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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

On 28/11/2020 at 8:04 PM, warweary said:

tldr = too long didnt read.

thanks @warweary - greatly appreciated ! ...I thought it was something audio related...I should have done an interweb slang search :(

 

 

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Thanks for bringing up this topic and to all the posters who commented. The topic of bass is one of the primary reasons i was curious to come back and talk to the great stereonet people.

 

In particular after wanting to get a set of proper headphones for the first time. The bass factor is becoming a strong differentiator.

 

"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" - @Whites
 

Yes I noticed this when trying different headphones along the similar price bracket.

 

---

 

"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.
 -  @FR DRew

 

Yes the speed is definitely a factor for me. Possibly this agileness is more necessary when listening to electronic music.

 

---

 

"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. -  @MattyW

 

I am not sure if it's achievable to cover both style of bass with the same speaker or headphone? I was thinking the degree of each is probably more related to the actual music played

 


---

 

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.
 

 - @davewantsmoore

 

Interesting, so headphones with flat bass curves are more able to be dynamic enough to give detail for tricky electronic songs huh

 

---

 

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.
 

 - @davewantsmoore

 

Hmm so perhaps some of the newer headphones that actively employ EQ modifications for each song are sounding better in the ability to be precise and agile due to the active EQing? Do they actually EQ for each song on the fly?

 

 

---

 

I was never much of a bass nut until I:

got my room's bass under control

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.
 

@almikel

 

This is very promising news considering my current speakers setup, very appealing.

 

---

 

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.

 

- @mr_gray

 

Interesting, for me this is becoming a defining characteristic in my future headphones.


---

 

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.
 

- @almikel

 

Yes I understand. I think I can improve quite a lot with my current setup to achieve this. Thanks for bringing it to light again.

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I just found and enjoyed reading this thread. For me as an Ex-drummer Bass is the foundation of music. I am very tuned to the attack and decay of percussion and Bass, and the tone. Not flabby Noise as seen in the Subaru WRXs of this world, etc.... . (I played both kit and Hand drums -African Djembe playing traditional West African songs. Not playing anything lately except attempting guitar now and then.)

 

 Just recently I was in a rural newsagency shop and some music was playing at low volume. After about a minute I could recognize notes in the music but not the song (99% chance it is middle of the road Rock from some era). It was really bugging me. Then I could catch a little guitar phrasing here and there that was familiar, but still nothing clear came to mind. Then I noticed that the "music" was missing the Bass to mid-mids. Like 1000hz and up only!

 

Finally the light bulb went on = it was "Layla" with Eric Clapton. Totally missing the low end the song was unrecognizable for some minutes. We have all heard this song 100s if not 1000 times - whether we wanted to or not - and the lesson for me was clear. No bottom end = no foundation. From Rock to Opera. 

 

"This is Major Tom to Bass Control....". Over and Out.

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19 hours ago, odb123 said:

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.

 

I'm not understanding you.

 

Equal-loudness contours are curves that would be needed to correct to flat for perceived human hearing.

 

image.png.14dd929cafb872381347ba757baac3bf.png

 

As per above: The ear is less sensitive to low frequencies, and this discrimination against lows becomes steeper for softer sounds.

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On 26/07/2020 at 3:20 PM, almikel said:

what is TL;DR?

 

 

I think it is actually an emoticon when you post from a phone that doesn't get converted to text properly ??

 

And on topic - good bass is the best thing ever.

 

I am still working on my setup but the plan will be 14 drivers in a well treated room.

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1 hour ago, Satanica said:

 

Really? Yikes! Harmans research says that four is enough.

https://www.harman.com/documents/multsubs_0.pdf

 

 

Not for me :)

 

5 will be driven from speaker outputs and positioned under my 5 ear level speakers - effectively making them full range

5 will be driven from speaker outputs and will be in-ceiling making my Atmos full range as well

The final 4 driven from LFE output are under my couch giving me tactile response.

 

This should allow me to get the best bass - not the loudest. So far I only have the 5 ear level and 3 under my couch and it is so smooth and much better than ever before and that is with just 5 little 30hz subs. These are destined for the heights and I am building 5 LLT subs capable of 15hz while the ones under the couch will provide tactile response down to just 1hz (currently only down to 3hz)

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On 01/12/2020 at 2:07 PM, akjono said:

Just recently I was in a rural newsagency shop and some music was playing at low volume. After about a minute I could recognize notes in the music but not the song (99% chance it is middle of the road Rock from some era). It was really bugging me. Then I could catch a little guitar phrasing here and there that was familiar, but still nothing clear came to mind. Then I noticed that the "music" was missing the Bass to mid-mids. Like 1000hz and up only!... Finally the light bulb went on = it was "Layla" with Eric Clapton.

 

Great story, @akjono It inspired me to run a little test...

 

I filtered out (-30db) all frequencies below 1000Hz, and set Spotify to shuffle play from a random playlist. Then for the heck of it I tried the same but filtered out all the results _above_ 1000Hz.

 

My completely non-scientific experiment yielded the following learning:

- Songs that were bass- and mids-only were easier (quicker) for me to recognise, when compared to mids- and treble-only songs

- Listening to the mids- and treble-only songs felt like an intellectual exercise (I was straining to recognise lyrics and such)

- Listening to bass- and mids-only songs felt like a physical exercise (my feet were tapping and my head was bobbing)

 

What does all that tell us? Absolutely nothing, I think... but it was a helluva way to spend 20 minutes 😜

 

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On 01/12/2020 at 1:45 PM, Satanica said:

 

I'm not understanding you.

 

Equal-loudness contours are curves that would be needed to correct to flat for perceived human hearing.

 

image.png.14dd929cafb872381347ba757baac3bf.png

 

As per above: The ear is less sensitive to low frequencies, and this discrimination against lows becomes steeper for softer sounds.

Hi Satanica,

 

@odb123 was quoting @davewantsmoore in his post...what Dave is saying is if you look at the equal loudness curves below 100Hz, they get closer together as the frequency drops - so that if you were listening at say 90dB it only takes a small bump/dip to make it sound louder of softer to the ear, ie the ear is more sensitive to changes (bumps/dips) in the frequency response at lower frequencies

 

cheers

mike

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On 01/12/2020 at 2:45 PM, Satanica said:

As per above: The ear is less sensitive to low frequencies, and this discrimination against lows becomes steeper for softer sounds.


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.

 

You can see from the chart that very LF at 80dB is inaudible.... barely audible at 90dB and .... still quiet at even 100dB..... This is before we even consider the masking effect of (much louder) sounds at 50Hz, or 100Hz, masking the practically inaudible sounds at 25Hz (for example).....    what people perceive as low bass at these volumes is mainly psychoacoustic.

 

BUT.

 

The real take away from this chart is that the ear is very sensitive to level differences at low frequencies.

 

 The range of loudness in the chart is spread over ~120dB at 1khz ... and only 70dB at 20Hz.   This means that bass is a million times more sensitive to changes in level (for the same change in perceived loudness).

 

Eg. a change in level of ~20dB at 20Hz.... is equivalent to a change in 50 phon (phon is what you hear).

 

 

SIMILARLY.... The claim that the ear is most sensitive at 3khz.   Yes, 3khz needs less energy to sound the same loudness as other frequenies.....   But it is (relatively) low sensitivity to changes in energy level in terms of phon.

 

Sound (information) perception is all about changes in level, measured in phon.    So, these comments essentially get it backwards (for people concerned with audio reproduction quality).

 

 

This leads to a fairly big paradox that what we can accurately measure and easily fix for a speaker in a room, actually isn't very significant (in terms of phon) ..... and what is a big deal (bass, eg. << 500Hz) is both dificult to accurately measure, and to fix.

 

 

 

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17 hours ago, almikel said:

 

@odb123 was quoting @davewantsmoore in his post...what Dave is saying is if you look at the equal loudness curves below 100Hz, they get closer together as the frequency drops - so that if you were listening at say 90dB it only takes a small bump/dip to make it sound louder of softer to the ear, ie the ear is more sensitive to changes (bumps/dips) in the frequency response at lower frequencies.

 

Hi Mike, yes I think I understand that but where did Dave specifically mention "equal loudness curves below 100Hz" ?

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3 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

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.

 

Apparently the above is quoted from you.

 

So I'm understanding you, can you please give me an example of what you mean in bold?

If it is something I said/wrote then quote me on it.

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6 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:


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.

 

You can see from the chart that very LF at 80dB is inaudible.... barely audible at 90dB and .... still quiet at even 100dB..... This is before we even consider the masking effect of (much louder) sounds at 50Hz, or 100Hz, masking the practically inaudible sounds at 25Hz (for example).....    what people perceive as low bass at these volumes is mainly psychoacoustic.

 

BUT.

 

The real take away from this chart is that the ear is very sensitive to level differences at low frequencies.

 

 The range of loudness in the chart is spread over ~120dB at 1khz ... and only 70dB at 20Hz.   This means that bass is a million times more sensitive to changes in level (for the same change in perceived loudness).

 

Eg. a change in level of ~20dB at 20Hz.... is equivalent to a change in 50 phon (phon is what you hear).

 

 

SIMILARLY.... The claim that the ear is most sensitive at 3khz.   Yes, 3khz needs less energy to sound the same loudness as other frequenies.....   But it is (relatively) low sensitivity to changes in energy level in terms of phon.

 

Sound (information) perception is all about changes in level, measured in phon.    So, these comments essentially get it backwards (for people concerned with audio reproduction quality).

 

 

This leads to a fairly big paradox that what we can accurately measure and easily fix for a speaker in a room, actually isn't very significant (in terms of phon) ..... and what is a big deal (bass, eg. << 500Hz) is both dificult to accurately measure, and to fix.

 

 

 

Exactly! What....?? You raised many points Dave, I will just address this: Yes I totally agree the ear is very sensitive to level differences at low frequencies. And the "Claim" that the ear is most sensitive at 3 khz is an average, or median measurement. Like the seats in airplanes. Does not fit any one human on the planet, but is engineered for an "average" of the total human stature possibilities. In other words=fits no one. 

 

Also very cool experiment @QuinnInSydney. .. See I am not crazy, or... we are both crazy in the same way! hehehe. 

 

The paradox is that every human experiences sound in a different way, and that for some of us we need 20 Inch 1000Watt Subwoofers to feel the Bass (20-40Hz I will just say). Like a hit on the head with a 4X6 ! for some of us, and others will enjoy 12 inch woofers that dig to 38Hz, but punchy and clean. 

 

Psychoacoustics may be another way to say one "feels" the bass. And hence the music. 

 

Righteous. 

 

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7 hours ago, davewantsmoore said:

BUT.

 

The real take away from this chart is that the ear is very sensitive to level differences at low frequencies.

 

 The range of loudness in the chart is spread over ~120dB at 1khz ... and only 70dB at 20Hz.   This means that bass is a million times more sensitive to changes in level (for the same change in perceived loudness).

 

Eg. a change in level of ~20dB at 20Hz.... is equivalent to a change in 50 phon (phon is what you hear).

 

 

SIMILARLY.... The claim that the ear is most sensitive at 3khz.   Yes, 3khz needs less energy to sound the same loudness as other frequenies.....   But it is (relatively) low sensitivity to changes in energy level in terms of phon.

 

Sound (information) perception is all about changes in level, measured in phon.    So, these comments essentially get it backwards (for people concerned with audio reproduction quality).

 

 

This leads to a fairly big paradox that what we can accurately measure and easily fix for a speaker in a room, actually isn't very significant (in terms of phon) ..... and what is a big deal (bass, eg. << 500Hz) is both dificult to accurately measure, and to fix.

 

Thinking about this some more I presume you mean the ear is is more sensitive to frequency response differences at low frequencies than at non-low frequencies.

If so, I think I'm understanding you and combined with the fact that frequencies below the transition region\zone (300Hz?) are dominated by the room rather than the speaker is why good bass as perceived by the ear is harder to achieve than non-bass frequencies.

 

BUT I don't think this is the point or purpose of the ISO 226:2003 curves as inspired by Fletcher-Munson.

The point is that even if you have a speaker system with a flat frequency response as measured by an acceptably accurate microphone the human ear won't perceive it as such.

Rather, how the human ear will perceive it will depend on how loud (phons) it is and an averaged approximation graph has been developed as such.

 

Equal-loudness contour - Wikipedia

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6 hours ago, Satanica said:

 

Hi Mike, yes I think I understand that but where did Dave specifically mention "equal loudness curves below 100Hz" ?

he didn't - that was me trying to explain Dave's point that people often miss the point that the human ear is more sensitive to changes in level for lower frequencies. I picked 100Hz because the equal loudness curves clearly get closer together below 100Hz, and the closer together they get, the more sensitive the ear is to changes in level.

 

Mike.  

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6 hours ago, Satanica said:

Apparently the above is quoted from you.

 

Dave wasn't quoting me, but @davewantsmoore will often quote a post to make his point - and he wasn't disagreeing with anything in the post, just using it to highlight that people don't understand the subtleties of the Fletcher Munson curves - ie they understand that bass needs to be louder to be of equal loudness, but they miss that the equal loudness curves get closer together at lower frequencies, which means the ear is more sensitive to changes in level as frequency drops....

...I think Dave answered everything in his post

 

mike

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2 hours ago, Satanica said:

Thinking about this some more I presume you mean the ear is is more sensitive to frequency response differences at low frequencies than at non-low frequencies.

yes 

 

2 hours ago, Satanica said:

If so, I think I'm understanding you and combined with the fact that frequencies below the transition region\zone (300Hz?) are dominated by the room rather than the speaker is why good bass as perceived by the ear is harder to achieve than non-bass frequencies.

reading @davewantsmoore's post - I agree that's what he's saying - for bass frequencies the room makes a really big impact on the dB phon levels, with the ear being very sensitive to small changes in dB phon levels...but also that we can't measure very accurately at low frequencies.

 

 

Edited by almikel
clarification from Dave
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2 minutes ago, almikel said:

for bass frequencies the room makes a really big impact on the phon levels

You mean to say ....   "a really big impact on dB levels".

 

Increasing the sound loudness by X phon sounds like the same increase in loudness at every frequency.... that is the whole point of a Phon.

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1 minute ago, davewantsmoore said:

You mean to say ....   "a really big impact on dB levels".

 

Increasing the sound loudness by X phon sounds like the same increase in loudness at every frequency.... that is the whole point of a Phon.

thanks Dave

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6 hours ago, Satanica said:

So I'm understanding you, can you please give me an example of what you mean in bold?

 

People say that the "ear is more sensitive through 1 to 3Khz" or whatever ......  and they take from that that any differences in the frequency response between playback systems are most important in this region (due to the sensitivity of the ear).     But this is not true.   The ear is least sensitive to features of the frequency response in this region  (ie. the complete opposite).

 

For example hifi reviewers will be talking about a speaker, and saying well there's a bump or a dip, or whatevr in the "critical treble range", where the "ear is most sensitive" (so it will definitely be noticable).   For example.

 

I'm not sure if you said anything specific.

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1 hour ago, Satanica said:

BUT I don't think this is the point or purpose of the ISO 226:2003 curves as inspired by Fletcher-Munson.

The point is that even if you have a speaker system with a flat frequency response as measured by an acceptably accurate microphone the human ear won't perceive it as such.

 

The purpose of it is to demontrate the relationship between Phon and dB .... and it tell us a number of different useful things.

 

Yes... one is that the lines are not flat.   This means that for the sound to be perceived as flat, then when represetned in dB it should not be flat.   It will need to tilt up at LF and HF.

 

Also ... it shows that it will need to tilt more when the sound is quieter.... which most people are familiar with too.

 

Another implication of this, is that changing the level in dB results in the least amount of change in Phon through the upper-midband..... from about 800 to 4000Hz..... meaning that although it takes the lest amount of sound energy to reach some perceived level (Phon) at these frequencies, that the ear is actually least sensitve to changes in the level at these frequencies.

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3 hours ago, akjono said:

The paradox is that every human experiences sound in a different way

 

That hinges very much on what you define as "experience".

 

If you mean "the phon scale fits nobody"   ...ie. we all perceive levels differently..... then I think that is much more nonsense than truth.    (of course, there are always special snowflakes)

 

What people "like" is a different matter entirely  ;)

 

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1 hour ago, Satanica said:

BUT I don't think this is the point or purpose of the ISO 226:2003 curves as inspired by Fletcher-Munson.

The point is that even if you have a speaker system with a flat frequency response as measured by an acceptably accurate microphone the human ear won't perceive it as such.

Rather, how the human ear will perceive it will depend on how loud (phons) it is and an averaged approximation graph has been developed as such.

this delves into the issue described by Toole and Olive as the "Circle of Confusion" - paraphrased -  "that there can be no standard of sound reproduction since there is no standard of production from the recording and sound engineering end.... If the audio systems that were used to mix and master the recordings had a poor frequency response, the sound engineers will be creating a sound mix that sounds good on that particular system, but when that sound mix is reproduced on a system that is far more accurate and linear, it can sound odd."

 

Mixing engineers will always adjust the levels to cater for Fletcher Munson - but we don't know how flat the FR was in the mastering room :(

 

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2 hours ago, Satanica said:

The point is that even if you have a speaker system with a flat frequency response as measured by an acceptably accurate microphone the human ear won't perceive it as such.

As audio enthusiasts with control only over the "reproduction" end of the process, I still think a flat room frequency response is a good goal...obviously difficult to achieve.

 

Good recordings will typically be recorded/mixed in good recording/mixing rooms - and we all have examples of "well recorded" music, which IME get played on my system far more often than poorer recordings.

 

Of course there are metrics other than a flat FR which are important to great "in room" sound - eg IMHO the room's time domain response (ie ringing/reverb times), and a smooth "off-axis" response of the speakers are very important.

 

cheers,

Mike

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On 04/12/2020 at 6:18 PM, almikel said:

Mixing engineers will always adjust the levels to cater for Fletcher Munson - but we don't know how flat the FR was in the mastering room :(

 

 

For sure. Regarding Fletcher-Munson, what I gathered from Wiki was that experiment was done on headphones in the 1940's and the most modern ISO 226:2003 from 2003 is quite different and was done with speakers. Both of these curves should really be referred to as Equal-Loudness Contours.

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21 hours ago, Pin said:

Improve the bass and the mids and highs improve disproportionately 

That's certainly been my experience - get the "in room" bass right, and as long as you haven't killed the top end during the process (ie soaked up too much treble), you can sit back and enjoy clean/tight bass and further room treatment isn't required once the "in room" bass is under control...

 

I will make a clarification on my post above

On 04/12/2020 at 7:25 PM, almikel said:

I still think a flat room frequency response is a good goal...obviously difficult to achieve.

I meant an "even" FR - I run a room curve with a downward tilt - not flat - around 6dB of boost down low reducing to around -6dB of cut up high from 20Hz to 20kHz, fairly straight...

 

In my lightly constructed room, all the low bass leaks out, so with the absorption I have in my room, I can achieve "reasonable in room bass" with the addition of a few bands of EQ cut below 150Hz or so.

If I had a more rigid room that reflected low bass back into the room, I'd have much bigger challenges to manage the bass in my room.

 

IMO target absorption treatment at the lower frequencies as the only priority - avoid absorption treatment at 1st reflection points and straddle as many corners with as deep/wide absorption as you can get away with - this will put the absorption where it's soaking up bass, but not killing the treble.

 

Absorption traps get very large to absorb low frequencies - and along the way of applying enough absorption to manage the "in room" bass in a room , you could easily have absorbed too much top end.

 

Covering corner traps with a membrane (eg builders plastic) or timber slats in a 1D BAD pattern will reflect treble back into the room, but continue to absorb bass.

 

The more rigid the room boundaries are, the harder it is to achieve "smooth/tight in room bass" :(

 

IMO great "in room" bass is awesome - tight/dry/accurate bass with no overhang/boominess is fantastic...loose/boomy/ringing bass just gets turned down.

 

cheers,

Mike

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Absolute sound noted that records in the seventies had rolled off bass and with the variance between channels really low bass was not an issue

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