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A Message from a "Bass Head"

Aerith Gainsborough

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Bothers mine when too much. I have tinnitus - there's a claim that low bass frequencies don't harm ears but it's not quite true. Loud bass frequencies often leave my ears ringing.
I have a low frequency tinnitus.

I made the mistake of staying in my apartment when construction crews did work at the house I live in. Their equipment was REALLY loud and made the house shake. I thought ear plugs would protect me. They didn't.

So now, I get a hum of around 60Hz in my ears and it often gets triggered by either speakers playing said frequency or stress etc.. The more tired I am, the louder it gets. ._.

Yes, bass frequencies are just as dangerous as higher ones, often more so because we don't perceive them as loudly, yet the SPL is still there to do damage.
 

tmtomh

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I have a low frequency tinnitus.

I made the mistake of staying in my apartment when construction crews did work at the house I live in. Their equipment was REALLY loud and made the house shake. I thought ear plugs would protect me. They didn't.

So now, I get a hum of around 60Hz in my ears and it often gets triggered by either speakers playing said frequency or stress etc.. The more tired I am, the louder it gets. ._.

Yes, bass frequencies are just as dangerous as higher ones, often more so because we don't perceive them as loudly, yet the SPL is still there to do damage.

Wow, sorry to hear this - and very helpful information.
 

amirm

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A bookshelf speaker can be super enjoyable without going down to 20 Hz. And I also don't always want to rattle the house with music. Subwoofer integration can take a lot of work to be transparent which is beyond the means of many.

My impression of a basshead is someone who wants loud bass almost regardless of fidelity. Informally it is used as noted by the OP to say the listener doesn't care about rattling his house with bass.
 

Inner Space

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But I would also agree with the gist of many responses here that the very lowest octave - 20-40Hz - is not necessarily quite as important as some might think, while the second-lowest octave - 40-80Hz - is really the key to much (even if not all) of what we experience as low bass.

I partially agree. Chest-punching rock bass is felt at about 100Hz, and 40 - 80Hz sounds low in comparison. But the 20 - 40Hz octave (and even lower if you can get it) is vital for "hall sound". E.g. a solo classical guitar bottoms out in the mid-80s, but to hear (or feel, more accurately) the space in which it's playing, the lower you can go, the better.
 

amirm

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As an interesting aside, I added a sub to our 2.0 speaker setup for our family room TV. Shortly thereafter I had to turn it off! Why? The deepest bass in TV sound was in commercials!!! With big budgets, many seemed to be produced to have so much better dynamic range than general TV programming. Needless to say, I did not want to bring attention to every TV commercial so turned it off.

That, and the fact that with every commercial, our dogs would go crazy looking to see what was wrong! :)
 

Severian

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My read of Amir's bookshelf speaker reviews to date suggests that not very many of them adequately cover the 40Hz to 80Hz octave and even fewer do so with authority and the ability to hit moderate to high SPL. Even with room gain, I doubt many are hitting the bass shelf seen in the Harman in-room target curve.

I think that powerful, linear bass from 20Hz to 80Hz is something that a lot of people don't know they're missing because they've never heard it done properly. Or they've only heard significant sub bass output in a movie context, where the LFE channel often amounts to rumbling and other non-musical sounds. Hearing high fidelity soundsystems in underground-oriented dance clubs totally changed the way I listen to music and now I'll never be satisfied without powerful subwoofers.
 

Archsam

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Wayne A. Pflughaupt

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So-called "subharmonics" are a theoretical contrivance and don't exist in the physical world (incidentally, the wikipedia article on "undertones" [a.k.a. subharmonics] is poor, and I'm tempted to gather the needed bibliographic evidence and write in with a rebuttal).
I'd certainly be interested in seeing that.

BTW, in case it got "lost in the translation," my primary point was that it isn't necessary for speakers to reproduce the lowest fundamentals in order to hear the note.

Regards,
Wayne
 

Chrispy

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As an interesting aside, I added a sub to our 2.0 speaker setup for our family room TV. Shortly thereafter I had to turn it off! Why? The deepest bass in TV sound was in commercials!!! With big budgets, many seemed to be produced to have so much better dynamic range than general TV programming. Needless to say, I did not want to bring attention to every TV commercial so turned it off.

That, and the fact that with every commercial, our dogs would go crazy looking to see what was wrong! :)

Not only do some commercials have some low end, but they're shaped with boost as well. Plus of course commercials tend to be at an elevated level over the basic content. Then again I avoid tv commercials, I susbscribe to commercial-free content for a reason :)
 

Chrispy

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What's the difference between a bass-head and a bassoholic? :) I do also like the OP get the impression in various "audiophile" fora/groups that they're quite happy with relatively poor bass response and would spend thousands on electronics for their bookshelf speakers instead of integrating a sub.
 

restorer-john

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As an interesting aside, I added a sub to our 2.0 speaker setup for our family room TV. Shortly thereafter I had to turn it off! Why? The deepest bass in TV sound was in commercials!!!

Exactly the same experience here. The subwoofer sat unused next to the mains for a year or two realizing it was unnecessary for commercial TV. The advertisements often have superb wide-range recordings- better than the content you are watching!
 

KeithPhantom

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Do you see all that information under 100hz? It’s roughly equivalent to everything over 3k (perceptually speaking). That’s information you are losing if you forgo a subwoofer because you don’t want to be a bass head. Ironically, there’s relatively little information over 5k, but you never hear anyone say “I don’t need tweeters, because I’m not a treble head”
Specialization in audio is good, dividing tasks is great when designing equipment that can do a thing exceptionally well (obviously crossovers aren't perfect), thus there is a need for a subwoofer. When I build my speaker rig, obviously I won't forfeit the benefits the subwoofer brings in terms of bass quantity and distortion (they distort way way way less than woofers at the lowest frequencies). Obviously, you have to consider the room interactions when adding it, but striving for a flat frequency in all fronts is what Hi-Fi is.
 

posvibes

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The last thing I want to hear is some neighbourhood knucklehead's quest for chest thumping bass in the interest of true fidelity.
 

restorer-john

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The last thing I want to hear is some neighbourhood knucklehead's quest for chest thumping bass in the interest of true fidelity.

You could always move to the country.
 

raistlin65

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CDMC

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A true basshead is the idiot that drives by my house on the freeway twice a day. I can hear him for a full minute. He must be pushing 140db+ at 50-80 hz and be deaf as a stone. I kid you not, at the point he goes by, my house rattles like I am doing a measuring sweep at 90 db with my rythmik 15 (which is about 5-8 db hot) and he is a good 75+ yards away.

And tinnitus sucks. Mine gets much worse if I listen for more than about 15 minutes at my high reference level, which is calibrated at 80db for -20db lufs, so potentially 100db peaks, but usually much lower as I use volume leveling to -20db.
 

dasdoing

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As for the piano, it is possible that one or more of the overtones sounds more strongly than the fundamental at the lowest pitches, but the fundamental must be there or there wouldn't be overtones.

they must be there but they are so quiet you don't hear them. that's why they don't sound musical at all. I never understod why they are there in the first place. Same problem happens at the top end
 

solderdude

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A true basshead is the idiot that drives by my house on the freeway twice a day. I can hear him for a full minute. He must be pushing 140db+ at 50-80 hz and be deaf as a stone. I kid you not, at the point he goes by, my house rattles like I am doing a measuring sweep at 90 db with my rythmik 15 (which is about 5-8 db hot) and he is a good 75+ yards away.

And tinnitus sucks. Mine gets much worse if I listen for more than about 15 minutes at my high reference level, which is calibrated at 80db for -20db lufs, so potentially 100db peaks, but usually much lower as I use volume leveling to -20db.

That guy may like this kind of recordings.
 
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