How much bass is enough?

How much bass is enough?
I want much more than flat
7% (30 votes)
I like a little more than flat
38% (162 votes)
I like it flat
45% (191 votes)
I prefer a little less bass than flat
7% (29 votes)
I hate bass
1% (3 votes)
No fish in my house
3% (12 votes)
Total votes: 427

Reader T. Bloom asks: "Do you tend towards bass frequency-response accuracy, or would you prefer either a little more or a little less bass than measures flat in your listening room?" In other words, how much bass is enough?

craig's picture

A broader question relates to the use of any tone controls. Tone controls add to the circuit path and therefore degrade the signal. I prefer the straightest signal path I can get and I have the tone controls switched off on my preamp. It sounds much cleaner and better that way. Unfortuanately too much bass is all the rage now from movie theaters to factory-installed radios in cars. In both of my cars I turn the bass almost all the way off because in the so-called middle or "neutral" position on the bass knob there is way too much bass. I am looking for a natural amount of all ranges in the sound spectrum, bass included. Over boasted bass is for listeners who never grew up as I see it and are trying to get attention with a lot of noise.

WalkerTM's picture

In speakers, my tastes favor those that can get down and growl. I do not like the current trend of speaker designs that try to pass off mid-bass as bass. Give me speakers that can make a large scale orchestral piece sound larger than life with tympani, organ, and bass drum sounding alive and full. I care not for the designs that, despite their gorgeous mids, are overly polite and merely hint that those instruments are there.

Rob Auld's picture

Flat with maybe a touch more then flat, (which I have) but if I had to, I'd settle for a lot less rather the use a separate subwoofer. Anything but that!

Bubba in SF's picture

If you play LPs from the '70s or earlier, a lot of them need a boost, just like the speakers of the day, such as the JBL L-100's or any of the concentric drivers like Altec Lansing or Electrovoice. My REL has a switch for slam or depth and that seems to work. I must admit lately I have enjoyed listening to older music because it was more original than a lot of the wannabees out today, but, production wasn't always the greatest. If you want more bass you could just get a system like in discos. As an aside, there was a bar in Buffalo, NY that had a speaker system that took up the whole wall on two sides of the room. Circa 1970. I think they had 8 12" woofers per cabinet. That seemed to be the most amount of bass I have ever experienced. The regulars are probably all deaf now.

Bob D's picture

I'm using Acoustic Energy AE1 monitors, so I'm always looking for ways to fill the bass out a little. Floorstanders? Too clumsy and boomy for me. Sub? No thanks, the affordable ones sound crap and the expensive ones are waaay to expensive. Maybe when I win the lottery. . . .

George's picture

I much prefer "feels right" than "measures right"— the frequency can be flat, but the earth shaking power must be felt rather than heard.

José Freire's picture

I "feel" my Quads 2905 have the right (near) flat bass. More is less (dynamic woofers).

Eric Shook - Raleigh NC's picture

I could see myself satisfied for life with a pair of monitors that reach down to 50hz. My Polk Lsi9s were nice, my Athena AS-B1.2s were good enough to get by. Then I got my 1cs and now 2ces. I must admit the bass really fills out the scale of the music, when all else is in order. I asked Richard Vandersteen last week if he would build me (just me) a pair of bookshelf monitors. He said "What's the most important part of music?" I said "The silence." (referencing DeBussy) He said "The bass—it's the foundation to the music." Today I set up a pair of ELT525s and felt that if all things come to the worst, I could find myself living with a monitor if I had to. Even having less bass, they still havel a balanced sound. When I set up a speaker in my listening room, I nail down the upper end with placement, then dial in the bass last. Mind you I still have two 10"s in the trunk of my car, for when I need to show my neighbors who Neal Diamond is.

Rodolfo's picture

I like to feel a nice and smooth bass under the music.

Hengky's picture

I like to balance yin and yang.

Antonio G.'s picture

The reason I added a subwoofer to my bookshelves.

Lila's picture

My amplifier is flat down to 10Hz yet still sounds bass deficient (it's only weakness) on some speakers. More than flat, depending, as long as it is the pure characteristic of the amp, not to ruin the music, no tone controls involved. If the bass sounds like it's from a subwoofer car sound system I'd rather listen without bass.

Dan Wilson's picture

Natural sounding bass is the name of the game, be it a lot or a little.

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

Flat, deep, and articulate. Rather two subwoofers than one or none.

biggeramps's picture

To paraphrase Chrissie Hynde: it's a thin line between too much and too little.

Jimbabwe's picture

I prefer my bass to be tight and fast!

Nodaker's picture

I like to feel the bass a bit but don't like it over the top. Not sure what flat is, as I go by ear. It's very easy to adjust to taste with a powered subwoofer.

Peter Noerbaek's picture

With many years in the industry, my experience have been that the "novice" likes more bass at first but then, becoming more "mature," prefers a flatter response. There is an old saying that "no one has ever gone broke selling a speaker that booms" does hold some truth.

Cihangir Güzey's picture

Bass means absolute power! When I feel the bass pressure on my being while listening the material with rare high volumes (when other human beings are away from the home), I like to hear it heavily. When system drives the woofers (and subwoofers) at high speeds with high accuracy, I like to hear such bass. Fast responsive bass requires a good quality amplifier with high damping factor. IMO, cheap and good solid state systems differ very easily by feeding with quick & heavy bass at high volumes. My favourite track for bass testing: "Fight Fire With Fire" (Metallica).

&*%$#@ formerly Kuei Yang Wang's picture

Actually, there's no bass (fish) in my flat! I hate fish and the stuff they swim, poo and make love in. Give me a good, honest ale, usquebaugh or decent red instead! OH. This is about hi-fi? Oh, that bass. Okay, I hate the bass small size (lets say < 12" diameters) woofers make anywhere, all the time. Better off having none, than having that! I also hate the way most speakers' bass sounds in rooms. It sounds not at all like real instruments. I mean its kinda fun for a few seconds, but annoying in the long term, like going into minutes. Anytime you see a lot of motion from a "woofer" it is getting very bad, even if there is a lot of bass. If you see a box, chances are you will have so huge acoustic problems that using a cheap pro-audio parametric equaliser will seem like a small evil (even though those things are a big evil). Of course, some boxes shelve down the bass severely to overcome room boom somewhat (bass gets no moe even or realistic, but at least more proportional - which helps on real), but they usually are considered as "bass-shy" whenever JA measures them, even if they sound realistic and correct in your own front room, so with JA having damned them by measurement, no-one will listen. So, if we do not wish to go 4-5 way with very large ultra-sub-woofers (say 24" minimum diameter - multiple drivers in a unidirectional bass array with the same in 10" for the range above around 80Hz) for anything below 250Hz the best choice may be to just forgo any serious fish (ooops ... bass) and focus on the midrange instead. That said, I prefer to have very natural, real bass, one which makes kettle drums sound not just like a skinny size zero model, but like a kettle drum, voluptous, resonant, with a kick like mule, a bass that handles 32' Organ pipes like a real organ (ys, I know what they sound like in reality). But if that is not possible, give me small "fairly well extended" small(ish) speakers that produce a precisely delineated, pacey bass over excess, bloat, chest crushing pressure (I can have that at any disco or just pay a dominatrix to sit on my chest) any day. So, if I cannot have my bass porridge "just right", I'd rather have it lean, clean and defined than fat, shapless and wobbly, but of course lots of it. But, as they say: De gustibus non est disputandum.

Paul Luscusk's picture

If the recording has bass I want to hear it. I Don't want Boom Boom Boom . My subwoofer (NHT) is a powered 8" and it is fast and tight.

ch2's picture

There is bass and there is tight controlled bass. It has to be tight!

Mike Agee's picture

Mono-amped I almost never feel there is too much bass, but my set-up has frequency response anomalies (confirmed during a brief fling with a Behringer equalizer). In the meantime, I have become dependent on the potentiometers on my tube amp to tweak the bi-amp balance, gently nudging nearly every disc to better align production choices and my own taste. This turns out to be a very convenient and transparent way to get a pleasing balance, I 'd hate to be without it.

Matt Damone's picture

I listen to a lot of different types of music and the increase or decrease in bass created by the musician should come forth in the music. I like to hear the music as it was intended.

KJ's picture

Without room correction, I strongly dislike any bass nodes and prefer a greatly reduced extension over even a hint of a bass peak. With room corection, I still prefer a lean bass, but this is probably thanks to the years of psychological damage from "bad" bass.

Hoser Rob's picture

But the real answer will depend upon room acoustics and where you can place the speakers in it. There's no one size fits all answer for how the low end is damped.

Jacob's picture

In reality, the amount of Bass in my system is based on my mood. I have my tone controls bypassed. I just turn the sub up or down based on mood.

Rob Gold's picture

My idea of "flat" is full-orchestra classical, on stage, with five to eight contrabasses. Not many speakers (or rooms) do this.

Tim K's picture

If you have good equipment, why would you want anything other than what was put on the recording to begin with?

Eric K's picture

I have installed bass traps, moved my speakers and listening chair countless times, and bought bigger speakers; all in the pursuit of flat bass response. It STILL hasn't happened in my room. I think I'm done with all that. I now have a balance that gives a little excitement to the low bass while still allowing male vocals to be transparent.