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bass reflex speakers tiring?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Recently I bought a Denon CEOL and a pair of Dali Zensor 1 speakers to replace an aging Kenwood set with some home build 3-way speakers I'd bought more than 20 years ago for 20 euros a pair. (dealer got them as a trade-in and they were taking up space he needed so he practically gave them away)

 

Now I'm actually quite please with the CEOL but I'm having serious second thoughts about the speakers. I bought these initially as a lot of speaker for little money for the living room and at first I was quite pleased with them. It's a relatively small room at not quite 40 square meters and these little speakers manage to fill it well enough.

 

However... I find there's a punchiness in these speakers, probably due to the fact that they use a bass reflex system. Even with the bass turned way down on that denon I still get tired of listening to them after about 90 minutes.

 

Am I expecting too much in this price range? Or is this just something inherent to bass reflex systems?

post #2 of 16
These measurements indicate they have some depression of the lower mids before an upper midbass hump and then rolling off, which could be part of what you are hearing. Also, room acoustics tend to wreck havoc with bass response. Usually you tend to get more distortion below the tuning point on a speaker. So could just be that bass is not these speakers strong point. Sealed instead of bass reflect might not help you any since sealed speakers the same size (and similar price range) will often tend to have a higher rolloff than bass reflect. For instance, look at the NHT Absolute Zeros measure. They absolutely have a sub, although I would think your Dali Zensors would need one, too, to perform best with bass.

Given how much room acoustics and room placement affects bass response, you might just try moving your speakers around. Sometimes even moving speakers out from the wall another foot or a foot in either direction can make a difference.
post #3 of 16
Thread Starter 

OK thanks.

 

Wondering though, if I already experience these as extremely tiring in the bass department how would adding even more bass help? Contrary to common taste too much bass gets me very aggressive very quickly.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wijnands View Post

OK thanks.

Wondering though, if I already experience these as extremely tiring in the bass department how would adding even more bass help? Contrary to common taste too much bass gets me very aggressive very quickly.

Sorry. I don't know what you mean by adding more bass in reference to what I was saying.
post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post
 They absolutely have a sub, although I would think your Dali Zensors would need one, too, to perform best with bass.

 

 

Seems like you're advocating a sub here. I've seen subs, they're the things that make the room vibrate and are essential to teens it seems. Don't quite see what that will do in this case.


Edited by wijnands - 2/16/14 at 7:56am
post #6 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wijnands View Post

I've seen subs, they're the things that make the room vibrate and are essential to teens it seems

If all you have is experience with subs that teenagers buy or the cheap home audio subs at the local big budget audio store, then you might think that. LOL

I would experiment with speaker placement before doing anything since your room could be emphasizing that slight upper mid bass hump in the Dalis. As I already said, simply moving them out from the wall a foot or to the left or right a foot could make a difference. If you have them jammed up next to a wall or in a corner, this could easily be your problem.

A sub might or might not help. The advantage of a sub is that you can place it where the bass better interacts with the room and produces the desired response at the listening position, whereas with speakers, one is sort of stuck putting the speakers where they also have the best response for mid range and highs, imaging, and soundstage. However, you would need bass management in your receiver with a high crossover in order to let the sub take over the bass that the Dalis are producing; otherwise, it wouldn't help. And you probably would have to spend more than you would imagine to get a sub with good SQ.
post #7 of 16
Thread Starter 

I'm still adjusting to the idea that a sub might actually do something for music except annoy neighbours by putting extra boom in that techno crap.

 

Nope, that one will need time

post #8 of 16

I think cel's point is with a separate bass you can adjust it down separate from the mains.  Also decent subs actually deliver a more controlled bass which is typically what gets aggravating with speakers that don't do a good job of bass they just get uncontrollably boomy and lack the tightness that makes bass pleasurable.  With a nice sub you could get a satisfying flat bass response at a higher level which is also less annoying to you and your neighbor.

post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wijnands View Post

I'm still adjusting to the idea that a sub might actually do something for music except annoy neighbours by putting extra boom in that techno crap.

Might help to look at all the instruments that play notes below 100hz. This chart is interactive.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by groovyd View Post

I think cel's point is with a separate bass you can adjust it down separate from the mains.  Also decent subs actually deliver a more controlled bass which is typically what gets aggravating with speakers that don't do a good job of bass they just get uncontrollably boomy and lack the tightness that makes bass pleasurable.  With a nice sub you could get a satisfying flat bass response at a higher level which is also less annoying to you and your neighbor.

I think a lot of times that anti-sub snobbiness comes from a lack of familiarity with good subwoofers that are well integrated into a system. Most people have never heard good bass smily_headphones1.gif
post #11 of 16

true - i used to have a bose desktop speaker setup and even though the bass wasn't turned up the floor was always rumbling.  upgraded to a audio engine S8 which is actually a decent sub for the price but it too was rumbly even at low volumes.  since then i got serious and replaced it with 2 Paradigm MilleniaOnes and now i actually have much more bass that does not rumble the house forever and i can turn it up a lot louder with no annoyance and get a nice solid thump.

post #12 of 16

that is perhaps another thing to consider... are those speakers on a wooden floor or tile or carpet?  this can dramatically change the bass quality.  perhaps to try putting the speaker on some rubber or carpet.

post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by groovyd View Post

. . .replaced it with 2 Paradigm MilleniaOnes

I've always wanted to hear one of those. They seem to be an impressive piece of technology. Nice! biggrin.gif
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 

This is actually turning quite interesting, thanks everyone!

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post


I think a lot of times that anti-sub snobbiness comes from a lack of familiarity with good subwoofers that are well integrated into a system. Most people have never heard good bass smily_headphones1.gif

I'll readily admit to that! What little experience I have with subs is limited to things in the back of kids' cars and cheap home theater sets. Those subs produce output that, up until now, have made me want to avoid subs at all cost!

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wijnands View Post

I'll readily admit to that! What little experience I have with subs is limited to things in the back of kids' cars and cheap home theater sets. Those subs produce output that, up until now, have made me want to avoid subs at all cost!

I don't blame you. Very cheap subs are often one note wonders, which sound horrible when it comes to actually reproducing bass notes. Then budget level subs that are better than that are compromises in some way in terms of design. It cost some money to get a good sub because one is paying for a large driver, a larger enclosure, and an an amplifier. Spend $250 and you often get cheap driver, cheap enclosure, and cheap amplifier. (lol) But seriously, my sub in my desktop setup cost as much as my speakers and amplifier combined. It's just not cheap for good bass.

One way to understand why a good sub can be helpful is to think about how in a given speaker model line, a 3 way tower will sound better than a 2 way bookshelf. Often they are using the same tweeter, but the tower adds a bass (or midrange) driver in comparison to the components in the bookshelf. The reason that works well is that it's a lot for a single driver to handle all the mid range and all the bass. So a good sub is a dedicated driver in a separate box for very low frequencies. In other words, it's a specialized tool for a specific job. Just have to get the well-designed, good quality tool smily_headphones1.gif

The problem is that even if you have a sub, you have to be able to integrate it well. With a tower speaker that has an extra driver for low frequencies, there's a built in crossover. So if you want a sub to take over some of the bass responsibilities from a speaker, you have to have bass management or some kind of high pass filter acting on the speaker audio. Otherwise, all you can do with a sub without some kind of crossover system is to set it to integrate in with the low frequency roll off of the speakers.
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