file Let's Discuss Bass - Music and Movie/Video

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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 year 7 months ago
#23155
For some time, I've been thinking about introducing this topic. Reproduction of low-frequency sounds in an audio-only or audio/video system has fascinated me since the acquisition of my very first "Hi Fi" unit (a Columbia monaural 33/45/78 player with a pair of built-in 5" speakers and a powerful 5 watt amplifier which I purchased in the late 1950s when I was a teenager).

Bass has come a very long way since those early HI Fi days.-- from barely audible to room-shaking.

Here are some ideas I would like for us to consider and comment upon:

1. Bass as it is needed and reproduced by today's technology as the LFE component of a multi-channel signal originating from a movie or other video source.

2. Bass as a component of a broad-spectrum audio signal intended to faithfully reproduce musical sounds as they would be heard at a live performance.

3. Bass as a portion of the musical sound of a jazz combo, such as piano, bass and percussion.

4. Bass as a portion of the total sound produced by a full symphony orchestra.

5. Bass as a component of the full-range sound of a magnificent pipe organ.

6. Bass as a component of a small ensemble, such as a string quintet or string quartet.

7. Bass as a portion of the sound of an a capella choral organization (SATB or SSAATTBB).

8. Bass as a component of a Rock Band - including comments about acoustic versus electric bass.

9. Thoughts about how a multi-channel signal processing system extracts bass as part of the LFE signal processing versus bass as part of the total audio signal that represents 2-channel music reproduction.

I would expect that there are additional interesting aspects and topics which will occur to other folks and which are worthy of consideration.

My objective in opening this topic is to bring out some ideas as they relate to what I consider to be the very different issues related to "Movie Bass" versus "Music Bass" and to introduce the question; "Does One Setup Satisfy All Needs?.

I'm looking forward to learning where this topic leads.

Happy listening and commenting ,

Art
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charliehatch Posted 1 year 7 months ago
#23164

ArthurDaniels wrote: and a powerful 5 watt amplifier


5 whole watts!!! Like my first computer that had 1 MB of RAM!

I remember having a portable record player in the 1960s that had fold out ported speakers. Wow, ports! Super bass! I LOVED to listen to the bass on that thing, until, that is, I was listening to my favorite bass-containing record and smoke came out of the thing. End of that one.

Art, I've thought about the bass thing. You have a lot of categories, but I would boil it down to two:

1. Music reproduction
2. Movie sound effects

A lot of music has very little content below 40 Hz or so. Bass drum percussion and pipe organ push that limit. I think that 16 bit recordings are capable of reproducing most -- if not all -- of the dynamic range found in a symphony orchestra, and that, in my mind, is the most taxing music requirement. T1s handle this stuff very well. TRefs, going the lowest with the least effort, do it even better, but I've listened to a lot of classical recordings where the entire piece doesn't get down there at all. Beethoven comes to mind. They just didn't have super duper bass drums in his days or I'm sure he would have written parts for them. But, with modern music, and thanks to Telarc and Reference and my TRefs, I can feel that monster bass drum fluttering my couch. Sometimes a bit more than I hear in a real orchestra, by the way.

Movies are something else again. Action movies try to reproduce things like gunshots and explosions. Real gunshots and explosions have huge sound pressure levels and a lot of low frequency content and are amazingly LOUD! As my hearing loss can attest. So, some compression has to be done to fit into the media, which dulls the realism. People who want realistic explosions crank up the subwoofers to try to get some of that dynamic range back, but settings for that are not likely to be compatible with a balanced musical sound. Perhaps some of the advanced theater systems can get closer, but, really, if they reproduced it accurately people would be walking out of collapsed theaters with punctured eardrums.

You want BANG? Or music? Given the current state of the art, I don't think you can't have both. Me, I've settled on music.

Charlie
2.0 System: Passport SSD USB > Auralic Aries G2> USB > DSPeaker Anti-Mode X4 DAC/Pre > Core Power Diamond XLR interconnects > Bel Canto e.One Ref600M monoblocks > Core Power Diamond banana speaker cables > Triton References
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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 year 7 months ago
#23168
Hi Charlie,

Thank you for an excellent and thoughtful post on this topic. I mentioned a number of thoughts in order to stimulate as much conversation as I could. But, I concur with your central thought regarding "music bass" versus "movie bass". I also agree that it is very difficult to create a setup which provides satisfactory movie bass and good music bass.

I know that I have struggled with this issue in the past. My solution has been to have two totally separate systems (except for one shared sub-woofer). Since we seldom watch action movies, my separate 7.2 movie system provides adequate surround sound - allowing me to use my GE speakers exclusively for music.

A number of the suggested topics I mentioned in my original post came about because of my efforts to achieve satisfactory music bass while listening to a wide variety of music - ranging from full-orchestral classical to pipe organ to jazz combos to a capella choral music to operas and oratorios.

I mentioned rock only to encourage contributions from members of our little group who enjoy rock music.

My struggle has been to achieve realistic bass as part of a total orchestral sound, while at the same time, having a nice "thumpy bass" when listening to a jazz combo -- without having to constantly fiddle with the LFE controls on my Triton.Ones and/or on the two sub-woofers I employ in support of my Triton Ones.

I also appreciate your comments regarding the bass content in classical music over the centuries. You are correct -- the 18th century orchestra familiar Beethoven was certainly different from the 19th century orchestra familiar to Verdi and the 20th century orchestra familiar to Copland. Each of these three composers wrote music for the orchestras of their respective times. I own a large number of Telarc recordings and they are consistently among my favorites - whether orchestral, choral and orchestral or a capella choral.

I listen mostly to classical music, so I tend to judge my overall music system setup by the sounds produced when I listen to the various forms of classical music. But, when I listen to a jazz combo, I do want a bit of thump in the bass (well, maybe just a bit more thump than just an audible bass line). I can certainly add thump by increasing the subs/Ones bass settings, but the result can quickly become what I consider to be muddy bass when I revert to a classical piece.

When I disconnected the Triton Ones LFE inputs from the preamp output of my Cambridge 851A Stereo Amp, I gave up a lot of low bass sounds from the Ones. I moved the 851A Left preamp output to my Klipsch 12" sub and the Right preamp output to my Paradigm 15" sub. I set the Ones LFE controls to the 12:00 position and I have been working with the two subs controls to try to find settings which provide adequate bass thump and depth for jazz and pipe organs without sounding muddy when I listen to orchestral music.

I cannot imagine trying to balance these musical sounds while, at the same time, trying to achieve realistic action movie sounds. My separate movie sound system shares the Klipsch sub, but is otherwise totally separate and I don't worry about the movie sound side of things.

One more thought for now - listening levels are certainly a part of this discussion. My normal listening levels do not exceed 70-73 db or thereabouts and I listen at even lower levels when appropriate.

Looking forward to additional comments from you and others.

Best,

Art
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rjohn79395 Posted 1 year 7 months ago
#23170
Can't speak to how everyone handles bass for music vs action movies, but for me, setting the Ref's and T1's for best music sound with their bass dials, using the large/full range setting in the receiver so that they are getting full range inputs, gives me all the bass I want or need for music, and then running LFE to all the towers, and using the gain settings in the receiver (Ref's and T1's on separate sub outs), to control the amount of bass I dial in for action movies and/or music Blu-rays with .1 channel content, gives me very controlable bass for those effects.

Works for me. YMMV.

Rick
5.4.4 HT speakers: T Ref fronts/LFE 1, SuperCenter Ref, T1 surrounds/LFE 2, HTR 7000 top fronts, Invisa 525 top rears
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ArthurDaniels Posted 1 year 7 months ago
#23171
Hi Rick,

Thanks for chiming in. When I was using my Triton Ones as primary fronts for both movies and music, driven by my Onkyo NR 3009 AV Receiver (now extinct), I had the same connection setup. I was never satisfied with the depth of the Ones bass for music, which is why I activated the "double bass" function in the Onkyo. With "double bass" active, I generally had the Ones LFE control set to 9:00 or lower.

When I purchased the Cambridge 851A Stereo Amp, I decided to dedicate my Ones to music. The Cambridge does not have a "Small/Large" speaker setting, but it does have a preamp output which varies in level with the volume control. So, I listened for a long time with the preamp output connected to the Ones LFE inputs. Lots of bass but, ultimately musically unsatisfactory.

My Ones are more musical with just speaker connections from the Cambridge, but they lack deep bass in my room. The bass tones are there and are audible, but, for example, low pedals on a pipe organ have tone and color, but do not in any way cause me to be able to feel the bass as I would do if sitting in a church and listening to a fine organ with those big bass pipes.

I have always been puzzled when you and others have reported plenty of bass from the Ones with just speaker inputs. I realize that there are a number of factors in play and that, unless we can actually hear each system we discuss, comparisons are difficult to impossible. I have always run with all tone controls flat and no equalization of any kind applied.

I find it interesting that, though GE and, I presume, other fine speaker manufacturers recommend just speaker connections for music, nevertheless most, if not all, of the AV Receivers now have a double bass capability of some sort. Must be a popular feature.

Best,

Art
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rjohn79395 Posted 1 year 7 months ago
#23174
Hi, Art

Ah, the joy of searching for audio nirvana. :)

I think, in your case, your chosen listening SL's are well below the levels the piece was performed at. It may be difficult to have pants leg shaking, breast bone vibrating bass that you can FEEL that still sounds balanced with the rest of the sound spectrum at those lower levels. An issue you have been diligently pursuing for awhile. A question: when you play those same pieces at levels approaching performance levels, does the bass still seem thin?

My issue with double bass is that it sounds way too muddy.... did try it with my original set up of T2's driven direct by a NAD T757 that I still believe rolled off bass some to the fronts. Didn't like it then either. Got an amp for the fronts instead. I'd rather set the fronts as small with a low crossover of say 40 HZ and send the balance to a sub than use double bass.

T1's are pretty impressive in presenting bass. T Ref's are even more so, especially the deeper, breast bone shaking stuff.

Don't know where the answer lies for your preferred listening SL's. Would a T Ref front do it for you at say 55 db overall? Don't know. I do know the Ref's shake lots of things here when I push the SL's a bit. At lower levels, very balanced, sounds appropriate and full, but nothing is shaking the rafters....

I admire and respect your pursuit of perfection! Keep at it!

Rick
5.4.4 HT speakers: T Ref fronts/LFE 1, SuperCenter Ref, T1 surrounds/LFE 2, HTR 7000 top fronts, Invisa 525 top rears
Zone 2 speakers; 2 Invisa 525's
AVR: Marantz SR 7010
Amps: AT525NC 5 channel, Parasound 275 v.2 stereo
Cable/TiVo, OPPO BDP 105D, SONOS Connect
47" Panasonic 3D smart tv
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