What is the Best Measurement for Subwoofer Tightness - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 26 Old 12-31-2016, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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What is the Best Measurement for Subwoofer Tightness

The title speaks for itself.

I used to think it was impulse response measurements because there was a prevailing "tribal-knowledge" which suggested such and a seemingly strong coincidence that has played out in subwoofers I've demoed.

Great Tightness: PSA XS15se, and the Rythmik E15HP
Lacking Tightness IMPO: JL Audio E112, and SVS SB2000

The difference was night and day. I hate to use that cliche unless I absolutely mean it.

My Room is 2800^3 completely sealed, and I listen to 50/50 music and HT. I listen to all music except for bass heavy material like club, dance, techno, and or rap.

In both cases, the tighter subs were the ones with the better impulse response measurements. But, again, I'm under the more educated impression that IR measurements either aren't the best, or they are badly misinterpreted for subwoofer tightness.
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post #2 of 26 Old 12-31-2016, 10:12 AM
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The fastest appearing impulse response will be from a system with no bass response at all. Same for most systems that sound tighter. Usually subjective differences are primarily due to loudness and response variations. The systems with less actual bass extension or response is often perceived as being tighter.
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post #3 of 26 Old 12-31-2016, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ricci View Post
The systems with less actual bass extension or response is often perceived as being tighter.
Thanks Josh,

In the above subwoofer examples both subs which I perceived as tighter were also capable of equal (E112) or more (SB2000) bass extension. This is revealed in both measurements and my own perception. Also tested in multiple rooms.

So what is the best measurement for subwoofer tightness when extension and response is equal? Still impulse response?



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post #4 of 26 Old 12-31-2016, 10:25 PM
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Im not sure what youre hearing is a true apples to apples comparison. Sub drivers mostly all operate pistonically below 80hz due to their relatively stiff cones and low frequencies. Provided the native frequency responses are the same (which Im guessing they werent) I imagine they would all sound equally as tight.

The impulse response tells us everything, yet nothing. It is used to derive pretty much every usable measuremrnt. CSD is derived from it. If there was a difference in CSD the IR would have looked slightly different in the tail. But I doubt CSD was much different given as I said, theyll be pistonic at low frequencies. Frequency response is derived from the IR, so if FR was different, and very likely was, then IR would have looked different too.

I find the tightest bass comes from as system that is properly designed and implemented. This means in a box that is sized appropriately, placed in an optimal location in the room, integrated with the mains to provide the best/smoothest summation at the XO point, and EQed properly. Eqing properly is not so simple. Smacking the dsp around with REW to make a straight line hardly ever sounds "tight".

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The difference could also be to a better phase response with the two subs mentioned. This is key to good integration of the mains. There are a lot of miss conceptions regarding tight bass, seal vs ported, etc.
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post #6 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 06:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
So what is the best measurement for subwoofer tightness when extension and response is equal? Still impulse response?
That depends. What does 'tight' mean? You can't quantify the best way to measure something if it has a different meaning to everyone you ask.
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post #7 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 07:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
That depends. What does 'tight' mean? You can't quantify the best way to measure something if it has a different meaning to everyone you ask.
Bill, fair enough. When you're building or demoing a sub and it doesn't sound tight, to you, what measurement would likely best illustrate this lack of tightness.



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post #8 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 08:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
Bill, fair enough. When you're building or demoing a sub and it doesn't sound tight, to you, what measurement would likely best illustrate this lack of tightness.
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Originally Posted by tuxedocivic View Post
I find the tightest bass comes from as system that is properly designed and implemented. This means in a box that is sized appropriately, placed in an optimal location in the room, integrated with the mains to provide the best/smoothest summation at the XO point, and EQed properly. Eqing properly is not so simple. Smacking the dsp around with REW to make a straight line hardly ever sounds "tight".
I think this is the best answer you are going to get. It starts with a properly designed sub, but is more importantly dependent on the above statement. The best subwoofer in the world can sound bad if not set up properly. Countless posts on this forum in which people complained of their(highly regarded) sub sounding "slow, boomy, sloppy", whatever. They finally take the advice to dial in the sub through measurement, proper placement, setup and calibration, and voila, they magically have a "tight, crisp, accurate, fast" sub.
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post #9 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 08:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
Thanks Josh,

In the above subwoofer examples both subs which I perceived as tighter were also capable of equal (E112) or more (SB2000) bass extension. This is revealed in both measurements and my own perception. Also tested in multiple rooms.

So what is the best measurement for subwoofer tightness when extension and response is equal? Still impulse response?

I never heard any of the specific subs mentioned, but heard Hsu STF2, Rythmik F15, FV15HP and currently have SVS PB2000. There is difference between Rythmik and the others to my ears. Rythmik's bass is tight and precise, but Hsu and SVS bass have more variations. For example, I can hear a follow up bass after the main bass (part of same note) in SVS and HSU but not in Rythmik. Also I can hear and enjoy laftershock sound-wave bass which is little boomy in SVS and Hsu but in Rythmik the wave is less pronounced and enjoyable. I wish my english was good enough to articulate the difference in detail. I am a non techie so pls do not ask to explain. Nothing against Rythmik, but there is difference for sure.

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post #10 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 09:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
Bill, fair enough. When you're building or demoing a sub and it doesn't sound tight, to you, what measurement would likely best illustrate this lack of tightness.
'Tight', along with 'loose', 'fast', 'slow', 'boomy' and a number of other commonly used terms have no technical definitions, so I don't use those terms at all.
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post #11 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
Bill, fair enough. When you're building or demoing a sub and it doesn't sound tight, to you, what measurement would likely best illustrate this lack of tightness.
I think one of the hardest things in audio is for people to describe the sounds they hear in a way that is meaningful to someone else. It is like trying to describe colors to each other. It seems to me that the important question is, what do you mean by tight?

Do you mean that some of the subs you listened to didn't play notes crisply, so that you were not hearing single distinct notes? Do you mean that some of the subs seemed to be playing notes just a little behind the same notes played by your other channels? As stated earlier, it may be possible to attribute some of the differences we may hear (or think we hear) to set-up or location issues, depending on the individual circumstances. But, you have posed an interesting question, and I would like to better understand what you mean.

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post #12 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 12:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ricci View Post
The fastest appearing impulse response will be from a system with no bass response at all. Same for most systems that sound tighter. Usually subjective differences are primarily due to loudness and response variations. The systems with less actual bass extension or response is often perceived as being tighter.

In other words related, in part, to frequency response measurement - any setup with higher output capability in midbass vs. low bass, relatively, would be perceived as tighter? For example all else being equal, in the graph below the sealed mode would likely be perceived as being tighter?

BTW I assume you are THE Josh Ricci, if so thanks for all the great reviews, tests, and charts. So impressive.



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post #13 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mthomas47 View Post
I think one of the hardest things in audio is for people to describe the sounds they hear in a way that is meaningful to someone else. It is like trying to describe colors to each other. It seems to me that the important question is, what do you mean by tight?

Do you mean that some of the subs you listened to didn't play notes crisply, so that you were not hearing single distinct notes? Do you mean that some of the subs seemed to be playing notes just a little behind the same notes played by your other channels? As stated earlier, it may be possible to attribute some of the differences we may hear (or think we hear) to set-up or location issues, depending on the individual circumstances. But, you have posed an interesting question, and I would like to better understand what you mean.

Regards,
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"Do you mean that some of the subs you listened to didn't play notes crisply, so that you were not hearing single distinct notes?"

Yes, and also the presence of resonance or ringing which causes the loss of resolution into the mids, and or highs of the total material.

"As stated earlier, it may be possible to attribute some of the differences we may hear (or think we hear) to set-up or location issues, depending on the individual circumstances."

In either bad rooms, or good rooms. Studio monitors, towers, and bookshelf configurations. I literally couldn't find a combination where the inferior subs sounded better than the superior subs when all steps were taken to maximize each, ie Audyssey, placement, REW et al.



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post #14 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
'Tight', along with 'loose', 'fast', 'slow', 'boomy' and a number of other commonly used terms have no technical definitions, so I don't use those terms at all.

OK, let's take this hypothetical example. "Hey Bill, I just bought one of your sub builds but it doesn't sound as tight as my previous sub. My last sub was a bit faster. Maybe I did something wrong in the build? Can you help me?"

I'm sure you don't say those terms have any technical definitions and hang up the phone.

Please see my more detailed definition in my previous post. Any help is appreciated.



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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
"Do you mean that some of the subs you listened to didn't play notes crisply, so that you were not hearing single distinct notes?"

Yes, and also the presence of resonance or ringing which causes the loss of resolution into the mids, and or highs of the total material.

"As stated earlier, it may be possible to attribute some of the differences we may hear (or think we hear) to set-up or location issues, depending on the individual circumstances."

In either bad rooms, or good rooms. Studio monitors, towers, and bookshelf configurations. I literally couldn't find a combination where the inferior subs sounded better than the superior subs when all steps were taken to maximize each, ie Audyssey, placement, REW et al.


Thanks, that description helps. I mostly came to the thread to listen to people like Josh, Bill, and Ryan discuss the subject. But, I will venture this much: although I respect what you are saying about hearing this with either good or bad rooms, resonance and ringing issues sound far more room-related than sub-related to me, assuming some intrinsic level of build quality in the subs.

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post #16 of 26 Old 01-01-2017, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mthomas47 View Post
Thanks, that description helps. I mostly came to the thread to listen to people like Josh, Bill, and Ryan discuss the subject. But, I will venture this much: although I respect what you are saying about hearing this with either good or bad rooms, resonance and ringing issues sound far more room-related than sub-related to me, assuming some intrinsic level of build quality in the subs.
But is there a reliable measurement that I could use for this? It SEEMED that Josh was insinuating that if the extension was the same, impulse response was reliable. But I don't want to misquote him.



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when I was doing measurements with rew, I could get the subs to measure flat and no ringing...the problem was this sounded like crap/neutered bass output. with a 10db shelf in the bass, I have ringing, but it sounds so much better. so I would deduce I need better subs so I can have that 10db shelf w/out ringing.
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
"Do you mean that some of the subs you listened to didn't play notes crisply, so that you were not hearing single distinct notes?"

Yes, and also the presence of resonance or ringing which causes the loss of resolution into the mids, and or highs of the total material.
That's not necessarily the subs fault. Most of what defines tone, pitch, timbre etc. doesn't come from the subs, it comes from the mains. Below roughly 40Hz you can't distinguish tone, pitch or timbre at all. Even from 40 to 100Hz those aspects are indistinct.
Resonance issues are possible with a really bad sub, but more often it's the fault of the room. That may not show up on an SPL chart, but it often will on a waterfall chart.
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when I was doing measurements with rew, I could get the subs to measure flat and no ringing...the problem was this sounded like crap/neutered bass output. with a 10db shelf in the bass, I have ringing, but it sounds so much better. so I would deduce I need better subs so I can have that 10db shelf w/out ringing.
ringing in deep bass (I'm assuming that at 10hz this is for HT) along with stupid high THD levels and such can often be appealing to many.

I should mention that my desire for tight bass is for music. For HT all subs did well IMO.



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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
That's not necessarily the subs fault. Most of what defines tone, pitch, timbre etc. doesn't come from the subs, it comes from the mains. Below roughly 40Hz you can't distinguish tone, pitch or timbre at all. Even from 40 to 100Hz those aspects are indistinct.
Resonance issues are possible with a really bad sub, but more often it's the fault of the room. That may not show up on an SPL chart, but it often will on a waterfall chart.

Thanks Bil, I can certainly see room and mains being part of the equation, but if I used all these subs in the same rooms, with the same speakers, and A/B testing, then what?



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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
ringing in deep bass (I'm assuming that at 10hz this is for HT) along with stupid high THD levels and such can often be appealing to many.

I should mention that my desire for tight bass is for music. For HT all subs did well IMO.
think I didnt type what I meant...10hz?, high thd?

all I was saying is a flat response sounds like crap...
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@ClawAndTalon

IME, achieving satisfying "tight" bass is a combination of factors.

1) The most important factor is dialing in the desired frequency response. The easiest way to do this is with EQ tools that let you dial in the target curve. Don't stop with tuning the crossover frequency and sub level. That's just not enough control when you are after a specific sound. This isn't just about sub frequencies, since all frequencies contribute.

2) The second most important factor is to have high output mains. Tight bass doesn't just come from a sub, but from a high energy full frequency impulse that most speakers can't pull off.

3) Third is getting the time domain stuff right. Time/phase alignment of all speakers and subs, minimal ringing, short decay time.

As far as measurements go, you can measure frequency response, impulse response, time alignment, and decay time.
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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
But is there a reliable measurement that I could use for this?
In a word no.

The replies throughout this thread are correct. The problem is trying to equate a subjective term to a single objective measurement. Perceived "Bloat" or "tightness" or "punch", etc...are linked to an individual opinion without any sort of concrete definition that can be measured.

All I can tell you is to do a study on it yourself. Learn how to take a variety of measurements. Take them after listening to a bunch of subs and use those to identify differences that may account for what you hear as subjectively better. It may surprise you. Having done that it doesn't mean it applies to anyone else or even a different room for that matter.

Changing the response of a speaker even by something as simple as a high pass filter or changing delay between mains and sub will alter the impulse response a lot. The room response dramatically alters the response and decay characteristics of a speaker. Move your head a single foot or move the speaker in the room and large changes result. The typical home sized room completely dominates the behavior in many cases and usually for the worse compared with anechoic or outdoors. These effects usually swamp the inherent ones in a sub by a huge amount. With enough headroom for the required playback and an adequately designed sub the sound can be modified to whatever suits your personal taste in most cases. In a nutshell yes the sub design matters but it is overall a minor contributer when weighed against the room acoustics, listening position, signal processing, blending of the mains to sub, etc. Provided the sub is well designed and has the headroom to play back the content without its reproduction becoming notably degraded.

Don't discount the power of subconcious visual bias towards one system or another either.

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Originally Posted by ClawAndTalon View Post
if I used all these subs in the same rooms, with the same speakers, and A/B testing, then what?
Keep the ones you like the best.
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post #25 of 26 Old 01-02-2017, 11:16 AM
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For me, when people say "tight bass" It's usually the mid bass some where from 60~150+Hz.

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post #26 of 26 Old 06-08-2018, 02:51 AM
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Is this measurement any good? Seems like Im getting good response from my crown xls1502 down to 10hz. Woofer is dayton ultimax um18-22 in the 4cf sealed box. I have a mini dsp to try to correct it but first I wanna know where I should correct. I also dont know if the db was set properly to take measurement. Also possible target freq after adjustments
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