Even though you may now have that catchy Meghan Trainor song in your head, perhaps for you it’s actually not “all about the Bass”. It may in fact be equally about the “Trebles” and “Mids”.
You may have heard us using this audio jargon before, especially when we are talking about our headphones and speakers. But what exactly are Mids and Trebles, and why should it matter to you anyway?
Well, we’re actually talking about something called the “Audio Spectrum”. This is where Bass, Treble and Mid ranges come into play, and understanding this frequency response can really help you when it comes to buying a new speaker, sound system or headphones.
Why? Because if you know what to listen out for you can choose an audio product that perfectly complements your musical tastes, whether you love classical, rock, drum and bass or pop.
So, what is the Audio Spectrum anyway?
The Audio Spectrum is the broadest range of frequencies at which most humans can hear; from the lowest 20 Hz to the highest 20,000 Hz. This means that when it comes to our much talked about friend Bass, for example, the lowest frequencies we can hear are 20 vibrations per second.
The Audio Spectrum is separated into seven frequency bands (we’re not talking Spice Girls or Westlife kind of bands). These are:
Sub-bass > Bass > Low midrange > Midrange > Upper midrange > Presence > Brilliance.
But to keep things nice and simple, you will hear us mostly talk about Bass, Mid and Treble.
- Bass has the lowest frequencies covered on sound recordings and will determine the rhythm.
- Mid has the Lower Midrange right up to High Midrange broadly under wraps. It is considered by some as the most important part of the spectrum in terms of musical recordings, because the midrange determines the prominence of the background music, instruments and voices used.
- Treble is Bass’s counterpart. It’s in charge of sound clarity and definition, as well as harmonics right at the top.
What about speakers and how do you know which frequency band to go for?
You can find out the frequency range on our speakers and which part of the audio spectrum it has been tuned for on the specifications list on our product pages, on the packaging, or in the manual.
For example, if a speaker has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 18,000 Hz, this means it favours the higher rather than lower bass notes.
But this is most accurate when you also consider the “amplitude tolerance”.
But where do your musical tastes fit in?
Considering how the Audio Spectrum can be split up into bands in this way, you can see how a speaker could be tuned for optimum performance for a particular genre of music.
Some audio brands will even tune their speakers according to their own musical preference. So if their brand is “all about the bass”, then their speakers may be too.
But how do you match this with your favourite music? Here’s a couple of examples of how you may prefer to hear your Bass, Mids, and Trebles:
Lovers of all things classical – this means you may prefer a combination of higher bass and treble, a slightly lower-balanced and smooth midrange with a flat frequency response.
Lovers of Hip Hop – you may just prefer a high bass, slightly high midrange and a slightly lower, balanced treble.
You may have seen something that looks like this: ‘+/- 3dB’ on audio product packaging before. This refers to the amplitude tolerance, and this has come to be a standard by which a speaker’s accuracy to reproduce certain frequencies is measured against.
So, if a speaker has a frequency response of ‘50 Hz to 18,000 Hz +/- 3d’ that tells you that this is less suited to our bass-lovers out there and more to our Mid and Treble buddies, as the frequency does not manage lower than 50 Hz.
Tweak the EQ to suit your taste
Some speakers offer an ‘EQ’ or equaliser option. This changes the frequency response and can be used to enhance different types of music, sometimes referred to as: rock, pop, bass and vocal. Adjusting the frequencies in this way enables you to get the most out of the music you listen to without buying different speakers for different genres of music.
So what if, after all this, it actually is all about the bass?
If at the end of the day you do love a bit of bass, then you may want to look out for a speaker with a “passive bass radiator”. Usually speakers contain an “active loudspeaker” or “normal main driver”, but some have a passive bass radiator, which enhances the speaker’s bass response.
Sound trapped in the speaker enclosure and the internal air pressure produced by the normal driver, moves the passive bass radiator. This makes it easier for the speaker to produce a lower frequency response to give the bass a boost.
You’re now an audio expert!
Now you know more about all the terms and jargon surrounding the audio spectrum and frequency response. But now you can really qualify your new understanding with a real listening experience, which is always the most important test of a speaker. But what else can you listen out for when you do?
- Listen to the instruments and voices
Do they sound natural or distorted? Are the voices, whether singing or speaking, muffled or are they crisp and clear to understand?
- Consider balance
Does the track you’re listening to sound well-balanced or are the background notes or voices being drowned out by too much bass?
- Think about the overall experience
Where does the music or sounds take you? If the speakers are reproducing the intended frequencies accurately enough you should be able to close your eyes and go where that sound is. Be it a virtual concert hall or the heart of a tropical rainforest, all the frequencies should be working together in harmony to create the ultimate sound stage.
Hopefully this jargon buster has helped you a little bit more when selecting one of our audio products. And now you know a little more “about the bass”, you can find the right one of our headphones or speakers that matches your music tastes perfectly. Have fun choosing!