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Why does live music have more bass than "flat"?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Listening to live tracks on an etymotic ER6 doesn't produce the same quantity of bass that is heard in the live setting. Are the sound guys at these shows just cranking up the bass?

Or are live shows inherently different from studio recordings? If these two settings aim at entirely different sound signatures, then no one iem can ever reproduce an accurate depiction of both.
post #2 of 18

In an actual live environment, its not only the bass you hear. The vibration is felt in the chest as well, and big speakers are definitely good at that. Thats a part of the whole experience. IEMs cannot really do that, thats why they're monitors.

The same reason why a speaker setup with sub woofer gives more impact than using headphones in lets say, movies.


Edited by proton007 - 9/26/12 at 11:14pm
post #3 of 18

It's reversed with my music - the live music is always thinner, not just the bass but in the whole spectrum. Venues in my live music collection tend to be larger arenas if not open outright. But it can depend also on how its recorded, like where the mic for the bass drum is (even if overall its thinner this can seem louder), or how they're mastered (ie, more volume for this instrument, the bass guitar, etc).

post #4 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

It's reversed with my music - the live music is always thinner, not just the bass but in the whole spectrum. Venues in my live music collection tend to be larger arenas if not open outright. But it can depend also on how its recorded, like where the mic for the bass drum is (even if overall its thinner this can seem louder), or how they're mastered (ie, more volume for this instrument, the bass guitar, etc).

 

Of course, recording of a live performance may have its own variations.

But I doubt it'll ever be the same as being present at the performance.

post #5 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

 

Of course, recording of a live performance may have its own variations.

But I doubt it'll ever be the same as being present at the performance.

 

Depends on where you're at too - not just the venue itself but within that venue. If you're far from the front and far from the monitors, you're watching and singing along a lot more than listening.

post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post

In an actual live environment, its not only the bass you hear. The vibration is felt in the chest as well, and big speakers are definitely good at that. Thats a part of the whole experience. IEMs cannot really do that, thats why they're monitors.

The same reason why a speaker setup with sub woofer gives more impact than using headphones in lets say, movies.

 

Second this. The air vibration is felt physically on your body, not just on the ears. Besides, it's not just the bass, but the entire "live" feeling, the soundstage. In the live setting, the soundstage is real. I believe you can not only listen to the music, but also chanting, cheering, and screaming, which is directly felt as an audience. And I believe most live performance are recorded on stage, not below stage, which means the music experience is inverted. You are listening from the stage.

 

IMHO, IEM are pretty bad at portraying live setting compared to full size headphones. The impact isn't the same to my ears.

post #7 of 18

If we're talking live rock/hip hop concerts etc, there shouldn't really be any comparison.  They're usually broadcast over pa systems, which are off the charts on distortion.  They're also ear-splitting loud, and the treble is blown way out of proportion as well the bass.  Naturally, when you have huge arrays of large subwoofers, you'll get a tremendous visceral impact from the bass being presented.

 

When people on head-fi compare to real world concerts or events, they're usually talking about purely acoustic performances.


Edited by TMRaven - 9/27/12 at 7:23am
post #8 of 18
When you are listening to a speaker system that goes below 30Hz or so, you are going to feel it. Speakers always feel more full in the bass than headphones. But the other factor is the hall acoustic. Live performances are generally quite imbalanced. Compromises need to be made to fill a cavernous hall full of people with sound. The best place to hear what flat sounds like is in a listening room.
post #9 of 18

Everybody is right that headphones can't match the punch of a pa system. Most are using multiple 18 inch subs with a ton of power behind them, and when they hit it they move a whole lot of air.

 

Also depending on how it is recorded (multitrack or room mics) can also make a huge difference. Multitack recordings are taken to a studio to mix and room mics you are dependent on the frequency response of the mics.

 

There is another reason, a lot of pa systems are being setup with the subs on an aux send not the master fader (or they are running multiple subs one on the master fader the other on the aux send), what this allows is only the instruments that the engineer wants to go to the subs go to them allowing the engineer to also give more kick and less bass or the other way around. I am not a big fan of this technique but the more I use it the more I like it, I probably wont change how I setup my pa.

 

Who are you listening to on these recordings?

post #10 of 18

Another factor is absolute volume and Fletcher-Munson. When music is very loud, as in a club, the bass is perceived as louder than at lower volumes.

 

--Ethan

post #11 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by EthanWiner View Post

Another factor is absolute volume and Fletcher-Munson. When music is very loud, as in a club, the bass is perceived as louder than at lower volumes.

 

--Ethan

 

Ah yes the good ole Fletcher-Munson curves. I can't believe I forgot that, since I always remember it when I am running music to check the auto-eq function of the drive rack.

post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwal View Post

Everybody is right that headphones can't match the punch of a pa system. Most are using multiple 18 inch subs with a ton of power behind them, and when they hit it they move a whole lot of air.

 

 

They can blow out a zippo if you are close enough !!

Just imagine what that does to your ears !!!

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
Great info guys. So basically there are good reasons for huge bass at live shows. If I want to recreate that experience in an iem then I have to have a very bass heavy iem.

One could also argue that when listening to an iem it's desirable to avoid the distortion and loudness effects of the live setting anyway...
post #14 of 18
I sat at one concert where we were in front of the speakers. Never again.
post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by gnarlsagan View Post

Great info guys. So basically there are good reasons for huge bass at live shows. If I want to recreate that experience in an iem then I have to have a very bass heavy iem.
One could also argue that when listening to an iem it's desirable to avoid the distortion and loudness effects of the live setting anyway...

 

Try as you may,  but an IEM will never be able to recreate the experience.

A lot of the audiophile industry has been working towards this, to create a listening experience that gets you as close as possible to the real thing. 

First of all, you need some good speakers, and secondly, and perhaps even more importantly, the acoustic treatment of the room. (I think Ethan will attest to that!)

 

I'm not really a fan of those rock/pop outdoor type performances, but from the classical/jazz performances I've seen, some of them at a music conservatory/concert hall, the whole place has been acoustically treated to project the sound from the stage onto the audience. And a lot of use of wood, maximal reduction of hard reflecting surfaces.

 

Thats what gets the sound waves to travel through your body, not reflect around, and you can feel the presence of the instrument, especially the low frequency ones.

 

Once you've heard the grand piano, the cello, or especially the double bass at these places, you'll always want to hear things the same way. Its a bit difficult to do at my budget or the space I have.


Edited by proton007 - 9/27/12 at 6:55pm
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