Last week we spoke about high-quality bass sound reproduction and the various words used to describe it. It would be great if we could limit our vocabulary to just these words, but, alas, our bass is not always perfect. If it were, then we would not upgrade our speakers, components, interconnects, or that most important piece of the signal chain: our room acoustics.
So this week we will bring in just a bit of negativity to the discussion. Which elements of bass sound do we find most displeasing, and how do we describe them?
As with last week, a survey will allow you to cast your vote for the worst feature of bass sound reproduction in a playback system. But first, let’s recap the parameters of the matter at hand and look at the results of last week’s survey to find which word best describes high-quality bass sound.
Using the English Language to Describe the Qualities of Sound
While it may have its limitations, let’s all agree to use basic, simple English to describe the features of sound that we find lacking, that make our sonic experiences less enjoyable and somehow unfulfilling. In other words, the aspects of sound reproduction that detract from our ability to immerse ourselves in the music.
Many words are used to describe sound, some better than others, but all valid in their own right. Often, these words refer to a particular tonal range and attempt to quantify, in some way, the degree to which that range appeals to the author of the words. Sometimes the descriptors refer to temporal aspects within the music. Some words refer to a combination of these two things. Others yet are metaphors or anthropomorphic.
In every case, the effort is to help the reader or listener understand the author’s personal impression of the sound using words that can be interpreted in many different ways by many different people. What is one to do? Who can we trust, what do the words really mean?
Still Talking About the Bass Range
Here at ASC we spend most of our time working under 200 Hz. While treble diffusion and midrange absorption are important parts of room acoustic control, and TubeTraps deliver both of those services with gusto, the real innovation of TubeTraps and the ASC room treatment approach has always been to focus first and foremost on the fundamental notes in the lowest octaves: the BASS.
So shall our discussion of sonic terminology focus. A general delineation of the bass range, in terms of cycles per second, goes approximately as follows:
20-40 deep bass
40-100 mid bass
100-250 upper bass
What we want to do this week is to find the most succinct, understandable description capable of conveying a need for improvement within the bass range. We will not all agree about which elements of sound, when poorly executed are most disruptive in this range, but this survey will allow our staff to take a peek into the minds (and ears!) of our loyal readers.
(Don’t) Play that Funky Music!
OK, back to the negative, so we can fix it: what aspects of poor bass reproduction are the most disruptive to your cherished listening experience?
Are peaky bass tones giving you a headache? Does a heavy bass drag you down? Will a lean bass presentation leave you starving for more? Muddy bass got you feeling dirty? Lulled to sleep by slow bass? Does bloated bass make you reach for the Beano? Sloppy bass making you tipsy when you are sober? Is that a head cold or is your bass congested? Do you consider boomy more appropriate on the 4th of July than in your audio room?