Why do so many people have problems with bass?

I mean such obsession with bass. Does not your systems play bass?  Is it the quality of the bass?

Maybe my system does a really good job and I don't perceive any problems, or maybe I don't know I have a problem.

What is so challenging for systems to produce quality bass?

Is it that they don't hear enough thud?? What hertz range we talking about? It's a pretty wide range.


Bass takes the most energy and it is whre problems will show first.

the room…. bass is big wavelength energy in a relatively small space. Wave cancellation and reinforcement…happens… I get great bass in a variety of rooms using Vandersteen high pass filters and his innovative subwoofers ( some built into the main speakers ) with 11 bands of analog EQ below 120 HZ.  

Enjoy the music ;-)


What hertz range we talking about?

Lowest note on a bass guitar is 41 Hz and a Piano 27Hz. High C on a piano is ~4KHz.

A lot of the music we hear is really in the midrange, so a set up with great midrange will give plenty of thump.

Low or sub bass is really the energy / power we feel in the music and in a confined space, sometimes less is more. 

OP, have you heard a system and room with really good bass? If not, you might not know what you're missing. 

People who realize they have bass problems usually will comment that it’s not the sound of the bass itself that is problematic, but sometimes you may hear them say that they are not getting the attack, texture and definition they would like.

As many have commented, these bass problems deal with how the speaker is interacting with the room. Most systems will have some bass reflections that cause both room mode issues (excessive gain in a small window of frequencies) and phasing issues (where the waveform conflicts with other waveforms at intersection points and manipulate or cancel them out). For example, an 80 Hz wave cycles four times and can intersect with a 20 Hz wave in a particular instance, which could amplify gain or nullify it based on its phase. In these cases, what is happening then is that the bass is “muddying up” the remainder of the frequency spectrum.

As hilde45 says, many are not aware they even have issues and are not aware of what they are missing. But when these issues are resolved, the tonal balance improves, and each frequency across the spectrum is better defined and perceived, helping the system itself to sound more immediate and resolving.

The room is key, but so is proper amp/speaker integration. I had great issues with what's known as one note bass, an overly resonant, booming bass in a couple systems some years ago. I tried to fix room with great use of tube traps, double stacked in four corners, moving speakers and listening position to avoid standing waves, nothing I could do to solve issue. I then concluded amp/speaker combo I used in both those systems was the culprit. I loved sound of tubes on mid and tweeters on both speakers, damping factor of those amps not enough to control woofer. I would have needed to biamp those speakers, tubes on top, solid state on woofers to get the coherent sound I was looking for.


Good bass is tuneful, articulate, opposite of one note, boomy bass. The other thing you'll find extremely noticeable once you get rid of boom is far more resolution in mids and highs than previously experienced, boomy bass covers up much of freq. spectrum.

And to answer your last question, while bass interferes with the full frequency spectrum, most room mode problems manifest in the 45-95 Hz range. 

Room size doesn't affect bass range even a car can support under 20hz as do headphones. Most bass issues are caused by overly small loudspeakers that have overly small baffles and little below 50hz many have a titled up response around 80-125hz so they sound like they have a lower bass response thank the BBC for that. If you end up with a space that re-enforces a lower frequency node multiple bass sources can greatly reduce it. As I type I sit in front of a giant with 4x21" woofers I use these near field most of the day in my office. I have no bass problems just great bass and pressurization of space.

Yeah it’s hard, for a lot of reasons - both limitations of the transducers and acoustic complexities of the room. I can’t stand thumpy / thwacky bass that sounds disjointed from the music - which is really easy to do, even with high end gear. I also can't stand soft bass or anemic response. And I use vinyl as a source, which can become difficult with too much LF energy. So my compromise is the 15" dual-concentric Tannoys I’ve got which roll off well before 20Hz, but have just enough extension to make "most" recordings sound musically whole.

A great set of headphones is a good tool that will reveal roughly how the bass "should" sound in relation to the music. Especially well-driven Stax. It won’t be as visceral or satisfying as decent reproduction on a 2ch, but it will tell you if you’re way off. Like headphones, the Tannoys do a great job of sounding coherent from top to bottom.

Also I think a lot of audiophiles fall into the trap of buying bookshelf / monitor models from a higher line so they can afford the better drivers (etc), or for size constraints (WAF), and then have to deal with the lack of bass or the headaches of integrating subwoofers. Which makes them fixate more on bass as a separate entity, which is a path to audiophile hell.

In general I’m pretty happy with my current setup, but I wish there was a way to make album compression more uniform. (I’m not sure if compression is the correct word)

So I am a Bill Evans fanboy. A nice simple jazz trio. Piano, drums and upright bass.  So I turn on an album and it sounds great and on the next album, a ceiling vent, 25’ away starts buzzing to the beat. And here’s the thing that puzzles me, I generally don’t play anything past 75-80 dbs , I’m not using a subwoofer and my speakers are isolated. So it has to be the recording, right?

When most of were young we listened to systems that were less than perfect… maybe our desire for better sound were enhanced by drugs and alcohol. So, as we got jobs and became more affluent we desired greater detail and slam. So, slap you in your face… compress your chest bass became a desirable attribute. My musical taste added jazz, then classical, then world, then electronic… etc. My tastes in sound changed to natural, musical and detailed in a real sense. My speakers are appropriately flat from 28 hz to 2oK. I am very satisfied with the coherence across the audio spectrum. I got rid of my two subwoofers.

I always struggled to integrate them perfectly. I am really happy to have a system that is simple and elegant (for a change) without the subs. You can see it under my UserID. On the other hand, if I had an extra $14K right now I would probably buy a pair of Sonus Faber subs to match my system. I guess it is hard to get away from the desires of your youth.

@jumia , I will give you a hint. Stand in the middle of your room. Look around. You can probably see the problem source. Most people have 6 of them. Some have more. Large flat surface. They reflect. Your room is like a giant bath tub for bass. Slosh the water in the bathtub just the right speed and you can make a mess pretty easy. That is the main problem. Most audiophile have speakers that can put out enough bass for most music. Maybe not for movies, but for music, sure. But it goes everywhere, and just like that bathtub, it sloshes around, and you get high and low points, and because your 6 flat surfaces are all different distances from each other, the peaks and troughs are not all in the same spots. You can move your speakers and make it better, but never perfect. To do that costs money. More speakers or lots of things to absorb sound and bass takes a lot of space and mass to absorb. Audiophiles also seem obsessed with a single set of big speakers. If you happen to get two big speakers in the perfect spot for perfect bass and perfect everything else, go buy a lottery ticket or apply for your Nobel. If you can afford the room and pissing off your soon to be ex with enough things to tame the bass from two big full range, sure go for it. If you can't, and your want good bass, there are better ways.

Well, it's a huge part of a truly high fidelity system. The details are really beyond the scope of what what can be said on a forum of this nature but for me besides my background in physics, educating myself about acoustics and using a good testing rig like REW laptop software and berringer mic. has helped me to arrive at a really good solution. Active analog crossover and dedicated mono amplifier is key for me as well.

As I type I sit in front of a giant with 4x21" woofers 

I can't imagine how gawdawful that must sound.

IMO, the early 80's started the trend which pointed out that most of the music is in the midrange.. The response, was an effort to clean up and boost the clarity, They would cut the bass response. And they cut it too much IMO. Yes, the music was clean and maybe even accurate. But it was DEAD. It had no life. It laid flat. At least in the R&R genre.

I suspect the R&R’ers may have heard it before the majority because bass is nearly impossible to do without a GOOD bass line and drums (rythem section) Then too, It took some time after that bass reduction beforet a solution was offered. It was a sub woofer. Now you can have the bass back...but ya gotta pay! 
At the time in the 80's I believed it was a cost cutting measure since Bass costs more to reproduce. So the clean mids fit the audiophile desire , while the sub was a winner to the marketers. because It equaled extra $$$. The speakers didn’t go down in price. Instead, they went up in price and were sold as “clean & accurate sound ” in the same manner that lack of chrome on  cars in the later 60's,   was sold as “Streamlining” Its just modern marketing. Creating new markets.

I don't think the OP has any REAL intentions  about the improvement of his current system or maybe is curious?. This post is obviously a post to invite a FLOOD of responses to address the issue "with bass".

If you really want to find about "bass" the best way is to get the opinions of everyone you know, and the rest of Earth's population.


Three possible problems with bass.

1. Room nodes mainly based on speaker location and room dimensions. There are zero nodes and big bass nodes and you need to place the listening seat and speaker location to minimize these affects.

2. Speaker bass design. Most speakers(without subs) start rolling off above 40 Hz. And many speakers have bass overhang, especially in the mid bass where the bass is sloppy. This is from speaker design. Some times it's even deliberate on the designer since heavy bass even when sloppy sells. I'll add, when designed properly closed boxes(very rare these days) are cleaner than ported boxes and this is inherent in the two topologies.

3. Fletcher/Munsen. Frequency response of our ears rolls off  at bass and treble frequencies. If I recall bass is flat at 100dB(way too loud and dangerous to hearing)  So even at normal loud levels the bass may be there but sounding reduced even when it's not due to the nature of the way our hearing works.

The first thing is the role of bass in the overall musical picture. All recorded natural sounds and complex generated tones have both a fundamental frequency and harmonics / overtones. The fundamental frequency is always the lowest and the harmonics happen at the same time as the fundamental but are higher in the frequency spectrum. There are both even and odd order harmonics so, without getting into too much detail, there is a multiplier (called the ’order’) that determines the harmonic.

For example, a 2nd order harmonic is the fundamental multiplied by 2. So a 2nd order harmonic of a 1,000 Hz fundamental is 2,000 Hz and the 3rd order is 3,000 Hz. As you can see, depending on the fundamental frequency, higher order harmonics in the midrange can affect the treble quite noticeably.

With the lower frequency values of a bass fundamental, you can see how many orders of harmonics still fall within the bass range. 30, 40 & 50 Hz are essential fundamentals in the bass range and have 2nd and 3rd order harmonics in the bass range as well. 30 Hz will have 60 Hz and 90 Hz harmonics.

For a tone to sound natural (and for it to be heard as it was intended to be heard in the mix) those tones must be in the proper balance. This doesn’t mean they all have the same apparent loudness, as most acoustic instruments and voices have a loud fundamental and decreasingly quieter overtones. If an overtone is louder than its fundamental, the note or sound appears distorted or unnatural.

Several essential problems arise from trying to reproduce bass fundamentals in a playback system.

1. The speaker itself. Most speakers are compromise designs in the bass range. Truly fluid, natural sounding bass requires a speaker enclosure with a large internal volume. This is at odds with many listeners who don’t want giant speakers dominating a room, so we wind up with things like bookshelf speakers and other speakers with rolled off bass. Many speakers begin to roll off their bass response starting at 60, 80 or even 100+ Hz. This means that, irrespective of room dynamics, the speaker itself is incapable of portraying any sounds with a fundamental frequency below the roll off point in the way they were intended to be heard in the mix. Their overtones are perceivably louder than the fundamental. So the first rule of truly natural bass is a large speaker that can go LOW and has a flat response throughout the 30/40/50 Hz region.

2. Using a subwoofer as a fill. Subwoofers can be used to fill in the fundamental frequencies that are deficient in the primary loudspeaker’s design. However, they must be tuned with extreme care and precision to the frequency response of the primary speaker(s) they are filling in. This is often referred to as "blending-in" the subwoofer. The first thing required is an accurate understanding of where the primary speaker begins to roll off its loudness output in the bass range. Any decent subwoofer has both a level control and a variable cut-off frequency in its crossover circuit. You use the primary speaker’s roll off frequency to set the frequency cut off in the subwoofer’s crossover circuit. By setting a cut-off in the sub, you prevent it from playing and therefore reinforcing higher order harmonics that the primary speaker is capable of producing, which would, again make them unnaturally loud. Next you have to adjust the loudness of the subwoofer to ensure that the fundamental frequencies it does reproduce match those of the primary speaker. So, if you play a series of sine or warble tones without harmonic frequencies like 30/40/50/etc up through the cut off frequency into say the 125 and 250 Hz range, the tones played by the subwoofer should match those of the speaker. (Measuring a speaker is an entire science in itself, but to prevent room interactions these measurements I describe should be performed at the speakers, not the listening position.)

3. Using the right subwoofer as a fill. Another problem with using subwoofers are (often inexpensive) theater subwoofers that are really only designed to operate in the LFE (low freq/subwoofer) channel of a home theater. These subwoofers are designed to kick like a mule to give you the concussive beats of a T-Rex's footsteps but they don't necessarily care about reproducing all bass frequencies evenly. A musical subwoofer has much more care put into its design (presumably) and attempts to control distortion and driver ringing in a way that presents bass evenly across its usable frequency spectrum.

4. The Room. Once the playback speakers are in balance, you have to consider the room. Bass is extraordinarily more difficult to control than other frequencies. Bass is omnidirectional, so it likes to go everywhere. Like circular ripples from a large stone dropped in a still pond, the circles travel outward, slap the sides and return as more ripples. Where the reflected ripples interact with the primary outgoing ripples, they make the height of the waveform, its apparent loudness, go up or down. In a room we see this as reflections off the floor, ceiling and all walls interacting to make an interference pattern of hot and dead spots. What’s worse, the pattern of hot and dead spots is unpredictable in practice because, although the room and the speaker positions are fixed, the reflections interact differently at each wavelength (frequency) of sound. So the pattern of hot/dead spots at 30 Hz are different than those at 40 or 50. The only way to bring all this under control is through absorption. If your floor is concrete, you can’t treat it. Bass traps in the corners can help a little but it’s surprising how much deadening mass that takes, and it is mass only that absorbs bass energy. It takes to make an appreciable dent in the amount of bass actually absorbed before you begin to fix these problems. In a world class recording/mixing studio, for example, they might build with 12-inch deep studs and fill the wall cavities with carbon pellets just to control bass. Most listeners can’t commit to this level of architectural intervention and instead do best effort with speaker/sub placement to minimize their bass reflections, then tune it with DSP until they can live with it at the listening position. DSP is a band-aid for lumpy bass. You just cannot solve interference at all positions in a room through equalization.

Even if you only have a standard stud depth in your room, filling hollow wall cavities behind dry wall is essential. Sound is energy, it is in a sense, heat, and absolutely stuffing your walls densely with fiberglass, rock wool, recycled denim, or another insulator will reduce the air in those cavities resonating. This is because deep bass not only bounces, it also loves to resonate other objects. Standard drywall on studs, especially with a hollow wall cavity, just LOVES to sympathetically resonate with bass like a huge wall sized speaker driver.

In summary, many systems can’t produce natural sounding bass and many listening environments reinforce bass producing unnatural and uneven distortion. The problem here is that bass is complicated in its presentation and difficult for non-experts to articulate how it is deficient. They don’t know what’s wrong, they just know something is unsatisfying. If you don’t know what’s wrong with bass, you can’t fix it with something like DSP/EQ without causing more problems than you solve. The best advice I can give when evaluating bass is that more is often not better, but not enough is just as bad. If your sub is obviously present, it’s probably out of balance. It should blend seamlessly and gracefully into the entire musical picture.

As an old bass player I can say the old days before bass was mixed with the rest of the instruments through a PA, it was extremely difficult getting good bass filling a room.  You were looking for tonal accuracy…most electric bass goes down to 40hz. Other posters have noted this.

There are very fee instances, live or recorded where 20hz comes into play.

Unless you are listening to classical organ pieces you really need well articulated (visceral, punchy are apt terms). You can get this from smaller speakers…sitting in near field is important.

Good floor standers work well if you find the sweet spot. (That sweet spot has more to do with your listening distance from the speakers than even your room).

unless you are attempting to recreate a Greatful Dead concert or hold a rave in your living room bass isn’t about shaking the furniture. (Home theater is another story).

I have Revel M20’s on stands and they are plenty punchy and articulate bass well via 6.5” speakers. (I have a relatively small room and sit near field. I am planning on adding a pair of small REL subs.

Back to live playing, back in the day, to get really low frequency bass you needed bass reflex cabinets. The old Acoustic 360’s were interesting. Horn folded 18” Downward facing speaker. Standing in front of it at volume on 10 you couldn’t hear much but twenty five to fifty feet away in the audience you could hear room shaking sound.

Ultimately Ampeg came along with the SVT..8 ten inch speakers facing forward offering bass volume near and far away. Also important on stage or in your living room is having lots of clean power with plenty of headroom. 

Go for clean, articulate accurate bass. I sometimes think home theater itis infects our desire to rattle the walls.


There's a handful of really great answers here.  Well done people!  You get a cookie

Try this and get back to me....


See what rattles v. 'plays'....

I can deal with it....so should you. ;)

@dekay ...fishy, at best...

@engineears would you like my address? LOL.We can’t ignore physics.

I heard those say no music below 40 Hz. I didn’t believe it. Rather than buy a bunch of stuff I don’t know how to use, I thought I would download a cell phone app, spectroid, I believe. I thought I have good low bass. I do. 30 Hz tone plays well. Then on to music. The best I can get is 35 Hz. There just isn’t much going on below 40 Hz. I am not sure if the free phone ap is right but it shows test tones accurately. Then I found if I turned up the bass crossover gain, the room did not overload with bass. And no booming upstairs.

Speakers made and marketed "flat to 20 hz" sounds like a good idea until you see the size and cost that results.

This one of the most interesting threads on this subject.

the number one reason for problem bass that i see in people’s systems is caused by non ideal speaker and listener positions.

speakers and ears too close to walls or large surfaces.

speakers too close to each other.

stand mount speakers on poor quality stands, shelves, and too high from the floor.

getting the best bass requires positioning flexibility.

Here’s a good explanation with diagrams by B&K who makes measurement microphones (their professional and consumer high end mic division was taken over by DPA several years ago. They rank right up there with Schoeps microphones).


I am perfectly content with the bass response from my Vandersteen Treo’s and the positioning in my listening room. I have also listened quite a bit to friends with Vandersteen Quatro Wood and Model 7’s that sound fantastic but in my setting I don’t feel like I am missing anything. It’s all about what we hear and enjoy and I am often amazed at how great my system sounds. 

I think some people  add Subwoofers to a system and don’t get them dialed up properly which is not always an easy task and what you get is boomy overbearing bass.
I added a pair of subwoofers to my office system with stand mount speakers and until I got the subs tuned in and blending in with the monitors the bass response was boomy and awful. There are some people out there (probably not on this thread) that want the bass to dominate the music but not me. I tuned in the subs to blend in with the monitors perfectly for my ear and they disappear in with the monitors while producing a great sounding bass response.

And I agree with what others have said that while it does come down to personal preference some folks just don’t know what proper bass is supposed to sound like.


Why do so many people have problems with bass?

Geez guys. Imagine having bought your 1st high end system and then coming back to the dealer and asking him/her, "Why am I having trouble getting bass from my system?" And the salesman giving you the theory of bass, the theory of reproducing bass, theory of the making of a bass instrument, the wavelength of the bass note and on and on he goes with all theoretical factors and theories OF bass but never really answering the question posed.

Would those theories OF bass make you feel better about the bass shy system you just spent a lot of $$$ on? Or would you like a straight answer to the question. The wave length of a certain bass note is the same today as it was in 1900. It hasn’t changed. Nor have the rooms makeup changed very much either except larger rooms. But my 60 yrs of music listening has shown me that the bass response of the typical speaker has changed a lot, starting in the 1980’s. Before that I got good bass from every speaker I had in every room I put it without a subwoofer. But today, subs are almost required to get proper bass unless you spend lots of $$$ on speakers


@engineears while I agree with some of what you say, I disagree in principle and fact with a lot of it.

Bass nodes, the high and low peak are totally predictable. There are even simple tools on the web to help. Those nodes are always a function of the distance of walls from each other. How deep those hills and valleys are is impacted by speaker position. This is also fairly simple to understand, predictable, and again there are simple tools to help understand.

You also ignore some simple rules and simple solutions. A simple rule and solution is never use one sub. Always use two of more. More subs in the right spots, smaller hills and valleys. Simple rule, if your main speakers are in bad spots for bass out of necessity, then don't let them play that bass if you have that option. Let the subs do all the bass work. Your mains may be happier as well. Simple solutions, you can buy subs with room correction built in. You can also use external devices to control this.

@asvjerry - Deep bass in that song, but not really deep. Bass guitar does not have much below 40Hz, and very little below 35Hz. You were not wrong @daledeee1. Piano can go lower, but not used much, and electronic music can. Some orchestra instruments can but will not account for much of the music.


I learned to love my Bass listening to Lesh and the Dead In the 70's live- I saw the "Wall of Sound" maybe 10 times and you could hear a drumstick break 50 yards away. The watts was  like 50, 000 and the system itself was famously built in the first place because the Bass needed a 40' standing wave to operate properly. For home use after owning many homes and many systems of only moderate means (SoCal); I could never get the real Bass I wanted to deliver and finally just sort of gave up. I Use a couple of Harbeth 30.1's now and I always must remind myself not to go get some Subwoofers- Tho I shop.

I've never had a problem getting low bass in my mid sized apt living room. Right now I'm using JBL 4319 monitors and with it's 12" bass driver, things rattle in my room. I even got some rattling (but not as much) with an older pair of Clearwave Duet monitors with just a 6" mid bass driver.

I don't understand everyone's dilemma, unless it's unnatural bass they're after. Those 12" drivers on my JBLs roll off below 40Hz and with proper playback, it's super tight, defined, textured as all get out and thumping when needed.

I'd look at one's set up further up the chain from the speakers if I'm having problems with bass response, unless the problem really is in the speaker design, in which case, you'll need better made speakers.

All the best,

Fascinating responses.

When I was shopping for speakers recently it was very clear the driver sizes for bass are getting smaller. The reason I was given is that most people like the smaller speakers, smaller more narrow speakers that they contend look nicer and wanted by consumers.. No matter how much I wanted to spend on speakers it was challenging to find larger driver size unless I really stretch higher.  My older speakers have 8 inch drivers which r a nice size for bass. To get these in a current speaker is extremely expensive because they don’t design speakers that way anymore.

It’s no wonder people aren’t happy with the sound. Personally I think all the challenging lower frequency areas touted as being a challenge to deal with is a lot of bs. Filling a room with lower frequency base should not be a big deal.

Physics and Driver size go together. You need wider main speakers with a decent sized bass driver or two along with a decent amplifier and problem solved, you have bass. You are a genius.

Current speaker designs with smaller driver sizes, and all the marketing and confusion are leading Music listeners Down a path filled with modern age deficient speakers and deception to sell more stuff.

@jumia, volume = area * throw. Driver designers have gotten good at making longer throw woofers with low distortion. There are advantages to smaller drivers and a narrower cabinet. You can achieve better dispersion especially in a multi-way where the mid-driver and bass drivers may be the same size. It is easier to brace the cabinet properly. Multiple small drivers can take the place of a single large driver. It makes it easier to integrate bass and mid-driver due to move similar emission patterns. I think there is also the expectation you will add a sub for deep bass (most systems are dual purpose music/HT). Economies of scale by reducing the number of driver sizes probably helps for cost, and improves automation which is good for quality.


Indeed, the most fascinating subject! Great posts above.

My experience with the approaches is that I can second the observation that we need driver diameter and baffle width to achieve effortless and full midbass. Skinny fronts and smaller, very high excursion woofers (practically woofy tweeters) can deliver the quantity but cannot deliver the quality, the dynamic range, nor the harmonic integrity. Just think of the audiophile proverb as delivered to a flaming rose bush from the mouth of Harry Pearson the high end audio God : "if you can see the cone moving it's not high fidelity anymore". The facts of physics do not change, his observation is as valid today as it was 30 years ago.

For woofers, it's not the ability to move a foot, or two gallons of air - it's the ability to couple the energy to the air that counts. That was and still is the prime requisite for high quality bass response.

People do not realize that out of the several inches of cone excursion only a fraction of the pushed air is going to participate in the formation of sound waves of the desired frequency - those obscenely flapping small pistons operate with 99% energy loss, or worse!

I do concur with the posts above, most audiophiles never experienced high quality bass. When it happens, you feel as if you are lifted in the air, your room and your skin feels energized, you feel the scale... similar experiences as experiencing a live concert. And it needs not be earsplitting volume to feel that way. Can dial volume down, and the feeling stays.

As far as bass response goes, most people experience it down to 40Hz-ish regions. When the system delivers down to 30Hz, that brings a giant transformation in experiencing it. (Weight,,energy, exhilaration.)

Another very big leap when it can reach 25Hz with authority. That's a profound transformation, grounding the instruments in reality. The image becomes much more solid, real. Yes - even a flute, and the singers!

Next jump is when you get to 20Hz. Now you feel the space is opening up, and the music fills the entire room. Not just the bass - the violins, etc, the sound becomes palpable.

And another jump when you can get down to below 20Hz. I'm at this stage now, system good to go to 13Hz, and has content down to 11.0Hz. -- and that at 102dB/Wm. Here, the ability to provide subsonics is the elusive nectar. You also need room to house the frequencies - by room can support a 13Hz wave, so happy marriage there. This gives the experience to feel as if you are at the concert hall for real. Concert halls have sub 20Hz waves due to the hall size, and our ears and bodies pick that up as the cue for the enormous space. These waves are felt by the body primarily, not the ear! The frequencies below 20Hz affect the endocrine system, so music with electronic programmed subsonic content does act like a transcendental experience, as it directly alters your hormonal balance, changing how you feel in your body and how you experience reality. I found this effect far more addictive than any chemical addiction (alcohol and substances), so it's a blessing in disguise that most people do not have access to this frequency range.

Also, our bodies are not built to sustain regular exposure to subsonics... while normal music does not put you in such danger, but programmed electronic music (that has high infrasound content) certainly does.

To stay on the safe side: have your system go down to 18Hz. That will give you the most amazing transformative experience already, without fear of bursting the spleen... ;


How do you add authority or anything when there is nothing to add because the music does not contain those frequencies? Some music does, but far from all.

2- 6.5" woofers have the same diameter as a single 9". From a physics standpoint, because the wavelengths are so large, they will do the same thing. 3 - 7" woofers has the same surface area as a single 12" woofer. Spacing is close enough for bass frequencies (they will be), then they will behave the same.

Too aid bass output at the frequencies we seem to be discussing, i.e. 100hz and under, the baffle would need to be enormous, but at those frequencies the bass is effectively omni-directional anyway so talking about baffle step has no place in the discussion.

Our ears pick up 20Hz as the cue for the hall space? Is that your own theory, or does someone who understand hearing tell you that? Close your eyes and I will play a 20Hz tone. You will not know if you are in a concert hall or small room.  RT60 as a function of frequency does not favour bass in large venues. In a properly designed venue, it will be controlled within practicality across frequencies.

@engineears Quite the dissertation! Sounds to me like you have knowledge and experience in these matters. I’m just beginning to try to tune my bass. My 15” woofers couldn’t reproduce electronic bass, so I got a small sub. Wrong move: all ‘boom’ and no oomph. Depending on the track it either shakes my walls or appears nonexistent. The room is an issue, but I will probably join the ranks of those who live without subwoofers because living with them is hateful, as in I hate the way my system sounds with the small subwoofer in the system. The sub is a Velodyne 8 in (I think) and the speakers are Warfedales W-70E’s with 15 in drivers in case I failed to mention them earlier.

Edit: (Didn’t mean to hijack the thread, just responding to @engineears contribution) Anyway, to the original poster’s query, the reason people have a problem with bass is because it is damn hard to tune it if you’re not hearing what you want to hear. It’s not as simple as throwing a bigger amp at it, you’ve really got to dig to get the answer which may be out of reach in the space you’re in. I’m taking the words to heart that if you’ve got concrete floors (which I have) —forget it! Ouch. I guess I’ll have to move my main system upstairs in my two story frame built-on-a-slab house. 

As another forum member signs off, Enjoy the Music!

I read an article once that described why it is so hard to replicate sounds with speakers. They used the striker hitting a large bell as an example. Listen to the strike in person. Hear the sound resonating in the bell. The bell has a note, but then there are the hundreds if not thousands of other notes not as dominant that are created along with the primary note. Harmonics. A speaker has issues with all of the other notes that are created. Not only speakers, but amps, microphones and source equipment. That is also what is missing with bad bass. You can hear the primary note, but you are missing so much more. The more you can improve your system and room to catch the harmonics of the pluck, the better off you are. A lot of things can mask and smear those harmonics and it takes time to identify and eliminate those causes. That’s why people have trouble with bass.

As MillerCarbon the antagonist/protagonist used to advocate, two or preferable four subs work best.

@daledeee1 : Sadly, I have a full time job and little wiggle room for house calls!

I grew up listening to my dad’s records through a Sansui 5000A receiver and a pair of Dynaco A35’s sitting on Muppet brown inch-deep shag carpet and have been hooked on audio ever since.

Later in adulthood I attended architecture school where we had an entire class dedicated to architectural acoustic engineering for things like concert halls, recording studios, churches, auditoriums, and public spaces like restaurants. It was fantastic and I’m incredibly grateful for the science of sound I learned there. We designed diffusers using math (then built them!) and studied complex modeling software for things like early reflections and bass room modes, including the limitations of that software.

I use an Earthworks Audio omni directional measurement mic and Rew to measure my speakers and their performance in-room by hand.

It’s been a long journey to get here but I am quite pleased with the results!

@theaudioamp In my 2 channel system I don’t need subs to reinforce bass. But my multichannel system uses four subs, one each for FL, C, & FR, at listening height on mass loaded pedestals and a dedicated sub for the LFE channel. I certainly appreciate using multiple subs at a lower levels Vs only one to even out room modes. The single sub in the LFE channel is fine because it isn’t called upon to do anything musical but kick. It’s a big one by Rhythmik and it is quite capable, regardless. I thought about mentioning multiple subs in my earlier post but it was already a dissertation and it was late, so I left that out.

Regarding using software to model bass room modes, the accuracy of your model is only as good as the complexity of the data you can feed it. There is certainly software capable of accurate modeling. You have to create a CAD model of the room geometry accurate down to the stud placement, wall cavity depth, and all furniture with accurate dimensions, then assign material properties to each surface like "5/8" thick gypsum board", type of insulation in the cavity, bonded leather upholstery, etc. Then sure, it’ll work well.

Architects who specialize in acoustically sensitive work like concert hall redesign use software like this. The really good packages have expensive licensing fees and aren’t typically accessible to or affordable by the average consumer. But our university did spring for one in the educational setting. For example, we participated in a project to replace the seating in a venerable and beloved symphony hall on campus with the requirement that we could not change its acoustic signature. A very tall order. That custom software was capable of doing highly accurate plots of the total acoustic picture for any given listening position with high accuracy.

In my post, I just figured pro software with expensive licenses was outside the scope of the discussion here. I apologize if I implied it doesn’t exist. Simpler modelers will give you good approximations, but some in situ measurement, tuning and placement adjustment will be required once you are living with the built system’s deviation from that kind of model.

One example of a dedicated acoustic analysis firm using high end modeling today would be Karofu. (I just did a quick search) I don’t really dip into acoustic design professionally today, so I can’t identify what modeler they’re using.

A course with a unit or two on room acoustics but no practical experience. That would explain the over the top suggestion of needing an architecturally accurate model and professional level modelling software when the response is almost always dominated by simple room modes and placement with that simple knowledge, easily modelled with basic SW will get you far further than guessing. Microphones/SW will tell you how you are doing or present state.

In regards to your sub setup, unless you already have an exceptionally well treated room for bass, a FL, FR, C sub setup, whether floor, listening height, or otherwise makes no sense at all for cancelling room modes. If anything, it is going to make the bass much worse and really stimulate some modes. If you are going to go with the cost of 4 subs, I would be integrating LFE output with music bass management and optimizing overall placement. The subs don’t all have to match perfectly for room mode cancellation.

In fact your whole comment about your stereo system not needing subs to reinforce bass (only a small part of why you should use multiple subs) but your multichannel setup having multiple subs in less than optimal positions is strange..

I won’t say more but will leave to other readers to reach their own conclusions.

My recent personal experience starts with my room, which is 24 x 35 x 12ft peak. Due to the layout of the room I am forced to sit slightly forward of the middle= zero back wall reinforcement. My speakers are Emerald Physics Open Baffle 3.4s, which consists of one 12" concentric woofer with 1" polyester tweeter per speaker. I had 2 early model SVS cylinder subs with plate amps. The volume controls were too sensitive, coming on way too loud when barely cracked. In fairness, they were designed for home theater, not hi-end audio, so I sold them. I found a lot more lower mids and bass when I rewired my entire system with the chinese Nordost Odin 2 knockoff cables AND treated all connections with Mad Scientist Audio's Graphene Contact Enhancer.


The people who obsess over bass in their audio systems suffer from their own self-inflicted problems: a) they typically listen to rock music and b) they listen to the gear, not the music. How do you realistically deliver an unrealistic musical experience? (This is not a criticism of any music genre; I listen to rock music.)

Rock music uses electronic instruments, and the recording process is a compilation of separately-recorded tracks that are mixed together with an overweight to bass frequencies. Listen to a recording of music played in real time on real instruments and delivered in a real room. You won’t experience any of the audio angst of the headbanger gear heads.

This should piss off the majority of forum members.

@mambacfa ,


Traditional rock is light on synthesizer. Orchestral instruments go deeper than any instruments in rock. Electronics music does have very low frequencies.

The reason most of the commenters here have a problem with Bass is in the word itself.  They are mostly 3/4 of the word.

And, you would seem (based upon your posts) to be the universal "wipe" for that 3/4's of the word you mention.



IME there are very few if any speakers that can’t be improved significantly by adding a couple good subwoofers, or even better, four subs. I mean, Wilson uses subs with their colossal Alexandra speakers, so what does that tell you? If you think you have good bass without subs you’re just kidding yourself.