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Subwoofers: $150 vs $1,850 No Holds Barred

Brandon Drury —  October 13, 2012 — Leave a comment
focal_sub6

Focal_Sub6_Bic_USA

 Disclaimer:  All this talk about speakers is practically worthless without a HUGE discussion on room acoustics. 

This test isn’t fair.  The test isn’t fair for Focal.  While I’m sure their technical expertise is second to none, they can never tap into the Walmart-like mass production price breaks that a sub in the $150 market can.  In short, in an era of robots doing the kind of work that humans could simply never do, it’s hard to determine if a $150 subwoofer would have cost $150 20 years ago or $1,500.  Without a shovel or screwdriver, it’s anyone’s guess as to the quality of components.

Going into this test, there are certain implications as to what an ultra high end product will do.  Long-term durability and tremendous service are things we generally expect with the tip-top products, but we’ve all seen exceptions to the rule both with cheap gear lasting for decades and expensive gear lasting for minutes.

The Data

Subwoofer Measurements
I had to work fast.  I wish I would have had more time to get the subs calibrated exactly the same in terms of level and crossover frequencies for this test.  I thought I had a week and instead I had 5 minutes.  Oops.

Unfortunately, due to time limitations and the fact that my Focal Sub6 cables are all wrapped tightly, I wasn’t able to get the two subs in the exact same position.  I’d say there was about 4” difference in their position.  I have to admit that I had a bit of trouble determining what the perfect position would be since the Bic America sub is down firing while the Focal Sub6 is forward firing.  Regardless, I think being within 4” is reasonable although it dilutes the scientificness of the test a bit.  That’s your call.

I’ll let you make up your mind what these two graphs mean.

It’s clear the crossover frequency wasn’t calibrated correctly.  This kills what’s left of the scientific tests in the 100Hz ballpark BUT it’s worth noting just how damn similar the curves of the subs are in the under 80Hz ballpark.  I fully expected the Focal Sub6 to be dramatically more linear and “smoother”.  That just didn’t happen.

The Subjective Perspective

This particular test is flawed because the subs, while maybe only 1” apart for this test can not exist in the same place in space and time.  This means acoustics wreaks its usual havoc, unfortunately, and the differences between the subs could be attributed entirely to that slight difference in positioning.  Damn room modes!!!

I did quite a bit of listening to various reference material and was able to quickly switch the subs off and on via the console. To switch from one sub to the other took maybe 3 seconds, give or take.

My thoughts?  The subs sound 4% different.  If you asked me to pay $20 more for one than the other I’d say you were crazy.  I heard nothing objectively superior about either one.  I heard nothing new in mixes I had done that I didn’t hear before and I don’t feel I was missing anything either.  When listening to reference mixes I felt no additional fidelity was present in either speaker.  I give ‘em a tie.

Ruprect and Minivanz both SLIGHTLY preferred the Focal in our blind tests at first, but all three of us screwed up in picking the correct sub at various times throughout the listening.  What does that mean?  It means it’s a 50/50 toss up.  If while listening I have to feel around on the sub to figure out which one is vibrating to know which is which, there is no which is which.

This is something that really bugs the crap out of me.  The “if you can confuse ‘em” test should be a holy grail.  If within the frame of a matter of minutes you can forget which sub you are listening to based on the sound alone, that thing is probably not a huge factor in our quest for audio.  I know many audio dudes and chicks don’t mind spending 15x as much for differences that may be less than their own psychological shortcomings but I have a business to run and a new mouth to feed.  My tolerance for ultra expensive products that don’t kick the crap out of stuff costing 1/15th the price is at an all-time low.

So who do I blame?  Is Focal making junk that’s too high priced or is Bic America making incredibly good stuff at insanely cheap prices?  Maybe Bic America got lucky?  I don’t know.

I figured maybe the Bic America sub would crap out when pushed hard.  The truth is I don’t monitor that loud and rarely push my Focal Sub6 anyway, but we may as well push ‘em to see.  The Bic America sub never showed the slightest bit of one-note bass or any of the other usual suspects of budget subwoofers I had encountered in the past.  Keep in mind I’m picky.  I’ve probably got 6,000 hours on this Focal sub.  I’m used to a $1,850 subwoofer.  I’d know if I wasn’t getting that kind of performance.  At least I’d like to think so.  ;)

The CLA Factor

There’s a  video around here somewhere where CLA is all excited about his compressors, EQs, console, etc.  When asked about his monitors, he’s decidedly less excited.  He says, “Yeah, I just use NS10s and some $300 Infinity sub I got at Best Buy.”  I remember feeling like a horses ass a bit when I first saw that video.  Why does my sub need to cost 6x more than CLA’s sub?  It’s a very fair question that I’ve yet to find an answer for.

Some REAL Benefit

One theory in subwoofer land is to use a bunch of ‘em.  The reason is very straight forward.  You probably won’t get the combined result of 5 subwoofers to tell the same lie as 1.  Forget the subs lying, it’s the stupid room acoustics problem distorting the truth.  Different positions in the room result in a “smoothing” of the dramatic nulls and peaks.  Maybe one sub drops 20dB at 87Hz, but another sub is up 3dB at that spot.   The others help with the load and smooths the overall frequency response curve.

I’m not the guy to explain the concept any further than that, but DanTheMan is.  DanTheMan always approaches monitoring in a way that is free of voodoo and dogma.  He also posts lots of hyper nerd frequency response charts which I dig.  :beerbangX:

He performed an experiment of using 5 subwoofers on his blog.  (I wonder what it would take to get him to do a few of these types of hyper nerd tests here at RecordingReview.  :epiphany)

With every sub added, the response got a little smoother.  Awesome!!!

A guy in my position who has $1800+ invested in his single subwoofer and is clearly NOT getting that flat or response has to wonder what to do.  It’s obvious to me that 5 of these $150 best buy subs could let me sell my Focal Sub6 on Ebait and sound better and more accurate than I do now using freely available concepts.  At least that’s the theory.  Confucius says we’ll see.

Conclusion

I see zero reasons to keep my Focal Sub6.  I hear nothing from it that the Bic America sub can’t do.  If CLA doesn’t need an expensive sub I definitely don’t and I have to admit the notion of radically flatter low frequency response and hooking up 5 subwoofers at once sounds pretty damn cool.  While I’m at it, I’ll probably put $800 in my back pocket.

A person does have to think of durability over the long haul (an area which the Walmart mass-production thing doesn’t have a perfect record).  My Focal monitors and sub have had zero problems of any kind.  Then again, I have speakers from the mid 90s that are still trucking.  I’m not sure what that means.

I have some decisions to make in what is going to be right for me and my situation.  At the moment, I just can’t justify the enormous amount of capital involved in a high end sub that isn’t changing my life and I recommend all of you considering a giant subwoofer investment to try out one of these $150 subs.  I think you’ll be surprised.

Over And Out
Brandon

Saved Comments


nulldevice – 10-09-2012, 08:17 AM
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Uh. Hm.

I suppose if you’re CLA, you can get away with NS10′s and a cheap sub. Because you’re CLA. If you’re not CLA? You might not have the skill. Lord knows I don’t. CLA likely mixes with his sub disengaged most fo the time anyway, and has been mixing on NS10′s longer than I’ve been alive so probably knows pretty well how his mixes are going to translate almost instinctually.

I’ve experimented with a few subs and I can tell you I had nearly the exact opposite results. Not becasue the cone was particularly better or the sound was great or something (it’s sub bass, there’s not a lot to it), but because the more expensive ones a) were a lot easier and more precise to calibrate to match my monitors and more importantly b) had a lot less distortion at higher SPLs. The cheapie $150 sub, once I turned my rig up past about 85db, started honking and spitting like a large, angry goose. The $500 sub didn’t do anything approaching that until I cranked it WAY up (which I never do in most situations).

I, being me, of course sat in my sweet spot with an RTA and a few freq sweeps and could also say that the expensive one had a much smoother response across all frequencies than the cheapie. Whether I can hear those differences in actual mix practice I dunno, but I’d rather not risk it.

Truth be told there’s probably a price-point sweetspot between the mass-produced Big Box Store special and soemthing like a Focal.

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DanTheMan – 10-09-2012, 08:18 AM
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There are number of positive reports about those BICs BTW. Great article!

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guywithaguitar – 10-09-2012, 09:08 AM
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Amazing article! It’s rare to see a subs comparison like this.

I’ve recently been thinking about my monitoring and acoustic treatment(specifically, the lack of treatment) and I think once you’ve bought your monitors/subs/whatever, that’s that. The real place where one should be spending is treatment IMO. I don’t see myself upgrading my funky yellow RP5s for a good long time but I do see myself moving stuff around and sticking foam and other weird stuff on walls.

I don’t think what speakers you’re buying matters much in a home recording context. What really matters is how your room is.

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TW5011 – 10-09-2012, 09:29 AM
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Also of consideration is whether the sub is ported or sealed. I know people have their preferences and I’m not looking to start any debate on that (there’s plenty out there already), but it makes a considerable difference in sound. I much prefer the response of sealed subs (when done right, of course) — typically flatter in frequency response and smoother.

Some subs handle fast-moving bass differently, from my experience. Not a lot of music will expose that, but when you hear it…

And I’ve had a cheaper monitor sub (M-Audio, now discontinued, was around $300 I think) that worked normal for about 3 years, then started popping and changing volume levels — sometimes it would be twice as loud, sometimes soft — which obviously made it useless for mixing. I had to retire it from use, although I still have it in case a bass guitar player doesn’t have an amp.

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nulldevice – 10-09-2012, 09:48 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by guywithaguitar View Post
Amazing article! It’s rare to see a subs comparison like this.
I don’t think what speakers you’re buying matters much in a home recording context. What really matters is how your room is.
Very, very, VERY important point. If your room isn’t treated, not only are your monitors going to not give you an accurate picture, no matetr how great they are, but every sub is going to sound equally awful. There’s no point in even owning a sub if you don’t have good bass management in your room.

Obviously treatment in a non-purpose-built room can get tricky – windows popping up in unexpected places, asymmetry, etc. But every little bit helps.

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dudermn – 10-09-2012, 10:35 AM
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Im still searching for new speakers…since my 2 sub woofer 4 speaker system got torn down.
Maybe soon youll consider using plants in pots as diffuser too

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bitflipper – 10-09-2012, 11:42 AM
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Some folks can save even more money! Because if they have an untreated room, they’re better off with no sub at all.

Anyone interested in the science behind multiple subs should pick up a copy of “Sound Reproduction” by Dr. Floyd Toole. It will make a believer out of you. He does not, however, talk much about quality differences between subwoofer models and designs (despite having worked most of his life for a speaker manufacturer), acknowledging the fact that room acoustics are far and away more important than the speakers themselves.

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paintballnsk – 10-09-2012, 12:04 PM
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I need to read something about it, because in my mind, I would imagine multiple subs would cause all kinds of phase problems, and a well placed single sub would be the ideal situation. But I do have a second sub kicking around somewhere, maybe I’ll hook it up and see if I like it

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ZanetheVocalist – 10-09-2012, 12:17 PM
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I wonder if multiple subs would cause phase problems too. If the trade off is good enough for a flatter response I’m all in.

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brandondrury – 10-09-2012, 12:17 PM
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I suppose if you’re CLA, you can get away with NS10′s and a cheap sub. Because you’re CLA. If you’re not CLA? You might not have the skill. Lord knows I don’t. CLA likely mixes with his sub disengaged most fo the time anyway, and has been mixing on NS10′s longer than I’ve been alive so probably knows pretty well how his mixes are going to translate almost instinctually.
Interesting, I’ve never heard the perspective that not-so-robo-pros need BETTER gear than mega pros. In theory, if the gear did THAT much, then you are correct. The gear should do all the heavy lifting so we don’t rely on the skill of the engineer. Of course, it doesn’t work that way and for good reason. High end gear, as a whole, is only marginally better than cheapo gear.

Truth be told there’s probably a price-point sweetspot between the mass-produced Big Box Store special and soemthing like a Focal.
While I can’t comment on all $150 subs (I doubt if they are all created equally) there is something to these BIC America subwoofers….at least the one I tested.

I don’t think what speakers you’re buying matters much in a home recording context. What really matters is how your room is.
Agreed!

Some folks can save even more money! Because if they have an untreated room, they’re better off with no sub at all.
Good to see you bitflipper! Yup, I probably should amend the article with a disclaimer. I think I will.

I need to read something about it, because in my mind, I would imagine multiple subs would cause all kinds of phase problems, and a well placed single sub would be the ideal situation
You aren’t wrong. The problem is that one single sub only acts like a single sub in an anechoic chamber. Every reflection point becomes kinda/sorta “another sub” as those multiple, time delayed reflections start to add up.

The phase of the direct signal from the speakers would be a major issue and I’d imagine placement is on the “hyper critical” side of the fence. However, the data seems to say that the stacking of multiple modes is more beneficial than just one good sub, intuitive or not.

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Prado Escondido – 10-09-2012, 01:03 PM
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I’d like to hear some ‘crossover’ opinions regarding using subs or not. In the FWIW department, about a year ago I was cruising my local Craig’s list in SoCal when I came an ad for “Genelec 8040a, mint, 50% street discount price” … meaning half what Sweetwater, etc., charge. It seemed to good to be true, so I contacted the seller with the obligatory ‘why are you selling … ” questions. He answered that he was an engineer who did a little fee for service mixing/ mastering on the side. He’d had 8050s and thought he do better with the new 8040a with a sub system, but after three months of hassling with sub placement he decided it was much easier and equally effective to work with the 8050s, so he was selling and getting 8050a monitors. Unfortunately, he also told me that the 8040a monitors had already been snapped up.

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AndiP – 10-09-2012, 01:44 PM
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That frequency plot’s nice but it’d be much more interesting to see what the waterfall looks like.

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dudermn – 10-09-2012, 01:56 PM
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Eh one day someone else is going to put big head-phones on top of ear buds and start a whole new trend.

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brandondrury – 10-09-2012, 01:58 PM
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I’d like to hear some ‘crossover’ opinions regarding using subs or not.
That’s an interesting discussion. For whatever reason, no matter what the placement mains with no sub have never delivered the low end in either of the three rooms I’ve done significant work in. I don’t understand it. I’ve been to other rooms and the low end has been PLENTYYY on similar monitors. So you’ve got me.

That frequency plot’s nice but it’d be much more interesting to see what the waterfall looks like.
In Home Recording Studio: Build It Like the Pros By Rod Gervais Review Rod Gervais gave a breakdown on why the waterfall was ineffective. I found it interesting.

Just out of curiosity, I’d like to know what you are expecting to be different. It’s my understanding that the waterfall would only be testing my room or is there something I’m overlooking. Maybe another way of asking it is would a waterfall ever tell us anything of significance in an anechoic chamber between two different speakers?

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enferno – 10-09-2012, 02:55 PM
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not to mention this is about the worst, most nonscientific way to compare 2 things . . . not level matches on the way in or out. you really do enjoy just hearing yourself talk . . .

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brandondrury – 10-09-2012, 03:05 PM
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not level matches on the way in or out.
I went through great lengths to level match on all my subjective listening tests. The tests wouldn’t have been remotely useful otherwise. This is so obvious I’m not sure what kind of conspiracy theorist would have come up with it.

I guess I could have left the two charts on top of each other but I thought it more clearly illustrated the point with the offset. I could post a graphic of the non-offset graphs if it adds validity.

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bubingaisgod – 10-09-2012, 04:06 PM
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I’m going to add that in untreated and poorly treated spaces, the harder you push your sub, the more it’s going to lie to you. I also think that while the Best Buy sub might not sound much different at nominal levels, you will buy 10 of them over the next 10 years, as opposed to maybe 1 of the other sub. I’m sure the best buy sub is manufactured in the deepest, darkest recesses of a China sweat shop.

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alexmcginness – 10-09-2012, 04:53 PM
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not surprised that the curves are similar. Im asuming they were measured in the same room so it looks like the room is doing the same number on both subs frequency wise. Get ARC 2 and use the cheap sub, if you need a sub, process the setup with ARC and be happy. I was using a sub but now Im just usin my Tannoy PBM 8 MKIIs without the sub. I set them up with ARC 2 and measured them thru my DAW with arc engaged using R.E.W. software. Its flat +- 2db from 35.3 hz up. Dont really need a sub. Youll never know how linear your setup is in your room untill you measure. Get R.E.W. its free. Itll show ya how bad your room is or how good it is. The cheapest way to correct frequency issues and modal ringing is with treatements and ARC. Treatements alone wont do it…ARC alone wont either, but ARC alone will get ya closer than treatements alone.

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bdwells21 – 10-09-2012, 05:35 PM
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Brandon, when your potty training son springs a leak while standing atop your sub (yes this has happened to me), you will be glad it is not the $1800 dollar one.

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DanTheMan – 10-09-2012, 06:21 PM
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Dr. Toole would NEVER say the room is more important than the speakers. His own data would radically disagree with that! Damn. I just surrender. There’s too much crap to sift, but Brandon blog post is a good. Stick with what he demonstrates and with what I, Dr. Geddes and/or Todd Welti demonstrated. The Welti and Geddes approach are actually very different, but the are both effective.

Prado Escondido – 10-09-2012, 06:29 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Dr. Toole would NEVER say the room is more important than the speakers. His own data would radically disagree with that! Damn. I just surrender. There’s too much crap to sift, but Brandon blog post is a good. Stick with what he demonstrates and with what I, Dr. Geddes and/or Todd Welti demonstrated. The Welti and Geddes approach are actually very different, but the are both effective.

Dan
Obscure for the forum relative newby. Got some links?

Prado

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DanTheMan – 10-09-2012, 06:56 PM
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Just read Dr. Toole’s book. Essentially above 300Hz what you hear is the speaker. Below there the room dominates. You’d be amazed at how much this has been harped on and I’m glad you want to learn it. Somewhere in that book they did a study and essentially no matter what room you put a great loudspeaker in, it was preferred by listeners. When rooms were compared, people had preferences that were consistent as well, but no matter what the speaker was most important. I don’t think anything about has been formally uploaded to the web unless you pay for the AES article. The book can largely be read for free on Google books.

Sorry, I’m in a pissy mood reading this stuff and it’s hard for me to repeatedly put out the effort.

Dan

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dudermn – 10-09-2012, 08:11 PM
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Jajajaja I took this picture just for you Brandon !
This guitar will kill a Taylor ! 20 bucks at Wal-Mart!

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DanTheMan – 10-09-2012, 09:15 PM
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5 of those cheap subs will likely kill that Focal in output. I mean kill. The fact that if they go they are easy as can be to replace on the pocket book.

That said, I’d never argue for selling that Focal to buy BIC. It just has absolutely nothing to do with sound quality.

Dan

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adorian – 10-09-2012, 11:18 PM
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Brandon, you’re aware you’re hurting your Focal’s resale value posting this before you sell them, right?

What about material listened to? Nothing is mentioned of rap vs rock vs classical or beepop or whatever…I am sure this will vary.

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DanTheMan – 10-09-2012, 11:35 PM
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Within their limitations, there’s not going to be any difference worth mentioning if any even audible. The amount of output difference you see will be greater than the audibility difference.

I’d hope the Focal is capable of more output… BIC are actually famous for their output/cost. They are also well engineered.

It’s a very difficult concept to grasp at first, but bass is radically location dependent in an acoustically small room. It just runs counter to what you were brought up to believe. If I told a Christian that Mary wasn’t a virgin, had sex out of wedlock several times and in all sorts of positions, it might be met with difficulty as well. It’s all very similar, but to me they are both equally sensible though next to no one is willing to believe it regardless of what science says.

Dan

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bitflipper – 10-10-2012, 08:31 AM
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“Dr. Toole would NEVER say the room is more important than the speakers” … “Essentially above 300Hz what you hear is the speaker. Below there the room dominates.”

So which is it, Dan? And where’s the crossover set on your subwoofer?

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bubingaisgod – 10-10-2012, 09:07 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by bitflipper View Post
“Dr. Toole would NEVER say the room is more important than the speakers” … “Essentially above 300Hz what you hear is the speaker. Below there the room dominates.”

So which is it, Dan? And where’s the crossover set on your subwoofer?
Then in this thread wouldn’t the room be a very important factor? Since the discussion seems to suggest the biggest differences heard between the two subs being their position in the room, and the room dynamics in general. I don’t mean to sound argumentative, I just think room dynamics overshadow perceived sound quality in two difference pieces of hardware, and it’s well advised to make sure your addressing that before worrying about how the high end gear will make your projects sound better.

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TW5011 – 10-10-2012, 09:53 AM
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The multi-sub article mentioned the annoyances of cheap subs, and that’s a valid point. On the M-Audio sub I had, it would go into power-saving mode while listening to music at a reasonable mixing volume, and I had to turn the music up more than I wanted to to get the sub to “wake up”. It was annoying, and it interrupted my mixing. The sub would also make a popping noise through my monitors when I muted it, which obviously isn’t a good thing.

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DanTheMan – 10-10-2012, 12:13 PM
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It’s both. The speakers are bar none the most important thing. If you place a divide at approx 300Hz, you can say the room/position below, the speakers above.

Looking at your post in isolation, it is correct. Sorry I got my panties in a bunch.

Reading Dr Toole’s data says that the speakers matter the most–not the subs or the room acoustics.

Dan

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DanTheMan – 10-10-2012, 12:31 PM
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Oh, I forgot… My low pass is at 80Hz.

And Rod is correct from an audibility perspective. I posted a Waterfall graph just to reduce hate mail. Lol.

You can imagine I get a lot of hate mail. In a sense I deserve it.

Dan

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rca33 – 10-10-2012, 01:27 PM
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The CLA example is a good one, and I believe that he’s not alone on this. Maybe our “gearaholic” side prevents us to see this, but we all put too much emphasis (and hope) on better gear. I’m not advocating that better gear isn’t likely to produce better results, but it’s not going to do it by itself.

I have no doubts that any of the greatest (LCA, Dave Pensado, etc) would pull out amazing mixes on a Rokit 5 or anything similar. Maybe they would take a little longer to ‘learn’ the monitors and pull out the final mix, but I’m pretty confident that that they have all the SKILL to make it happen.

Considering that he (LCA) probably works on a ‘more than decent’ acoustical space, I guess that for most Home-Studio owners, the weakest link is the one sitting in front of the monitors (even if they are a 300€ set). I know that I am the weakest link!

A good 5.000€ monitor will always be a lot better than a 300€ one, for sure (unless something’s very wrong). As for subwoofers, as long as we’re not talking about really cheap (or poorly designed) ones, it wouldn’t be where I would put my big bucks first.
While getting the right low end sound on a mix can be tricky, there are a lot more octaves of music information above that to address first.

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Prado Escondido – 10-10-2012, 02:04 PM
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One related ‘room’ issue that always puzzles me. 9 times out of 10 when you see a picture of a high end studio with 128 channel or more desk, it is set up in a shallow rectangular room with a window to the sound stage. The engineer is in no way in the ‘center’ of such a room, but flitting back and forth from right to left to the different channels. The lack of ‘listening position’ and the shallowness of the room would seem to be absolutely opposite of what would be beneficial for any bass fidelity.

What the hell is the guy listening to?

Prado

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DanTheMan – 10-10-2012, 02:41 PM
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Not so sure about a good expensive monitor being ‘a lot’ better than a 300 euro one. It might be anything.

So far the only real studio I’ve been in had an utterly terrible monitoring environment. The bass response seemed pretty good though. In any case, the engineer could make a better sounding mix than I could in any environment.

Pete Sampras could beat me with a wooden racquet I’m sure. He’d beat me a little worse with a good racquet I bet. Either way I’d still loose.

Dan

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DanTheMan – 10-10-2012, 08:27 PM
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Hmmm… Posts are disappearing.

For some reason this seems to happen in these articles

Dan

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b1daly – 10-11-2012, 03:10 AM
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Very interesting article/thread. FWIW, by far the biggest improvement in monitoring I’ve ever experienced was when we obtained very heavy steel speaker stands (filled with sand). We had tried some pressed particle board stands that could be filled with sand, those did nothing. The heavy stands improved all of our monitors, across the board. The main effect was a greatly improved sense of clarity, and stereo imaging. The heavy stands do reduce the experience of bass in the room, as they prevent the bass being transmitted through the floor and structure of the room. I’ve been recording forever, and I was stunned…

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bitflipper – 10-11-2012, 09:47 AM
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Sound quality isn’t the only consideration. Build quality and reliability are just as important. There is a reason for a carpenter spending $60 on a hammer when a functionally-identical tool can be had for $5.

I’ve been using a relatively inexpensive subwoofer for the past 5 or 6 years, and it’s done a fine job. Distortion isn’t an issue as it’s usually played at low volume, well below its design limits. Frequency response isn’t a problem because it only has to handle less than one octave, and any frequency anomalies are dwarfed by the effect of room resonances. The matching sub from the manufacturer of my main speakers would have been $2000 and I could not justify that. The $1600 I saved was more than enough for bass traps, a far better investment.

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brandondrury – 10-11-2012, 01:19 PM
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What about material listened to? Nothing is mentioned of rap vs rock vs classical or beepop or whatever…I am sure this will vary.
This is probably subjective, but I’ve always thought that with a well-tuned setup (like I mostly have now) that Metallica, Snoop Dogg, and Pet Shop Boys should all work great. I’ve never really understood why a person would need to “turn up the bass” for rap, for example. That’s already been done on every rap production I’ve ever heard.

I did not test classical as that’s not really my neck of the woods. However, for all parameters that are important to me I can’t think of ANYTHING the Focal Sub6 did that the BIC America sub didn’t do.

On the M-Audio sub I had, it would go into power-saving mode while listening to music at a reasonable mixing volume, and I had to turn the music up more than I wanted to to get the sub to “wake up”
Was their switch to disable the “Auto turn on”. My old Klipsche and this Bic America sub both had the option of “On”, “Off”, or “Auto”.

Brandon

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DanTheMan – 10-11-2012, 01:57 PM
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One thing that would be cool to see while you have them both there: a linearity test. See which one starts compressing first. Take a graph just like you did. Turn up the volume and do it again. Keep doing this until one of them starts to compress the signal. You’ll see a deficit in the FR. It would be interesting just to see IMO.

Dan

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brandondrury – 10-11-2012, 03:37 PM
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I just spent a few hours reading a bit of Dr. Toole’s book.

It seems that his multi-sub system in real world rooms with fireplaces, oblong thingies, etc that Sound Field Management Software (SFM) is absolutely required. I liked the idea of 5 subs “evening out” room modes through some kind of blandness-through-democratization concept. When it’s viewed with a magnifying lens, each subwoofer is doing a VERY specific job in counteracting a mode. The problem is that if you get off center in the perfect room or who-knows-where in a non-perfect room, the necessary frequency response and amplitude of the counteracting sub is (not to mention time delay/phase) becomes highly specific and not at all linear, necessarily. Without SMF the multi-sub method could be WORSE than a single sub based on a trillion zillion factors.

The quote that really hit home for me:
For a solitary listener there are solutions—simple solutions—here and now.
A single competent subwoofer, combined with a competent measurement/equalization
system, should be able to deliver respectable bass to a single listener.
While I LOVE the idea of the entire room (or even a portion of the room) having even frequency response, I generally mix alone. My clients are usually farting on themselves and such. They rarely say, “Notice the resonance in that kick”. They just come back to me later when their truck exposes the issue in glaring detail.

I’ve determined that more proactive AND responsible processing will get me somewhere with my single sub, but until I can build a studio with absolutely perfect conditions, I’m getting in the cage with a tiger in regard to Dr. Toole’s multi-sub system.

If I could get ahold of SFM software smart enough to correct 4 or more subs, I’d do it. Unfortunately, it appears the Harman / JBL Arcos is only available to 8 people in the country. Interesting.

Brandon

brandondrury – 10-11-2012, 03:39 PM
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One thing that would be cool to see while you have them both there: a linearity test. See which one starts compressing first. Take a graph just like you did. Turn up the volume and do it again. Keep doing this until one of them starts to compress the signal. You’ll see a deficit in the FR. It would be interesting just to see IMO.

Dan
Mr. Bic America sub is gone for good. This was a peculiar arrangement involving me helping with an anniversary present. (The wife had no clue what her husband/my buddy would want. I did the leg work and got to do a quick experiment.)

This war ain’t over though.

Brandon

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Prado Escondido – 10-11-2012, 04:14 PM
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Price sweet spot? What’s the take on the upgrade BIC? Amazon.com: Bic America VK-12 12-Inch 1000-Watt Kevlar Series Front-Firing Powered Subwoofer: Electronics

I think I’m just going to find me a doepelganger to crawl around on the floor while I sit in my mix position, and keep repositioning the sub till I like it.

Basic room treatment, Arc 2 and the doepelganger should do the trick.

Prado

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dudermn – 10-11-2012, 11:47 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by brandondrury View Post
Unfortunately, it appears the Harman / JBL Arcos is only available to 8 people in the country. Interesting.

Brandon
The work around for the sparse availability of said gentle men would be to line up an fx chain from a splitter.
Just cross-over at 200 hertz (or 300 if your into that sort of thing)…or lower if you want. Than go to a 7-9 way splitter from that each cable would run into a 12-20 band eq (the kind with custom parameters allowing you to go from 1-200 hertz with-out eqing shit that does not belong in the sub-woofer region). The phase linear/exponential could than be tweaked by a number of other toys…..of course thats just an example.

When I used 2 subs they got their input from out-put 1 for left and output 2 for right while the tweeters got the head-phone out. Than putting one sub-woofer in a shelf with blankets and pillows and setting the cross-over as low as it would go and the resonance someplace comfy with the wood cabin. The speaker was facing up-wards. Cross-over at around 79.
The second sub sat across the room and the speaker would sit facing the other sub. This one had a cross over at about 120.

But considering that sound travels as a sphere…..it does not matter which way the sub sits.

What ever happened to quadrophonic anyways ?

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DanTheMan – 10-12-2012, 12:17 AM
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One sub w/ EQ should be able to work. The closer to the listener the better. A couple band parametric and you could easily be good to go.

Keep in mind that the Welti method and Geddes method are radically different. One aims to minimize the other to maximize modal contribution. There are whole other ways as well, but those are the most straight forward and well documented. Check out Premium Home Theater by Earl Geddes as well. Totally different approach–more similar to what I did.

Dan

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DanTheMan – 10-12-2012, 12:20 AM
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Oh, they use 3 and 4 subs. I used 5 just for fun–they were there and I figured I wouldn’t have to think.

I hate thinking.

Dan

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Audio~Geek – 10-13-2012, 08:03 PM
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Once downside of this cheap sub is the lack of crossover for your monitors. And how are you keeping the optimal balance of nearfield and sub if they aren’t in series?

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dudermn – 10-13-2012, 09:55 PM
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Kinda thinking about it… there was a movie about a def d.j. (shows how hard it is to be a d.j.).
Where the guy used a pair of twin subs. They were jimmy rigged as a pair of sandals and pretty much thats how the def guy did things.
(It’s All Gone Pete Tong (2004) – Plot Summary)

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DanTheMan – 10-13-2012, 10:54 PM
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None of my subs have crossovers to my monitors. I don’t measure or hear any issues there. To me they are just 2 more low frequency sources to add to the mess. I could certainly see where some small monitors could be an issue.

Dan

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Plokmijn27 – 10-13-2012, 11:23 PM
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I find 2 home surround subs, and 2 Loudspeakers with 12″ woofers to be plenty of bass and I just have that chillin in one corner of my room with no sort of acoustic mumbo jumbo. That’s not including 2 80watt Yahma MS60S Stage monitors, and a second stereo, and occasionally I even hookup my Roland Cube-60 Bass amp and my Vox-VT40+.
Essentially I have hearing problems.

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dudermn – 10-14-2012, 12:53 AM
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So you could route every track from a recording session to the individual instruments… Bass to bass amp. Guitar to guitar amp… drums to monitors and speakers.
And you could have a very high quality listening experience.
To bad no-body sells multi-track audio songs….

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Plokmijn27 – 10-14-2012, 10:24 AM
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I can do that while monitoring, I usually (at least with multiple instruments) will plug the instruments into the mixer, and then route each instrument to the correct amp/speaker, this way I can adjust the volume of each instrument very easily and from the same spot. Although when doing this I can’t record via the record output because I will get serious feedback, however I can record through my AUX outputs, but am limited to a single track recording as opposed to 2-way stereo track.

Either way sound coming out of 26 individual speakers (multiple speakers to most speaker boxes), sounds fucking ridiculous with a combined total of 480watts behind it.

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dudermn – 10-14-2012, 10:56 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by Plokmijn27 View Post

Either way sound coming out of 26 individual speakers (multiple speakers to most speaker boxes), sounds fucking ridiculous with a combined total of 480watts behind it.
That sounds so sexy

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Plokmijn27 – 10-14-2012, 11:19 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by dudermn View Post
That sounds so sexy
In a 10X12 room oh god yes. Shit is always falling over, falling down, etc. If you’re speakers stay in one place, they don’t have enough bass.

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dudermn – 10-14-2012, 12:08 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Plokmijn27 View Post
In a 10X12 room oh god yes. Shit is always falling over, falling down, etc. If you’re speakers stay in one place, they don’t have enough bass.
Maybe if the room would stop rockin !

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Plokmijn27 – 10-14-2012, 01:33 PM
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I like to feel the music. And surround sound is a thing of the past. I have mono sound, but trust me, it surrounds you, no matter where you are in the room.

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brandondrury – 10-16-2012, 01:41 AM
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Once downside of this cheap sub is the lack of crossover for your monitors.
Yeah, this is a bummer. However, in an $1850 sub Focal couldn’t put a continuously variable high pass crossover for the mains anyway. This is such a critical issue and wouldn’t cost $10 to implement.

And how are you keeping the optimal balance of nearfield and sub if they aren’t in series?
For the tests I calibrated the sub via aux send on a duplicated channels from the 2bus (done with the RME DSP mixer thingy) with an SPL meter. When I wanted to switch subs I had to unmute 2 channels on the console, mute 2 channels on the console, and push the subwoofer footswitch for the Focal.

For this test the high pass crossover was disengaged.

Brandon

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brandondrury – 10-16-2012, 01:47 AM
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Keep in mind that the Welti method and Geddes method are radically different. One aims to minimize the other to maximize modal contribution. There are whole other ways as well, but those are the most straight forward and well documented. Check out Premium Home Theater by Earl Geddes as well. Totally different approach–more similar to what I did.
Roger that. Man, I HATE that title. “Premium Home Theater” is going to be a tough one to open up. I simply hate these hifi guys sucking on the tit of someone who actually created something and pretending they are….. Well, let’s just say it’s not my thing. I’d imagine the phd level dudes are grandfathered in to my exclusive club, but man it’s tough.

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DanTheMan – 10-16-2012, 07:24 AM
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Why is a high pass critical to you folks?

That second post just has me baffled B. there’s so my acoustics in that book… And designed around psychoacoustics. That stuff is the same in a studio or an HT.

Dan

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Audio~Geek – 10-16-2012, 12:03 PM
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An ideal sub for me would have a variable hipass and a footswitch to bypass the sub.

Having the low cut on the sub means you can A/B your monitors with and without the sub without having to change the settings on the monitors. unfortunately my sub doesn’t have a bypass option.

It took a long time and a lot of testing but I finally got my Yamaha HS50M and HS10W working optimally.

Moving the sub to the exact center between the monitors made a huge improvement actually. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read that placement doesn’t matter.

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DanTheMan – 10-16-2012, 01:32 PM
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I don’t have any subs designed for the pro market. Of course I only use one set of monitors as well and they’ll go loud and deep without issues.

Did moving the sub help with localization or with SQ?

Thanks,

Dan

Audio~Geek – 10-17-2012, 10:58 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Did moving the sub help with localization or with SQ?
I had it between the monitors but more to the right side before. It sounded pretty good but when I was measuring the room and setting up ARC2 I realized I had an imbalance of L and R.
In the middle the sub improves the phantom center and I don’t get that imbalance anymore.

I also have my sub sitting on an Auralex Subdude Auralex Acoustics – SubDude to stop transmission into the floor (into my neighbors bedroom!).

I’m not convinced two subs would be better considering how low-level my sub is set and that I mix at only 75dB SPL.

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alexmcginness – 10-17-2012, 11:25 AM
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I found with ARC 2 that I dont really need the sub. After I ARC’d my tannoy PBM8 MKIIs without the sub my response was flat down to 35.2hz. How I arrived at this figure was to ARC the speakers and then measure thry my DAW with ARC engaged, with a program called R.E.W. With ARC 1.- I still had a hole in my bass. ARC 2 is definately more accurate in its corrections. I use a set of Logitech X-230s on the road and ARC them in my cabin on the ships I work on. The mixes I do on them transfer great. If youre gonna use a sub with your setup get one thats in your budget and get ARC. Better yet…dont get the sub…buy ARC first and see if you even need a sub. Its kinda funny that the first book Brandon gives out stresses the accuracy of the monitoring environment, and in the threads he says hes never had success with ARC. I think he needs to get Danny over for lunch and an ARC setup session. ARC will definately stop people from pissing thousands away on the “I need better monitors” merry go round. You need “accurate” monitoring period. Its not the speakers that need to be accurate, but the listening environment, and that it the “combination” of the speakers and how they interact with the space they are in. Youll never have it in most home studios without this type of correction. Get ARC….measure your room….measure thru ARC with R.E.W. The waterfall graph in REW will telll you what bass trapping youll need….put up some absortion at the reflection points….ARC again…..be happy.

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dudermn – 10-17-2012, 01:48 PM
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For 9 months I have been using head-phones and am slowly starting to break-down from not having speakers…..
“I still had a hole in my bass. ARC 2 is definately more accurate in its corrections…”
“I also have my sub sitting on an Auralex Subdude”
“will plug the instruments into the mixer, and then route each instrument to the correct amp/speaker”
“Oh, they use 3 and 4 subs. I used 5 just for fun–they were there and I figured I wouldn’t have to think.”
“An ideal sub for me would have a variable hipass and a footswitch to bypass the sub.”

I think Im going to visit guitar center early in the morning and take all their speakers on the back of a radio flyer (a red radio flyer).

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DanTheMan – 10-17-2012, 01:53 PM
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Thanks Audio Geek. makes me wonder how high you are crossed and at what slope.?

Alex, My fingers have gone hoarse. Lol. ARC isn’t a cure all. Below 300Hz it’s good at the listening position.

Dan

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alexmcginness – 10-17-2012, 02:28 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Thanks Audio Geek. makes me wonder how high you are crossed and at what slope.?

Alex, My fingers have gone hoarse. Lol. ARC isn’t a cure all. Below 300Hz it’s good at the listening position.

Dan
Where else do mix engineers require accuracy but at “the listening position”????? Do you run around the room??? Bob Katz has a sweet spot in his mastering room. He says if he moves his head slightly forward the response changes. Guess where in the room he listens to the mixes in order to master them? …Yup…in the “listening position” Thats the only place you need to have the accuracy. In the bigger studios maybe the sweet spot has to be a lot larger, which Arc will allow for, but for a home studio…ARC will get you as close as you need to be…and can be measured thru after the correction to verify the results.
Its always the guys that dont have ARC and listen to the nay sayers that turn their noses up at it. Even Ethan Winer ( an ARC disser ) says and showed that ARC made the frequency response better….he also showed where it worsened things, which is why I said to get R.E.W and measure thru ARC to see where treatment was needed to correct the things ARC doesnt. ARC alone is better than treatements alone. Both are necessary to fix room anomolies in home studios.

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DanTheMan – 10-17-2012, 07:45 PM
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You missed my point– Below 300Hz. You still need good speakers for accuracy above there. ARC can’t fix them. Don’t get me wrong I am not against ARC at all. It’s just that above 300Hz, it may in fact make things less accurate at the listening position.

Dan

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Audio~Geek – 10-17-2012, 07:53 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Thanks Audio Geek. makes me wonder how high you are crossed and at what slope.?
had a crawl behind the desk, monitors are Flat low cut, flat room compensation, +2dB highs. Sub High cut is at 80Hz, the minimum position.

Another thing this sub has is a polarity flip button, which for me, in this position with the crossover set how it is, sounds best in.

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Audio~Geek – 10-17-2012, 07:56 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
You missed my point– Below 300Hz. You still need good speakers for accuracy above there. ARC can’t fix them. Don’t get me wrong I am not against ARC at all. It’s just that above 300Hz, it may in fact make things less accurate at the listening position.

Dan
ARC taught me that my room was sucking a lot of highs out of what I was listening to. Hence the +2dB boost. I’ve been having good success with ARC2 lately. My mixes and masters are translating very well outside of this room.

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DanTheMan – 10-17-2012, 08:48 PM
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That’s essentially your best sub set up Audio Geek(not that you needed me to tell you that).

Nearly every room will suck out a lot of highs with an ungated measurement, but according to the studies done on the subject, primarily what you hear as far as tonal balance is concerned is the listening axis response.

Dan

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dudermn – 10-18-2012, 06:17 AM
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hmm
My friend in Romania just told me about his home audio system.
Its 2 peavey impulse 12d (1200watt) for the bass and mids and a Mhc-rg330 (thats a typical stereo) for the tweeters.
The amp is a Romania built solid state….most likely from the late 60 or the early 70s

Mean-while I am still stuck with head-phones…God I miss mixing things at his place.

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DanTheMan – 10-18-2012, 06:55 PM
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What I meant by the listening axis response is an anechoic measurement on the imaginary line between you and the speaker(s) above 300Hz. Iow, the room response that ARC uses is not appropriate above the 300Hz mark. Maybe they’ve fixed that now, but the last graphs I saw on the subject showed they were still doing it in spite of the opposing research.

Dan

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Audio~Geek – 10-18-2012, 10:25 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
What I meant by the listening axis response is an anechoic measurement on the imaginary line between you and the speaker(s) above 300Hz. Iow, the room response that ARC uses is not appropriate above the 300Hz mark. Maybe they’ve fixed that now, but the last graphs I saw on the subject showed they were still doing it in spite of the opposing research.

Dan
ARC2 works full-spectrum. It evens out the midrange boost that my monitors naturally have, they sound flatter. I find it helps.
It also helps with my standing wave issue at about 95Hz.

Another neat thing is that the sweet spot seems a little larger, front to back and left-right.

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jp2121 – 10-19-2012, 09:10 PM
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I see most home subs have an RCA input or even speaker level inputs. What’s the best way to hook those up when they don’t have two inputs and outputs? Maybe I’m missing something and perhaps those aren’t the best subs to go with? That BIC america sub has some speaker level pass through thing going on so I suppose that works out. Maybe cutting the ends off my XLR cables and pig-tailing them to wire up? I always thought speaker level inputs were for cheap ass car stereo amps back in the day.

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Audio~Geek – 10-20-2012, 08:58 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by jp2121 View Post
I see most home subs have an RCA input or even speaker level inputs. What’s the best way to hook those up when they don’t have two inputs and outputs? Maybe I’m missing something and perhaps those aren’t the best subs to go with? That BIC america sub has some speaker level pass through thing going on so I suppose that works out. Maybe cutting the ends off my XLR cables and pig-tailing them to wire up? I always thought speaker level inputs were for cheap ass car stereo amps back in the day.
NO! You’ll need to use passive speakers in that case.

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DanTheMan – 10-20-2012, 11:06 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by Audio~Geek View Post
ARC2 works full-spectrum. It evens out the midrange boost that my monitors naturally have, they sound flatter. I find it helps.
It also helps with my standing wave issue at about 95Hz.

Another neat thing is that the sweet spot seems a little larger, front to back and left-right.
Dang it. I replied to this already, but it’s gone.

It should work wonders at 95Hz and/or anything below 300. Above there it’s likely to make things worse. If your monitors are not very good from an acoustics perspective, there’s a chance they might get better and/or even worse(less accurate). It should broaden the sweet spot on monitors with off axis issues. Gating a signal won’t reduce the spectrum a over 300Hz. It will harm the resolution. If you trust every blind listening test ever done on the subject, there just isn’t a way currently for doing room correction above 300Hz and garundamnteeing it better for a center seated listener. Well designed monitors shouldn’t be improvable for any seat above 300Hz.

Dan

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Audio~Geek – 10-21-2012, 11:40 PM
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what do you mean by ‘gating a signal’?

The ARC technology is made by Audyssey and adapted for DAWs. It’s EQ.
MultEQ from Audyssey – Balanced Sound – Automatically Customizes Home Theater System | Audyssey

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dudermn – 10-22-2012, 05:18 AM
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What the hell are you guys on to now?!!!

Its not called gating its called quantitizing !!!!

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DanTheMan – 10-22-2012, 01:13 PM
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audio blog: Gating loudspeaker measurements

If You explained the compromises of a longitudinally mounted car motor to someone and they replied ‘it’s a car’ as if you didn’t know, you may feel a bit frustrated. That’s how I feel right now. I could go on and on about this stuff, but I’m trying to keep it short and simple. Typing on a phone is time consuming and tedious.

Gating would be a more appropriate way to do ‘room correction’ above 300Hz. Of course then it would be loudspeaker correction(as it should be) and require more steps, more difficult steps, and less intuitive steps for the end user.

Dan

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DanTheMan – 10-22-2012, 04:09 PM
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I just looked at the Audyssey page for the first time in years. What they show still goes against the research on hearing if you want to do it Accurate. It does later say that the “concentrate most of the signal on the direct sound.” And their high end product focuses on the bass where room correction is most needsd. So who knows, but their frequency domain graphs show just the opposite. If they were looking at the direct sound, they’d need to have some very near measurements to get enough data to make such corrections. If their claim is correct, they have a speaker that measures worse than any I’ve measured–radically so. There are definitely some bad speakers out there though.

When I used to run one of their mid grade algorithms, I thought it did the bass justice, and didn’t seem to screw up the mid/high much. Overall I felt it a net gain, but not as good as my current system which actually uses no EQ. It could actually benefit from EQ though. Getting good speakers, and the bass as best it can be from the start is always going to be the best way to start.

Dan

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DanTheMan – 10-22-2012, 07:22 PM
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Okay, so all the confusion around loudspeakers, room response, and perception gave me enough go juice to write a post for a reference: audio blog: Pitfalls of “Room Correction”

That should clear things up in an easy(er) to understand way. Still I need to make the last paragraph a bit more coherent I think. I just got too antsy.

Dan

cporro – 10-30-2012, 12:33 PM
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i’d make sure your room is treated for modes before getting a sub.

i’d rather have monitors with decent bass and a natural roll off then use a sub in a poorly treated room. the sub can make you room modes go medieval on your buttocks and mix.

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brandondrury – 10-30-2012, 02:01 PM
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the sub can make you room modes go medieval on your buttocks and mix.
Semantic police warning: The room modes are always there. They are caused by the dimensions of the room and the speed of sound.

If the sub added a new sonic component, we do need to ensure this new “information” isn’t being mangled by our room as low end is much more at the mercy of our room dimensions. However, the argument of just not hearing those frequencies has never made sense to me unless a person used headphones or something for low frequency monitoring.

Brandon

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DanTheMan – 10-30-2012, 02:07 PM
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My room modes are untreated. My bass is flat and tight… Several ways to skin a cat.

Dan

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cporro – 10-30-2012, 04:51 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Several ways to skin a cat.
which way are you doing it?

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DanTheMan – 10-30-2012, 06:32 PM
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Multisub approach. It’s pretty flat across my entire couch.
Dan
audio blog: My Multi Sub Attempt

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dudermn – 10-31-2012, 03:29 AM
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So you get more low-end with more sub-woofers.
Huh….go figure. I looked at those graphs and initially thought holy crap! What is wrong with the room. Or what is wrong with the sub!!! At the end of the day…what you had looked kinda boomy (As Taylor guitars describes it).

Having seen this thread….I become envious. So I got up and get some monitors and a woofer as well!
The speakers are some-thing a friend has laying around. They sound great…they look great… just had to clean the dust off um… and for a free set of “monitors” they do what they have to do very very well. Even if I didnt test them properly (not enough time). Old songs really sound great on um. To bad there are no specs. or markings on them except for something on the back that reads “Speaker system – Eight Ohm”.

….sadly… I barely use um…

The sub-woofer I use probably has only 5-10 watts of power. But the use of the room is the trick. Since my lazy boy sits in the corner the woofer is turned to its side (and the big ass 6 inch speaker) does a fine job at projecting low-end stuff along-side the wall.
I originally considered getting one of these SUNFIRE: True Subwoofer EQ 10 – TS-EQ10
But after having held it in my arms as the tech guy at the local music shop set the thing to amp out eight hertz at 100 watts and the supervisor started yelling at us about breaking the thing.
They suggested that I look else-where for a sub. The argument was that I would burn it up in a week. That the Sun-fire….as cool as it is and as fun as it is…. It is for HOME AUDIO and not for PROFESSIONAL AUDIO.
I argued that I would run it at low volume levels and after having demonstrated the use of a power-ful guitar amp to just gently amplify the very low end of an acoustic guitar to make it sound better in a room….they argued that the woofer is only good for 1-2 hours of use a day….and that it does not have enough dynamics.

So that gets me stuck with a 5 watt sub-woofer for now…as I slowly accept the fact that a sun-fire just wont cut it when it comes to being a good sub-woofer…even if… we had our moment….

Figured I could just get a power amp and run a big 15 inch 1000 watt speaker with some hi-cut to 140 hertz and use that at about 10 watts of power.

P.s. What kind of dog is that ? My room-mate has the same looking breed and we cant figure out what he is.

You guys get to see the special R.R. edition of the Bic Subs ???

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DanTheMan – 10-31-2012, 11:38 AM
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It isn’t that more subs get you more bass at all… You could turn any one of them up to do that. At the end of the day, it’s the smooth/flat/tight bass that comes with the multi sub approach that I was going for. If you really think that looks boomy, I’m just not sure how to respond. So far you’re the first that has suggested that and plenty of experts(Even PhDs) have seen it and are impressed. Really surprised that you could have even thought that was a sub issue. That would be a radical issue for a thesis paper. You may want to make some room graphs of your own at various locations. It would be enlightening.

Not sure how well it will work in every room, but there are a lot of acoustics guys that are doing it. That was my first try and I put very little thought into placement and it worked out excellent.

In all truth, a hybrid approach would be ideal–multi, proximal, treated, EQ, etc… I think that’s why my dog works so well… She’s a mutt. A cross between a Border Collie and a Duck Troller. Knows 40+ commands and is of course an absolute sweetheart. High performance k9.

Dan

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dudermn – 10-31-2012, 03:18 PM
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Considering the compensation from some songs on the low-end of the spectrum. Having a flat response like that is going to end up with a higher low end.

Or just play an acoustic guitar through that set-up…. ?

Didnt mean to offend ya with the comment on boomy. I just read alot of Tarlor brochures lately.

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DanTheMan – 11-01-2012, 12:30 AM
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There shouldn’t be any sort of compensation on songs. In fact, since the majority of mixing environments are hyped in the low end, ‘flat’ typically sounds lean… One complaint of mine in general–no one abides by any ‘standard’.

Buying a sub for an acoustic guitar… Typically a sub is crossed deeper than the low E’s fundamental. It’s like jet propulsion for a Pinto. Love the way that sounds

No offense taken. My wig is fried by the line of thinking all together. I’ve been nosing computer code on the walls of a padded cell brotha. Ain’t nothing phasing me.

Dan

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cporro – 11-01-2012, 05:59 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Multisub approach. It’s pretty flat across my entire couch.
Dan
audio blog: My Multi Sub Attempt
ah that way. can’t say i’ve looked into it much. but based on what i know about acoustics i’m skeptical. for a few reasons.

your typical treatment is removing energy…absorption. you lessen the reflections of the sound waves in the room and everything tightens up. we’ve all heard what this sounds like. the average response of the room everywhere is better.

but if you use several subs you have just as many reflections off the room. i guess the idea is you can cancel out some of the standing waves if you place the subs right. but to me this sounds too good to be true. i’ve yet to hear active sound cancelling technology that works better then just absorbing the trouble sound.

time domain. since standing waves are essentially ringing, time domain is really the place to look. waterfalls. to me that’s the crucial picture. any measurement under say…20ms is just showing you how your speakers respond. the room takes a while to develop modes.

it would be a hard experiment to perform. and how dare i suggest you trade in your sexy subs for …ewww room treatment. but it might be worth doing.

can you refer to me a good explanation of how the multi sub thing works? i’m open to checking it out. i do remember hearing something about it at AES this year.

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DanTheMan – 11-01-2012, 07:11 PM
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You can use Google–if you are an AES member, Todd Welti would be the author. I’m not using his approach at all. I’m using my own and it’s closer to the Geddes’ approach. You can also have a look at my “hearing beyond Haas” on the blog and Genelec’s Data provided. Also, there’s waterfall plots in the blog above. I gotta feeling that by the end of the day I’ll have some even more interesting bass data however. Taylor made(lol) for bass decay.

Remember, bass trapping is no free lunch either. That’s another deep topic–ailments of bass trapping. Anyway, I’m hoping to find a band aid all tonight.

Dan

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cporro – 11-01-2012, 07:11 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by brandondrury View Post
Semantic police warning: The room modes are always there. They are caused by the dimensions of the room and the speed of sound. Brandon
true dat. sorry if i was unclear. no room is flat…or even close. the idea is to better things so you don’t have a 40db range from peak to trough at room modes. 20bd is a lot… even 6db is. try that on your daw.

” However, the argument of just not hearing those frequencies has never made sense to me unless a person used headphones or something for low frequency monitoring.”

right. removing the room removes the modes. and it’s a valid idea imo.

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cporro – 11-01-2012, 07:47 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Remember, bass trapping is no free lunch either. That’s another deep topic–ailments of bass trapping. Anyway, I’m hoping to find a band aid all tonight.

Dan
for every studio crying “the ailments of bass trapping” there are 300 crying different. i’ll take the odds on this one. i’ve been in bands and recording since i was 18…now i’m even older then brandon!

you know why bass is the issue? the wavelengths are close to your room dimensions and treating them is difficult.

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DanTheMan – 11-01-2012, 11:34 PM
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Then take the ‘odds’ on the other as well. The ailments of bass trapping are not in the bass. Actually, I’d take the odds on that if only experts are involved.

Dan

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Audio~Geek – 11-02-2012, 12:29 AM
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Dan did I read that wrong…your room is completely untreated?

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DanTheMan – 11-02-2012, 01:10 AM
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No, but I don’t have any bass treatment that made a measurable improvement. It’s just one corner straddling trap. It does a lot more for RT60 in the MR/treble however. Wether that’s good or not…

Dan

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DanTheMan – 11-02-2012, 11:40 AM
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Okay, here’s a couple ‘fast’ bass experiments: audio blog: Dry (fast) Bass…

All it tells me is that we all need to measure, or we’re just muttering jibberish.

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cporro – 11-02-2012, 12:15 PM
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if your bass treatment isn’t making a difference here is my checklist.

1) is it in a corner? yours is.
2) do you have enough of it? i think the 4 corners are the min.
3) is it really bass trapping? this is the tough one. the one i struggle with. and the conclusion i’m emerging with is you need pressure devices to absorb the real low end. things like compressed fiberglass just aren’t practical below 200hz.

i’d like to hear your room dan. walk around and listen.

i still think money is better spent on treating the room and having one sub. i think the placement of your speakers is well worth doing… but trying to solve room issues with just placement does not add up to me. to date i’ve seen no pro studio without serious treatments. maybe i should start asking how many subs they have and where.

as i said before time domain is really the only place to look when correcting a room. room modes only crop up after sound has bounced off the walls a few times. after that happens you can stop the sound and see how long the decay is. frequency response at any given time is like a frame in a film. it’s a tiny part of the picture.

set your mic up and don’t move it at all. take your measurements. create a waterfall. now add your subs (again don’t touch the mic) and take more measurement and create more waterfalls. see what that looks like.

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DanTheMan – 11-02-2012, 02:57 PM
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We’ve gone through this all here before with bass absorption in a prior thread with the French dude. There’s a lot of useful info there if you wanna Check it out. I’ve already said my bass absorber isn’t making a difference. I should have mentioned that it is the dumbest type to put there. I did that based web gurus subjective hearings even though what I had read said it was dumb. I just had to see/hear for myself. All these gurus couldn’t be wrong in spite of the data could they? I certainly will concede that it is not enough and that anyone would need a lot more of it to become effective. That’s why I find your comment about the expense of it so compelling. It would be a close call IMO. Case to case basis for sure.

You’ve likely seen more measurements of my room than any other. What would you be listening for? Would it help you learn something? Diagnose something? What would be the point?

You see a lot of pro studios doing a lot of different things. What that has to do with the price of eggs in China is beyond me. I was just in a pro studio a few months ago. Not even a decent sounding monitoring environment. Doesn’t mean a thing to me.

I’ll do your experiment in a few. I’m curious as to what you whant to demonstrate with it.? I’m not sure what it would show if anything useful.

Dan

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DanTheMan – 11-02-2012, 03:54 PM
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Well, here’s your data: audio blog: Requested Bass Experiment

Dan

cporro – 11-02-2012, 04:16 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
All these gurus couldn’t be wrong in spite of the data could they?
what type of treatment do you have? i bet it’s not a pressure device. and then i bet i won’t do much at your modes. i have a mode around 30hz. know how thick the fiberglass needs to be for that? fugetaboutit.

i generally think you need all your corners done floor to sealing as a start. so yeah. a lot more. but i would expect you to see a slight difference with even one trap if you take measurements near it.

That’s why I find your comment about the expense of it so compelling. It would be a close call IMO. Case to case basis for sure.
true. soundproofing can be expensive.

You’ve likely seen more measurements of my room than any other. What would you be listening for? Would it help you learn something? Diagnose something? What would be the point?
i’ve seen more of my room. but think i lost many of them with a computer move. what i would do in your room. i’d play some music or while noise walk around and listen. you’ll be able to hear bass building up and where the nulls are. modes can cause huge peaks and dips and you’ll hear that. even better sweep a sine wave up until you hear a mode. then walk around and see how much the volume varies. use a spl meter if you want to get technical. now, you could set the mic up and do all kinds of measurements but that will take a lot longer.

You see a lot of pro studios doing a lot of different things. What that has to do with the price of eggs in China is beyond me. I was just in a pro studio a few months ago. Not even a decent sounding monitoring environment. Doesn’t mean a thing to me.
well, they use different approaches to treating the room…there are a lot of different types of treatments. but i’ve never seen anyone using subs as a alternative for treatment. i guess a mastering room would be a better place to look.

i’m just saying the price of eggs is important here. there is a reason patterns emerge in the pro world. like tune your drums, treat the room, mix at moderate levels, use flat-ish speakers. i know great records have been made without doing any of these things but the trends should tell you something. the reason they treat the room is so they can hear the music and not the artifacts created by the room. i’m guessing that’s what you’d prefer too.

I’ll do your experiment in a few. I’m curious as to what you whant to demonstrate with it.? I’m not sure what it would show if anything useful.
what i’m very curious about is how the room averages out. thus my listening and walking around. i mean you can eq a room so it sounds good in one spot but you better stay in that spot. what i’d expect with using several subs is it will sound better in some places and worse in others. where as room treatment makes every position sound better.

i wish i payed closer attention when the multi-sub thing came up at AES.

btw, the tightest bass i’ve ever heard was in a control room. huge speakers mounted flush with the wall, tons of treatment (but most of it not obvious). i picked out details in my song i never heard before.

i’ll check out that thread.

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DanTheMan – 11-02-2012, 09:00 PM
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Ugh…–”the dumbest type” measuring near the trap… Not useful. I want a great mixing position, but this gets off into a whole other tangent. We’ve gone far enough.

I wasn’t even going to get into soundproofing…

You think I haven’t measured my room now? You’ve seen every useful measurement and then some from every possible mixing position. Who the hell cares what my or anyone’s room sounds like In a corner?

I bet there are a lot of things none of us have seen. So what? There’s always new, and sometimes there’s even better. Not really saying this is the case. The whole reason I did a blog post on multi sub is b/c almost no one does it. There’s a lot of trends and reasons for the trends in this world eggs: lack of know how and understanding, keeping up with the joneses, inability to think outside the box, or even something works well. anyway, I refuse to be a dinosaur or to be boxed in. We all know what happened to the dinos.

Anyway, you get my drift by now.

Dan

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garageband – 11-02-2012, 09:20 PM
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I always wondered about the “fast bass” thing, myself.

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cporro – 11-03-2012, 12:10 AM
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Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
Ugh…–”the dumbest type” measuring near the trap… Not useful. I want a great mixing position, but this gets off into a whole other tangent. We’ve gone far enough.
come on man. that’s not what i’m saying. all i said is if you want to see how one trap is absorbing bass you’d have better luck measuring close to it. i said nothing about it being your listening position because that’s just nuts.

I wasn’t even going to get into soundproofing…
room treatments are not soundproofing. you can have a soundproof room that sounds terrible. a concrete bunker will be incredibly soundproof. it will also sound awful. so..yeah, i wasn’t going there either.

You think I haven’t measured my room now? You’ve seen every useful measurement and then some from every possible mixing position. Who the hell cares what my or anyone’s room sounds like In a corner?
you are misreading what i said. i just want to point out the ways pros make rooms sound good and i’m highly skeptical of getting those results with speaker placement alone. and you did claim to have a good bass response with no treatments which threw me.

i am curious about the multi sub thing now. i can run it by some pro engineers and studio owners i know. but i’m off this thread now.

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DanTheMan – 11-03-2012, 02:19 PM
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The listen position is where I mix from… You brought up soundproofing… I do have great bass response–you’ve seen it.

Run it by whoever. Whatever anyone says, good bad or indifferent doesn’t matter. The science has been done long ago and I just demonstrated good results in my own living room. I don’t care who doubts it. A PhD in acoustics figured it out. Let them argue their beliefs with his math/results.

Dan

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lolzgreg – 11-12-2012, 05:58 PM
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Quote Originally Posted by bitflipper View Post
Some folks can save even more money! Because if they have an untreated room, they’re better off with no sub at all.
I actually disagree with this wholeheartedly. Someone in an untreated room is much better off with a sub and satellite speakers that handle mostly midrange. Because the sub is both close to the floor and a single source producing bass, satellite speaker placement and room symmetry becomes less of an issue as there is less phase cancellation in the lower register and fewer room modes come into play.

I can and have mixed an entire record on a pair of computer speakers with a sub. The artist adored the mix. They brought it to their car and was even more impressed. The resultant is the big picture, right?

Also, on a slightly different note, I am friendly with a mastering engineer who was at the head of Atlantic records and he never mastered in a treated room during his entire career.

The most important things about monitoring are knowing your source and referencing. You can mix successfully on any stereo monitoring source if you know what the source sounds like and what a professional mix is “supposed” to sound like (I use the term “supposed” loosely) on that source. If you listen to As I Lay Dying on your car stereo and everything sounds “right” to you, then you listen to it on your monitoring source, and certain things about the mix pop out to you, or are subdued, you can train your ears to compensate. This obviously is not the ideal situation, but it can be done.

A very good room will give you a great running start. An honest source will be a huge help. Knowing what you want, and how to get is the real goal in mind.

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DanTheMan – 11-13-2012, 05:51 PM
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Nowadays, a source should be the furthest thing from what’s limiting your system. Most sources are good enough I’d bet. I don’t own one that seems to be the limiting factor.

In acoustically small rooms, the number of potential bass sources is pretty much wide open. That’s not the case in larger rooms. None the less, there are many ways to skin the bass cat. As a group we need to get over what our limited experience and reading has led us to believe. You keep seeing people who claim to possess the one key–none back it up with a shred of evidence–and all are very limited in experience. If they had a lot of experience, they would not each claim to possess the knowledge of the one true way and have it be different from someone else’s. Reminds me too much of religions. You can see from my measurements and Mr. Mehlau’s that there are different ways to get excellent results. Muslims have the one true way, Christians have the one true way, Jews have the one true way, Hindus have the one true way, and each of those one true ways have subsets of the real one true way…and all are different. Hopefully my point is not lost b/c I just engaged your religious defense mechanism. I don’t care what God or doctrine you believe in. That goes for both audio and spiritual matters.

I wish people would say “I’ve got a way that works(and here’s “why”) Check out my measurements for evidence.” It would save a lot of discussions regarding things with no evidence of fact, and appeals to authority and the various logical fallacies that spew forth during all these very serious discussion regarding audio performance.

Peace, Love, and Happiness, yea Happiness,

Dan

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dudermn – 11-14-2012, 06:53 AM
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As a sound stage engineer I learned the beauty of accepting different systems. There are situations which a sound-stage is done in a giant 100 feet by 100 foot hanger where the only speakers are is some crummy book-case speakers.
Than there are monitoring situations where everything is routed back to the amp it came from and in the same exact room.

Just as the world has become tolerant of other religions and people and races and colors and shapes and sizes. We too have managed to look past the Yamaha NS-13 speaker with the titanium alloy rotating tweeter.

Its nice to see so many folks accept the idea of having more than one sub-woofer. Really nice. It means that there are people with an open minded perspective out there.
Data ?? Go ask c3p0

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DanTheMan – 11-14-2012, 08:22 AM
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If my demands are not met, I will burn dr. Toole’s book! Lol

Aren’t we supposed to be progressive, outside the box people? Lunatic left wing fringe folk?

Dan

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DanTheMan – 11-14-2012, 08:26 AM
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I should add… I have yet to see a listening position that couldn’t benefit from DSP. My latest arrangement uses DSP, but not a powerful enough one!

Dan

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garageband – 12-10-2012, 01:23 AM
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Excellent blog and testing. Some people will always believe what they want to believe in spite of contrary evidence. Cheap subs rule!!

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dudermn – 12-10-2012, 03:53 PM
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you have professional and than you has gearsluts

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bubingaisgod – 12-10-2012, 05:37 PM
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You guys should walk around my rooms and take a listen. 3ft long florescent ballasts out the ass(Everything under 250hz sounds like cell phones on vibrate on a wood table), 6’8″ ceilings, complete with wrap around drop downs for a beautiful web of reflections. Oh yeah, then there are the paper thin walls with aluminum studs that provide excellent sound flanking properties, and the furnace, which gives me my signature ROARING background effect. I’ve actually decided to turn it into a VST\RTA plug-in! I think it will sell wonderfully. “Destroy your recordings in less then 2 minutes with this excellent plug-in!”

Obviously I take physical measures when recording, and even stronger measures when mixing, but it’s a nightmare

Quote Originally Posted by DanTheMan View Post
We’ve gone through this all here before with bass absorption in a prior thread with the French dude. There’s a lot of useful info there if you wanna Check it out. I’ve already said my bass absorber isn’t making a difference. I should have mentioned that it is the dumbest type to put there. I did that based web gurus subjective hearings even though what I had read said it was dumb. I just had to see/hear for myself. All these gurus couldn’t be wrong in spite of the data could they? I certainly will concede that it is not enough and that anyone would need a lot more of it to become effective. That’s why I find your comment about the expense of it so compelling. It would be a close call IMO. Case to case basis for sure.

You’ve likely seen more measurements of my room than any other. What would you be listening for? Would it help you learn something? Diagnose something? What would be the point?

You see a lot of pro studios doing a lot of different things. What that has to do with the price of eggs in China is beyond me. I was just in a pro studio a few months ago. Not even a decent sounding monitoring environment. Doesn’t mean a thing to me.

I’ll do your experiment in a few. I’m curious as to what you whant to demonstrate with it.? I’m not sure what it would show if anything useful.

Dan

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dudermn – 12-10-2012, 07:01 PM
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you can just get a new room.

 

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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