MESA/Boogie Speaker Impedance Matching and Hook-up ~ Part 1

by Boogie on June 11, 2013

in Mesa Tones & Tips

Express 5:50+ rear panel speaker jacks and the most common Boogie speaker option setup.

Express 5:50+ rear panel speaker jacks and the most commonly found speaker connection setup on most Mesa amps (click to enlarge)

“How do I correctly connect multiple cabinets to my amp” is one of the most common questions Mesa Customer Service Reps answer. And it’s a great question because it’s extremely important to make sure that, 1) a cabinet or speaker load of some kind is connected to your tube amp at all times, and 2) connecting multiple cabs correctly is absolutely crucial for proper, safe operation of your amp. Correct speaker connections will maintain the tone of your amp and ensures the tube and amplifier reliability you expect.

There’s no easy way to explain ‘the why’ behind the correct connections (although we’ll take a stab at it in a later post), BUT… This first post details the most common and standard speaker connection question we get:

How do I connect TWO 8 ohm cabs to my amp?

This is what you need to know:

For two 8 ohm cabs, plug them both into the two 4 ohm jacks.

How to hook up two 8 ohm speakers to your Mesa

How to hook up two 8 ohm speakers to your Mesa (click to enlarge)

That’s it. Easy, right?

NOTE: With two 8 ohm cabs connected to the 4 ohm jacks, NOTHING can be plugged into the 8 ohm jack when BOTH 4 ohm jacks are in use.

MESA Cabinet Parallel Outputs

Mesa cabinets built after the year 2000 offer a Parallel Output in addition to the Input jack. If your amp doesn’t provide the two 4 ohm jacks as seen in the picture above, connect the 4 ohm Output from your amp to the Input of your first cab, then out of the Parallel Output of Cab #1 into the Input of Cab #2 (as seen below).

Parallel Output Jack for Two 4 Ohm Cabinets

Parallel Output Jack for Two 4 Ohm Cabinets (click to enlarge)

Smaller MESA amps like the Mini Rectifier or TransAtlantic TA-15 offer just one 8 ohm and one 4 ohm jack. The Parallel Output jack on our cabinets offers the same connection functionality as two 4 ohm jacks on the back of the amp.

MESA/Boogie Common Cabinet Wiring and Amplifier Speaker Outputs

Nearly all Mesa cabs are wired from the factory to 8 ohms (with the exception of custom wired cabs, by request – or… some larger format Mesa bass cabs).

One 8 ohm jack and two 4 ohm jacks is the most common speaker jack option you’ll see on most Mesa amps (pictured above). There are obviously variations (like the Dual Rectifier speaker outs pictured below) but the common theme on all Mesa’s will be at least one 8 ohm and one 4 ohm – most often two 4 ohm jacks.

Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier Speaker Jacks

Multi-Watt Dual Rectifier Speaker Jacks (click to enlarge)

Whenever you see multiple 4 ohm jacks on any Boogie, they are always wired in Parallel (more on parallel wiring in a later post). The two 4 ohm jacks TOGETHER are primarily intended to facilitate two 8 ohm cabinets while either one of the 4 ohm jacks is designed to accommodate just one 4 ohm cabinet.

For the complete speaker connection guide for ALL the options of connecting cabinets to your Mesa, download and reference the Speaker Impedance Matching and Hookup Guide.

If you still have questions about how to hookup your MESA/Boogie amps and cabs after reading the above guide check out our Contact Page for e-mail or phone customer service.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the MESA Speaker Hookups series coming soon…

 

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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas March 7, 2014 at 4:33 am

I have a Mesa Tripple Rectifier. Is it possible in any way to connect 4x 8 ohm Marshall cabs (2 full stacks).
If yes how and what do I need to do this?

Thanks.

Reply

Boogie Boogie March 19, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Hi Thomas –

It is entirely possible to connect four 8 ohm cabinets to a Triple Rectifier but requires that your speakers are all the same as well as the use of series boxes to make it happen. If you are seriously interested in doing this, please contact Mesa directly to discuss as there are variables involved that are best discussed directly to avoid incorrect connections and/or damage to the amps.

http://www.mesaboogie.com/US/info.html

Thanks for your interest and we hope the Triple Recto is working well!
Boogie

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Rob Pedrick March 3, 2014 at 5:41 pm

I recently acquired a Mesa 50 Caliber with the 6L6′s. I believe running a 16 ohm 4×12 cab out of the 8 ohm output is a safe mismatch? It’s a March/1989 amp head. Awesome tone.

Reply

Boogie Boogie March 19, 2014 at 4:31 pm

Hi Rob –

If the 16 ohm 4×12 is by itself, connecting it to the 8 ohm jack is, indeed, a safe mismatch.

The .50 and .22 Calibers are classics. ;) Thanks for the kind words.

Boogie

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Felipe Reyes February 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Hey Team Boogie,

I have a 2000 dual channel triple rectifier with two standard rectifier 4×12 cabinets that I would like to try running in 4ohm. Do I understand correctly in that I need to run from each 4ohm output on my amp, a speaker cable directly into the 8ohm input on each cabinet?

Thanks!
Felipe

Reply

Boogie Boogie March 19, 2014 at 4:35 pm

Hi Felipe –

Connect EACH 4×12 cab from the 8 ohm COMBINED jack of the cab to EACH 4 ohm jack on the amp – One cab to each 4 ohm jack on the amp.

This is the correct connection and the ideal way to go. Tone of power, volume and TONE!

Hope this helps.

Boogie

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Josh Asmus January 18, 2014 at 3:02 pm

how would I connect two 16 ohm amp cabinets to my mini rectifier? also is it better to have an 8 ohm cabinet or a 16 ohm cabinet for Mesa boogie rectifiers?

Reply

Boogie Boogie January 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

Hi Josh –

There isn’t a “better” impedance. There’s a CORRECT impedance connection and then a safe mismatch.

To connect CORRECTLY two 16 ohm cabs to the Mini Rec you need to find a way to connect them together in a parallel connection. If your cabinets have a Parallel Out jack, you would connect the Parallel Output jack of the 1st cab into the Input of the 2nd cab. Once the cabs are connected via the Parallel Output JaCKs, you would connect the 8 ohm Output on your Mini Rec to the Input of your 1st cab.

If your cabs DON’T have Parallel Output jacks, MESA sells a Parallel “Y” box that provides the Parallel function you need.

Contact Mesa Customer Service to order if you would like to order a Parallel Box: http://www.mesaboogie.com/US/info.html

Hope this helps! ;)

Boogie

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Justin Heron January 2, 2014 at 11:43 am

Hello! Is it possible to run a Tremoverb at 50W? If so, would that drop the load to 4ohms?

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Boogie Boogie January 6, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Hi Justin –

It is possible to remove a pair of tubes from a Dual or Triple Rectifier to make it a 50 watt amp.

Start by pulling the two center tubes, leaving far left and far right tubes intact.  Also remove one of the Rectifier tubes (it doesn’t matter which one) and set the rectifier selection to the TUBE RECTIFIER setting. Lastly move your 8 Ohm cabinet to one of the 4 Ohm jacks on the amplifier. When you remove a pair of tubes from a Dual, the impedances as written on the back of the amp effective double. A 4 ohm jack becomes an 8 ohm jack, an 8 ohm jack becomes a 16 ohm etc. So plugging the 8 ohm cab into a 4 ohm jack on the amp makes for a proper match when a pair of tubes is pulled.

If you have any further questions, let us know.

Cheers,

Boogie

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Rai December 28, 2013 at 9:37 pm

hey guys! can i use a 16ohm cab with my mini rectifier?

thanks!

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Boogie Boogie December 30, 2013 at 11:10 am

Hi Rai –

Yes! Plug your 16 ohm cab into the 8 ohm speaker jack of the Mini Rectifier and this is a safe impedance mismatch.

This is the proper way to connect a 16 ohm cab to a Boogie without one.

Boogie

Reply

Jeremy September 14, 2013 at 3:39 am

G’day how’s it goin I recently bought myself a mesa dual rectifier head, the cab Im using (untill I save enough for a mesa cab) is a cheap Marshall 4×12 just wondering whats the best speaker lead to use (head to cab) thanks for your time,, Jeremy

Reply

Boogie Boogie September 16, 2013 at 11:36 am

Hi Jeremy –

There not really any specific brand of cable that we recommend but there are three things to consider; Gauge and Unshielded and a Speaker Specific cable.

Generally, you’ll want at least an 18 gauge cable, although 16 is nice but possibly overkill for guitar. Second, you’ll want to make sure it’s a Speaker cable and not an Instrument cable. Finally, if you confirm that it’s a speaker cable, then it will, by default, be an Unshileded cable.

Hope this helps and hope you enjoy the amp!

Boogie

Reply

John September 12, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Hello,

I have a Mark IV and a 4×12 Recto Cab and would like to use just 2×12 (one side) for less volume. Is possible? How?

Thank you

Reply

Boogie Boogie September 13, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Hi John –

You would just plug into one of the jacks labeled STEREO OR BI-AMP instead of the COMBINED jack.

However, this won’t really make your amp quieter and in fact, it will make the cab sound wierd since you are only using 2 speakers in a 4 speaker cabinet but they still all share the same space.

If you want to play quieter, the best place to start is turning the OUtput level down and just playing quieter. If you need more than that, the next thing to do is look into buying an attenuator that allows you to turn the amp up but control the overall volume. Search the web for guitar amp attenuator and do some research. Great stuff out there!

Hope this helps!

Boogie

Reply

Rev Black August 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I have a Mesa Dual Rectifier. I wanted to know if it was okay to connect my 8 ohm Mesa 4×12 cab and my 16 ohm Mesa 2×12 cab from the amp’s speaker outputs at the same time? 8 ohm output to the 8 ohm cab and the 16 ohm output to the 16 ohm cab. And, if you’re curious, yes. The 2×12 cab is wired with 2 8 ohm Black Shadow speakers in series to achieve the 16 ohms rating.

Thank you in advance!

Reply

Boogie Boogie August 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Hi Rev –

The way you suggested to connect the amp is incorrect!

This is the correct way to connect both cabs when you are trying to use them at the same time.

One 16 ohm speaker and one 8 ohm speaker safely mismatched

Hope this helps!

Boogie

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Rev Black August 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Yes! Thank you so much! I didn’t want to try it before I had confirmation to make sure I didn’t try to do something stupid! Much appreciated! 100% Mesa all the way! :)

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Dwane November 6, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I have this connection as above exactly. does this mean the 16 ohm cab is underpowered. I suppose I mean why is it a mismatch? my 8ohm cab is a mesa and the other is an Orange. when I just use the 16 ohm cab it seems underpowered. when I just use the single Mesa cab it sounds great but I lose the twin speaker sound

Reply

Boogie Boogie November 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Hi Dwane –

Big question, not easily explained, BUT…

The speaker provides resistance to the output from the amp, rated by it’s impedance. The higher the impedance of the speaker, the more resistance it provides to the output of the amp – it impedes the output of the amp. This ultimately means that you get less output from the amp when the speaker is a higher impedance than the amp’s output.

This is safe for the amp because the amp is working less hard. The speaker is impeding the amp’s output MORE.

When you use two cabs versus just one, the far greater effect of two cabs is just MORE SPEAKERS=Louder. That will always seem WAY more significant than speakers being matched correctly.

The mismatch scenario is just a way to connect speakers to the amp without a potential of causing damage – but running more speakers always makes a way bigger sound than matching a single speaker or cab correctly. Hope this helps!

Reply

Andrew August 4, 2013 at 6:42 pm

okay so i have a vintage 100W head with two 8 ohm outputs and two 4 ohm outputs.

my mesa cab has the single 4 ohm mono input and the two 8 ohm stereo inputs.

i’ve been using the 4-4 but was curious if for some odd reason i wanted to use a lower impedence load on my amp should i use two cables coming from the two 4 ohm jacks to the two 8 ohm stereo cabinet inputs?

Reply

Boogie Boogie August 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm

Hi Andrew –

We are not in a position to advise anyone to connect any cabinet to a non-Mesa amp other than with a proper connection. Connecting your 4 ohm cab to one of the 4 ohm outputs on the amp is the suggested way to connect the amp.

If you’re connecting the cab the way you are asking about (each 4 ohm speaker output from the amp to each 8 ohm jack on the cab), this is likely correct (if your amp’s speaker jacks are wired in parallel as Mesa’s are), BUT… you haven’t changed the impedance “lower”.

From your description, there is no benefit to the connections you are asking about. Hope this helps!

Boogie

Reply

Eric Mok July 26, 2013 at 11:32 pm

Hey,

I just picked up a used cab with a 16 ohm Eminence Wizard for a TA-15 that I just picked up used. However, I didn’t realize that the TA-15 only has an 8 ohm output. I’ve read in the a number of forums that mismatching (8 ohm output to 16 ohm cab) will drain tube life. However, it says that in the TA-15 manual that this is considered a safe mismatch. So are there really any negative effects to this mismatch? And is it really safe? Thanks for taking time to answer my question!

Eric

Reply

Boogie Boogie July 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

Hi Eric –

Plugging ONE 16 ohm speaker into an 8 ohm jack on the amp is a SAFE SAFE MISMATCH.

The higher impedance speaker is ‘impeding MORE’ the flow of current from the amp – meaning the amp and its tubes are working less hard. The tonal result is a slight loss of higher frequencies and a slight loss of output while the amp is operating slightly below its intended output.

Hope this helps and enjoy your new speaker with your TA-15!

Boogie

Reply

Eric Mok July 30, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Thanks for the response!

So just to clarify, since the amp is actually working less hard, does that mean that there is actually less wear on the tubes and the amp compared to running it through an 8 ohm cab?

Really appreciate your taking time to answer all of our questions!

Sincerely, Eric

Reply

Boogie Boogie September 13, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Slightly less, Eric… but not enough to be significant in this case.

Reply

gabriel July 23, 2013 at 7:01 pm

hi, if i want to add to my mesa boogie dc2 combo amp a 16omhs 1x12cab how can i do it? the stock speaker is 8omhs and my outputs are 8 and 4(x2).
thanxxx!

Reply

Boogie Boogie July 29, 2013 at 11:09 am

Hi Gabriel –

This is the hookup you need to use if you are trying to connect a 16 ohm speaker and an 8 ohm speaker to your DC2:

One 16 ohm speaker and one 8 ohm speaker safely mismatched

Hope this helps,

Boogie

Reply

Michael July 16, 2013 at 1:54 am

Hi I have a 3 channel dual recto head and a 2×12 recto cabinet. I used to conect my cabinet that is 8 ohm to the 8 ohm input on the back of the amp. And nowadays I conect the cab to the 4 ohm input of the amplifier. I just wanted to know which is the right connection? And I’m also planning to use an attenuator soon that’s why I’m asking. I don’t really want to damage the amp. Thanks

Reply

Boogie Boogie July 16, 2013 at 11:24 am

Hi Michael –

When connecting only ONE cabinet, the correct way to do so is always to match the speaker output to the cabinet’s impedance. If your cab is an 8 ohm cab, connect it to the 8 ohm jack. If you are getting an attenuator, make sure it is set to operate at 8 ohms if you’re using it with your 8 ohm cab connected to an 8 ohm speaker jack on your amp and everything will be great!

Hope this helps and hope the rig is working well.

Boogie

Reply

RoV July 9, 2013 at 12:38 am

Hello

How do I connect a 16 ohms 1×12 cab into my Rect-o-Verb 1×12 combo keeping in use the internal speaker (to eventually get a 2×12 amp).
I followed the user’s manual n°7 safe mismatch (16 ohms speaker into the 8 ohms amp plug and the 8 ohms internal speaker into one of the 4 ohms plug, using a speaker cable)
but I can’t get any bloody sound from this mess ! Why? WTF?
Thanks in advance.

Reply

Boogie Boogie July 9, 2013 at 12:57 am

Hi RoV –

The hookup you suggested you’re using is correct:

One 16 ohm speaker and one 8 ohm speaker safely mismatched

If you’re getting no sound you should be suspect of the speaker or the cables to start. Otherwise, connect each speaker, one at a time, correctly (16 to 8 ohm speaker jack – 8 ohm to 8 ohm speaker jack, etc.). If they both work by themselves there may be something wrong internally that would need to be looked at by a technician.

Let us know what you find out and good luck.

Boogie

Reply

Rangel July 4, 2013 at 10:39 am

I’ve recently acquired a used Fifty/Fifty. I have two 8-ohm 1×12″ speaker cabinets. Since it’s a stereo unit, I wonder if I should hook each cab to each 8-ohm output of the Fifty/Fifty or if I should use the 4-ohm outputs.
Thanks in advance!

PS: I also own a TriAxis. Having a Boogie set has always been a goal to me.

Reply

Boogie Boogie July 8, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hi Rangel –

If you are using the 50/50 with something else that generates Stereo left and right sides (stereo preamp or FX processor), ABSOLUTELY – use the cabs with one connected to each side of the 50/50.

In this case, with your cabs being 8 ohms each, you would connect one cab (each) to the 8 ohm jack of each side.

When connected in stereo as described above, get anywhere between 4-8 feet of space between the cabs and listen to the stereo FX like ping-pong delay, chorus, flange or any pan or tremelo FX that move left to right and be amazing at how big the sound is with that TRUE stereo usage.

Hope this helps, congrats on the new Boogie rig and enjoy!

Boogie

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Tom June 18, 2013 at 8:47 pm

I’ve had my Mark IV for 2+ years. I’ve gone through a bunch of gear and found this amp to be a keeper. I play in a few different bands, all different styles and this amp keeps up very well. My ’57 Black Beauty reissue sounds incredible through this amp. I use a 2×12 recto cab and an avatar 2×12 with heritage greenbacks. Playing my guitar through this amp with my band is insane. I like the fact that owning one of these amps helps me learn more about electricity and how to harness power to ROCK OUT! THANKS MESA!!!

Reply

sebastian June 17, 2013 at 6:37 pm

HOLA, SOY DE ARGENTINA, MI CONSULTA ES LA SIGUIENTE, TENGO UN MESA BOOGIE TRIPLE RECTIFIER & GABINETE RECTIFIER 4×12″, QUIERO SABER CUAL ES LA MEJOR CONEXION, TENIENDO EN CUENTA LAS IMPEDANCIAS. MUCHAS GRACIAS!

HELLO, I’M FROM ARGENTINA, MY QUERY IS NEXT HAVE A TRIPLE RECTIFIER MESA BOOGIE RECTIFIER CABINET & 4×12 “, I WANT TO KNOW WHICH IS THE BEST CONNECTION, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT THE IMPEDANCES. THANK YOU!

Reply

Boogie Boogie June 21, 2013 at 3:17 pm

Hi Sebastian –

Here’s the best bet for you:

8 ohm cab to 8 ohm amp

Hope this helps and hope the rig sounds great!

Boogie

Reply

Matt June 16, 2013 at 11:40 am

Hello, I own a Mesa dual rectifier, and a single 4×12 line 6 cab… how do I hook this up without killing it? The cab has settings for 16ohm 8ohm and 4ohm… simple question for my caveman brain. End 1 of the patch cord goes where? End 2 goes where?

Reply

Boogie Boogie June 17, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Hi Matt –

Since Mesa doesn’t know exactly how your Line 6 cabs are wired/configured, it’s hard for us to tell you exactly how to connect them. Cab manufacturer’s often offer Stereo and Mono options. It’s important to understand what your switches are configuring when you select them. If this is not clear to you, please contact Line 6 to find out for sure – this information is very important.

We will assume that your cab is 16 ohms or 4 ohms MONO, and 8 ohms each in stereo. Since you only have one cab with your MONO amp, you will set the cab to either 16 ohms or 4 ohms… MONO.

If you have a 16 ohm jack on the Rectifier, connect that to the 16 ohm jack on your Line 6 cab. If you have your Line 6 cab set to 4 ohms MONO, connect ONE 4 ohm jack from the Rectifier to the 4 Ohm jack on the Line 6 cab.

Hope this makes sense. If you have further questions, feel free to contact us at via the following options: Contact Us

Cheers,

Boogie

Reply

Vaclaff June 12, 2013 at 2:52 am

Hi Boogie,
I have Expres 5:25+ head – working cool, thanks for making this :) I use 4×12 16Ohm speaker cab and I plug this one into 8Ohm amplifier’s output – that’s probably right. But what if I need to connect one 16Ohm speaker cab and one 8Ohm speaker cab at the same time?
Thanks and cheers, Vaclaff

Reply

Boogie Boogie June 12, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi Vaclaff –

Great question and a common one. Here’s how:

One 16 ohm speaker and one 8 ohm speaker safely mismatched

Boogie

Reply

Greg June 11, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Hey Mesa Guys!

Thanks for the article! I really appreciate these “tech docs” of yours!

I’m a proud owner of a great Roadster 2×12 combo. However my band mates were messing around it and diconnected the speakers. I remembered to connect it to the 8 Ohms jack – just like a regular Mesa cab, but wasn’t sure. So I checked the manual – no info… On the product details page on the website (rear view of the amp) something is connected to the 4 Ohms out. Total confusion… :(

So then what’s the correct (internal) speaker connection for the 2×12 combo?

Anyway. This and a tube layout would be a great addition to the Roadster manual. And you should really do a new in-depht demo with knob settings on this truely great but a bit neglected amp! ;)

Rock on!

Reply

Boogie Boogie June 12, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Hi Greg –

Thank for the kind words about the Roadster and the suggestion to add the Tube Layout to the manual. The Speaker guide is in there but we’ll add the Tube Layout! ;)

As for the Roadster 2×12 impedance, all Mesa combos, are wired to 8 ohms (unless modified outside of the factory or are printed on the chassis or speaker jack).

So – plug your Roadster combo speakers into the 8 ohm jacks and you’re all set!

Hope this helps,

Boogie

Reply

JV June 11, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Helpful article, thanks! I realize you don’t have room to explain the reasons, but maybe after the warning you should explain what will happen if you DO somehow goof this up:

“NOTE: With two 8 ohm cabs connected to the 4 ohm jacks, NOTHING can be plugged into the 8 ohm jack when BOTH 4 ohm jacks are in use.”

Reply

Boogie Boogie June 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hi JV –

Good question and while it was somewhat addressed in the post, it’s important enough to make clear here again. ;)

Cabinets connected INCORRECTLY can result in expensive tube(s) and/or transformer damage and more.

Mesa amps are somewhat over-engineered and will often handle unsafe impedance mismatches for much longer than other brands of amplifiers.

However, incorrect cab connections can cause damage while no cabinets connected can cause VERY quick and extreme damage to tubes and transformers.

It is EXTREMELY important to learn how to connect your desired cabinet combinations correctly to avoid damage and to maximize the tonal potential. This blog post (and following ones) and the Speaker Impedance Matching and Hookup Guide provides all the answers you need to get your cabs connected correctly!

If you have any questions after reviewing the following info above feel free to Contact Us

Boogie

Reply

Wombi June 11, 2013 at 4:03 pm

I`ve got a mkV head and I want to connect 3 8ohm cabs, whats the correct way to do this?
I just love the head, cant go wrong in the fat, mk1,mk2c+ modes, no settings ever sound bad in those modes, all the others need a little chasing

Reply

Boogie Boogie June 11, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Hi Wombi –

There is no easy way to do this. You basically need to connect two of the 8 ohm cabs in series and connect that 16 ohm load to one 8 ohm jack on the amp, then connect the remaining 8 ohm cab to ONE of the 4 ohm jacks. This is a mismatch in a safe direction. Like this:

Three 8 ohm cabinets can safely be connected using a series box and a safe mismatch as shown

If you have further questions about your cabinet connections contact Mesa for more specific instructions.

Boogie

Reply

Wombi June 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm

Many thanx,
What about the same setup of cabs on a 400+ bass head with 2 ea of 8ohm, 4ohm &2 ohm output speaker jacks, I`m guessing you could parallel all 3 8 ohm cabs into 1 2ohm jack.

Reply

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