Why not list some examples of what you feel quality bass it?
45 responses Add your response
I used to love my Tonian Labs TL-D1s until I listened to my Clearwave Duet 6 monitors and the impact, tone, tightness and quality simply amazed me. I'm still missing that last 1/2 octave or so but in my medium sized room the reinforcement I get is spot on.
I guess that means it's important, now.
All the best,
Many instruments can get quite low, not only pipe organ and acoustic and electric bass. And voice can get low too. There is a huge difference between a system giving you some bass at, say, 30hz and the one that plays it just as well as 50hz.
I was listening today Hellborg/Velez Ars Moriende album. The Love Death Ritual track is excellent. His custom acoustic bass guitar goes very low at certain moments. But my system gives me 'some bass' at 30hz, there is a lot more in the recording. I was upset.
I think most responders will agree with your preference. Bass is important as are all the frequency ranges. We want them "all" to be good. Given the context of the question,I place more importance on midrange than I do the bass region. If your question is meant as a hypothetical pick or choose compromise, I'd choose good bass with great midrange rather than great bass with good midrange. I may be in the minority.
Clean clear bass is more important than BASS; often the crossover is just as important so that you can hear a distinct difference between the low-midrange instruments vs strong bass lines in an ensemble. To get the best LOW bass performance, the room acoustics become extremely critical, as does the upper treble frequencies (too bright AND too boomy). For me the final answer is, as i am
using my living room as a listening room, to find the right volume level. I have way more stereo system than my room can handle (i often wish i had stuck with a smaller pair of speakers but a good deal came along, etc.).
IN conclusion, the more you hear "clearly", the more enjoyable the experience of listening over extended periods of time. But if, in the end, you aren't going to be satisfied with less than 20Hz bass, you're going to have to address the other issues i mentioned above.
I like it. A lot of people do. It can sound really good or really bad, and will not hurt your ears like that darn airy treble can when things head south.
I like to be able to feel the bass naturally when it is present and not just hear it. Midrange is lovely and music's bread and butter (where most music occurs) but bass gives music impact and "meat on the bones" that one needs to be fully sated.
20Hz-40Hz is quite a range, I meant below, say, 25HZ.
Of course 'well played' is more important, but if you can't really hear it - it makes no difference.
Not only crossover and room are critical but electronics too. Some people upgrade their speakers too quickly, many speakers are in fact better than they might seem. There is a lot that can be extracted from one great 8" driver including low bass. Not the best bass possible, not at all, but quite satisfactory.
Good bass/great midrange vs. great bass/good midrange. That's tough. I would have to listen, this can't really be decided in general. But midrange is most important, no doubt.
Nothing but mud below 25hz, explosions excluded. I like a system that at least reaches into the low 30hz range to sound realistic on a broad range of material. I prefer a punchy well timed bass with a good dose of slam over a fat thumpy bass most of the time. However, on a lot of my 60's hard bop jazz, the ported bass from the N802's add some juicy embellishment that is hard to resist.
I tend to agree w/ your situation. As a Jazz Head, I too, enjoy correctly reproduced Bass. There is a plethora of it in both LP/CD discs. We know that it is buried in both grooves and bits. In 2015, we (audiophiles) deserve the very best gear that can extract all of this wonderful information. Acoustic and electric Bass is where its at.
Keep me posted & Happy Listening!
This prompted me to run some Bass test tones through my system, JMlabs original Micro-Utopia and suffice it to say I was pleasantly surprised to hear usable output into the upper 30's. No wonder I don't feel like I'm missing much with my speakers that I believe have a mfg listed low of 50hz -6db. I guess in room response is more useful. Sorry if that's off-topic but thanks for inspiring me to check that out!
Onhwy61, actually the band probably had several midrange and treble players and singers. So the bass is vastly outnumbered (but the real answer is: only one is needed--with more than one things would get really messy in a heartbeat).
Bdp24, that's why we have subwoofers, which are closer in size to the speakers used by electric bass. I know you know this and I was surprised by your comment. Did I miss something?
Nope, nothing missed Tostadosunidos. Just trying to clarify what people mean by "lowest bass", and make the point that many systems just barely play the lowest note of the bass, which at 42Hz is sure not the lowest bass. I asked Inna if by lowest bass he meant the bottom octave (20-40Hz) precisely because 40Hz is about as low as many loudspeakers play. Inna said no, that was too great a range, defining lowest bass as "below, say, 25Hz". Well, VERY few systems have much output below 40Hz, let alone below 25Hz. And you're right, subwoofers do provide those low frequencies, but they seem to be still out-of-fashion amongst Audiogon members. Inna's question asks about a frequency range that many (most?) Audiogon member's systems don't reproduce, not well or poorly, but at all! Or am I mistaken?---do many Audiogon members have a system with loudspeakers or subs that provide substantial levels of bass reproduction below about 40Hz?
Being a planar loudspeaker enthusiast, I've long accepted the fact that in my system subs are required to get full-range reproduction, or even to reach down to 40Hz or so, at adequate SPL and with low distortion. I'm not sure dynamic-speaker owners feel the same, though there is a case to be made that they should!
With the human voice musicians are readily classified as tenors, sopranos, bass, altos, etc., but in popular music combos only the bass player gets a specific mention for the range of their instrument. The conclusion is unavoidable -- the bass is the most important element in popular music (other than the vocal).
Can you imagine the great Larry Graham singing "I'm gonna add some upper midrange to make it easy to move your feet"? Maybe in you're alternate reality, but not in mine!
Every time I enter a club in which live music is already being performed, I am struck by how much more bass is in the room than what I hear in the listening rooms of audiophiles (including my own) and hi-fi shops. A lot of that is due to the multiple 15" woofers in the club's sound system of course, some from the club's room itself, as well as the SPL common these days. But it's more than that. Reproduced music rarely if ever has as much "body" as does live, sounding eviscerated. There is still a long way to go to fully replicate the sound of live music.
Citing the sound of live music heard through a sound-reinforcement system rather than purely acoustically raises the valid question of whether or not that qualifies as a standard against which to compare music's reproduction. Recordings after all are made with mics very different from those used in sound-reinforcement systems, for starters. But I think that is how most of us hear the majority of our live music. Besides which, live music heard acoustically also has more of that body I'm talking about.
Bdp24, I think you'd have to have similar amps, speakers and room to reproduce a live rock band sound. But personally that's not the standard I would use. Live band soundmen tend to push the bass and drums too loud, leaving too little space for the other instruments and voices. Try understanding the words sung at a live show--good luck. Also the overall volume is usually too loud.
I look for a system that will reproduce acoustic music well and figure it will do fine for the electric stuff. You're right, you can't get all the elements of a live performance in a living room reproduction. But we know there's a wide gap between the systems that come close and those that totally miss.
Very few musicians are even close to being audiophiles, many of them liking loudspeakers that sound like P.A.'s. The JBL L-100 was popular with them in the 70's (the band house I lived in in '71 had a pair of Altec A-7's---our P.A.---in the living room!), most of them listening to music on their computer speakers now, not caring enough about sound to have even an entry-level true hi-fi. But they care a lot about the sound of their recordings, particularly that their part is high enough in the mix!
You're of course right Tostadosunidos. Live sound using P.A.'s is no standard against which to judge hi-fi. It was simple when hi-fi started, as the sound of live orchestras and jazz bands were mostly purely acoustic, orchestras in concert halls and jazz in small clubs without much sound reinforcement. Recordings were simpler back them too, intended to capture the live sound of those group's performances. Such recordings were an appropriate source with which to judge the quality of reproduction.
Comparing recordings of modern bands to their live sound is comparing apples to oranges. Recordings are now often created first, and live performances are judged by how closely they come to matching the recordings, the exact opposite of the old system. But even in comparing a good recording of a, say, Bluegrass group to their live sound leaves me with the impression that the singer's voice and the musician's instruments are but a pale, ghostly apparition, lacking the body and substance---the "thereness"---of their live sound. How much of that is in what the recording is missing? How much of that is due to too little bass? Or group delay/phase shift? Or any other cause? It's from everything! But if a loudspeaker's output is already dropping off at 40Hz, and/or it's output at 40Hz contains high levels of distortion, both of which are more common than we like to admit, attending to the bass in a system is a good place to start.
My speakers (Dynaudio monitors) are listed as going down to 40Hz. When I added a subwoofer I was surprised at how different the sound was for frequencies above the low bass range. Voices went from slightly thin and metallic to very smooth and natural sounding. There seemed to be improvement far beyond the cross-over frequency. And of course the deep stuff is much better. Win/win as far as I can see (and hear).
I'm with you 100% Tostadosunidos. Getting the low bass out of the main speakers improves their sound (less doppler distortion, for one thing), as well as the sub being better at bass to begin with (assuming it's a good one!). It's getting the integration between the speakers and sub(s) right that's the trick.
One musician who is surprisingly (to me, anyway) a critical listener with a real good system (big Wilsons, VTL electronics, VPI table with Lyra cartridge) is Henry Rollins. I wonder what he listens to on it (I know he's into Jazz), and if he uses his system to listen to rough mixes of his own recordings? He's a customer of Brian Berdan at Audio Elements in Pasadena.
In my area Ifrequently visit jazz clubs that rarely boost or reinforce the sound. It is a pure acoustic sound. The stand up double bass has a beautiful tone, bloom and warmth. Actually a number of speakers/home systems add more bass energy than I hear live from the real instrument. With home audio systems one can have too much bass as well as too little if the reference is unamplified bass.
Just to clarify I meant this for 2 channel audio.
The high and low subs on each side cancel each other's waves out leaving pure bass tones.
I am living this experience.
Not applicable I would think for multi channel, home theater and those looking for boom, boom, boom on S Spielberg or G Lucas films.
Can't say though as I have two rooms set up but alas no HT setup. I go to the movie theater instead. Gets me out :^)
It's all about the bass.
Get it right ... the rest falls into place.
FWIW - for me I have found even one sub properly set up does wonders; especially on vinyl when they need to mono the low bass signal to fit on the record and keep your stylus from bouncing. Very common with pop, reggae music and loudness wars. Vinyl grooves containing big bass take up space on the record.
But when the digital master file submitted to the studio is a good one... the magic happens. This is when two subs or true full range speakers really shine on the low end part of the music.
To answer the OP's question, bass incl: low, mid & upper bass is very important to providing the fundamentals of the music. You want bass that is tight, can reproduce the lowest registers for instruments such as a timpani and church organ, moves plenty of air & offers good inner detail and texture.
Having good bass fundamentals not only lays down the foundation for the music, but is very important to the overall coherency of a speaker. Slow, flabby bass can smear the midrange, negatively impacting the sound of a loudspeaker.