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The Absolute Bass Sound - Everybody please give this a look.

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by lo-freq, Feb 15, 2003.


  1. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    Moderators, tone freaks, linguists, UNITE regarding sonic terminology.

    There seems to be a problem that runs through a lot of threads and postings on TalkBass (and I'm sure on similar websites) that has to do with the attempt to convey subjective impressions of "the sound" or tone of a bass system or part thereof in everyday language.

    Any of you guys had any history with an audio mag titled "The Absolute Sound"?
    The editor attempted to come to terms with the many barriers to making comparisons of the subjective perceptions of the "sounds" of various audio components or devices. He basically devised a detailed sonic vocabulary under stringent guidelines. He divided the audio frequency range into sub-ranges, each with its own label. He clearly defined adjectives to use to portray relevant qualities of all different areas of perceived sound. The ideal target held forward for component manufacturers was the "live sound" of acoustic instruments.
    [For the electric bass crowd, this "live sound" standard, does not apply that well, but there are widely known and respected references that could be used instead (a few examples: Fender Jazz Bass, SWR SM-900, Eden D-410XLT). ]

    What I want to put forth for your consideration is that someone (sorry, I don't have the time or resources or I would do it myself) or some small group of people could possibly take a sub-set of that vocabulary (a lot of stuff they used would not apply to bass systems) used in "The Absolute Sound" (hopefully some of you have old back issues that include it) and setup a sort of reference vocabulary in an online text dump that all those interested in could read and apply when we are attempting to review a new instrument or amp or cab, whatever or when we are asking for help or advice with a problem or inquiring about a particular sound we are after in a system we want to put together.
    Granted nothing can replace hearing any given piece of a bass system in a live music environment, but there are quite a few of us who are not in a large urban center like NYC or LA, that have limited opportunities to audition some bass equipment at a dealer's store, much less gigging with it in a club on a trial basis without having to purchase it first.

    So does this sound like something worthwhile or not? If so, who wants to step up and give it a shot?

    MAJOR CAVEAT: I am sure we would need to get permission from "The Absolute Sound" even if we used a sub-set of their stuff, so that would be the second hurdle. The other option would be to base our vocabulary on theirs loosely enough to avoid direct copyright infringement. I don't want to suggest anything that would start legal hassles.

    Once past that point, it would help if someone who has access to the vocabulary from "The Absolute Sound" would let us know. I don't know if it would already exist in some online source already or not (that would be great). The next best thing would be if someone who has access to it has a scanner and some OCR software to convert it to dumpable text so it could be edited electronically.

    If there are legal problems with the aforementioned approaches, the last resort would be to tackle it sort of from scratch. Do something similar to TAS, but on our own terms and with our own resources (more work involved).

    Personally, I believe that a lot of people here would benefit from something like this.
    I have been wishing for a magazine for bass players that would be similar to what TAS is for audiophiles (especially, the format it used to have), that just reviewed a lot of bass equipment. Well, I think we can be our own resources for something similar done on a voluntary basis for the love of the music (and its related gear).

    Thanks for your time.
     
  2. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    I notice a lot of people reading this but no-one responding.

    I don't know that it would help. Actually it sounds like it would be complicated. But I'm open minded.
    Could you maybe supply a sample of the suggested vocabulary to give us a better idea?
     
  3. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    Unfortunately, I got rid of my really old TAS stuff, I have a couple of fairly recent ones I will take another look at, but I don't think what I am looking for is in them. I will let you know.
     
  4. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    I emailed the Editor-In-Chief of TAS to see if we can get access to the material I discussed.

    Will update when/if I get a response.
     
  5. camoe

    camoe

    Sep 7, 2001
    Lafayette, CO
    I read many of the audio rags and I believe I have that very issue of terms. There are also other sites that have similar terms for describing tone: EnjoytheMusic.com, Stereophile, audiophileplanet, etc. I don't think there is any issue regarding copyright as these are general terms used by many writers of many different magazines...these terms aren't copyright material (I used to be one of those writers). If I recall, Bass Player had a recent issue of terms to describe tone..I'll look for that as well.

    Peace
     
  6. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    Yeah, thanks that would help alot. The TAS stuff may turn out to be too much of a hassle. Here is the response from the author of The Complete Guide to High-End Audio.

    Dear John:

    You may quote short excerpts from the book so long as they are identified as having been excerpted from The Complete Guide to High-End Audio, and that you identify me as the copyright holder with the copyright symbol. Let me know what you'd like to use and I'll send you an e-mail with permission to use the material.
    I think you'll find some useful terms. There's quite a bit of description of bass pitch definition, articulation, and "speed," along with how important accurate bass reproduction is to an audio system's ability to convey rhythmic drive. I'm a fan of great bass playing, and like to hear every nuance and detail.

    Best regards,

    Robert

    Camoe, maybe you can find an easier solution.
     
  7. jondog

    jondog

    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Sure!

    kewl - bassy like the sub in my big brother's car
    sweet - the bass is prominently mixed, even my girlfriend notices it.
    rockin' - sounds exactly like its played w/ a Blink 182 signature pick, *NOT* a Sum 41 signature pick
    killer - scooped mids, or humped mids, definitely some humping or scooping going on in midland

    :D

    There are a few more important tone words, but those 4 will get you pretty far.
     
  8. Your idea of standardized terminology? I think that would be 'phat'. What a 'heavy' idea! 'Pure' 'brilliance'!!!!!!

    :meh: Veeeeeeerrrrrryyy sorry for that..... i just couldn't resist...

    As a prior long-term reader of High Fidelity, Stereo Review, and Audio magazine, the concept truly would be an invaluable addition to this forum. Great idea, lo-freq!!!

    Side note - has anyone ever observed the tone controls on a Peavey Combo 300? PV devised an interesting set of descriptions for the tone controls on that particular amplifier....
     
  9. steve_man

    steve_man

    May 15, 2002
    That's if you want and it's perfectly legal.
    I got it. Although I won't be able to post it until tommorrow.

    ;)
     
  10. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    "Sounds like they published it to be used. We just want to use it. S'all English isn't it?"
    [Here I am just making a plea to the powers that be hoping that we will be able to use the stuff from BP magazine.]

    "Moderator, Moderator, can't we do that (use some standardized tone vocabulary from Bass Player)?"
    [Here I am making a plea to the powers that be here in TBLand for the same reason.]

    [No one is upset! All is cool. Life is wonderful.]
     
  11. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    Dont make me close this down...keep it on track and everyone will get along just dandy

    Say your opinions of "tone" if you want, but dont cry if you get hurt...
     
  12. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Hey I think I see where you're heading with this. In a recent thread I thought "muddy" refered to too much bottom end and while someone else though it meant lack of high-mids.

    I'd still like to see some samples (evey jokey ones, I enjoyed those........)
     
  13. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    Well, for instance: to me muddy could apply to anything below midrange, indicating a slowness of response or loss of articulation (unless of course your in a pasture at Woodstock in a rainstorm with 500,000 people mucking about).

    Too much bottom end would be called dragin-butt.

    Too much highs could be either called euphoria or a drug problem (depending on your perspective).
     
  14. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    In addition to my other post, you guys arent hitting any legality infringements...english translation, its fine, just dont rip eachothers heads off...
     
  15. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    ummm...... I think I'm missing something here? I just read through the posts again and I can't see any head-ripping going on? Or are you merely expressing concern that this sort of vocab can lead to some nastyness?
     
  16. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    bingo
     
  17. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    The Republic of Texas
    I don't think anybody is miffed. I was possibly misunderstood, but that's cool. Communication breakdown's happen and life goes on.

    And thanks for your green light on our pursuit of a standardized sonic vocabulary.
     
  18. Petebass

    Petebass

    Dec 22, 2002
    QLD Australia
    Can you please elaborate a bit on that Kirbywrx? I'm usually pretty good at forseeing a confrontation comming on and I'm struggling with this one. I'm not being a smart ass, I'm just trying to understand better.
     
  19. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Not.
     
  20. I fell asleep 1/4 of the way through your post...sorry.