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The case againts subwoofers

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https://www.cnet.com/news/the-case-against-subwoofers-for-music/ (watch the video)

I think there are 2 problems

  1.  people let subwoofers exaggerate low end and more or less ruin music. The same can be said about headphone bass boost (mostly just sounds like crap)
  2. lots of music does not contain subsonic content or even low end audible bass.

I don't fully agree we can omit a sub for all types of music, especially modern style music which often has subsonics, but then again, this is the right place to really find that out.
We know movies need subs but which songs need it too?



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The article largely misses the point and is mostly audiophool drivel.  The article it links to is substantially worse:



The question of whether a subwoofer is needed really depends on the system design.  If the speakers and amps are adequate for reproducing the lowest frequencies and the room placement is not problematic, then music can be enjoyed without subs just fine.  For that matter, movies can be enjoyed without subs being that most AVRs will redirect LFE to the mains, especially using beefy speakers like JTRs.

But that's not what the articles are really talking about.  The articles are arguing that music doesn't need reproduction of frequencies in the sub range, particularly below 50 Hz.  That argument falls apart very rapidly when one considers the results of Harman's blind speaker listening tests.  Bass extension has a major impact on blind listener preferences of speakers.  Even though there may be very little content below 50 Hz in many sources of music, the content that's there has a substantial impact on the listening experience.  This is not limited to electronic music either.

That's not to ignore the fact that too much sub can harm the rest of the sound, but that's true of any frequency range.  I actually agree that the mid-range is most important for rock-and-roll music, as it is for almost every other genre of music.  Yet, that's no excuse to ignore the treble and the bass, which still matters for rock-and-roll and all other kinds of music.

The idiocy of these kinds of articles is that they dredge up anecdotes in which the subs or low-end was obviously mis-configured and out of balance to argue that low frequencies are inherently bad and don't belong as part of the reproduction.  The irony is that the kind of people pushing these arguments often use speakers that sound like garbage in the mid-range.  Zu Audio?  Perhaps they should just listen with the amps switched off to save them from hearing the dreadful mid-range!

And therein lies the sad truth, which is that the quality of sound when using subs depends substantially on the sound quality in the rest of the spectrum, especially the 50-500 Hz range.  A great many speakers have deficient output through most of that range, which is crucial for reproduction of a variety of bass instruments.  To integrate subs with such speakers requires turning the subs down so much that there's not much point in using them, or else one hears a lot of boom boom boom from subs that are unbalanced relative to the higher harmonics.

So by all means bring on the subs, but don't neglect the rest of the spectrum!  Sadly, most speakers simply don't cut it, and that's true of almost every offering targeted at the "audiophile".

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Don't read articles like this. The information presented is plain wrong and misleading.

Some statements from the article:

"music rarely has extremely deep, under-50Hz bass": 

Wrong. Most music has essential information below 50hz, and some music has content in the sub range below 20hz. In the 2-ch article I presented spectrograms taken from various music samples, which shows there is lots of low frequency information in various types of music.

" most speakers with 5-inch (127mm) or larger woofers can muster 50Hz bass":

No, a 5" driver can not even reproduce 200hz properly, if a realistic sound presentation is the goal.

" Achieving the perfect blend isn't always possible -- subwoofer crossover tweaking isn't an exact science":

Actually the integration part is science, and a manageable set of rules solves it. But you need the equipment and the knowledge to do it properly.

If the sound does not improve after adding a subwoofer/bass-system, you did not do it right.

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