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I came across this article and study today: Here's Why People Love Deep Bass Sounds In Music. I normally don't cite Huffington Post as a reliable source of information, but theirs is a much more readable summary of this original study from McMaster Institute

 

TL;DR rhythm in music is typically carried by bass instruments, and we love it, because it's easier for our brains to process and follow low-pitched tones.

 

I'm comparing two pairs of speakers at home (to choose which ones get stay long term), and I'll post about it in these forums soon. The first thing I kept on noticing was the difference in how each handled low-mids and bass. This isn't to say that's the only thing I noticed, it just occurred to me that bass was the first thing I noted when I switched from one pair to the other. My wondering why led me to googling which led me to the articles above - and I thought others may find the insight interesting.

 

Apologies if this has all been talked about before in these forums, or is general knowledge. I'm still a bit of a newbie here :)

 

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Deep bass might be 'impressive' but overblown or non rhythmic is just bloody torture, in the real meaning of the word.

Yes... but this usually confuses people no end.   A low frequency sound needs to be louder (than one at higher frequncy) to sound the same loudness.... or to indeed even be hear.  

I agree.   I have noticed as I upgraded speakers that initially the bass seemed less, but in actual fact it was better defined. When listening to well recorded music you would actually hear

Deep bass might be 'impressive' but overblown or non rhythmic is just bloody torture, in the real meaning of the word.

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8 minutes ago, eman said:

Deep bass might be 'impressive' but overblown or non rhythmic is just bloody torture, in the real meaning of the word.

I agree.

 

I have noticed as I upgraded speakers that initially the bass seemed less, but in actual fact it was better defined. When listening to well recorded music you would actually hear differences in drums etc.

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Waaay back in the day I remember auditioning Krix Lyrix and Krix Superbrix.  The Lyrix went lower, but the timing of the Superbrix and the perceived "speed" of the low end was miles better...  No contest.  Less bass but faster and tighter low end wins for me.

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1 hour ago, QuinnInSydney said:

 

 

 

".....TL;DR rhythm in music is typically carried by bass instruments, and we love it, because it's easier for our brains to process and follow low-pitched tones..."

 

That's an interesting observation.

In my case, I find I am more mentally / aurally stimulated by higher frequency notes, i.e. the crystal clear sound of a harpsichord or the 'bright' notes of brass instruments.

So, when choosing a pair of speakers, my first concern is, how good are the twitters!  ..and, having said that, bass is also important and only when the material on the recording call for it.

I guess, we're all different!

1 hour ago, QuinnInSydney said:

 

 

 

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33 minutes ago, eman said:

Deep bass might be 'impressive' but overblown or non rhythmic is just bloody torture, in the real meaning of the word.

Red Square, I completely agree. I am huge proponent of GOOD bass over MORE bass. Accurate, well-paced, nuanced bass always wins over 'boom' for me.

 

Forgive my cheeky title to this thread - I'm fascinated there seems to be a physiological reason why most people (including myself) seem to have a more instantaneous, primal reaction to bass before they start to pay attention to all other frequencies in the spectrum.

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28 minutes ago, Whites said:

I have noticed as I upgraded speakers that initially the bass seemed less, but in actual fact it was better defined. When listening to well recorded music you would actually hear differences in drums etc.

That's my takeaway from the study. It seems that our brains are wired to pick up differences in bass tones (eg drums) more easily than differences in other, higher frequencies.

 

I most definitely am not proposing other tones are less important. It just seems we have to work harder to appreciate them... which might actually mean they're MORE important. Because those of us listening to the higher-pitched frequencies are paying more attention and there to appreciate the quality :)

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48 minutes ago, QuinnInSydney said:

Red Square, I completely agree. I am huge proponent of GOOD bass over MORE bass. Accurate, well-paced, nuanced bass always wins over 'boom' for me.

 

Forgive my cheeky title to this thread - I'm fascinated there seems to be a physiological reason why most people (including myself) seem to have a more instantaneous, primal reaction to bass before they start to pay attention to all other frequencies in the spectrum.

Ofcourse more good bass is even better 🙂

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12 minutes ago, joz said:

Ofcourse more good bass is even better 🙂

yes, the morer of the tighter basses, the betterer.

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I couldn't resist...  Aussie DJ /Procucer Sgt Slick...

 

"White people turn up the treble, black people turn up the bass."

 

 

I hope I don't get into trouble with the vocal sample quote.

 

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Tonally layered bass over more any day of the week, but if we can have that and a bit more I'm OK with that even if my neighbours wouldn't be.

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I prefer deep, detailed, nuanced and full bass.... My little Pass Amp Camp Amp comes to mind. On the other hand I can't stand powerful punchy sounding bass. Don't know why but it gives me a headache despite sounding wonderful. I can't explain it.

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29 minutes ago, MattyW said:

I prefer deep, detailed, nuanced and full bass.... My little Pass Amp Camp Amp comes to mind. On the other hand I can't stand powerful punchy sounding bass. Don't know why but it gives me a headache despite sounding wonderful. I can't explain it.

Really deep bass can actually be vibrating your brain inside your skull causing inflammation.

It is physically harmful.

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12 minutes ago, wasabijim said:

There's a not insubstantial market for massive sloppy deep over the top bass

 

Been to a festival lately? (covid aside....) 

Agreed the big doof has a market. That's all they have (& drugs).

Woman who's been to a few cos her son does the fest doof was amazed at my system. Bass was by 12" drivers in factory old 3 way cabs at a modest lounge room level. It was the clarity that impressed.

 

No, I don't want to go ...... hyperaccusis.

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12 minutes ago, eman said:

Really deep bass can actually be vibrating your brain inside your skull causing inflammation.

It is physically harmful.

Well,  my Oldchen K3 tube amp seems to have the aforementioned powerful,  punchy deep bass.... It's just too much for me. It does sound ultra realistic however I now prefer something easier to listen to..... Midrange is where the magic is for me..... Doesn't help that my speakers in that system have a mid bass emphasis I guess. That's likely the reason it's too much for me with the K3.

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2 hours ago, eman said:

Really deep bass can actually be vibrating your brain inside your skull causing inflammation.

It is physically harmful.

And if you go deep enough, you can hit the mythical 'brown note' 😮

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20 hours ago, QuinnInSydney said:

TL;DR rhythm in music is typically carried by bass instruments, and we love it, because it's easier for our brains to process and follow low-pitched tones.

Yes.

 

Most people don't understand the consequence of this curve.  (aka Fletcher Munson Curve)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lindos1.svg

 

..... and lots of people say things which gives the opposite impression from what is true.

 

What the chart says is... that as the frequency gets lower.   It takes less of an actual difference in level to produce more of a perceived difference in level.

 

This means that "bass sounds more dynamic" (for a given change in SPL) .... and that the flatness of the speaker response (absence of peaks and dips) is more important as the frequency gets lower.

 

20 hours ago, QuinnInSydney said:

Apologies if this has all been talked about before in these forums, or is general knowledge. I'm still a bit of a newbie here :)

Its something people often overlook.

 

Often it leads to a "mistake" where they compare different speakers in a room.... and they decide one is "better" than the other.   The real difference was a small difference in level at a broad-ish frequency range << 300Hz.     One speaker sounded "warmer"... or better "tone" ... or "less hifi" or whatever.     They attribute it to simply one "speaker being better than the other"......  what it was really is the placement or design of the speaker..... and the difference woud disappear with some EQ to make the difference in levels/tilt of the different frequency ranges more similar between the speakers.

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20 minutes ago, davewantsmoore said:

Yes.

 

Most people don't understand the consequence of this curve.  (aka Fletcher Munson Curve)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Lindos1.svg

 

..... and lots of people say things which gives the opposite impression from what is true.

 

What the chart says is... that as the frequency gets lower.   It takes less of an actual difference in level to produce more of a perceived difference in level.

As a side note, this is one reason elderly with natural hearing loss due to age, can be more sensitive in their homes to noise such as traffic going by etc. 

 

Since their remaining hearing is low frequency heavy, any change in noise level (car passby) is sensed as a much greater change in loudness than the general population. 

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On 24/07/2020 at 1:33 PM, QuinnInSydney said:

TL;DR rhythm in music is typically carried by bass instruments

what is TL;DR?

 

1 hour ago, LogicprObe said:

Yes...........it just goes to confirm my belief that the bass freaks are knuckle draggers.

I was never much of a bass nut until I:

  1. got my room's bass under control
  2. added stereo Acoustic Elegance TD18 mid bass speakers to my setup

The clean/tight/dry bass got me addicted to good bass.

 

The TD18's didn't even go that low...some friends mentioned my setup was lacking in the bottom octave when listening to the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra play "Fanfare for the Common Man", and then I listened to @jkn's setup (which literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up on some really low stuff).

 

I added a tapped horn DIY sub after that...which adds subtle "weight" to the music. With a few bands of EQ my room response is reasonably flat rolling off below 20Hz.

 

As a self professed bass nut, I find myself turning the bass down on friends' systems (after I request permission), especially car setups, when the bass is too boomy/muddy.

The same goes for lots of electronic music, where the composer is adding deep bass just because they can...they just wind that knob down...

 

I've come to realise I'm a "mid bass" nut, not a "deep bass" nut - clean tight mid bass is to die for - eg the kick drum in Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain", various percussion in Tracy Chapman's "Subcity", the drum outro in Angus and Julia Stone's "Yellowbrick Road" - my sub is only tickling the sound on these tracks, and all of the attack/bass slam is coming from the TD18s.

 

That said I also love the realism and chasm reaching bass of Danley's fireworks and train shunting recordings - the sub adds a lot to these recordings - similarly for movies like the depth charge scenes in U571, or the lightning strikes in War of the Worlds.

 

Clean/accurate bass with good decay (ie dry) is pretty special - and very addictive - but it makes boomy/ringing bass un-listenable.

 

cheers

Mike

Edited by almikel
clarification
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Good bass is different to lots/too much bass.

If the bass is crap...............turning it up just makes it louder crap.

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1 hour ago, LogicprObe said:

Good bass is different to lots/too much bass.

great bass is similar to listening to good recordings - if you're in the mood you just want to turn the volume up.

I sneak the bass up on the remote all the time - but only on well recorded tracks, and only where it doesn't overpower the track...

It's very dependant on the mix of the master...I'm happy to tweak EQ on the remote lots...bass up/down/flat, treble up/down/flat - all to taste on a song by song basis if I'm flipping between albums...usually the EQ stays the same across an album, but sometimes you can't help tweaking the bass up a bit on some tracks.

 

Prior to having a room with tight/dry/bass, I never mucked with the bass control. 

Assuming a good recording - I now dial up/down bass as I feel like it.

 

Bad bass just gets turned down, as does overly compressed music - it's not enjoyable up loud.

 

Mike

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23 hours ago, LogicprObe said:

 

Yes...........it just goes to confirm my belief that the bass freaks are knuckle draggers.

 

21 hours ago, LogicprObe said:

 

Good bass is different to lots/too much bass.

If the bass is crap...............turning it up just makes it louder crap.

 

As a self confessed bass-freak-knuckle-dragger I'm glad you're around to explain such complicated matters.

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On 26/07/2020 at 1:30 PM, rodders3 said:

I thought this thread was started by Davie504.

Hello Slapper! Epico.

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Well I guess I am a weirdo then. yes, I do enjoy 'correct' bass,  even powerful bass if that is what a track calls for. But for me the real enjoyment of listening is the 'mid/highs' detail. Bass IS the foundation, certainly, but preferring a repetitive thump, thump, thump, over for instance the nuance's of Steve Howe's guitar, or the layers of detail in Pink Floyd's or King Crimson's tracks?

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On 24/07/2020 at 4:17 PM, eman said:

Deep bass might be 'impressive' but overblown or non rhythmic is just bloody torture, in the real meaning of the word.

AKA cheap bass

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i am a nut for the stuff and easily the most fascinating part of the musical journey has been that somewhat elusive bass which is nuanced and does not bloom and initially sounds quieter but then you realise it is just cleaner and perhaps less distorted.

 

bass is a real audiophile issue in my opinion mainly because for some systems to get good bass, audiophile issues come up, like dealing with noise is so critical to actually hearing clean bass.  that is, noise issues tend to destroy mid bass type frequencies (or make them less clear perhaps).  plus you've got room treatment in those frequencies and arguably woofer / sub-woofer integration requirements.

 

also arguably a focus on bass may bring power cords and cables into tighter focus.

 

for me detailed bass representation including most importantly mid bass is THE defining characteristic of a good audiophile setup versus mid fi or consumer fi for example.

 

 

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On 14/08/2020 at 5:42 PM, mr_gray said:

like dealing with noise is so critical to actually hearing clean bass.

IMHO managing noise is required regardless of the frequency band, but most gear has sufficiently high signal to noise ratios not to matter (unless you get the gain staging wrong) - eg audible tweeter hiss at the listening position.

Hum is a different issue, and incredibly annoying if a system has it.

Distortion is a factor for good clean bass + room effects (ringing, modes, SBIR)

 

There's the old saying for all dynamic drivers - "excursion = distortion" - most dynamic bass drivers are creating a lot of distortion well below Xmax.

IME large drivers (or multiple smaller drivers) with good motor design (eg shorting rings etc) not having to move much (so low excursion) to achieve the SPLs required in the room is critical, as is room treatment and EQ.

 

On 14/08/2020 at 5:42 PM, mr_gray said:

plus you've got room treatment in those frequencies and arguably woofer / sub-woofer integration requirements.

Agreed - but most room treatment (absorption) is running out of effectiveness <150Hz unless it's truly huge.

Great mains/subs integration is always a challenge - I would recommend to anyone looking to improve their integration between mains/subs to check out @Paul Spencer's guide on sub integration part 1 linked here https://www.hifizine.com/2011/06/bass-integration-guide-part-1/

 

On 14/08/2020 at 5:42 PM, mr_gray said:

also arguably a focus on bass may bring power cords and cables into tighter focus.

I accept interconnects change the sound subtly but not predictably  - I prefer to adjust my sound using EQ I apply where I can hear the changes as I apply them.

 

On 14/08/2020 at 5:42 PM, mr_gray said:

for me detailed bass representation including most importantly mid bass is THE defining characteristic of a good audiophile setup

agreed - and to achieve it takes a combination of speakers/positioning + sub positioning/integration + room treatment...IMHO some DSP providing appropriate EQ/delay across the solution is the "secret sauce" that brings it all together.

 

In my small, lightly constructed room with lots of absorption and some bands of EQ, my pair of Acoustic Elegance TD18 drivers in sealed enclosures produce fantastic clean bass with low distortion. The TD18s barely move when playing music even at elevated SPLs. Friends have asked if they were working/connected as they couldn't see them moving.

 

Adding/integrating a decent sub underneath the TD18s added "weight" to my setup - very subtle - only noticeable when I turn the sub off when listening to music...

...Danley recordings and movies are a different story - the sub adds a lot to these, but only depth, not slam.

 

Mike

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just returning to the original proposition, im sure the comment that people Love more bass assumed comparable quality, not a quality versus quantity discussion. 
 

and just to complicate things, and perhaps stoke controversy.... im  an old drummer who has sat right next to some extremely loud bass players, and nothing beats an ampeg svt and  8x10 box, and I’ve never heard any hifi deliver bass sound as good as the real thing! (Running for cover now.....)

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I still have no idea what "TL; DR rhythm in music" means in the context of this thread, a term used by the OP in his original post

On 14/09/2020 at 9:26 PM, Rangi said:

Just returning to the original proposition, im sure the comment that people Love more bass assumed comparable quality, not a quality versus quantity discussion.

after re-reading the OPs original post - he was comparing different speakers' bass responses in the same room...with links to another site I read back then...

On 14/09/2020 at 9:26 PM, Rangi said:

im sure the comment that people Love more bass assumed comparable quality

In which case I would say that "people love more bass" depends on the listening environment.

For listening spaces with the bass under control, I would say that most people would enjoy more bass (within reason)...and the opposite for listening spaces with the bass not under control - more bass is horrible/boomy/loose/ringing.

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9 hours ago, joeling said:

Co-authored by one Dr. Trainor - no relation to Meghan right ? 😆

I have no idea what your post means - who is Dr Trainor or Meghan?

 

Mike

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On 14/09/2020 at 8:56 PM, Rangi said:

Just returning to the original proposition, im sure the comment that people Love more bass assumed comparable quality, not a quality versus quantity discussion. 
 

and just to complicate things, and perhaps stoke controversy.... im  an old drummer who has sat right next to some extremely loud bass players, and nothing beats an ampeg svt and  8x10 box, and I’ve never heard any hifi deliver bass sound as good as the real thing! (Running for cover now.....)

Spot on Rangi, all the power and all the glory.  Hard to replicate 8 x 10” efficient  drivers housed in a small wardrobe being driven by 300 Watts dedicated just to their service, Ampeg are the masters of bass.

 

My wife uses the SVT 410 HLF  (4 x 10”) augmented by a seperate pair of 15” drivers with a modified Fender Super Twin (6 x 6550’s) driving them. The resulting pressure waves can literally harm you but the full SVT Ampeg  rig is a cut above, fat , fast ,violent!  Hard to compete at home with a couple of 8” drivers.....

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3 hours ago, almikel said:

I have no idea what your post means - who is Dr Trainor or Meghan?

 

Mike

Dr. Trainor is the coauthor of the study and Meghan Trainor is a pop star who had a hit named “All About that Bass” a couple of years back

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On 14/09/2020 at 9:26 PM, Rangi said:

and just to complicate things, and perhaps stoke controversy.... im  an old drummer who has sat right next to some extremely loud bass players, and nothing beats an ampeg svt and  8x10 box, and I’ve never heard any hifi deliver bass sound as good as the real thing! (Running for cover now.....)

I must admit I was confused by this part of your post...

 

I sing in a "classic rock" covers band - in rehearsals the volume starts with how loud the drummer is, and the guitarists start from there, but just keep turning up (not the bassist though).

Live gigs we leave it to the mixer to set front of house and foldbacks appropriately - obviously onstage we're more concerned with the foldback + onstage amp sound so we can hear each other, rather than front of house (which is obviously critical for the audience - but that's the mixer's job to get right).

 

In smaller room gigs we don't amplify the (acoustic) drum kit at all...and just run stage amps for guitar and bass, with FoH and foldbacks for vocals...

 

...I figured your statement below

On 14/09/2020 at 9:26 PM, Rangi said:

im  an old drummer...and I’ve never heard any hifi deliver bass sound as good as the real thing!

related to reproducing the sound of an acoustic drum kit compared to live...

...after reading again, I think you're referring to the inadequate HiFi reproduction of what an onstage 8 x 10" bass amp/driver box can produce at a live gig?

 

I completely accept that domestic HiFi setups can't compete with the SPL capabilities of pro gear at a live gig - but they don't need to.

They just need to produce sufficient SPL at acceptable or lower distortion within their listening environment.

On 14/09/2020 at 9:26 PM, Rangi said:

I’ve never heard any hifi deliver bass sound as good as the real thing!

I'm biased, but my stereo Acoustic Elegance TD18s in sealed boxes with 400W each sound pretty good in my small room - but our bass player doesn't have an 8 x 10" setup :)

 

cheers

Mike

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In 1981 I discovered music (I was only 9yrs old).  My mum had an original ghetto blaster (Aiwa?) with a bigass woofer in the middle.

AC/DC, Stones and all the latest hits of 1981 got played regularly. 
I used to grab a chair put my head right up to the thing and crank my favourites. The funny thing is I immediately adjusted the music to my taste even though I was just a kid. I knew what made me feel good so the bass was at about 2.30 o’clock and the treble at about 1.30. 
It’s hilarious that too this day I need that bass, music feels too tiny And light without it.

I run a pair of ATC scm40’s with a Michi RHB 10 amp (+Belcanto 2.5DAC) and I’m sure many of you would know this is a great sounding combo. Powerful, clean and amazing life-like sounds. But I still needed more, so I bought a SVS sub and now I’m happy. Bass maters a lot, to me. 

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On 26/09/2020 at 11:39 AM, Tony Martello said:

Bass maters a lot, to me. 

Bass matters a lot to me also, but I became a bass nut only after hearing a room with its bass "reasonably" under control - hearing tight/dry bass with no overhang was a revelation.

 

Great "in room" bass is more about the room than the gear, although the right gear is important for mains/sub integration and when room treatment gets too large/impractical for managing bass at lower frequencies (eg IME EQ cut works well <150Hz in lightly constructed rooms...I won't comment on managing bass in rigid rooms - they're a nightmare.)

 

A room that doesn't have the bass under control will make the listener turn the bass down.

A room with the bass under control will bring a grin to the listener's face, and they will likely turn the bass up...

 

Back to the OP's thread I would say we only love more bass when the bass is good...when I hear not so great bass, I leave the room/move to a different position/ask them to turn the bass down.

Car audio is a classic example - friends who have listened to my home setup take me for a drive in their car and they turn the bass up... "because they know I'm a bass nut"...resulting in boomy/bloated bass that rings...I ask them to turn the bass down FFS!

 

Clean/tight/dry bass is to die for

Loose/boomy/overhung bass is awful

 

Mike

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