# frequency response: just how important is it?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by andrewd, Mar 2, 2004.

1. ### andrewd

Sep 5, 2003
i'm shopping around for a speaker cabinet or two, and i noticed that many have a frequency response that tapers off above a low E (!). i play notes below that pretty frequently... does it make much of a difference if a cab has a 20Hz lowend response or 40Hz? 50?

2. ### Trevorus

Oct 18, 2002
Urbana, IL
Well, the curve falls above the E fundamental, but that doesn't mean that it won't reproduce that. It just is quieter than frequencies above that note. You can boost the input to compensate, but within limits. If you want your b string to jump out, then get something whose frequency curve falls a bit nearer to the b fundamental frequency. 20 Hz response doesn't quite mean that it is linear at 20 hz. At 20 Hz, it is not as kicking as it might be at 80Hz. But it can reproduce that frequency, but it could be 3dB quieter or more. So, if you REALLY want your B to jump out front and kick out the brown note, you will want some power to push those low notesas well as a cab that can reproduce it. So I hope that answers your question.

3. ### Mark ReccordSupporting Member

There's a lot more energy at the second harmonics and above than at the fundamental frequencies on a bass guitar. The scale length isn't an appreciable percentage of the fundamental wavelengths so standing waves aren't set up at those frequencies. When you pluck your E string, the fundamental is about 40 Hz, but most of the low end energy is at about 80Hz, which is well within the parameters of most cabinets. Lots of people use 5 strings with Ampeg 810s (which start rolling off at about 60Hz) with great success. You don't necessarily need a cab with a really strong fundamental response....
There aren't many cabs anywhere that can reproduce 20Hz accurately. Most big PA subs roll off below 30 or even 40Hz.

4. ### Trevorus

Oct 18, 2002
Urbana, IL
very true. If you notice, the real kick-you-in-the-chest punch on the lowest notes is around 80-120 Hz. Same with on a bass drum. That's why an 810 can knock you over. It's a great configuration. Ezpecially if you are a fan of 10's.

5. ### arcellus

Feb 28, 2004
Portland, OR
exactly how many Hz is a low B? low D? E?

6. ### VicDamone

Jun 25, 2000
Manufacturer specs should be viewed with a little salt and a lot of listen yourself.

There IS massive amounts of energy produced by the electric Bass at the fundamental. I have to cut the gain by almost half to balance the output of my Bag End S18E (18-95Hz +/- 3dB) to my D10BX. Of course this is a very small seperatly powered and processed subwoofer system that you don't realy need unless the fundamental needs to be heard.

These sub systems can be just like a narcotic, the more low frequency you use will make you sort of sick, literaly like the onset of motion sickness. Not using it will also make you sick of the rolled off response almost any other cabinet produces.

Point is, amplifying the fundamental is very possible, usualy expensive, and not available at GC or M-friend. Look into Meyer Sound, Bag End, AccuGroove, and the lowest of lows Servo-Drive. On the up side, with a sub you can roll your regular cabinets off at 50-80Hz and amaze youself at just how great they can sound when not having to push their lowest extreme.

For a good example of a true full range stage amplifier go hear Phil Lesh's sound up close (not through the PA).

7. ### Mark ReccordSupporting Member

There is energy at the fundamental but it's much much less than the energy at the 2nd harmonic, that's easily shown and can be proven mathematically. The necessity of amplifying the fundamental is pretty subjective, but a lot of people are looking to amplify those really low frequencies at levels far beyond their natural levels in the input signal. That's fair enough of course, if that's what you're into. Whether it's necessary or not is entirely subjective.

8. ### Biker4Him

Apr 4, 2003
Yukon, OK. USA

try this http://www.contrabass.com/pages/frequency.html

the low E is appx. 41.2
the low D is appx. 36.71
the low B is appx. 30.87

according to that site.

9. ### bgavin

May 3, 2001
Orangevale, CA 95662
Your statement is directly lifted from one of Harvey Gerst's articles .

I have tremendous admiration and respect for Harvey, but his statement does not agree with oscilloscope traces taken from electric bass guitars at 40 Hz. Yes, the 2nd harmonic is very strong, but fundamental is equally as strong on a scope.

Equally erroneous is the chronic babble on this board about "psycho acoustic phenomena" and "your ears fill in the missing signal". And the Earth is flat too, and revolves around the sun, cuz my "eyes tell me so."

Poppycock.

Take some measurements, learn the facts and leave the unsubstantiated superstitions to the unwashed. If you've never heard the difference between a commercial cab, and one that can accurately produce 40 Hz, you're missing out. It is a huge difference.

10. ### alexclaberCommercial User

Jun 19, 2001
Brighton, UK
Director - Barefaced Ltd
How can it be proven mathematically?

I recently ran some frequency analysis on my bass and was really surprised by the result as I believed the above statement to be true. The instrument in question is a 1987 Warwick Streamer neck-thru 4-string with EMG pickups, an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp and Labella s/s 44-110 roundwounds. It was plugged into my SWR Grand Prix preamp and then recorded onto Cubase SX using an M-Audio Audiophile 24/96 soundcard. No EQ was applied anywhere and the pickups (reverse P/J) were panned equally.

When plucked fingerstyle just in front of the bridge pickup (which equates to plucking over the bridge pickup on a J-bass) the fundamental was almost 6dB louder than the second harmonic on the lowest register notes from E through to E. I didn't try it higher up - wish I had!

When plucking up near the neck, or playing with the bass EQ cranked on the Aguilar the second harmonic became much closer to the fundamental in level. Maybe a P-bass played more traditionally would thus have a louder second harmonic than fundamental, but a neck-thru bass plucked 'Jaco-style' seems to be very different.

Alex

11. ### brianrostGold Supporting Member

Apr 26, 2000
Boston, Taxachusetts
Sorry bgavin but that stuff IS true. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to hear bass notes over small speakers (like boomboxes), they would sound an octave (or two) higher because of the missing fundamentals.

Your brain does fill in the missing fundamental, this has been proven scientifically...and if it wasn't true, Aphex wouldn't be selling so many "Big Bottom" exciters which fool your brain into hearing more fundamental by tweaking the upper harmonic content.

That does NOT mean it sounds the same as when the fundamental IS present, just that recognition of pitch is not dependent on the fundamental being present.

The real question to ask is you do you NEED to reproduce the full fundamental of the lowest notes. The simple answer is NO because few bass rigs can do this.

12. ### bgavin

May 3, 2001
Orangevale, CA 95662
Yeah, and your world is flat, too.

You don't hear low notes over teenie speakers. You hear only the second and higher harmonics. If you choose to believe this is bass, or the world is flat, that is your privilege.

There is a huge difference between self delusion from teenie speakers, and hearing the genuine fundamental.

If you wish to claim "proven scientifically", then state your sources and studies.

13. ### guyplaysbass

Jun 6, 2003
Portland, OR
I really have to agree. I searched for years through bi-amping to achieve "my" sound. Through educating myself a little I found what I really wanted to hear was everything, not just the upper harmonics. I now have an Acme B-4 and I love it. I have had friends not believe what I've said about this cab. That is until they play on it! Fundamentals RULE! The difference is night and day.

14. ### VicDamone

Jun 25, 2000
Your hearing it but depending on how much your cabinets roll off will determine just how much you'll be able to hear.

Feb 28, 2004
Portland, OR

16. ### seanmI'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize!Supporting Member

Feb 19, 2004
Yes, since the open E is about 40 Hz(1). The Berg should even be good enough for the fundamental of dropped D tunings. So you can smuggly ignore this thread

(1) I know it is really 4x.y with some low value of x and y, but 40 is easy to remember and close enough for rock and roll.

17. ### K DubbsJust graduated from OSU, Go Bucks!

Mar 16, 2002
Toledo, Ohio
Bgavin. I'd agree with you that 40hz capable cabs for a four string/ 30 hz capable cabs for a b string sound a heck of a lot more authoritative than commercial stuff and obviously deeper. However, I will also uphold that as long as guitar players are buying 100 watt tube 4x12 stacks and "have to have it cranked to get their tone", not to mention band setups with more than one of these players with setups like this, 40 and 30hz capable cabinets are simply not very viable commercial products. Your setup itself is testament to this fact. Most people out there can't afford/cant lift/don't have room for the sheer amount of wattage and transducer area necessary to compete.

I hope somebody's been designing Jetsons briefcase technologied cabinets. It has to be a realistic possibility with modern construction materials. After all, 90% of cabinet space is nothing but air...Giddeyup, guys!

18. ### Nick man

Apr 7, 2002
Tampa Bay
I have to agree that having the fundamental there is a huge diference and a definite plus.

I own two Eden D210XST cabs which are rated to 30 Hz and they have stronger low end than anything Ive tried. The only bass cab I would buy that wouldnt give me that fundamental on the B is the Ampeg SVT810 but thats just for the classic rock sound.

I think the point that hasnt been made that desperately has to be made is that some people need the fundamental and some dont!

A lot of guys are happy without it, a lot arent.

Peace
Nick

19. ### MJ5150ModeratorStaff MemberSupporting Member

Apr 12, 2001
Olympia, WA
I aren't. I need it.

-Mike

20. ### brianrostGold Supporting Member

Apr 26, 2000
Boston, Taxachusetts
You are not reading what I wrote. I know the fundamental isn't there. No sh*t!!!!!!

You wrote that the missing fundamental phenomenon is not real, I dsagreed.

Goodbye