Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Bass Line on Spanish Harlem

One of the great mastering engineers had a suggestion for tuning the bass response of a monitoring system.

Spanish Harlem on the Rebecca Pidgeon album by Chesky.

One thing for sure it is a very appealing track I don't mind listening to over and over again.

But hearing the first 3 bass notes, I wonder "are they actually supposed to sound the same loudness"?  I've now tried all my systems and the Koss Phones.  All but my Bedroom system (which was actually tuned using Spanish Harlem...) play the notes in slightly increasing loudness, with the third being notably louder. The third note also has an especially "open string" quality.

Now I see what the notes are, they are G, B, D.  Indeed, it seems like the D is the open bass string D, and it should sound naturally louder.  Even if the notes were somehow played exactly the same level, we should hear the D louder due to increased hearing sensitivity.  Now, finally, I'm looking at the opening in Wave Editor, a nice Mac program, and I see that the three notes are clearly in increasing loudness, with the third being way louder the the previous two.  Here are the peak levels:

G1: -23.2dB (49 Hz)
B1: -17.6dB  (61.7 Hz)
D2: -14.1dB  (73.4 Hz)

Even those numbers, suggesting a 9dB increase, don't do the view in the Wave Editor window justice.  The D is way louder, also with the sustained ring that comes from being an open string.  The opening G looks pitifully small.

Could it be I've mistuned my bedroom system for this?  The bass line does sound very nice, probably the nicest, on my bedroom system, which has highly hand-tuned parametric filters intended to provide smoothly increasing room gain down to 16Hz.  (Has good response to 13Hz, by the way, with SVS 16-46 sub.)

Then again, maybe that was the idea, to get nice bass boosting room curve.  It turns out that actual flat response falls flat.  A bit of increasing low end boost, seems to sound the most natural (not to mention powerful) for some reason.

In kitchen I can play the synth bass in Garage Band and the 3 notes sound like identical loudness.

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