I must be dumb and missing something, when I press the channel level button I didn’t see an option to adjust the Sub. Only Front L, Front R, C, Rear… Did I just cycle through too quickly, or am I missing something?
it should be there. if you can't find it, you can also access this in the CHANNEL LEVEL menu under MANUAL SETUP > SPEAKER SETUP
So back to the BASS, It seems as though turning the reference level really affects the surround performance a bit.
correct, it affects everything that Dynamic EQ does
Really all I want to do is lower the bass.
then I would definitely do as you surmised -- leave the reference level alone and just attack the bass directly. One way to do this is the subwoofer ch level, which of course affects bass globally.
one good recommendation for apartment dwelling is to turn down the LFE channel volume directly. For all 5.1 (or 7.1) content, the LFE contains most of the "rumble" that is the reinforcing, deep bass for the soundtrack. If you open the OSD and go to SURROUND PARAMETERS you can turn down just the LFE channel by up to -10dB. This will make movie watching in the apartment much more bearable for people who share walls/floors with you.
Note that this LFE setting is set separately for each surround type (Dolby vs. DTS vs. Multich PCM) so you will need to repeat this step when you encounter a new type of soundtrack.
So, I would suggest that you FIRST turn down the LFE to -10 for DTS and Dolby Digital input signals. This will help mitigate the boomy/rumbly movie bass without killing the bass level for things like music. Then, adjust the subwoofer ch level to tweak the final bass level to your liking.
So far I have been leaving Dynamic Volume off because it seems to remove some sound detail and alter the sound a bit. Seems almost unnatural. What is peoples general consensus regarding using Dynamic Volume?
Most likely you are still on the default "Midnight" mode -- try it in "Day" or "Evening" mode. IMHO Dynamic Volume is an absolute godsend for apartment living, I use it 100% of the time for movies and TV viewing.