Are we pushing too much low frequency?

Discussion in 'Live Sound [BG]' started by DigitalMan, Sep 14, 2016.

  1. Yes - ultra lows are overpowering the rest of the bottom end

    45 vote(s)
  2. No - anything that goes boom makes the booties shake

    2 vote(s)
  3. It's only too much of you're an old fart

    1 vote(s)
  4. Carrots (obligatory)

    6 vote(s)
  5. Reading this thread was a monumental waste of time

    7 vote(s)
  1. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    Just an observation. Modern sound reinforcement is amazing compared to what was available several decades ago. However, I am noticing that there is a tendency now to have an absolutely huge and ultra low bottom end, far exceeding the musical range of low notes. Do we really need to feel like we are being kicked in the pancreas in order to enjoy music?

    The real disappointment is that there is a lot of information in the frequencies just above that range that is now missing or overshadowed by this fascination with the ultra low. Human hearing can barely discern most of what is going on at 30-40Hz afaik. It just seems like we are living in an era where with all this great equiment the prevailing wind is to make live music sound more and more like a DJ shaking the house, or a car stereo disturbing the neighborhood.

    I don't mind loud. I just want to hear ALL the musical frequencies, and not just the super low and the upper mids and nothing in-between.
  2. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    This has been discussed here before - yah, we live in a world of "lead kick" and undisernable bass notes :( . I personally won't mix that way - which means I don't get many sound jobs anymore. The youngin's grew up on oversubbed car stereos being the norm.
    40Hz, DirtDog, tfer and 1 other person like this.
  3. My send has been high passed.
  4. Jloch86


    Aug 1, 2016
    Absolutely not. We are bassists. We are the balls of the band. If the band is a male human being, we are what gives him a deep voice.

    The oversubbed speakers are exactly what bass players need to be appreciated. For decades the only options as far as hearing new music was the tv and the car stereo with their crappy, small sounding speakers. Music can only be truly appreciated if it's heard the way the artists intended us to hear it, and that's with full, deep, rich bass. Non musicians don't even understand the role of the bass player and that's because WE CAN BARELY BE HEARD! Every instrument -- except bass -- can be heard well on regular speakers.
    sqlb3rn likes this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah it became a trend in the 80s to see how booms you could make your sound. It was true for car starves, "boom boxes", and band PAs. The recording industry heard the cry for more bass and gave it to their customers.

    I think it makes a band sound like pure mud. But I try to mix to the taste of the band unless it would truly hurt my reputation to do so....then I stand my ground.

    It's a desire that comes from musicians as well. You want to own a sound company and get good gigs? Have a MONITOR system that will kick everyone in the head with bass. To even musicians, bassier tone = better quality. We have been programmed. When I first started running sound the owner of the company I worked with couldn't get good gigs and got few repeat customers. He called a friend back in Atlanta and talked with him about it (guy owned a larger successful company there). That guy heard what equipment he had and told him to invest in batter monitors that could handle lots of bass and sound "bigger". You would not believe the difference in reaction from band members we worked with once he got them. They thought we had gotten a new PA and that we were suddenly the best company around simply because we could kick them in the chest from a floor wedge.

    Boom = better to untrained ears.

    Short version. It's what most listeners want even though it sounds like garbage in most cases.
    bass nitro, 40Hz and JohnMCA72 like this.
  6. RoadRanger

    RoadRanger Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2004
    NE CT
    ^ :(

    When I first started getting back into music I figured I'd be more valuable mixing than playing after many years of not touching a bass. Unfortunately I found that I wasn't hearing damaged and brain dead enough for the modern bar "sound" :banghead: . So I figured that since everyone was wanting suckage my rusty bass playing was right on :D.
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  7. seamonkey


    Aug 6, 2004
    Yes - good bass is much more affordable these days. It probably gets cranked because it wasn't so cheap just a short while ago and sound engineers are on a FAD to crank it. Audiences now expect blasting lows.

    All the tone is really in the mids and highs. Low frequency is all just sine waves. Louder sounds do mask quieter ones. Loud lows mask the tone of the mids. IMHO it's best to not mask the good tone by blasting the sounds you don't want.
  8. you miss the point of everyone else. You still can't hear the bass for all the sub bass. Bass is not just the 2nd kick drum of the band!
    DigitalMan likes this.
  9. Said it before and I'll say it again: live concerts are now mixed for soccer moms reliving their glory days dancing to Sir Mix A's the only way their slobbish husbands trying to cling to the last shred of youth they have left can get them to be designated driver to said shows:)

    Michael Franti and Spearhead play a local music fest every year. Personally, I find his music contrived, overly derivative of the worst elements of hip hop/R&B/fake reggae and boring, but it's a festival highlight and I'm sure it's in no small part because of the KICK DRUM AND BASS LOWS BEING SHOVED DOWN THE AUDIENCE'S THROAT. Lots of bass that can be felt in the chest is mighty impressive to someone who may be attending their first concert ever, or in the last 25 years. It's a selling point to a listening demographic...they aren't mixing for audiophiles.
  10. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    My sound man used to push me so loud... I used to think he wanted me to 'secretly' carry the band. Come to find out, he knew women love the "vibrato vulvata"(latin, for low-super-freq), would drink more, ($$$) flood the dance floor (Yeah, baaaby!), etc...

    ... I was used and abused, and I loved every minute of it... Carry the band, indeed...
    CatSquare likes this.
  11. This is why I am in two minds about adding subs to our PA. The attraction of the added bass capability might be too much for us amateurs to handle. Subs can add to the sound but vocals only PA, with amps and acoustic drums sound a lot better than overdone, gut rumbling low fq in relatively small venues.
  12. superheavyfunk


    Mar 11, 2013
    I had a big problem with this for a long time until I just accepted that "it is what it is." The soundguy/gal knows the room... they know what the owner wants, what the audience wants, and what the room can handle. Who am I to tell them how to do their job? They don't come at me and start talking about my right hand technique. We all want the same thing in the end... my ego hasn't grown so much to not see that.
    djaxup and nolezmaj like this.
  13. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    It is obvious it is too feel like at a show, you rumble, you feel that rush of energy in all your body, it always been and always will be something human will seek.
  14. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    But we live in a world where music has to fight to keep you interested when everything is loud around us ... so guess what ? they use compression. Nothing is subtle anymore, everything, everything nuance has to be loud and on top of that they bum the volume up just to be louder than any other band and all that to grab your attention.

    Low frequency is pretty much the same, there is no subtility in music anymore, it could be played by robot and will do the same thing, always the same super loud volume. To hell dynamics just give loud.

    The only place where you can get music with the lowest compression is in classical music. I even think the compression occur because they put the music on a CD which will compress the music a little bit but you still have very quiet moment something you won't find in popular music in the past 30 years.
  15. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Yamaha, Ampeg, Line 6, EMG
    As always, the answer is "a time and a place for everything." If I went to a hip-hop concert or a reggae concert and the bass didn't sound the inside of like my son's friend's pimp truck, I would think something's wrong. But if I went to one of my oldies shows and the bass sounds like that truck, he and I and our stage manager are going to have a little talk during intermission. And yes, it has happened before, more than I'd like to admit.

    But even though I like to hear mids and a little treble, too, I am very concerned about having a nice warm bottom end that you can feel, and if I think my sound will benefit from cranking the bass knob way past noon, I absolutely will do it. I will even roll the tone knob all the way down on my bass and cut all the highs and most of the mids if I think that's the right sound for a particular song. So my advice is to use the bass knob with respect for the music you're playing.
  16. I hate it! You go to see a band and ***? It's all bass drum and sub frequencies.
    If I can't hear the bass players lines because the bass drum is too loud, IMO that is a crappy mix and I'm out.
    Gearhead17 and aprod like this.
  17. I also love a nice warm bottom end, but if the sound guy cranks the sub frequencies to the point that you can't hear any pitch difference between the bass player's notes, it takes the pleasure out being at a show.
    Gearhead17 and JimmyM like this.
  18. 4Mal

    4Mal Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 2, 2002
    Columbia River Gorge
    Oy... I don't get to hear other people mix often. I can say that in my rig, with up to 8 18's on the bottom - we could go over board if necessary but... My 'house curve' starts rolling off at 50, I'm a little down at 40 and by the mid 30's - my eq is slammed down. My subs are a little aggressive in the very lows... I can hear E,F, F# and G... We spend time slotting the kick and the bass first. If we get that right and achieve decent separation, we'll have a nice foundation to build a mix on. I call it architecting the low end...

    I'm not afraid of cranking the heck out of the subs. I like to feel them but it has to be musical... Last Saturday I did a choral group, a big band, a country band, belly dancers and a reptile guy, capped it with an AC/DC tribute pushing 100+ 70 feet out... Small town 3 day festival. You seriously have to love doing sound for these things...
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2016
  19. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    Unfortunately producers have been making music more and more compressed so that their songs are the loudest on your CD stacker, and more recently on your phone, MP3 player, computer etc. In their desire to be louder than other albums they have taken the dynamics out of the music and made it mush. I remember seeing a thread on a forum somewhere of Rush's albums over the years where they were imported to a DAW and you could see how the compression was increased more with every album to the point of killing any real dynamics.

    Here's a good example of over-compressed music.

    And another
  20. Bass'd on a true story

    Bass'd on a true story

    Jun 28, 2015
    I love it personally. So much so, that I often get frustrated with older music and imagine how it might be improved with bolstered low end.

    I love the new role of bass. Why tickle the audience member's ears when you can kick them straight in the soul? It's not like anyone cared about our tone or what we were playing before anyways. Now we are the force that shakes people out onto the dance floor. You can't ignore music that makes your skin vibrate and your teeth chatter.
    sqlb3rn likes this.