Sounds don’t always play pleasantly for an audiophile’s ear. Some audio seems to be wrong, be it music, sound effects from a game, or dialogue audio from a movie. It’s not uncommon for the audiophile to find more unpleasantness in the low range. The bassy notes usually come out as an artifact rather than a benefit in some cases.
The reasons for disliking Bass can vary. They can range from listening to a lousy mix or hearing sounds on inadequate monitors; but to cut it short, the main reasons can be:
- Too much Bass
- Muffled EQ
- Speaker system
- Acoustic Interference
- Player’s technique
The reputation of the Bass in any musical production is primarily positive. It works as a bed to set and control the general vibe of the song. But, like most things in life, the Bass can become unbearable if not rightly adjusted and placed in the mix. The low-end of any sound is usually the most complex to organize, and it carries the highest potential to interfere with the listening experience. Let’s explore this.
Too Much Bass Is Bad
Anyone who is into mixing and mastering might be aware of this. With an excessive amount of Bass in the mix, you might notice an attenuation in the mids and lows. This issue happens because the low-end is the most prominent and heavy of the spectrum.
By making the Bass’ volume louder than the other elements in a song, you’ll quickly feel its presence. It can happen because as our ears pick the bassy region more clearly, we end up combining this with the vibration we feel from the low-end. The result is a higher focus on the bass notes, which can be troublesome if you prefer hearing the melodies and voices.
Try attenuating the Bass a little, keeping it lower than the highs and mids.
As with any element of music, the mix engineer should conveniently try to make the Bass fit nicely. This achievement usually happens through a process called EQ. A bad EQ can make the sounds muffled, which disturbs audiophiles.
While EQing, the audio producer handles the frequency range for an optimal adaptation of instruments. As it’s exceptionally prominent, the Bass can’t be controlled by only volume settings; it needs changes in the frequency range.
The volume will keep it more noticeable, but the EQ will make an instrument break through the song, or sit nicely, even if it’s louder than most elements on the track. So study and practice EQing the low-end if you’re a beginner in the mixing path.
And if you’re an audiophile, pay attention to this detail. Some tracks will have louder basses that don’t ruin anything, while others will have low-volume basses taking control of everything.
You might benefit from a two-way speaker. A speaker has a coil around its diaphragm; the coil is supposed to fit cozily at the diaphragm’s sides. When a protuberant bass is coming out of the speakers, its vibration will move the coil.
Without getting into specifics, the result is that every sound coming while the coil is out of place, meaning right exactly after the bass’ vibration, will not come out.
If you want to get into specifics, though, check out this excellent explanation by the YouTube channel ellaskins.
So consider having a speaker system that features only for Bass and another for the mids and highs.
When hearing through high-quality speakers, check if the environment is adequate. Often, the sounds will be reflecting through the room without getting any acoustic treatment. This issue can bring all kinds of unpleasantness in the low-end since its adding interference to the frequency spectrum.
A valuable method to treat this problem is to understand how your room can go through treatment by checking its size, the material that makes the ground and walls, and the number of corners it has. You can browse through bass traps, usually for corners, and foam structures to set adequately in the room by measuring some details.
It can all come down to the recording, the microphone, and the technique of the bass player. Some methods for getting good bass sounds can vary; one is recording the bass amp on a microphone instead of a direct recording through a mixing console. This method requires a good microphone that can work precisely in low-end applications such as these.
A dynamic microphone such as the Shure SM57 can do wonders. With an accurate cardioid pickup pattern, this microphone does an excellent job at getting frequencies in the 100-300 Hz range. An appropriate mic is often valued for this sort of application, so consider browsing through some options of them if you’re a player or producer.
Some people may blame the Bass for sounding bad. However, that may not be the reason why the recording is unpleasant. A good technique for playing Bass is a must for any player. It’s pretty standard for luthiers to disagree with players pointing out inaccuracies at a bass’ structure, aligning it with the ominous sounds that come out.
A poor technique in most strings instruments usually consists of too much smacking when performing, and basses are no different. Avoid adding buzziness and distortion in the Bass by adequately adjusting your technique and maintaining control of your performance while doing a recording session.
For listening through headphones, you should consider the type and brand to use. Headphones such as the open-back ones are exceptional for simulating a speaker performance since they allow air and sound to pass through the ear cups’ rear. Mixing Engineers often prefer these since they portray what the music will sound like in the room with realism. But then again, they usually mix in acoustically treated rooms.
Open-back headphones usually perform well with low-end. They are more appropriate for:
- Minimalistic hearing
- Acoustically-treated rooms
Closed-back headphones, on the other hand, feature closed earcups, concentrating the sound in your ears. Those are the kind of headphones most audiophiles use for day-to-day activities. Some headphones will produce high-quality audio because the developers included modern features and sophisticated algorithms within its board.
Headphones such as the closed-back Sennheiser Momentum 3 are high-rate in terms of making the low-end sound perfect. You can also research headphones with impressive user ratings and reviews, specifically in the bass frequency range.