Can Linear Bass Sound Bad?

You care about good sound. You want to hear your movies and music the way the artist intended. You’ve bought great speakers with a very linear frequency response and subwoofers that can pressurize your room and play down to 20Hz. You’ve set everything up properly and have even taken measurements to ensure as accurate sound as possible at your seat. When you fire up your system and start to listen, it sounds…wrong? Empty? Hollow? Definitely not enough bass. You’re not sure how to describe it but you aren’t hearing what you expected. You are sure you are hearing linear bass but it sounds bad to you. Is it you? Your system? What’s the deal? Let’s discuss!

Linear Bass is the Start, Not the End of Your Sound Journey

There is a reason why AV Gadgets and others care about linear sound (bass in particular). Linear bass is hard to achieve. Your room will play a huge role in how you experience the bass and will often make your bass sound far too loud or non-existent. By focusing on achieving linear bass, you ensure you have access to all the bass available in your music or movies. Your room or your non-linear subwoofers/speakers won’t be creating overly loud or soft bass. It will all be playing at the correct volume level.

You’ve Likely Never Experienced Linear Bass

There are people who consider themselves audio experts. They’ll cite their vast experience with audio. Often they’ll claim that hearing lots of live performances gives them the ability to know how something should sound. We’re not going to argue that having experience with audio is a bad thing. It isn’t. Unfortunately, just because you heard an instrument or band live doesn’t mean that your experience was free from bias. These bands were often in a room where, once again, room acoustics affected the linearity of the sound in general and bass specifically. Even outdoor performances come with their challenges. It’s hard to get enough bass in outdoor arenas.

Perhaps you are a movie buff. Shouldn’t movie theaters (especially the more expensive ones) have linear bass and sound? Don’t bet on it! Movie theaters are designed and tuned to give you an impressive experience. Accuracy in sound would be nice but, as you’ve now discovered, linear bass isn’t always impressive.

Tuning To Your Preference

The reason to strive for linear bass and sound is so that you can tune your system to your preference. Some people like to have their surround speakers noticeable during playback. They didn’t do all that work to install speakers behind and above them not to hear them! Others want their surround speakers to disappear into the mix and only be noticeable for specific effects (horror movies for example).

Many people find that they prefer more bass than a linear sound system provides. This is simply because we are so used to boosted bass. Our cars, headphones, and movie theaters often boost the bass because it is what people prefer. Now that you have your system tuned to be completely linear, you may find that you miss that extra bass you get from all the other systems you’ve experienced.

That’s okay!

There is a big difference between a system that sounds bad and a system that sounds bad to you. Your linear system provides all of the sounds. Now that you have all those sounds, you can tailor the frequency response to your liking. Go into your room correction program and change the target curve to what sounds good to you. Having all of the sounds allows you to do that. With a non-linear system, you can’t because some sounds will never be there and others will always be way too loud. Tuning to your preference is now not only possible but encouraged!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *