Judging Bass Quality not Output Level.

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Khorn, May 21, 2022.

  1. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Thread Starter

    Just listening to some various favourite music and the quality of the bass drew my attention. It was the quickness, definition and overall tone that grabbed my attention as I had previously heard some of these elsewhere.
    It was the overall realistic representation rather than the ultimate output level that most systems seem to emphasize. I think it’s something people have to hear for themselves in order to understand as words are just that. It seems that output and extension seem to be valued over realistic portrayal these days.

    How do you judge the realistic quality of bass response?
    I wonder if there are any specialty discs that give side by side bass demos specially on acoustic recordings. Not just music recordings.

    Any thoughts or suggestions on this approach?
    Tim 2, Tone?, Toneh and 3 others like this.
  2. macster

    macster Forum Resident

    San Diego, Ca. USA
    I don't get into it this deep. I just listen and enjoy the music. It will be interesting to see the comments on this.

    BTW, happy new topic.

  3. The Pinhead

    The Pinhead SUDACA ROÑOSO

    Don't worry about it. Every room has nulls and peaks in the low end. It's whether you enjoy what you're listening or not what matters.
    Snargfarg, bever70, johnny q and 4 others like this.
  4. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Thread Starter

    I’m sorta talking about how would you compare your system reproduction to let’s say a stand up string bass playing in the same room such as definition and speed. Or the sound and feel of the lower piano registers. I’ve heard too many systems where it seems like the response is like comin out of a molasses barrel.
    Tone? likes this.
  5. mkane

    mkane Strictly Analog

    Cloverdale, CA
    Quality over output always
    Steve356, jcmusic, Lonevej and 4 others like this.
  6. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Thread Starter

    To me one of the biggest downsides is poor bass quality. Imo everything goes south from that point.
  7. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I listen to Dave Holland great solo bass album One's All and listen for attack, timbre, evenness of output up and down the instument's range, detail and if there are frequencies where there's decay overhang or too much pluminess. Besides being a musically fabulous album, it's really well recorded with lots of bodybto the bass sound and snap to the attack and detail like Holland breathing and the bass creaking. Great test of realism.
    punkmusick, head_unit, Shawn and 5 others like this.
  8. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Thread Starter

    Thanks. Now I gotta check it out. Just downloaded.
    Clonesteak likes this.
  9. mkane

    mkane Strictly Analog

    Cloverdale, CA
    Listening now.
    timind and Khorn like this.
  10. 5-String

    5-String μηδὲν ἄγαν

    Sunshine State
    I play Dave Holland's Another Land, track 2.
    It is difficult for this album not to overload the system because of the way it was recorded.
    There is too much emphasis on the bass in the mix.
    So, this is my first priority when I balance the subwoofer with the speakers, I want the bass to go deep but not to sound booming. I am trying to avoid the bass to overwhelm the guitar and the drums.
    Then, I listen for definition on the notes, the danger here is for the bass lines to sound as one-note. Tone is the key here.
    All in all, it is an exercise in balance.
    When this track sounds correct it is a revelation and a great test on the system's low frequency performance.
    Khorn likes this.
  11. Hanks3

    Hanks3 Forum Resident

    Austin, Tx
    Quality bass reproduction is an art unto itself.
    Khorn likes this.
  12. Rich-n-Roll

    Rich-n-Roll Forum Resident

    Washington State
    I think it is dependent on the recording and room itself more then the equipment used to reproduce it
    Shawn, Khorn and zombiemodernist like this.
  13. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Thread Starter

    Just downloaded this one also. Now I can get an idea how I hear what others are describing. Going to be a very educational exercise.
    5-String likes this.
  14. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    Great stuff...thanks for the recommendation:)
    Khorn likes this.
  15. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    Ray Brown Trio "Soular Energy " has been a go to bass album for me for years.Like @chervokas said up n down those strings with equal volume/energy.
    Monroro and Khorn like this.
  16. Chris Schoen

    Chris Schoen Rock 'n Roll !!!

    Maryland, U.S.A.
    Having Heresys, with no sub, I am used to tight bass. I do not like flabby bass, that is for sure.
    Good melody and clarity of playing is most important to me, as far as bass playing and sound.
    Clonesteak, Pondoro and Glmoneydawg like this.
  17. thegage

    thegage Forum Currency Nerd

    Any jazz clubs in your area?

    Khorn likes this.
  18. Toneh

    Toneh Forum Resident

    New Zealand
    My two cents?

    There’s something in the way you’ve written your post that makes me think your tastes gel quite closely with my own.
    I prefer articulation and tunefulness over out and out extension too if that extension comes at the cost of anything remotely boomy, thick or “one-note” and begins to swamp clarity higher up. And I’ll personally forgo a little impact for tunefulness.

    But - and I’m starting to think it’s a big but (butt? :winkgrin:)

    I suspect it’s all too easy to become a little too enamoured with a type of “hifi bass” presentation. Recently purchasing a new integrated amp (a Yamaha A-S2200) has me thinking about this all over again because in the past - at the height of my past audiophile excess - I think I tipped that balance too far, trying for a “vice grip” on bass where no bloom or elasticity was tolerable. In retrospect I'd say I was overcompensating for the flabby, slow bass of my very first proper 2ch amp (a Marantz PM-7200)... by the time I made my first upgrades it had become my absolute bugbear and was all I could hear and consequently focused excessively on that single parameter, looking back, at the cost of a tonal leanness that extended the whole way up.

    Listening with this Yamaha in the chain there’s speed and tunefulness aplenty, but it’s also not over constrained or too tight, to the point of sounding unnatural. There’s just enough “give” to its approach. And I think that last bit is the key IMO.

    A real upright bass - depending on how it’s played (high up on the neck and intentionally “staccato”) it can sound breathtakingly nimble and “quick” (I do personally like listening to that sort of playing on good jazz recordings)… but pluck the string lower down so as to excite the natural resonances of the instruments body and it should sound “bloomy”, rich and resonant. Probably the same is true of the sound of most acoustic instruments, but I’ll keep on the topic of bass specifically.

    So basically - yes - a preference for less can be more, unless “more” is in fact appropriate and a little more real?
    Last edited: May 21, 2022
  19. okc_craft

    okc_craft I BUILT THAT

    I’ve come to really like an album with Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer titled Bass and Mandolin. Edgar plucks and strums on this album and the recording is extremely simple. The second track on the album, Tarnation, is probably one of my favorites, but the whole thing is full of bass that isn’t necessarily deep but rather tonally rich with realistic timber and fabulous decay. Any subs can play it of course, but to resolve the bass details in a natural tonally rich way I think is more difficult.
    Khorn likes this.
  20. Khorn

    Khorn Dynagrunt Thread Starter

    I know that there are many here. Had friends involved and used to visit regularly. Specially Blues and Jazz. Unfortunately it’s been too many years and we miss it but sure have great memories. Spent time with some of the very best.
  21. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    One problem about this is … what was the sound like when it was mastered? We don’t know most of the times as we are not in the studio. Did the artiste/mastering engineer want a clean dry sound from the double bass? Was it a 22” or a 26” kick drum? Skin tuned tight or loose? Precision bass or Jazz bass?

    I’ve handled music festivals where bands used the same mixing board and system but each got their own sound. They are very different. We are not talking about electronica band and a jazz band. They were all pretty much in the same genre.

    But then if it sounds like molasses oozing out then there prob is an issue.
    Shawn and Khorn like this.
  22. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Different stuff.

    Some specific Dream Theater songs where so much sh$t is going on and powerful double bass drums going.
    I use that to see how well a speaker can handle fast powerful drums. A lesser speaker with make it sound like mush.
    Something like Blue to hear a stand up bass for clarity.
    A well recorded drum solo for realism and tightness. ( can’t be over tight cause I’ve heard that as well)
    And if you can believe it some solo cello pieces where the low notes are clear and articulate and you can hear the bow. Cello is actually really good to test bass.

    but I feel you need all of the above to be balanced.
    One piece may sound right and then you put on the Dream Theater and you realize it’s not that good. Or whatever the case.

    however Speaker PLACEMENT, can change your bass 100%.
    It can make the bass way too boomy, too much mid bass, and even thin.
    Speaker placement is all the money.
    Khorn likes this.
  23. Tone?

    Tone? Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    Oh and btw.
    Pro tip. Lol

    I also check different songs with headphones and then put it on my stereo.
    No, No, it’s not for the timbre.
    I do it to check the overall volume level of instruments compared to each other, to figure out if the bass is right or in the ballpark.
    For example, I’ve had my speakers placed wrong and music I had on my headphones which sounded even in the bass, was overpowering and huge on my stereo.
    I’m like ok this isn’t how this song was mixed.
    Kyhl, Khorn and tIANcI like this.
  24. BruceS

    BruceS El Sirviente del Gato

    Reading, MA US
    On some level that's not just hearing, I need to feel the bass. Unclear bass upsets the whole experience. So it has to be a merging of quality and...oomph for me. It's a smallish setup anyway, in an odd space, but I love it when the bass or anything else resonates just right for me.
    Khorn likes this.
  25. Randoms

    Randoms Aerie Faerie Nonsense

    Back in the mid-eighties, I was shown the Linn "tune dem", method of comparative listening, which became an invaluable tool for position speakers to within an inch for better, not different or amount of sound.

    This gives a repeatable method of judging for quantity, rather than quality, with a simple better or worse, which works in every room, whatever music you are playing and on every component in the chain!

    The quantity of the bass is obviously source, speaker and room dependent, but any of this is irrelevant (to some!) if it arrives to you out of time in comparison to the midrange. When the speaker is in the best position, the speaker is literally more "tuneful". Notes have better pitch definition, start and stop quicker, you can hear open and fretted notes and string changes easier - every piece of music is "musically" better as you can appreciate the feel and interplay of the musicians.

    Good musicians are predictable, even if they are pushing, on, or behind the beat.

    A system can have all types of characteristics that people find attractive, but for many listeners, including me, if the sound didn't arrive at the listener so the pitch and timing is predictable, it quickly becomes tiring to listen to.....

    We do this subconsciously when we hear live music, but for some reason, often listen and judge by different and often non-predictactable and abstract criteria on recorded music.

    Happy listening, with quality bass!

    Edit. This is a really good system test, excellent musicianship with a very good recording.

    Last edited: May 22, 2022
    Ted Torres Jr, thegage and Khorn like this.

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