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.


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.