Originally Posted by bossobass
I have a few minutes and this subject resurrects itself in various forms fairly regularly on these boards and, like everyone else here, I have my opinions on the subject, so, FWIW:
For the sake of brevity, I'll boil the usual "tight, fast, quick, accurate, musical vs bloated, muddy, slow, boomy, unmusical", etc., into a single term: BASS.
There are 3 very simple phenomena that explain the perceptions that lead to one or the other camp:
1) Subwoofer calibration. Run the sub +10dB "hot" and/or with +10dB peaks in response it will tend to sound less accurate (big surprise there, eh?).
2) Standing waves caused by room dimensions and where you happen to be listening from in relation to those standing waves. Standing waves store energy and release it latently, which might help to explain some of the "slow" comments. EQ does not change the fact that the stored energy is latently released, it simply creates a hole in the original signal (what you still hear first, ahead of the standing waves interference with your listening pleasure) to lower the intensity of the latently released stored energy.
3) The transient response, or frequency response, or bandwidth of the subwoofer. Yes, all 3 of those terms are interchangeable for this discussion. This is the primary and the simplest to understand, yet the least recognized source of the argument. If one subwoofer rolls off sharply below 35 Hz and the subwoofer being compared rolls of at 5 Hz, subwoofer 'A' is reproducing frequencies with a maximum decay time of approximately 29 milliseconds (1000 milliseconds = 1 second ÷ 35 = 0.029 (29 thousandths, or 29 milli-) seconds. Subwoofer 'B' however, can reproduce frequencies with a maximum decay time of 200 milliseconds, or roughly 7 times.
If the source being listened to is filtered at 35 Hz (no content below that frequency on the disc) and both sub 'A' and sub 'B' are level matched to the same FR and dBSPL, there will be no discernible difference sonically if all else is equal because as Tom Nousaine said long ago, "Bass is Bass".
If, in the sited example, there is a discernible difference, it's simply from a source that isn't covered in this discussion (such as high 2nd harmonic distortion, which tends to evoke a subjective "it sounds tighter" for the same decay reasons [and others] mentioned above).
On the other side, when a source is played that does have content to 5 Hz, sub 'B' might be described as [insert any of the 'slow' synonyms] simply because a 5 Hz sound wave has bounced back and forth off the walls of the average room 10 times before it even finishes leaving the subwoofer, while the 35 Hz sub doesn't present that scenario, or anything close to it.
These are my observations and some simple math, FWIW, YMMV, and sorry for the interruption...