Is bass the most important frequency band?


One thing I’ve noticed when upgrading my audio system is that when I have really good bass, I’m happy. If the bass is top notch, I can overlook less-than-stellar treble or so-so midrange. The opposite does not seem to be true. Sure, I can get tremendous enjoyment out of a high-fidelity playback of a flute or other instrument that doesn’t have much bass impact, but when I switch to a track that has some slam, if my sub/woofers don’t perform, I’m left wanting, and I am inclined to change the track. When my subwoofer game is top notch, there is something extremely pleasing about tight, powerful, and accurate bass response that easily puts a smile on my face and lifts my mood in a matter of seconds. Maybe it all boils down to the fact that bass frequencies are heard AND felt and the inclusion of another sense (touch/feeling) gives bass a competitive edge over midrange and treble. I am not talking about loud bass (although that can be really fun and has its place), but the type of bass that gives you a sense of a kick drum’s size or allows for the double bass to reach out and vibrate the room and your body. I propose to you that bass and sub-bass should be optimized first and foremost, followed by treble and midrange in order to maximize enjoyment. Thoughts?
128x128mkgus
Yes, you can measure bass. In order to get good bass a measurement microphone and something like REW helps a lot.
I use REW with a calibrated microphone. The question wasn't meant to be if we could measure bass, but if we could measure the goodness of bass. In other words, can we make measurements that tell us if the bass is likely to be good or bad? It's a rhetorical question because I think we can, to some degree. I'm wondering what anybody here may think qualifies as good bass in acoustical terms. What measurement criteria correlate strongly with the perception of excellent bass?
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But to answer your question, that would be a flat response measurement,  as close as one can…
I agree with flat response, but also think group delay, and appropriately fast decay times are important, along with adequately low noise and distortion. There's a lot written up about what kinds of numbers there should be for these measurements and it does seem to get a bit complicated. Plus or minus 3dB comes to mind for flat response, but really narrow band peaks and dips can exceed that and still sound good, while really wide band anomalies might have to stay within less than 1dB to sound good.

Here's a paper on time domain issues with bass: https://assets.ctfassets.net/4zjnzn055a4v/5bzV3RQ7DwopgxW3Joc84i/8ba19fed08c24feb61dc8ddbdc120b0e/20...

"The main conclusion is that at typical listening levels down to 100 Hz  the modal decay time T60 is allowed to increase from about .3 seconds by .1  to .4 seconds, while at 50 Hz even decay times of up to 2 seconds do not make a noticeable difference." 

Keep in mind that they were EQing resonance frequencies down to make their perceived level the same in attempt to isolate just the perception of decay time, suggesting that to not notice the long decay times you will need an equalizer.
The addition of a distributed bass array was life changing. Bass is now "real". It's not bloated or uneven and it provides a blissful foundation to all the rest.

Do distributed bass arrays sound “tight?” I know that’s a hard word to define sometimes. I use it in the sense that the bass starts and stops on a dime without ringing and physically feels like a punch instead of a push. It seems counterintuitive to me that multiple subwoofers would sound “tight,” unless they are all equal distance from the listener. Furthermore, if you have multiple subs on one amp, wouldn’t the damping factor be poor? And if not the damping factor, how can one amp provide control over 4 subs? Amps seem to have a hard enough time controlling 1 sub. I don’t doubt their ability to provide incredibly smooth bass without valleys or peaks in the sound, but do they also provide “tight” bass? I’ve never heard a DBA before. The most subs I’ve ever ran is 2 and I found it harder to integrate than 1. I have heard the Infinity IRS V which has 12 subwoofers, I believe, but without being physically separated it probably doesn’t count as a DBA.
Some people might call me a bass head. I’ve been known to throw on some electronic music and push my system to near its limits, but that’s for fun, not critical listening. For critical listening, I might run the bass a little hot, but never at the expense of drowning out the other frequencies or letting the sub call attention to itself - what I mean by that is that it sounds like an extension of the mains. If you closed your eyes, you couldn’t tell if there was a sub or if my mains just play deep. A good example is the double bass stringed instrument or a kick drum. The lowest notes are heard and felt.