Where is my bass? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 12:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I've spent weeks to figure out what went wrong so any help/suggestion is greatly appreciated...

I have a set of relatively decent equipments, but for whatever reason I feel I still don't get the expected bass and mid-lows. It's crystal clear for vocals and strings. I tried swapping some of the key components, specifically the speakers and the amplifier. That make a bit of difference, but not as much as I would expect. Here is the setup:

CD Player: Esoteric DV-60
CD->Pre-amp cable: AQ King Cobra XLR
Pre-amp: Jeff Rowland Capri
Pre-amp->Amp cable: Kubala Sosna XLR
Amp: 2 Jeff Rowland 201 monoblocks
Speaker cables: Tara Lab (some sub $300 model I believe)
Speakers: Pair of Dali Helicon 400 (and tried Evidence 870)
Room: 15FTx18.5FTx8FT, 1 side (left of the system) are mostly windows

Things tried:
- Used a Zu interconnect, no difference
- Used a different CD player (a Marantz sub $500 model), no difference
- Used a similar class Zu cable, no difference
- Used a Jolida tube amp, obviously the characteristics changed but still the bass is pretty weak
- Used the Evidence 870, a bit better bass but not obvious

Any suggestion on what I should try???
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post #2 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 04:01 AM
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My experience with various speakers in this kind of configuration (2 x 6.5 inch drivers) is that you will get decent bass down to around 40 Hz but pretty sustantial rolloff below that.

I see that the 400 is rated by the manufacturer to go down to 32 Hz, but that is certainly not true. In the tests done by Stereophile for their article on them, they show the 400 woofer response as being 5 db down at 50 Hz!! That pretty much shows that these speakers do not have much bass at all, especially for their size.

A subwoofer is obviously called for.

Your electronics are obviously very good, so there is no problem there.

In any case, I was also not satisfied with the low bass with similar speakers and added an NHT B12D subwoofer, which solved the problem nicely. It is a very nice sealed design with high power and gives very clean well-controlled bass down to 27 Hz or so. Highly recommended.
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post #3 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 05:00 AM
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are you looking for upper bass?
i have a pair of old school sealed dual 8 altec lansing tower that dont dig low but have pretty good upper bass and match with a sub, it sounds pretty big, in comparison to my smaller sierra 1 that actually digs lower. So you dont really have to have a speaker to dig low to have bass. When small woofer is tune low, some sacrifices must be made.
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post #4 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 07:28 AM
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I agree with commysman. I'd probably add a subwoofer.
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post #5 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 07:56 AM
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I would start by putting on a recording with good bass and moving around the room to see if the listening position is in a null (and/or make measurements).

And get a sub...

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #6 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 08:19 AM
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wow... all that money spent on stuff that is unlikely to work, and no time spent doing something that WILL work, which is repositioning the speakers in the room...

a sub would be a wise choice as well...

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post #7 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

wow... all that money spent on stuff that is unlikely to work, and no time spent doing something that WILL work, which is repositioning the speakers in the room...

a sub would be a wise choice as well...

Agreed. The room has the biggest effect on bass simply due to the wavelengths involved in bass. More so than adding equipment or better cables or a different amp, etc. If your speakers or you are in a null point in your room you could add thousands of $$$ and not make huge improvements.


Move the speakers around in your room. See where the best balance between bass and imaging occurs and that should be your spot.
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post #8 of 13 Old 08-01-2012, 10:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the comments and suggestions. My setup is only for listening to audio CDs and the preamp is only dual channel. If I need to add a sub I will have to add a receiver which is not my preference. And I totally agree the room acoustics is probably the biggest problem here.

Attached is how the room is like. I tried moving the speaker in multiple positions next to the amps but none of them seems to make a difference. My biggest complain is the lack of depth in the soundstage, and mid low, upper and lower bass just don't show up.









Any recommendation would be great. In addition:

- Would speaker spikes make any difference? I tried adding them and it didn't do it for me.
- I don't have a good power conditioner. does that matter?
- I could add a platform and spikes for each of the equipment. again does that matter?
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-02-2012, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdwardCarnby View Post

for whatever reason I feel I still don't get the expected bass and mid-lows.
Quote:
Originally Posted by EdwardCarnby View Post

And I totally agree the room acoustics is probably the biggest problem here.
Attached is how the room is like. I tried moving the speaker in multiple positions next to the amps but none of them seems to make a difference. My biggest complain is the lack of depth in the soundstage, and mid low, upper and lower bass just don't show up.

- Would speaker spikes make any difference? I tried adding them and it didn't do it for me.
- I don't have a good power conditioner. does that matter?
- I could add a platform and spikes for each of the equipment. again does that matter?

I'm not an expert and don't know much about your speakers other than looking at a picture of them and the pictures of your room (nice!)

My first question is "what are you expecting?"

My suspicion is, as nice as your speakers sound, they might simply not have the muscle to move enough air to give you the experience you might be looking for.

I'd speculate that adding spikes, adding a power conditioner or anything other than addressing the problem at hand (insufficient horsepower if indeed that is your issue) is simply tantamount to chasing your tail.

My experience has been two different types of people. Those who like a "nice listening experience" where they can hear great sounds and perhaps have great imagery. Then there is the other extreme (where I fall) of people who are after a more live, huge dynamic presentation that borders on the scale of life.

Indeed, one description I used when I was younger was my system bordered on being a cacophony of violence (during college that was meant as a compliment as it would punch you in the chest and shake the house)

Today, I still have something that will pin your ears back if you want it to, yet it will also play with great finesse. They are however, the size of refrigerators and the wife hates them. (huge bass horns)

If you want bass that punches you in the chest, if you want bass that shakes the foundation of the house, you simply need the right tools that will move enough air to achieve that goal and personally, I think that is the first place to start.

(I know you did not claim you wanted chest punches nor foundation shakes, I'm just trying to make the conversation more black/white to illustrate where I think the issue is)

Good luck in what ever your journey.
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post #10 of 13 Old 08-02-2012, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EdwardCarnby View Post

Thanks guys for the comments and suggestions. My setup is only for listening to audio CDs and the preamp is only dual channel. If I need to add a sub I will have to add a receiver which is not my preference.

No need. Get a sub with L/R inputs and split the preout to both the sub and your amp.

Now it looks like your speakers start rolling off at 60hz. What kind of music do you listen to? If it's the bass below that you are missing, then the sub will help in that kind of configuration because you can set the sub crossover to match up with the natural roll off of the speakers. If you want to set the crossover higher than that, then there are some subs that offer both line level in and line level out that have a built in high pass filter (most subs only have a low pass filter with the crossover for the sub). For example, I believe that the SVS SB12-NSD sealed sub has an 80hz high pass filter.

Or you might try something like the mini DSP for integrating in a subwoofer, which in addition to robust crossover capabilities also has EQ functionality. When coupled with a room measurement software such as REW and a mic, you'd be able to correct somewhat for room acoustics.

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post #11 of 13 Old 08-02-2012, 08:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by coytee View Post

My first question is "what are you expecting?"
My suspicion is, as nice as your speakers sound, they might simply not have the muscle to move enough air to give you the experience you might be looking for.

Agreed. Bass performance is also tied to room volume. If you are expecting good performance for bass heavy music at louder volumes, you'll need a sub to accomplish that.

Your questions are answered: Speaker FAQ
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post #12 of 13 Old 08-02-2012, 08:31 AM
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It is hard to tell from the pictures, but are you sitting in the center of the room? If so, keep in mind that in the center of your room you will have a bass null. Moving the speakers forward and seating forward could help. Aside from room, as mentioned above, getting a subwoofer and if your amp does not offer it, getting some EQ in the room is also important. EQ will help you flatten your response which should balance your sound more.
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post #13 of 13 Old 08-02-2012, 10:36 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ack_bk View Post

It is hard to tell from the pictures, but are you sitting in the center of the room? If so, keep in mind that in the center of your room you will have a bass null.
+1. If either the speakers or the listening position has a wall between three and ten feet behind it there will be a deep cancellation null. That said, loud low bass does not come from four 6.5" woofers.

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