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quality of bass sound

Discussion in 'Bass' started by TheJackAttack, May 1, 2009.

  1. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Here's a question for all you folks up on current trends. What is considered a good bass sound? I'm an orchestra guy so all my training and impressions are based (pun alert) on very nice 3/4 or 7/8 symphonic instruments.

    When I ran PA in the Corps I still tried to actually capture tone quality in the bass sound. Nowadays on those very rare occasions when I listen to radio pop music, all I hear is squashed fundamentals and no overtones at all.

    To me it sounds like you pushed the eq all the way to the top on the three far left sliders and pulled all the others all the way to the bottom. Am I just a out of touch?
  2. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    You know I don't think you are far off, over compressed and eq maybe not quite as exaggerated as you said but close. Radio bass and then people turn the bass all the way up on their stereo (esp. cars) with 6 subwoofers and it gets even worse.
  3. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    I can't comment on what is on the radio since I really don't listen to it that much. But here is my take based on a gradually decreasing attention span over the last 50 years.

    The first decade of electric bass recording (50's) was mostly aimed at duplicating the sound of an upright bass (known to those who play it as a "bass" - "a bass??? that's not a bass, it's an electric bass.") The Fender P-bass had more punch and stayed in tune, but was basically eqed like an upright. Lots of emphasis on the low mids. A little more attack was gradually added (tick tac bass was the technique of tripling URB, Fender bass, and an Danelectro bass or baritone guitar.)

    In the 60's Rotosound made round wound strings; the Ox did what was essentially a baratone guitar solo on My Generation and there was a lot more emphasis on the high end of the spectrum. But still a variation on the themes of the 50's.

    Then the seventies happened. Larry Graham slapped and popped. The bass guitar got a smiley face eq. :p Chris Squire played baritone guitar (not that there's anything wrong with that) and called himself a bassist. Jaco played really great baritone guitar and called himself a bassist. Mids were scooped - no one died. (Well, they died; but not from scooping mids.)

    Then the 80's happened. Ties got skinnier. I got fatter. 1000 watts of solid state amp got cheap and light. Everyone got sub woofers. Basses got a fifth string. Then they detuned them down a step and a half.

    So what's a good sound today? Any one of the above is good depending on the audience. But one one modern "requirement" that you seem to be wrapping your head around is the ability to focus a huge amount of energy in the sub 40hz range. You could probably get the same effect by keeping the sound realistic and issuing everyone in the audience a personal vibrator. Whatever turns you on. [/list]
  4. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Bob Rogers"You could probably get the same effect by keeping the sound realistic and issuing everyone in the audience a personal vibrator. Whatever turns you on." You're killing me.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ya, its called genital buzz. pubic punch, Fat 40, I think its all about getting layed and nothing to do with blending or being harmonious.

    But there is a lot of awesome music being created and produced too. I'm guessing you are talking about all the stuff that is full of loops and such. Sampled bass and not fretted or string instruments, yes? The stuff with very little melody.
  6. NCdan

    NCdan Guest

    I'd say good sound doesn't change. Now, if you wanted to ask what popular sound was, that's a completely different story. The bass seems to be buried quite well these days in pop, rock, and rap. The kick seems to get the subs waaaay down there, and the bass gets the higher subs and the lows. 80's records tended to bother me because you could hear the bass but it had no oomph to it. Now the bass is just a subby mess in most stuff I hear -- it's like an earthquake and not a bass guitar. Honestly, I like the sound of a bass that has little to no EQ on it. Once I record it I'll slap an atomic low pass at about 5 KHz on it and call it a day. That sounds quite natural to me. Oh, it does require a good bass and preamp. When I record with my Jay Turser it requires a bit more EQ doctoring. :lol: But maybe I'm just getting tired of hearing all these sterile, unnatural sounds?
  7. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    I have a buddy that was running FOH in a stadium show. Something happened with the performer-stoned, pissed off, whatever-and the crowd started going berserk. He had some speakers on his platform and he turned them all around like an electronic moat and started pumping out enough extreme bass to give nearby "listeners" loose bowels. Literally. He made it out safe though.

    I'm probably not very realistic about what I consider to be the sonic goal when kids can't get away from their ipod earbuds. That doesn't mean I won't try to change their ears by example!
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Doesn't it make you wonder about all the pro audio gear and its future?
  9. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Everyone's getting into this whole science, self-whatever thing. All on a journey of self-realisation and the desertion of "old ways". Church is in decline.

    ^^ apply that statement (which I only mildly agree with) to the year 1200. Now 1500? 1800? 2009?

    Pro audio gear might not have been around in the 1800's but I believe you should not ask "Will there still be pro audio gear?" but ask "How can pro audio gear become relevant again?"

    (Admittedly though I believe in resurrecting old things, I reckon everything has it's time and eventually it must die out)
  10. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Well if it's gonna die out lets hope it waits until AFTER I've paid off my equipment...and gone deaf to boot!
  11. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Bob -
    Remind me to come and bring my wife to whatever show you're running sound for in the near future!!! :-O

    FWIW -
    I really don't like touch the EQ on recorded bass. If the cab sucks and I take it direct, I may find that I add a little in the 80-100 range for "fullness." If the cab rocks and the bassist knows how to work the instrument, I go nuts with mic placement and get exactly the sound the bassist likes hitting the mics. From there, I may roll off the uber-highs (5kHz and higher to get out cymbal/snare bleed if there is any) and actually cut a little of the uber low (30Hz and down). If I boost anything, I aim to bring out the attack. Between a good sounding bass and a nice, solid kick, you can still give the ladies the tingly feeling without reaching for more than a dB or two on the EQ.


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