Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Melbourne, Australia
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Firstly, if you want that kick you in the chest midbass punch, you have to think a little differently to convention, because that kind of performance isn't conventional! Normally it is associated with a live setup, which is a very different system, in a very different context. So you have a different source - it is live, without all the horrendous compression that happens in a studio, loudness wars and all that. So you start with a more dynamic source. Then you have raw amp power - lots of it. And you also have pro speakers with very high efficiency and the ability to get a system house curve. And to top it all off, you probably have acoustics that doesn't kill the experience in the bass.
Now contrast that to a home system with an already compressed music source going into a wimpy amp and low sensitivity speakers with very limited output. Add that to ugly modal ringing and you have an underwhelming result.
You can't do much about the source, except perhaps choosing more dynamic music, but we'll consider the music a given.
You can improve the acoustics of your listening room, and I've found that bass traps actually can let you get closer to that midbass punch experience, since you can get better decay without the bass becoming over the top.
But the key I'll focus on here is two things:
1. Getting enough oomph where it counts
2. Being able to shape the response into a house curve
Power is cheap and you can use a lot of power to get there, but this is working against physics, and things certainly don't get better as you use more power. So it makes a lot of sense, especially for music to go for higher sensitivity. As power goes up, so does compression, and various mechanical and thermal effects.
With this goal in mind it makes sense to let your mains go down to say 80 Hz and no more with decent efficiency ~95 db. Then say some active pro 15" or 18" woofers 40 - 80 Hz, with a good pro amp behind them.
TD18H is my favourite.
In the new system I'm building, 15 - 40 Hz tapped horn monster for LFE, 40 - 250 Hz 18" pro sealed woofer with 450w, then a Synergy horn above. I dial in a house curve for the bass.
The problem with slim towers when you are trying to get the kind of raw midbass punch you get in a live system - they just can't handle the bass level required. The bass has to run at a higher level. If it measures flat in the listening position then it will sound lean, it won't have punch.
Of course, what some people do is put a tower in their room that measures flat anechoic. In the room it might have 15 db peaks. That is where someone might say "hey where is the sub?!" It might impress some, but peaks coming from modal ringing don't fool those who have heard bass done right. Add bass traps to damp the ringing and EQ to pull down the peaks and then you have what sounds like not enough bass, but the bass that is there is accurate and tight. Add in a room curve until it sounds balanced. That is when you find bass bliss. It's very addictive. Start with clean low distortion bass with good time domain performance, low compression, well integrated in a well treated room with the right room curve and it's a revelation. The surprise for me in adding bass traps for the first time was that I had the sense of it being an outdoor system.