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Talk to me about bass and speakers and monitors

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Mar 15, 2009.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Any time I post about this I get no responses. I'd appreciate any input this time around before I go wastin money like crazy.

    I play in lots of groups and spend lots of time learning other people's material. I finally need to surrender and invest in something for my house that works a bit than what I currently have. No matter how I EQ my house stereo I can't get clearly defined bass notes like I do in my car or like i hear on other soundsystems. I'll often learn something at home, then hear it somewhere else and say. "Wow. Never heard that before." I continually jump back and forth from my car to house and it drives me nuts.

    1st question is - would studio monitors help me hear more defined bass than stereo speakers?

    2nd question - anyone have what they consider the Holy Grail of stereo or speakers that gives them super clearly defined bass parts.

    3rd question - do you have any thoughts on this subject whatsoever?

    FINAL NOTE: I'm not talking about subwoofers and frequencies below 100hz. I'm talking about hearing all the notes and nuances.

  2. jonathanhughes

    jonathanhughes Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    question 1: Yes

    question 2: I think most monitors that would fall into the "Holy Grail" category are going to be very expensive (Genelec, Meyer, etc.). There are a lot of monitors that are well respected that don't require a second mortgage. I could rattle off a list of names, but you'd be best off just doing research, and more importantly, listening to them. Just important as the speakers is the room you're listening in. A room with bad proportions can make great speakers sound horrible. I have decent speakers, but my room resonates on C#, so I too continually have to listen in my car.
  3. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Sounds like what you want is a graphic EQ so you can boost/cut frequencies to make the bass stand out. If you like your car sound I would say you like the sound of small speakers. Small speaker tend to be punchy and not a lot of very low end so the upper bass range is standing out increasing note clarity. For testing mixing I used to have a set of car stereo speaker I make small cabinets to get that sound. If you have a old set of car stereo speakers around easy to make and try out. But with a good EQ you should be able to pinpoint the bass and hype it and roll off the other freq's.
  4. "If it's not British, it's CRAP!!!"


    The best, most revealing, most enjoyable, yet affordable home stereo speakers that I've had the pleasure of co-habitating with: are older and British.

    Celestion DL series- I own a pair of DL8 series II and anything they reproduce is easy on my ears. I bought the pair around 1986 for $425 ($600 list). Now they show up on ebay for less than $100.

    KEF C- series- many many years ago, I heard a pair of C40's and was amazed. Recently, a friend bought a used pair of c30's from ebay and let me borrow them. Every bit as nice-sounding as the Celestions.

    I have no problem hearing exactly what the bassist was doing. My system also includes a Yamaha, powered sub (YST SW40) which, although it provides a more physical aspect of enjoying music, the crossover frequency is low enough that it doesn't tarnish, or hide the intention of the bassist.

    Joe, shop the bay for a pair of KEF C30's, C40's, Celestion DL8's, DL10's... I think your ears and wallet will be quite pleased.
  5. Roadman


    Mar 26, 2008
    Home speakers, for the most part, are designed to sound good, not accurate.

    If the room is also adding to the problem, I would try a good set of headphones. Try a pair of Sony or Sennheiser's in the $100ish range.
  6. If your talking about listening to songs to learn, monitors really are the way forward. I got monitors for recording (just for kicks) and found that i can hear ALOT more bass guitar, even listening to youtube crap!!

    because the moitors dont have any silly eq settings like most hi-fi speakers i seem to hear alot more low mids rather then low bass. so you can hear the notes. thats the way i hear it anyway!

    plus, everything sounds 100 times better!!

    by the way i have FOSTEX 0.4 nothing crazy! bottom of the line!! about £150!

    but so much of a difference! unreal!
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Thanks much. You guys are giving me some hope and ideas I can sink my teeth into. It hadn't occurred to me that small speakers might very well be what I need. My current stereo speakers are 10".

    Bimplizkit, I will research your suggestions.

    I gotta admit that I want to get off as easily as possible price-wise here. I'm considering all the clearance models of monitors at americanmusical and musicians friend. Any thoughts on any of the monitors here http://www.americanmusical.com/ItemList--Studio-Monitors--m-72--outlet-true or here
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.co...rs-recording-pro-audio?N=100001+338382+500150 ???

    I'd like to go as inexpensive as possible to simply be able to hear very clear basslines.
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo

    Nothing like a great set of headphones. You'll hear more of a tune than you ever did before, hear it better (more defined dispersion) and for a lot less$. I suggest a 25 extension cord for mobility it you need it.

    One thing I did for my home system is to use the tweeters and a cross-over from a Bose sub-woofer and substitute 2x10 bass cab. I also have a 15 band e.q. that works pretty well. Overall, the sound is great with warm highs and well defined bass.

    I would suggest getting a stereo 31 band e.q. or a couple of mono ones instead of the stereo 15 band for more tone control.

    My home system also has a pair of 3 foot tall 1x15/tweet Cerwin-Vega as extension speakers that I have in my patio. The cabs are from 1970 (in excellent condition-clear coated for external use) and the speakers have been reconed 1 time in the '90s. They don't need much power and take care of the bass very well. They will definitely blast my neighbors and sound great at the same time. I just keep them covered during the winter--well as much winter as we have in CA. I found that BBQ covers are cheap and work very well for covering lots of things outside.
  9. there are home stereos in a box for 99.99 and home stereo amps alone that cost as much as a decent car.........depends what you have.........

    lots of guys like the sound of near field monitors as opposed to home speakers as they are designed to function differently,but unless you have no weak links in the chain any speaker can sound bad.......big monitors like the older jb 4350 are still selling for thousands more than they were new 40 years ago

    your car is a small space and that may have more to do with the sound you get in there than the actual gear..........

    audition some monitors with music you are familiar with would be my advice,while taking into account the other gear,room size,composition etc.........

    headphones,it may even be as simple as that or a more powerful amp,capable of clearing up lf,a super clean pre amp,power amp......the key here is to try until you find what works....

    subs might just muddy things up for you unless you have some really deep pockets.......
  10. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Headphones are out cuz the whole reason I want to upgrade my sound is to learn songs. I'm accustomed to plugging into an amp to learn and I'm not going to flip phones on and off.
  11. zgas


    Jul 7, 2008
    Open backed headphones can help with this. I use some Ultrasones all the time for practicing and learning material. You can still hear sound in the room so you adjust the level of your stereo to match it. They are nice, too, because you can plug them into a Dr. Beat and use it as a practice amp that has a super metronome.

    Also agreed with the guys who are recommending near field studio monitors. I'm old school and still like the older JBL monitors; bought a pair of 4401's (eight inch woofer and flat response) for about $200. Hanging off my main stereo I have a pair of 4430's that I found in a pawn shop for $500. So there are decent buys out there.
  12. jweiss

    jweiss Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2007
    Park City, Utah
    I use M-Audio BX8a powered studio monitors hooked up to my computer when listening to music that I need to learn. I also practice through this setup (no amp, just an Echo Audiofire4 audio interface into these monitors) and it sounds amazing. Bass is crystal clear, as is every other frequency. However if you don't practice in front of your computer then this may not be for you.

    Regardless, when I was looking for a solution for studio quality sound, the guys at Performance Audio were extremely helpful. Give 'em a call and tell them about your setup and what you want:


    They also gave me a SMOKIN' deal on the monitors ($300 if I remember correctly).

    Keep in mind that most studio monitors are designed to be listened to within a few feet of them (not for filling a whole room with sound). If you really want to listen using your home stereo, plan to spend considerably more money on loudspeakers than you would for a decent pair of studio monitors. Also, hopefully you already have a quality amplifier to drive the speakers.


  13. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Maybe this is doable w/o spending much money:

    I have a microphone input and headphone out on my computer.

    Plugged my Ibanez active/passive bass into the mic input and played the tunes through the DVD/CD player or from the hard disk into a cheap set of headphones. Even with cheap headphones it worked very well.

    I could balance everything with the e.q., bass volume/tone controls and the windows volume control for each source.

    For the bass, the 3 band active bass e.q. made it easier to control the bass tone so it would be at a reasonable volume and easy to hear.

    Also, how about a Tascam bass trainer as an alternative (either CD or mp3 versions available)? Then you won't be tied to the stereo/amp, though it does have a line out so you can play it through your amp, if need be. Listen to Dave: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showpost.php?p=6635476&postcount=20

    Here are the features: (from http://www.activemusician.com/item--MP.CD-BT2)

    * CD-DA/CD-R/CD-RW disc playback
    * 10 second anti-shock memory
    * Comprehensive 128 x 64 dot matrix LCD display with graphical user interface
    * Album title/Track title indication by CD-Text
    * Elapsed Time/Remain Time display with bar meter
    * +16 to -50% pitch control in 1% steps
    * VSA (Variable Speed Audition, pitch control without affecting key)
    * Key control: +/-6 semi-tone, in semi-tone steps with +/-50 cents fine tune
    * Single play and continuous play
    * Single Loop, All Loop, and Seamless IN-OUT Loop
    * Flash Back function (Instant review up to 5 seconds prior playback)
    * Bass Canceller with selectable canceling pan point and selectable frequency range
    * 10 effect banks for user preset
    * Chromatic tuner with calibration (435 to 445Hz)
    * 3 octaves tone oscillator
    * Metronome (BPM: 40 to 220, Beat: 2 to 6)
    * 1/4" Bass input
    * Bass/Mic input volume
    * Bass/Mic input level meter indicator on LCD display
    * CD level meter indicator
    * Foot switch connector
    * 5 selectable functions by foot switch (Flash Back, Rewind, FF, Bank, Effect on/off)
    * 1/8" stereo line output
    * 1/8" stereo headphone output
    * Headphone volume
    * MONO monitor for CD (L+R, L, R)
    * Sprit monitor (Left ch: CD, Right ch: Input or vice versa)
    * Battery operation
    * Optional power supply PS-P520

    Just thought I'd throw out some alternatives that may solve your problem but also add a few more features.

    Hope you find what you need.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've got a bass trainer. Used it on a tour a while back when I had an overwhelming amount of stuff to learn. Never used it since. I think there's just something about headphones that I never liked. I think I'm going to take the current cd i'm learning to the local sam ash and just listen to every set of monitors I can.
  15. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    the Cali Intergalctic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon slow downer software- full 4 hour demo
    Keep us posted on what you end up with and how it works for you.
  16. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I made a decision. I'll post about it when I see how well it works out. Thanks a lot everyone who contributed this time around.
  17. Brick Top

    Brick Top

    Dec 7, 2008
    Even though you have made your decision...I'll throw this out anyways.

    Try not to be so concerned with the speakers. The source is your most important piece in your system. The speakers can only reproduce what is sent to them. Using a cheesy Sony, pioneer, et al cd player will only reveal so much. If you use the chepo cd player as a transport only...then you are at the mercy of your D/A converter of your preamp/receiver/integrated amp.

    Radio is low fi no matter how good your tuner is. Even a good cassette deck can reveal great sound if the quality is there.

  18. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Just about everything I ever have to learn comes in mp3 format and gets played through windows media player. I plan to hook some powered monitors into my line 6 interface. Nothing will be coming in between.
  19. HamOnTheCob

    HamOnTheCob Supporting Member

    Nov 21, 2004
    Cambridge, Ohio, USA
    Endorsing Artist for Warwick, Mesa Boogie, Joyo, Dr. J, Levy's Leathers
    I see you found a solution already, but for s&g, here's my setup of choice:

    I swear the most studio-sounding speakers I've ever heard were my Altec-Lansing 2100 computer speakers. 2 sattelites each with a pair of 1" aluminum drivers with a sub consisting of a pair of 4" subs. It was epic. Lightning struck my house, frying the sub, and I've never found a set since. I bought them the day after thanksgiving a couple years ago for like $30 or so. They were my main speakers in the dorm and were amazing for music, DVDs, etc. Crystal clear, fantastic in all frequencies.

  20. Brick Top

    Brick Top

    Dec 7, 2008
    Sorry...didn't notice this was for mp3. In that case...If you are looking for better sound quality...I would suggest using lossless formats like Flac instead....but hey....it's your choice.


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