Does low bass cause distortion?

February 20, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

2 comments on “Does low bass cause distortion?”

  1. While this is probably not the case in most any decent speaker systems, having an aggressive bass response might mess with the other speaker components like the mid range and tweeter. I learned this early on in the 1950's as a kid putting speakers in boxes and seeing one effect the other. I also saw the first passive radiator, though I didn't call it that then, when I had 2 speakers in a sealed box and one blew out, and it continued to vibrate, producing sound when only the other was electrically active. Out of phase badly of course, but seeing physical motion transferred like that was interesting to me. However removing the blown speaker, covering the hole and adding a port (not tuned properly I'm sure) was much better and cleaner sounding. But this brings to mind a question I have about smaller speakers, say bookshelf size. I see people isolating them on shelves and desks with all manner of pucks and things. If a speaker is not rigidly mounted in space won't it physically move causing an interference with low frequencies in particular? I can envision a motion of sympathetic vibration that would be out of phase and therefore unwanted in a smaller mass speaker system. Isn't that why some monster speaker systems have slate and other dense materials in their construction? Even your IRSV's have enormous mass in their construction. Could your questioner's concerns be valid in the case of small, low mass speakers that have high bass response? BTW I sure hope you get cracking on the new speaker line. I want to hear them when I come to visit later this year. Perhaps it's time to retire the massive A7-500's (3 pair)I've had for 47 years. Thanks again for the vids and text. I check them each morning.

  2. One idea that Paul Klipsch designed his Klipschorns around was the fact that the efficiency of the speaker was high enough that the woofer needed very little excursion to reproduce a bass note, and a result, it would result in "cleaner" bass. (In the terms Paul uses, that would mean the intermodulation and Doppler distortion would be minimized.) A bass horn is one theory in which low excursion is used to reduce bass distortion.

    The only time I hear harmonic distortion in a woofer is when the incoming note is so low that the woofer cannot reproduce it, and woofer "doubles" the frequency. In other words, a speaker that cannot reproduce a 30Hz note (which is around the lowest note on a 5-string bass guitar) will often "double" to 60Hz instead.

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