In multi-channel systems, the subwoofer is the speaker responsible for deep bass. The subwoofer’s low end is therefore the deepest frequency your system can reproduce. Some subwoofers issue depth charges all the way down to 25 Hz — and even lower — but more normal values lie between 35 and 45 Hz. Read on to learn about the practical implications of these values and what should you look for when it comes to enjoying the best bass with movies, gaming and music.
We experience bass differently from other tones
A healthy human ear is capable of perceiving sounds from 20 all the way up to 20,000 Hertz. A single Hertz (Hz) is equivalent to one wave oscillation per second. Waves that oscillate more quickly, have higher values and are perceived as being higher in pitch. It is the sound waves on the low end of this spectrum that are responsible for the low bass tones.
Tones falling between 20 and 100 Hz can only be partially differentiated as distinct frequencies. Instead, the ear perceives them more as a low hum or rumble. It is also not possible for the human ear to localize very low frequency sounds.
Deep bass tones also behave differently from higher frequencies in that, at high levels, they do not merely effect the ears. Truly low and loud bass can be felt in the stomach and chest cavity and deep tones are able to travel through the objects, including our bones. The reason for this has to do with the length of a low frequency sound wave. Whereas a 1,000 Hz soundwave measures just 34 cm from crest to crest, a 50 Hz wave measures over 6 metres and a 20 Hz wave stretches over 17 metres. Such long waves cannot be as easily absorbed by obstacles and so instead travel around or pass through them.
This accounts for the vibrations we can, literally, feel. It’s what gets us up on the dance floor and also what creates that sense of dread in a cinema when the villain appears accompanied by ominous-sounding bass tones. To experience the physicality of bass firsthand, try listening to the following:
What types of playback require a deep low end?
Due to the characteristics of low frequency sound waves just described, the following applies to movie and music playback:
• ✔ The lower a subwoofer’s low end, the more movie sound effects will be felt. This can result in a more intense home cinema experience as an explosion on the screen is met with a rumble in the chest.
• ✔ When it comes to electronic dance music, dubstep and hip hop, it’s important to have a precise, punchy and deep low end.
• ✔ With rock, pop, classical and other genres, there is usually no need for speakers that can reach extreme levels of bass.
Note: A speaker’s low end is often given in Hz along with the value “-3 dB”. This specification indicates that the sound pressure falls by 3 decibels around the low end.
Teufel Audio: Masters of bass
Creating deep and resonant bass is a priority for our acousticians and audio engineers. From the Ultima 40‘s double bass system to the Teufel Massive headphones with their incredible 10 Hz low end, Teufel offers systems to satisfy the craving for low tones across all models and price points.
A recognized expert in subwoofer technology Teufel offers many 2.1 and 5.1 systems as well as soundbar/subwoofer combinations. Surround sets with powerful active subwoofers can push deep and powerful levels all the way down to 25 Hz with a punch and precision. The unique use of two subwoofers in the System 5 THX eliminates sound pressure differences in the room for an even bass response without distortion up to very high levels. The System 10 THX featured in the title picture to this article comes with a subwoofer the size of a refrigerator capable of a 25 Hz low end. Clearly serious lovers of bass need look no further!
Coda: Discover bass that gets under your skin
• A loudspeaker’s low end is the lowest freqeuncy it can produce at nearly full volume levels.
• Low frequency tones (in the range between 20 and 100 Hz) are difficult for the human ear to precisely differentiate and localize.
• Low bass can be felt as well as heard
• The lower the low end, the better a subwoofer’s ability to reproduce movie sound effects
• Most musical genres do not require bass below 40 Hz with the exception of some electronic dance music
Title picture & Picture #1: Property of Teufel Audio
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