Have you heard the term “Golden Ear”? No, not the ears of a Golden Retriever, I mean someone who claims to have exceptionally acute hearing. Someone who identifies as a Golden Ear wants to stand out as a person who hears subtle details of sound, of music quality and to recognize good production. Sometimes this distinction results in influence and persuasion. People looking to find great sounding music, the best speakers, the best amplifiers, even the best cables, sometimes will trust the word of a Golden Ear reviewer.
I want you to take a test and get your score, then I’ll suggest some realistic, deliberate actions you can take to be a better music listener, and share something profound for you about recognizing good sounding music.
…although tastes in music are demonstrably highly personal…we discover that recognizing the most common deficiencies in reproduced sounds is a surprisingly universal skill when listeners are given a chance to reveal their unbiased opinions. More good news is that most people can do it, even those who think they have “tin ears”. Inexperience listeners take more time, make more mistakes along the way, but in the end, their opinions generally agree with those of the experts. -Floyd Toole, Introduction to the Third Edition of ‘Sound Reproduction’
Music is art, following a creative process. The concept I want to share with you is that a process of creation can result in something far more beneficial to you or society at large than a mere collection of ideas and inspirational spurts from which the music resulted.
There is nothing to ideas and inspiration if we do not act on them in a constructive manner.
1a : the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity
b : vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony
- choral music
- piano music
- recorded music
“Audio is entertainment, but doing it well may require some homework.”
– Floyd E. Toole, retired research scientist for Harman International, author of ‘Sound Reproduction: Third Edition, The Acoustics and Psychoacoustics of Loudspeakers and Rooms’
There’s a saying that you could fill a room with apes banging on keyboards and eventually you’ll get a work of brilliance, such as a Shakespearean sonnet. They also say the value of art is up to the eye of the beholder. If I’m going to say that music and sound reproduction, in my realm of specialty that is CAR AUDIO, I believe we should NOT bang away at this until we randomly arrive at an excellent sound system.
What I intend to do is refine and share my creative design process for taking your car audio system, starting at any level of quality or status or stage of construction, all the way to “Press ‘Play, Enjoy”. Finished.
Do you find yourself forgetting about fun, about novelty or passion or excitement? Maybe that’s a silly question for you. I want you to reflect right now about how audio is a source of entertainment. How does it affect you? Where might we get different sources of audio?
If you’re a reader who shares the interest of audio systems in vehicles, aka Car Audio, these last two questions might have instantly reminded you of listening to music the last time you drove or rode in a car.
Definition of audio
1: of or relating to acoustic, mechanical, or electrical frequencies corresponding to normally audible sound waves which are of frequencies approximately from 15 to 20,000 hertz
Singing in the shower. The bathroom can be an excellent place to fill with the sound of your own voice.
The kids’ concerts for choir and band at school. Year after year they grow in ability and the program material gets more elaborate and melodic.
The birds calling and chirping in the trees outside. You know about the outdoors, right? Take a break and get outside today.
A waterfall rushing over rocks and cascading into a pool. Even the largest boulder will eventually lose the battle against the stream.
If we refer back to the definition 2a of ‘Audio’ we are looking now at this with the focus on reproducing sound. Man has invented and refined ways of recording sounds and the mechanisms and machines to allow us to hit Play and listen to a performance again and again.
Getting this part of audio right takes knowledge and proper application of that knowledge, as well as many skills. What you can expect to see on this blog in the near future is a deep exploration of audio as we perceive it, some of the best practices, myths and truths, and more. I invite you to comment with your criticisms and feedback, subscribe and follow Rubyserv on social media, and join this community!
Jovan has a deep love and passion for music and stereo systems. Professionally, he has devoted over 14 years to serving locals with home A/V entertainment systems! Rubyserv helped him select some of his speakers in his truck. He has a concern about balancing it all to get the sound right.
He has to get his vehicle sounding amazing. This system is different than what most of our clients have done in one big way: the bass! Devoting most of the bed of his Ford F-150 to a cabinet for a pair of 15″ subwoofers, along with a potential for 6,000W RMS of power, means there is a substantial amount of loudness and pressure in the cabin.
How do we make this sound great with the volume cranked up without adding more speakers? Can it be done without asking Jovan to turn down the bass?
Jovan put in enormous effort and sacrificed a lot to be able to get bass that is heard and felt very powerfully. While traveling at speed with the windows down, as Jovan does at times, this becomes a big challenge for any vehicle sound system to stay clear, balanced, and separated and distinct among the voices and instruments.
Even without the added distraction of road and traffic noise there is a need to make changes to the sound system in response to a variety of factors. Some of the variables are in our control and others are acceptable compromises.
Based on my experiences and understanding, let’s take this example scenario and walk through a process of analysis and changes.
It wasn’t the music itself that changed. It was my perceptions that shifted. Further reading on this, with the warning that it is an academic write-up which I do not fully understand.
What should be available with any good bass setup is a separate adjustment for either Subwoofer Level or Bass Boost.
Subwoofer Level – The way to think of this is a volume reduction. I would set up the system to deliver too much bass at times, and then the subwoofer level would be used only to turn it down.
Bass Boost – This is a weapon. On a subwoofer amplifier this is usually designed to adjust one frequency the most, with a fixed range or width of frequencies around it that also get increased. In the picture below there is a maximum of 12 dB of bass boost available. I cannot advise ANYONE to turn it up that high. Bass boost is useful yet it can result in equipment failure, plus bad sounding music.
Amplifier Gain adjustments – Please subscribe to this blog for updates, as there will be a future tutorial on amplifier gain setting. Until then, please follow our partner’s guide:
Damage can occur with unsafe equalizer, amplifier gain, and bass boost settings. A consultation and system check-up by a qualified and reputable installation technician might serve you best.
Rubyserv invites inquiries. Call or text 701-620-1124 or send an e-mail with the subject ‘Help’ to email@example.com.
About This Group
This is a page for real car audio help and advise. There will be no insults, no brand/company bashing, and no criticism only help and suggestions. We would prefer to keep the language fairly clean.
Barry,Thanks for your interest in Reikken Power Cells.Our model numbers are a rough wattage guide for regular street use. Application and usage can be huge variables so the more you know about usage the better.Reikken model numbers are based on amplifiers rated at RMS values. Energie model numbers are based on max watts (double) since those are typically the amplifiers used with these cells.Reikken JB1817 = roughly 1800 wattsEnergie ER4800 = roughly 2400 watts (4800 watts max)Thanks, Rich Scott
Thank you. Would you have examples of stories of how someone used their system power and expected use to choose their battery?
You’re aware that the industry isn’t all aligned fully on power ratings. Even if they use the CEA-2006 standard it only applies to a 4 ohm load. Go below 4 ohms(does that happen often?) and things change from one manufacturer to another.
Barry,You are correct. There is no universal standard. The only real way to know actual load is to measure current draw while using the system with a clamp ammeter and volt meter or better yet, a meter that can record a cumulative wattage over time or Ah usage.We have many years of experience helping customers and car builders set up power for complicated systems with very good results. If the customer knows the actual current draw of the total system, that is a huge step in the right direction.Real world, most people use the rough wattage as a starting point and we can usually get very close by asking a few simple questions:
Do you play system with engine off (no charging) such as in parking lots or at shows. If so, an outboard power source is usually needed in order to not have to buy a bank of batteries.
Do you play music or use power on lighting, screens etc at high volumes or for extended periods.
What type of music do you listen to? Rap, pop, country etc… Heavy bass takes more power
What is the real wattage (if you don’t know current draw) of the amplifiers being used.Thanks, Rich Scott
When do you need to consider a second battery to support your car audio system? Read ‘How To: Size Your Audio System To Your Electrical System‘.
How much amplifier power do you really need? Read ‘Power Ratings: What Do They Mean?‘
Study this guide and get your materials and tools together before tearing into the vehicle and peeling the backing paper off the mat. Scroll down for Q&A.
Prioritizing where to place the mat for best results:
Once these areas are covered the coverage expands as follows:
Further information and detailed inner door panel vibration damping photo gallery:
Vibration damping is an integral part of our Speaker Upgrade Packages.
Q: I noticed in your article that the area behind the speakers were done on the outer door skin. Is it overkill to do the entire outer door skin?
A: No. If you’re going to cut up your arm reaching the whole area then do the best you can.
I believe we all need a good way to tune out distractions. Distractions keep us from focusing on things that really matter. I think it really matters to enjoy music and not be distracted by such questions as:
This little knob gets a fair amount of hate, and I believe it’s unjustified in many cases.
Consider this. We listen to music, the news, podcasts and such in a variety of places with a wide range of distracting ambient noises at different levels of intensity. If you consider yourself a person who values high fidelity, or accurate playback, you probably value a very balanced, “true”, sound whether you have ever thought about it or not.
It is both satisfying and reassuring to know that both trained and untrained listeners recognize and prefer accurate loudspeakers…
Audio Musings by Sean Olive –
If you’re really savvy, you might know what this graph represents. If not, click or touch the image to read the linked article by Steve Feinstein at InMusic Inc.
This image is one possible way to represent a bass limited speaker with excellent frequency response. It’s a very limited amount of information, but that’s a topic for future articles.
This is derived with instruments such as a computer, a software package, and a microphone. This is unlike how our two ears and a brain hear and perceive sounds.
Next we have a different frequency response graph that is more closely illustrating what is widely accepted as an enjoyable balance of sound in a moving car. Remember that a moving car has distracting background sounds. Much of the background sound is at low frequencies(10-160 Hz), and the masking effects mean we need more bass than midrange and treble. Interestingly, there are applications of sound masking that can be beneficial.
A: It takes away from the way the artist intended the music to sound.
Truth: At best we are hearing some variation of an IMITATION of a single performance of the music. Your music collection could indeed have a more truthful, accurate sound and we also need to have the structure of aural memories plus “How to Listen” in mind to make that judgement.
I turn up the bass but I hear distortion, rattles, vibrations(any 1 or a combination of the insults).
Other than damaged or defective speakers, which is very common, a very irritating insult to our enjoyment of music in the vehicle is often caused by rattles and vibrations happening in response to acoustic energy.
In other words, it’s time to get busy with sound damping.
Follow along with a journey of learning and exploring various sound damping(aka deadening) techniques which were done in the name of improving comfort and to better enjoy the MUSIC.
I added a subwoofer and I’m NOT going to risk blowing it.
Oh yeah, I’m with you on that one. Almost everyone knows at least one person who has had a speaker, or an amplifier, let the magic smoke out.
Look at how many videos come up on YouTube for the search string “how to get the bass right in your mix”. The point is this is just one step in the process of getting the artist’s creative content from an idea to your ears, and there is someone’s skill and decision making at play, not to mention the equipment in use.
If you don’t trust that your sound system is up to the task of getting the bass to your satisfaction it’s a fine time to ask yourself, “Why am I hesitating to correct this?”.
Take some time to dig in to the articles and videos linked throughout this article. If you’ve gotten a lot of value from this please subscribe to the e-mail list. Please share this article.
The lower crossover frequency of 2.5 kHz avoids dispersion and response anomalies in the mid-woofer to tweeter transition seen when crossing over at higher frequencies. This lower crossover frequency provides superior blending in a range of installations and with various drivers. Below the 2.5 kHz crossover frequency the tweeter is attenuated 24dB at 1.25kHz. This is at just ½ the crossover frequency.
This rapid roll off is very effective especially at this lower crossover frequency in providing protection for the tweeter in high power systems. A two position woofer response “crossover trim” corrects response differences seen between a range of mid-woofers from 4” to 6.5”. Combine this with the 5 tweeter level settings to get a smooth natural sound.
UpStage Imaging Tweeters
CL-6EX 6.5″ Coaxial Speakers
HD-M6Sub 6.7″ Subwoofers
Floyd Toole, retired acoustical and psychoacoustical research scientist, author and public speaker, wrote:
Audio is entertainment, but doing it well may require some homework. Understanding how it works may make the result even more pleasurable.
Likely you have spent much time reading, searching for reviews, inquiring for opinions and recommendations, about audio system upgrades before you found your way to this article. We’re extremely blessed to exist in a time of human history in which we have more information available in seconds at our fingertips than ever. Have you put together an audio system? Was it good? Were you able to reach for greatness?
I believe we all need a good way to tune out distractions. I believe we all share common connections with audio, with music in particular, as entertainment. Most people who value Audio as Entertainment settle for mediocrity. We watch shows and movies with TV speakers. We play music through tiny speakers inside our phones. We settle for what’s given to us by default. That’s not what you deserve.
Distractions keep us from paying full attention to things that really matter. Pressing a button and almost magically getting a song to snap into our world, to uplift our spirits, to inspire us to sing and dance, that’s great stuff. It’s enough to calm down stress for a while and help us re-focus and ramp up the energy.
When I founded Rubyserv in January, 2016, I wrote out the mission statement as follows:
Rubyserv helps you plan and acquire your vehicle sound system, convenience and safety upgrades. We know you spend a lot of time on the road, and we want to make it a more enjoyable experience. Through a logical approach built on a foundation of experience and training, Rubyserv will guide you through your projects. Big or small, we will make it happen together.
I reflect on this now with a renewed focus on education, on studying, and of teaching. Your time on the road doesn’t have to be so tiring and aggravating. You can have the understanding to work on the audio system, or to find a true professional to work on it for you, and have a smile light up your face every time you drive.
Let’s crank up the volume and get to that homework!