Getting it right
Getting the midbass right in a system is something many of us overlook in loudspeaker setup, focusing instead on the low bass. I have seen this time and time again and the reason we do this is two fold: rooms are tough on the low bass levels requiring a lot of speaker moving decisions and low bass performance is pretty obvious to most listeners. But the midbass (80Hz to 150Hz) and upper bass levels (150Hz to 300Hz) are where the ear is most sensitive to proper levels. If getting the instruments to sound real is your goal, and I am assuming it is for all of us, then this is the area to focus on first, letting the very low bass (80Hz and below) do whatever it's going to. You can fix it later with a subwoofer, bass traps or EQ if necessary. Here's how I set the midbass up in my system. I focus on an instrument I know that has a good amount of midbass. For example, in classical music I prefer the cello, tympani or string bass on some tracks. You can even use a male vocal if you know it well, but I believe these classical instruments are perhaps the best. You don't have to even like classical music, just get the sound of the instrument correct and everything else falls into place. For tympani I use the Reference recording Showcase. Track 4 by Sibelius, Finlandia, is my favorite. It's easy to compare the sound of the tympani to the other instruments and get them perfect, even if you don't quite know the proper sound - it is the relationship to the other instruments that makes it easy. From there I have several other favorites but as of late I am relying on Brian Bromberg's Wood. Track's 1 and 3 are excellent for getting the midbass and lower bass to work together. Here's a couple of tips to get the midbass right. If you have a lack of midbass energy and moving the speakers farther or nearer to the listening position doesn't help, put the two speakers closer together. Placing them closer together will help couple the two woofers together better and increase the amount of midbass energy in the room. If you lose stereo imaging or focus because of this, pull the speakers away from the rear wall a touch to increase lost depth and play with toe in for lost focus. Whatever you do, pay attention to the midbass. Everything else just kind of works when you get this all critical frequency adjusted properly.
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