


Embee 12

Price | £699

Impedance | 8 Ohms (4 Ohms on request)

Speaker | 1×12

Bass Port | Front

Tweeter | Piezo with attenuator

Power | 600W RMS

Input | Speakon

Link | Speakon (for connecting an extra cabinet)

Dimensions | H 45cm, W 37cm, D 45cm

Weight | 17kg


Elbee 10

Price | £499

Impedance | 8 Ohms

Speaker | 1×10

Bass Port | Front and side

Power | 300W RMS

Input | Speakon

Link | Speakon (for connecting an extra cabinet)

Dimensions | H 30 cm, W 30 cm, D 38 cm

Weight | 8.8kg

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