Why do we spend hours perusing the magazines, forums, and YouTube reviews to find golden nuggets of information that will improve our listening experience? Why do we travel great distances to visit the conferences, showrooms, and shows, searching for the next great piece of gear that will elevate our sound system? Why do our friends, spouses, and relatives sometimes think we have totally and completely lost our minds? Is it because we are bored, or swimming in disposable income? No, it is because we care about the quality of the musical playback in our lives, and will go to great lengths to continually increase its quality.
Whether HiFi connoisseur or discriminating studio engineer, you want…no, you need your sound system to inspire trust, passion, and intimacy while displaying effortless power and transforming your listening space into any number of different scenes. What this means to each of us, specifically, might be a little different, but it all revolves around the central idea of quality.
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 appealing, that make our sonic experiences more enjoyable and fulfilling, those upon which we place a high value. In other words, the aspects of sound that determine its level of quality.
Many words are used by many people 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.
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?
Let’s go with consensus.
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 is to find the most succinct, understandable description capable of conveying a sense of quality within the bass range. There is almost no chance of 100% agreement about which elements of sound are most important in this range, but we can at least take a peek into the minds (and ears!) of our loyal readers.
Survey Says: Great Bass is Awesome!
Do you like your bass smooth, lacking edges, causing your head to slowly sway and bob? Or would you rather your bass be punchy and dynamic, delivering the real feel of a kick drum or timpani? How about articulate, where every solitary note is uniquely defined and separated? Maybe fast is your style, in which the 16th notes from Jaco’s lightning-fast fingers are each distinct and perfectly timed?
Going the other direction, what aspects of poor bass reproduction are the most disruptive to your cherished listening experience? Does a heavy bass drag you down? Will a lean bass presentation leave you starving for more? What about muddy bass, does it cause you to feel dirty? Lulled to sleep by slow bass? Does bloated bass make you want to reach for the Beano?