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How low do we need to go?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Kurt Foster, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Let's take a look a the frequency spectrum.
    In a recent thread that was locked by a moderator one member wrote;

    From those and other remarks I have read on RO, it's apparent to me that some do not have a good grasp on how low 40 or 50Hz really is.

    I doubt most could hear a 20 Hz tone if it kicked them in the butt unless it was 100dB! I have a large pair of Tannoy 12 coaxials that begin to roll off below 50 Hz and are down 12dB @ 40 Hz and I get a ton of bass out of them.

    Where does "bass" start? AT 200Hz.? 100? .... and how low do you need you monitors to go in order to be able to perform a good mix? I am interested in hearing your opinions.
  2. therecordingart

    therecordingart Well-Known Member

    Jul 28, 2004
    I say that you definitely need to hear down to 60HZ.....there is a lot going on in that area that I can either make or break.
  3. axel

    axel Guest

    me being ultra bass junkie, i like to feel...

    BUT IT's NOT ESSENTIAL FOR A GOOD MIX, i rather have a nice set of speakers which give me a picture of the whole spectrum plus a good sense of detail and imaging!, it's easy to mix bass heavy, unless you have only bass you can hear / feel from your monitors, in numbers, no idea, i prefer dynaudios or genelecs (i love genelecs: reason: i just know them very well, they are probably not the best speakers on earth, but which ones are??? he?, i am extremely used to them and can easy do mixes which translate...), i have no idea how deep they go in numbers... but i am simply able to mix on them the way i want to. period

    i might repeat myself, but i think this whole issue is a matter of combination and what you get used to, speakers, room, amp, all other gear you use plus your experience, knowledge and ears... messuring that in numbers is rubish! i think...
  4. People also don't understand how high 1k is too, but that's not the point.

    A above middle C (A 5th fret on high E on guitar) = 440
    A open on guitar = 110
    A on bass guitar= 65

    High E on guitar = 330
    Low E on guitar = 82.5
    E on bass guitar = 41.25

    AC hum = 60

    Of course you have overtones, but these are just the fundamental frequecies. I used A = 440 because that's the most common way to tune something to a concert pitch. (Concert A = A above middle C = 440hz)
  5. ShoeBoxDude

    ShoeBoxDude Guest


    I honestly think 50hz or 60 hz is fine.

    Thats enough to get a good balance of of kick/bass and things like that.

    After a while you should be able to look at the speakers and tell whats going on below that. If they look like they are about to hit you in the face...... :shock: you get the idea.
  6. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    not much goes on under 40 on commercial records anyway..... i always hp around 35 or 40 when i master....

    but i must say i'm building some subs right now and i expect them to go a bit deeper.....

    and for mastering it's nice to be able to hear what's going on "down there"

    but alot of factors influence our perception of low freq's... as kurt said it needs to be really loud (due to the flecther-munson curve) and it takes alot of energy.... actually 4 times the energy to play the same volume at half the frequency.... for those who don't know that means that if you need 100 watts to play eg. 120dB @ 100Hz then you need 400 to give you 120dB @ 50Hz..... (and think about a PA.... if you're running at thousands of watts it really means something)

    and the same goes for membrane excursion..... 5mm's @ 100Hz means 20mm(!!)@ 50 Hz

    most common speakers output absolutely NOTHING below 45-50Hz.... and most speakers that people think has "deep" bass actually just have a boost (typically from the port) @ 50Hz

    you CANNOT make a 6 1/2" output 110dB @20 Hz

    (another little known fact is that in a given volume a smaller driver will go deeper than a large..... but you need a larger membrane to move the air)
  7. Kev

    Kev Well-Known Member

    Nov 13, 2001
    very few speakers can give loud output below their resonant frequency
    ... the cone excursion rises dramatically

    below 100Hz and definately below 50Hz the room becomes a dominant part of the bass monitoring problems
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    According to Brian's chart the fundamental of an open E on the bass is 41.25 hz.I would hope( as a bass player) that this fundamental is capable of being reproduced clearly in any recording. A lot of todays music is detuned....in that the guitars are down a half,whole, or even two whole steps from concert pitch. Combine this with the 5 and 6 string basses that are so prevalent and is there any wonder why that firm, round bass guitar sound is nowhere to be found.

    Since I am not recording in anyone elses rooms who post on here, for me to sit in judgement of their qualities and frequency responses would be ludicris indeed. I use a sub. It doesnt 'firm' up the bass as much as present it in a balance kind of way. To really have that tight defined bass you will always have to have a room capable of reproducing this as well as monitors able to do so.

    As to whether or not a person can or cant hear frequencies below 60 hz or so, I think this must not be a 'blanket' type of reality. I can most certainly hear the fundamental of 41.25 on my bass guitar as well as the fundamental of the low B on the 5 string ...And yes, I do have a cabinet that does reproduce these frequencies. Whether or not someone else can or cannot hear these frequencies is entirely up to them as individuals.
  9. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    I'd like to remind everyone of the psychoacoustic penomenon known as the missing fundamental. It so happens that if a significant number of overtones on a given fundamental are sounded but the fundamental itself is not, the fundamental is still perceived. Many organs get their lowest notes by this method. Sub-bass enhancement processors like Waves Maxx-Bass use it as well. Also, thsi is why we are able to hear that 41Hz low E on our small speakers. Just something to think about.
  10. jonyoung

    jonyoung Well-Known Member

    Dec 31, 2003
    David French wrote:

    aka apparent bass, a popular EQ technique in the heyday of AM radio, when most music was heard through dashboard speakers.

    I tend to hipass mixes at 30hz, 12db/octave
  11. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    i will try to find where i have this written, but in a book on hifi i read it said that once it goes below 80hz we do more feeling then hearing. mostly due to our skeletal structure then anything.
  12. That actually depends on who you talk to. I've read as high as 125 being claimed.

    I knew I was forgetting the P word (psychoacoustic). That's why I said "of course you have overtones...". Thanks for stating that much more clearly than I did, David.

    Also, all you have to do is google for "missing fundamental" and you will find many demonstrations where they remove the fundamental from a note and it still sounds like the note, except not as well defined.
  13. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    i think that this is what happens with the ns10 speaker mic trick. i was just thinking that it work like a missing fundimental microphone. creating the illustion of frequencies that arnt really there though sujestion of other frequencies.

    kind of like vegetarian meat.

    sorry kurt im getting prettie off topic.
  14. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Not at all ... This is exactly what I was hoping for Frob.

    Keep goin' folks! Good stuff.
  15. JoeH

    JoeH Distinguished Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Some good info being put forward here! In my case, I used to think it was safe to just work with nearfields, and it wasn't until about 5 years ago that I added a sub. I have never looked back since.

    You may not "hear" 20-40HZ, but with a good, accurate subwoofer, you will certainly feel it. I DO hear 40-80 HZ on my system (I upgraded to a Bag End Infrasub 12; self powered about a year ago, used various other brand-x subs before that), and I would never mix/master anything critical without it. Not something that was going out to clients or replication facilities.

    Sure, if you're just tracking, having fun, or doing bargain basement demos, you can certainly get away without a sub. But don't kid yourself for a moment. You're missing an important part of the whole picture. This is part of what the "Big boys" will charge you for when it comes time to master: Adjusting and/or FIXING the lopsided bass levels is often necessary because most folks just don't have the ability to hear down there with their systems.

    Nearfield monitors are great for what they do, but IMHO they do a lot of disservice without a sub going on.

    Consider this: many people feel that while the limits of human hearing go up to about 17-20k depending on age and impairment, but it's just as important to capture frequencies many times that, for all kinds of reasons - many of them intangible. (Some even claim it's felt on the skin instead of the ears, not unlike the low end.) That's why mics and premaps have specs that exceed 20k. It's necessary for the whole sonic picture.

    Going in the other direction, it's just as critical to know what's happening down to the limits of human hearing and feeling, esp if there's something being missed by speakers that aren't giving you the whole story.

    Personally, I'd hate to miss something like a footfall, plosive, mic rumble, etc. that mars an otherwise flawless production. When I listen to commercial recordings for personal pleasure and enjoyment, it's astounding to hear what has slipped through the production cracks. It runs about 60-40 percent in terms of good vs. "Oops!". I could name names, but it's not the point here.

    You can keep sonic "blinders" on if you want, and say it's "Good enough", but the fact is that cars and home theaters (where a lot of your finished products will be played) are now sporting subwoofers that can reveal your good mixes as well as your not-so-good mixes.

    Would you knowingly mix with speakers that have a huge chunck of sound missing at, say.....1k to 4k? Or speakers that abruptly roll off at 10k? I think you know the answer to that.

    In this world of cut-throat studio rates and everyone doing it for themselves in their bedrooms, I think it's in the best interest of everyone reading this to make sure you've got the best monitoring system you can get your hands on to give yourself and your clients the BEST, most accurate experience. Whether you 'hear" it, or "feel" it, the end result is the same. It's just as critical as the highs, and you need to manage it, period.

    Ignore what's going on down there at your peril.
  16. That goes hand-in-hand with getting chills from someone scratching their fingernails on a chalkboard.
  17. iznogood

    iznogood Guest

    hmmm.... i just heard a 14Hz sine wave on my headphones... no problem....

    but below about 35Hz i REALLY had to turn up the volume...

    i guess this rules out both the "feeling sound" and missing fundamental imo.

    but i'm not in doubt than when you listen to speakers (at those frequencies) the whole body is involved.... (just as our nose is involved in the midrange.....)
  18. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    Jul 2, 2002
    77 Sunset Lane.
    Extended low bass is a good thing but only if it is accurate. Deep bass nulls and resonance's generate overtones and harmonics that muck up the mid bass ... all making matters even worse than not knowing what is going on below 40 Hz. If the room is too small, using a sub or a speakers that produce a lot of deep bass only makes things worse.

    Despite what bass trap manufacturers say, no amount of bass trapping will turn a 10' by 12' room into a place where you can hear deep bass accurately ... It may improve it but it will never be accurate.

    There is a limit to how much low end a small room can handle..
  19. frob

    frob Well-Known Member

    Apr 23, 2004
    i dont think that you should mix the whoel thing on a sub, because while they are getting more prevelant they are still not the norm. i say that every mix should be checked on a good hifi system with a sub, but not nesesaraly mixed.
  20. If you are going to use a sub, the crossover should be set up correctly so that you get an even response while doing a crossover sweep. This will help to make sure that what you are hearing is accurate.

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