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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
One issue that I have been chasing for a while is how to tame extremely punchy drums on some of my recordings. I have traced this down to my mids..

A lot of people like to tell that they desire punchy bass. However, I don't consider an audio system to be good if it has overly punchy kick drums. In live music concert, does kick drum feel like someone is punching you in your chest? Probably not? This is an unnatural feeling and does not belong in good audio system. I think the main culprit is bad recordings. I would say approximately 10% of popular music tracks that I own exhibit this behavior, however, they feel somewhat worse in the car. Playing some of those tracks on my amplified Sennheiser HD555 headphones does not display anything abnormal, so perhaps this extreme punchiness is really something that's felt by the rest of body and not ears. In any case, I feel determined to bring the sound of those tracks as close to my Sennheiser headphone sound as possible. At first, I have been thinking that this issue is due to "bad" subwoofer setup. However, I have eventually traced it to my Alpine mids...

Here is my setup, Alpine Type-R (SPR-17S in front) in treated doors with Infinity Kappa 120.9w in the trunk. Turning off the sub does not completely eliminate the strong "punch" effect, so it has to be mids. I started slowly moving the mids high pass crossover point, until 150Hz while keeping the subwoofer crossover point at 100Hz, and holy cow.. in this setting the kick drums start to sound a lot more natural in ALL recordings. Instead of the previous punchy, loud, washed out sound, I can now hear a discernible attack with its higher frequency components, followed by a low frequency decay resulting in a natural and airy kind of drum sound. Overall midbass tonality and authority remained good as after all the Kappa sub in my opinion is pretty good at playing into higher frequencies cleanly.

However, at this point, the subwoofer sound became somewhat localizable. This can be heard on some bass guitars recordings. If I move the crossover point of the front speakers down to 80 or 100Hz while keeping the subwoofer crossover point at 100Hz or 80Hz, the localization of subwoofer disappears but the drum on the "bad" recordings becomes too loud again. As a byproduct of this experiment, I seem to have found out that it's not the subwoofer that's responsible for its "localization". It's the mids, or better said the lack of midbass coming from mids. It seems like if your mids are playing midbass with good authority, you can cross subwoofer as high as you like without localizing it.

So, it became clear to me that the key to tuning my system is to keep the high pass crossover point on the mids as high as possible to keep kick drum sound as natural as possible and yet low enough to have enough midbass coming from mids to fool my ears into thinking that all bass is coming from the front. In the end, I have ended with the following setup that seems to offer the best compromise: [email protected] high pass on the mids, [email protected] low pass for the sub, -5dB at 65Hz eq setting, turn turned up the sub gain a little to make up for a cut in EQ. This fixed most of issues with kick drums, bass guitar sound became weaker, but less fatiguing at high volume and still remains strong and is now much closer to my headphone sound.


Anyways, my question is, what exactly makes my mids "lose control" and play kick drums so harshly? Are there component sets that can play bass guitar sound with good texture and authority but without screwing up the kick drum sound?



(PS: BTW, At some point I thought my problem is "too much headroom" to front stage. I unbridged my amplifier to run just 60watts rms to each side, but that hasn't fixed this issue.)
 

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I was going to quote your post but it ended up being too much to break down. I used to see live bands at least once a month. One of my all time favorite shows was the Family Values '99 tour which had Korn, Limp Bizkit, Filter, and Primus. I love a wide variety of music but my favorite music hits hard on percussion. I want the drums to hit me in the chest. I definitely prefer the feeling of midbass and sub bass frequencies that I can't get from headphone listening. Headphones help me get a different experience from the music, which I find enlightening and enjoyable, but at times I wish I was listening in my car because of the missing visceral impact.

Some recordings have a processed heavy kick drum sound that needs help to tame. This I completely agree with. In my car my solution to this is to turn down the subwoofer level on my head unit. I have no bass boost in use. I set my crossovers on my amps by ear and I don't know exactly what frequencies the LPF and HPF filters are at.
 

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Lol there are literally... a... ton... of people that wish they had your problem....:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Well, I am not saying that a kick drum should not have any punch. It should have, but just enough not to be fatiguing. Next, like I said, the my goal is to come up with settings to tame badly recorded music with stupid loud drums but without screwing the rest of music. I feel like on such recordings, my mids sound harsh and loud, while somehow losing the texture or airiness of the drum instruments. In the end, before tuning things, the sound of kick drum that I had, seemed to sound like a kick drum played by a strained audio system or something that's pushed to hard. There wasn't even that much punch. More like a fast, harsh kick. The kick drum that I got after changing the settings to 100HzHP/80Hz LP with EQ (from 70HP/60LP), is closer to a realistic drum sound. 150Hz HP/100Hz LP sounded the best, but it screws the localization for other bass instruments, there is still plenty of "punch". No punch is lost with the later settings, it just feels more robust and smoother. I think my argument here is that drum punch produced by a quality sub is much better than the average 6-1/2 mids, more natural and effortless without being harsh if the sub is tuned right, but trying to play so much mid-bass with the sub does not seem such a great idea either because of localization issues.
 

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Sounds like you need a DBX 266

This explains it nicely.

I wouldn't personally have any desire to install one in my car, but that is what you're asking for...

But i have also read where leaving a gap in the range (as you did with your HP at 150 and LP at 100) can help compensate for issues with resonance. 80/100 is where mine is set, localization i temper just by dropping the sub gain a hair. Can you pinpoint the offending frequency with a tone generator?

Car installs are such finicky projects. 20 years of sound experience here, but getting 7 drivers to sound good inside a small metal room is just damn maddening at times. What i wouldn't give to just be able to just plop a nice set of monitors at my feet, slide the amp rack in the back, run some really long tails back to the breakout panel...:rolleyes:
 

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In live music concert, does kick drum feel like someone is punching you in your chest? Probably not? This is an unnatural feeling and does not belong in good audio system.
I don't think the live concert sound comparable to home/auto setup. (I personally, can't recall any good sounded live shows in my whole life). To get an idea how kick-drum should punch your chest one can find any local band rehearsal (even in their garage) and sit near drums. Or, at least, meet parade band with students carrying "Yamaha" drums. Even dance club will give you more "real" feeling than crappy stadium performance.

Without any measure it's hard to understand what your system achieved by changing cut freqs.
 

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I guess it also comes down to what kind of music you listen to. Sounds like you're more after acoustic/unamplified drum sounds.. like the drum set is on the hood of your car.

If you go to a rock concert and stand up front in the pit, the kick drum will literally punch so hard that it's difficult to breathe. If you ever watch a high def live recording of a rock band, you'll see the picture from cameras close to the stage shake a tiny bit when the kick drum hits, purely from the SPL.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I guess it also comes down to what kind of music you listen to. Sounds like you're more after acoustic/unamplified drum sounds.. like the drum set is on the hood of your car.
That's the kind of kick drum I am after, acoustic/unamplified the one I have heard at smaller venues. I never have been to large rock concerts actually. I guess is that my mids simply lose control/composure on sharp dynamic spikes in the bass region and produce something harsh and inaccurate, even though they can play guitar bass very well. Perhaps it has to do with speakers xmax, which after all is tiny. My subwoofer seems to play this stuff much nicer and smoother, with more accuracy, but not always with complete transparency.
 

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Sounds like you need a DBX 266

This explains it nicely.

I wouldn't personally have any desire to install one in my car, but that is what you're asking for...

But i have also read where leaving a gap in the range (as you did with your HP at 150 and LP at 100) can help compensate for issues with resonance. 80/100 is where mine is set, localization i temper just by dropping the sub gain a hair. Can you pinpoint the offending frequency with a tone generator?

Car installs are such finicky projects. 20 years of sound experience here, but getting 7 drivers to sound good inside a small metal room is just damn maddening at times. What i wouldn't give to just be able to just plop a nice set of monitors at my feet, slide the amp rack in the back, run some really long tails back to the breakout panel...:rolleyes:
thanks for the link.
 

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To me, and this is just my opinion, it seems silly to tune my system so that it sounds reasonable with bad recordings. Tune your systems so that it sounds right when music is recorded correctly with good dynamic range and little compression. You've heard the expression "you can't polish a turd" right? As you pointed out, if you tune the system so that those recordings with heavy midbass sound good, then music that is recorded correctly sounds lacking and lacks impact.

If you've got good source music and are still experiencing the problem, I'd point my finger at the component choice. Those Type-R's while totally decent speakers, are probably built to have a hump in the midbass like that, since most people (as mentioned before) are after that.

Another thing to consider is that midranges rarely make good midbasses, and midbasses rarely make good midranes. If one speaker is expected to do both, chances are both will suffer.

This is the exact reason that so many people here preach on 3way or augmented wideband systems. A dedicated mid-bass offers a lot more control and less coloration
 
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