Originally Posted by Braunbear
I am confused as to what people are experiencing when using a subwoofer for music. First, I think the type of music will effect this experience, so when replying, please define the type of music you listen to. My confusion stems from the terminology manufacturers, consumers and reviewers use to describe the sound of subwoofers and my own experience of the sound I hear from my sub. For now, I don't wish to identify the sub I own...yet, because I am convinced that my experience would be true with any good sub. But suffice it to say it is advertised and widely accepted in the audiophile world as musical, it is sealed and it costs just over U.S. $1,000.00 AVR is *08 series Onkyo.
I listen to mostly Rock, especially Hard Rock...Linkin Park, 10 Years, Sick Puppies, Alter Bridge, Audioslave, Soundgarden, Etc...
Other music with stringed Bass instruments will have a similar quality of bass as the music I listen to, obviously with differences, but in general, similar.
In my experience, electronic music with pure sine wave bass has a different quality of bass than stringed instrument bass.
These two different types of music are effected very differently by the subwoofer in my system.
So, when a manufacturer advertises that his sub's are musical, I find myself questioning the type of music he is referring to.
In short, I expect his statement to be more accurate for current Hip Hop with its synthesized, deep bass lines consisting of pure sine wave bass then for Classical or Rock music with its stringed bass instruments and drums which produce sound waves of a different nature...in short, non-pure sine waves with non-fundamental overtones above the frequency range of the subwoofer. To be clear, when I hear someone talk about Bass, I think of a specific instrument and the full sound it produces, not just the fundamental frequency of each note the instrument produces. Therefore it strikes me as odd that someone can define the bass produced by a subwoofer as though it was whole or complete. Unless one is referring to pure sine wave bass (or the LFE sound track of a movie...but I am trying to stay with music here). When I hear someone exclaim that the bass produced by their subwoofer is fast and undistorted, I am not confused because it makes sense to me that the fundamental frequency reproduced by the sub can be tight, true to pitch or the attack and decay can be faithful to its source. But, I am confused when someone claims the bass is not muddy, or accurately reproduces the original instrument, or is crisp. See, for me for this to be true of a stringed instrument, the entire timbre of the instrument must be reproduced, including the overtones/harmonics above the fundamental frequency, among other sounds. To me, hearing only the fundamental note of a stringed bass instrument sounds muddy without the overtones, which are filtered out by the filters of the sub and/or AVR. Much of the sound is missing and therefore it is incomplete without the striking/picking/bowing/blowing device sounds and the sounds imparted by the body and components of the instrument, etc. Many of which are out of the subwoofer's frequency range.
So, for these subwoofer shootouts (excepting LFE...for music) for example, what are the listeners listening to? Is it pure sine wave frequencies, or the bass line of a rock song or maybe the contrabass of a clasical orchestra score? Is it with or without main/front speakers able to produce and fill in the overtones of the instrument? If they are listening to a solo stringed bass instrument through the subwoofer, how can they even suggest its not muddy? How do you listen to and judge your sub for music?
For me, the sound of an electric bass through my subwoofer for Rock is always a partial sound, as though I were listening through a closed door...its filtered. Its incomplete. No matter what the settings are, no matter what the equalizer/Audyssey/level/crossover configuration is. In order to obtain a clear, concise, full, compete bass sound for Rock, my mains need to work in conjunction with the sub producing the harmonics and other sounds making up the timbre frequencies of the instrument that fall above the range of the subwoofer. Otherwise...Its mud: Fast, articulate, accurate...mud. So for me to talk about the bass in a rock song, I need to be listening to the mains in conjunction with the subwoofer. I would not, in my experience, be able to talk about bass for Rock as though it could be reproduced complete by the sub. Together though, the mains and sub produce complete bass. I am satisfied with it and I think the sub adds dimension to the Bass. But what's coming out of the sub alone is not complete bass.
Like I said, my confusion lies in the difference between the descriptions I read for subs and the sound I personally hear from mine.