The sound of Bass

This is something that many people often overlook.  Bass is not all about being loud and boomy like our reputations have led people to believe. There is a great deal of musical information located down there in the bottom few octaves.

When you are auditioning subwoofers, there are several things to listen for that are critical to enjoying your subwoofer system.

  1. Low Frequency Extension:  Sure, loud bass is fun, but when things start to rumble, down below 30Hz, it's truly an awesome physiological experience. When listening, pay attention to the low frequency vibrations you feel in your back and bum. A true subwoofer can be not only hear, but felt.
  2. Dynamics: A woofer that is capable of responding very quickly to signal inputs will be able to more accurately reproduce your music. Listen for a good sharp attack on kick drums. You should be able to actually imagine the hammer hitting the skin of the drum.
  3. High frequency performance: This ties into the point 2. If the woofer can respond quickly, you are going to get good dynamic mid-bass performance from the driver, and it will blend nicely with the other speakers in your car. If the drivers high frequency performance is muted, it will often sound boomy and muddled.
  4. Localization: Really good subwoofers tend to hide their locations better than expensive units.  If you are listening to a woofer, and it sounds like the bass is coming from the trunk, you may want to keep looking.  A good woofer will fill the car with sound, and if your front stage is up to the task, it will sound like the bass is coming from the soundstage itself (which is hopefully in front of you). There are a lot of other factors that affect localization however. The most obvious is how well damped the cars body panels are. Buzzing and rattling are surefire ways of letting your brain know where a woofer is installed.

These are just a few tips and tricks I use when auditioning woofers.