It’s time for some myth busting! Let us not put our music collections on a pedestal. Let us also not discard a song or album because it doesn’t sound “good enough”. There’s a belief held by some audio enthusiasts that the music must pass from media to the ears with as few alterations as possible.
We know music quality isn’t consistent. In later articles this concept will be explored in depth.
I don’t want you to pass up a good time just because some music needs some help to sound better.
Joshua shared in the Facebook group ‘Car Audio DSPs and Tablet Tuners’ the following question.
So can anyone help me narrow down frequencies that are too strong in songs? Right now, its so powerful my ears actually hurt. only certain songs ( i love tbh )
A fun new album recommendation was shared with the community of FB group ‘Strictly Sound Quality’, a discerning audience, even though the mix isn’t great.
The mix could have been better for sound quality. Does it mean the music is the problem? A comment from the discussion:
Accurate bass is thought to come from subwoofers, right? How many times have you asked these questions:
What size subwoofer should I get?
Do I want 8s for tight, punchy bass?
Should I get 15s for deep bass?
You might have been operating on outdated ideas, doing the same thing again and again because it’s come out Close Enough and you had fun.
Disclaimer: The scope of this article, the message and the mission of Barry Schanz and Rubyserv is to serve the art of music regarding Sound Quality. Seeking high dB SPL is a different mission. The Subwoofers for high power applications are, by nature, inefficient.
Small subwoofers are more accurate than large subwoofers.
Small subwoofers have better sound quality than large subwoofers.
The size of the woofer cone defines how well it plays bass, i.e. a big cone is good at deep bass.
Small subwoofers are quick and best for fast kick drum bass. Big subwoofers are good at slow bass.
A big subwoofer makes a bigger sound wave, which takes more distance to develop.
You should buy a subwoofer in relation to the size of the vehicle. A small car should have 8s, a van should have 15s, and so on.
Anything on this list is false.
I was sitting in the middle of a packed conference room at the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas, TX, in August, 2014. People had gathered here from multiple countries out of a hunger to learn. It was Knowledgefest, the premier event for training for those inside the car audio industry.
The speaker? It was a powerhouse in the audio reproduction space, Dr. Floyd Toole, retired, who was there to teach about acoustics in rooms, our perceptions and the human hearing mechanism, and what we could do with that knowledge. Time was limited and there was a ton of stuff to cover.
Early in the talk someone spoke up with a question about Fast Bass / Subwoofer Speed. I will never forget the gist of Dr. Toole’s response. I wish the talk had been recorded.
I’m not going to say much about this as it’s utter nonsense. A woofer’s speed is dictated by the frequency response of the amplifier. The cone movement follows the signal of the amplifier.
Dang. Direct and blunt. I shifted in my seat and most of the room needed a few seconds to take it in and quiet down.
I believe these are the major considerations to get great bass in the car using a subwoofer
If an enclosure is required, how can we maximize bass bandwidth and efficiency?
How much power from the amplifier can we use, OR
How much power should be budgeted that is appropriate for the electrical supply?
The size of the subwoofer follows after these concerns.
I also believe it’s better to build for more bass than you want or need for 99% of the time. Turn it down if it’s too much.
As always with car audio, there is scientific data to back up just about any claims. If you have studied at least high school physics then you should be able to understand the ideas presented in this paper:
If a cone can produce enough output at a given frequency then it’s moving as fast as it has to to reproduce that note. Large drivers are simply not required to move as quick as smaller ones.
If anything, smaller cones will need to move further than larger cones to move the required amount of air which requires more time. It could be said then that large drivers with massive displacements require the least amount of cone movement in the time required.
The funny thing is that because smaller drivers (all things being equal) are required to move further at any given time interval to move the required amount of air it could be said that they are required to move “faster”. How ironic.
I believe that anyone who reads through the ‘Woofer Speed’ paper will no longer believe the myths about subwoofer size relating to speed, accuracy, sound quality, transient response, and so on.
In the past I’ve written about power in relation to loudness, and you might be saying to yourself, “I’m still not convinced. Wouldn’t it be better to get a number of small subs than 1 big sub?” A small sub needs more excursion to get loud, and generally a larger sub is more efficient in every way. You get the best bang for your buck by using a big subwoofer. Only if your available space is extremely limited should you look at 6.5″ or 8″ subwoofers.