Lower Hz Means More Bass? Bass & Frequency Link Explained

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Understanding Frequency Ranges

Frequency is all around us – in everyday objects and in our environment. It is used to measure the number of times something oscillates, or vibrates, per second. That something can be anything from a dog on a chain to waves in the ocean! The number of times something vibrates in a second is called frequency. In music, frequency is measured in Hertz (Hz), which means cycles per second. So, if a note played on a piano vibrates 440 times per second, its frequency would be 440 Hz. For convenience, in science and technology, frequency is typically represented in thousands of cycles per second (kHz). In western music, the lowest note on a piano vibrates at 27 times per second, and its frequency can be calculated as 27 Hz. The highest note on a piano vibrates at 4186 times per second and is 2186 kHz.

What Is Bass?

What Is Sound?

Understanding the key components of a good sound system will help you choose the right one for your needs. This includes what bass is, how it works, how it is perceived by the ear and how to effectively analyze its components.

If you want to learn more about how sound works and how to effectively combine and balance your system, I suggest you start by learning what sound and bass is.

Hertz (Hz) is the unit of frequency. Frequency is used to measure how frequently something is repeated. It's the number of times per second a waveform repeats itself. For example, the number 2 is a frequency. It means the waveform repeats itself twice per second down in one cycle. It takes some math to fully understand what Hz is, but for the standing wave profiles, all we need to know is that a high frequency creates a smaller standing wave profile and a lower frequency creates a larger standing wave profile.

But why do we need to know and see the profile?

The more we know about a sound system, the easier it will be to choose the right one for your needs. For example, if you want better bass, you need to find a system that is capable of bottoming out below its resonant frequency. How low you want your system to go and how much you'll be using your system will determine if you need to add a subwoofer.

Does Lower Hz Mean More Bass?

You've probably read that a higher Hz in your speakers means a better sound.

What then does that mean for low frequency speakers?

They should have lower Hz?

But that doesn’t really make sense, does it?

It’s an often held belief that low frequency speakers play better bass.

In this post, we will talk a bit about what Hz means in terms of sound quality and how that translates to bass quality.

Then we will also talk about frequency curves, which help us understand the frequency response of the speaker.

Higher HZ means More Treble?

You may also have read that a speaker with a higher Hz is better. Simply put, higher Hz sounds better.

But that rule doesn’t really apply to low frequencies. Why?

Lows are typically felt and not heard. So when you increase the Hz, you don’t affect the bass. You affect treble instead.

You can have the latest, greatest, interesting and best sounding speaker in the world, but if it doesn’t reproduce the low frequencies, all those great features are meaningless.

Understanding Frequency Response

The human hearing range is somewhere between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. This may seem like a lot of frequencies, but low frequency speakers are actually harder to produce.

What Is the Lowest Frequency Limit for Subwoofers?

The frequency response of each subwoofer will vary based on its hardware, so you won’t always get the same performance from each subwoofer at the same frequency. However, even though they can vary, there’s a limit to how low a subwoofer can go. Nominal frequency response for most subs very roughly range from 20 Hz to 200 Hz.

The industry tries to avoid going below 30 Hz because it is usually felt more than actually heard. Although some music may go as low as that, most of the time, it is unnecessary to produce those frequencies. Thus, it is not always recommended to use a subwoofer for extremely low frequencies.

So how low can your subwoofer really go? That depends on the manufacturer, with some claiming they can go as low as 12 Hz. However, the true answer is probably not as low as that. This is because a subwoofer is a type of speaker that is designed to reproduce low frequencies, and a speaker is not perfect. It has limitations and based on the frequency, those limitations will make the subwoofer produce lower frequencies inaccurately.

What Is the Upper Frequency Limit for Subwoofers?

“Frequency” is a measure of the number of times an audio wave repeats itself in 1 second. As the frequency rises, the number of times it repeats itself in 1 second decreases.

Frequency represents the pitch, or tone, of sound, and it becomes increasingly high pitched as it rises.

According to the International Standard ISO-1308, the upper limit of human hearing is between 18 and 20 kHz.

“Frequency response” refers to how a speaker system responds to sound frequencies. Since the average person can hear between 18 and 20 kHz, it’s important for you to know what your system can reproduce and what it can’t.

Footnote: The frequency response is not really about limiting maximum output but more about making the sound distortion free. You can probably blast your bass at very high volume but as long as the sound distortion remains at minimum and it conforms to acceptable standards, producers and consumers will be happy.

What Are Crossovers in Subwoofers?

As you probably already know, subwoofers are specialized in reproducing low frequencies. As the name suggests, they are typically installed underneath the floor and typically act as the cornerstones of the solid sound system.

They are usually plugged to a separate amplifier to ensure they receive a clear signal and the power they demand.

In fact, not all subwoofers are designed to accurately reproduce the low frequencies. Some subwoofers are only designed to reproduce the average low frequency group instead of the deep bass tones that a car needs to fit most tastes.

Subwoofers are also available in different sizes. While most people tend to believe a bigger subwoofer is a better one, the main purpose of getting a subwoofer is the quality of sound it produces. If you prefer quality over quantity, getting a smaller subwoofer that reproduces the bass naturally is not a bad idea.

Moreover, you should know that bass is not just about frequencies. Every bass has a low frequency range, which is the main criterion of "bassness" in bass-heavy music. However, bass is a physical phenomenon that can also include feel. This is why some smaller subwoofers may sound much better and produce a smoother bass.

What Are the Differences Between a Woofer and Subwoofer?

A woofer is a driver that produces low frequency sounds. It is typically a single speaker cone enclosed in a box. A woofer can be part of a co-axial speaker, a bookshelf speaker (2-way speaker) or a subwoofer. It can sometimes be part of a coaxial speaker. A subwoofer is a single woofer inside a box. Bi-amplification and a subwoofer can be used to achieve a bigger bass. Two woofers (one for highs and one for lows) is also possible, but the design takes up a lot of space.

The woofer in a co-axial speaker is a whole different unit. It doesn’t produce any bass at all on its own. It just takes the lower frequencies from the tweeter and sends them to the woofer. After this processing, the sound coming from the woofer is technically not bass but mids because the mid panel is doing all the work. This is why the tweeters and mids in a co-axial speaker can be removed, and still produce sound, as by default they have a flat sound characteristic and no “bass”.

The Size

Most of us have experienced this first hand. Speakers are typically rated at their lowest frequency. So a pair of 8” woofers might be said to have a response down to 50 Hz, although a casual listen might reveal that at 100 Hz—or even higher—the sound quality starts to noticeably suffer.

Some might conclude that bass response is linear and the 100 Hz point is the magic threshold where the cones give up and start to rattle. Others might conclude that the size of the driver is the determining factor.

Various experiments and tests with drivers of different sizes all over the bass spectrum have concluded that driver size does have an impact on bass response, but beyond a certain point, it just doesn’t matter how big the driver. As frequency drops, the real limiting factor is the speed of sound in air. Smaller drivers react faster and can give you the same response at lower frequencies than larger drivers.

Although the concept of crossover is often confused with frequency response, it is key to point out that the two have nothing to do with each other. Crossover frequency is the point at which the tweeter stops working and the woofer takes over. At that point, all the audio below the crossover point gets filtered out.

The Frequency Range

When we talk about bass, we’re actually talk about the frequency range that we can hear as humans. Bass occurs within low frequency sounds which are heard as low pitch notes.

The human hearing range is between 20Hz to 20,000Hz. That means that even though you’re hearing and feeling a bass sound it could still be considered as a high pitch note. It just doesn’t display it as well or as loudly, as a deep pitch note.

While bass frequencies may not always be considered high pitch notes, they are still vital to creating the different beats within music. Certain sounds need to be felt more than heard to have an impact on you. This is especially true with songs that are recorded using a bass effect processor.

Although it’s rare, there are some individuals which have a hearing range of 20Hz to 20,500Hz which means that the bass frequencies may actually be higher in pitch that what we are hearing.

The Power Source

When you look at a speaker's frequency response graph, you always see a range of frequencies (Hz) and a power rating. The higher the power rating, the more power the speaker needs. Power is measured with a 'watt'.

The frequency is measured in Hz, or cycles per second. With a better understanding of watts and frequency, the bass and frequency link becomes more clear.

The lower the wattage of a speaker, the lower down the frequency amplitude it plays. This means that the lower the wattage of a speaker, the lower down the frequency, the bass it produces will be. For example, if you have a 150 watt speaker, then it will produce more bass, than a speaker which is 20 watts.

Another way to understand how watts relate to frequency is to look at an example of a sound wave. In the picture above, you can see how the wave repeats itself over and over again. The amount of times it repeats is called the frequency, which is measured in Hz. For example, 2 Hz is twice as high as 1 Hz.

The Number of Drivers

Do you want more or less bass? If you’re a music lover, you probably want more. That’s why more bass is more often associated with better sound. However, whats most important in a speaker system isn’t always…well…the bass.

How well a speaker system can produce low frequencies, or bass, is dependent on several factors, the most important of which are the size of the woofer or woofers and the power of the amplifier.

Woofers are the speaker component responsible for producing deep bass. They’re also the most expensive components of a speaker and many manufacturers try to give the illusion that they have bigger woofers than they do to impress buyers. The best way to ensure deep bass is to choose systems with multiple, high quality woofers.

Speaking of power, amplifiers are crucial for great bass. People who are familiar with music systems know that some music sounds best on a single speaker system while other music benefits from a system with two or more speakers. Some amplifiers are designed to power a single woofer sufficiently, while others are designed to power multiple processors.

The Power Usage

A fundamental concept in home theater, sports arena, portable PA, and stadium sound system design are familiar to the majority of consumers: frequency and the Hz's involved.

When determining the style of speakers to be used for a specific application, a system engineer will pick a speaker that can be used successfully as well as economically. When utility or space limitations do not allow components to be used to their full potential, bass attenuation or non-existent subs, a system engineer will explore the option of using a higher Hz to achieve the desired results.

In essence, the power of a wattage source translates to its ability to transfer energy (heat). As the power to a speaker increases, its ability to reproduce low frequencies will also increase.

A low frequency sound is anything with a frequency lower than about 150 Hz. This is the range that is perceived by the human ear as bass sound levels increase, so it stands to reason that the levels will be perceived as louder.

The relationship between power and frequency is one of the reasons why a 1500 watt rated amp that is driven by a 300 Hz signal will sound louder than a 1500 watt rated amp that is driven by a 50 Hz signal. The effect can be experienced physically to some degree when standing next to or in front of a car stereo bass amplifier.

Top Affordable Subwoofers to Buy Today

Many people have a half-baked idea that lower resonance frequency of a subwoofer leads to boosting the bass. Which means, they prefer buying a bigger speaker with lowest frequency possible. The reality, however, is different. When it comes to bass, you do not only need a good subwoofer, but also a speaker that is very efficient at converting electrical energy into acoustic signal. For a subwoofer to provide good depth, it must have the capability to produce low frequency sounds. And for that, the most important spec is a high sensitivity rating.

A high sensitive speaker offers efficiency in the range of 89db to higher values. On the other hand, low sensitivity is a way of showing that the speaker is not very efficient in converting electrical energy into acoustic signal. It can be as low as 86db or less. And you have to keep in mind, the power that is supplied to a low sensitive subwoofer is also higher than that of a high sensitive one!

So when it comes to bass, going for a low frequency driver is not the way to go. Low frequency is the most difficult part of a soundwave, and low frequency generally requires more power to produce.

Higher sensitivity is the best solution to get that bass that you want from your small subwoofer.

Rockford Fosgate P300-12

BIC America F12

04BP 12-Inch 400-Watt Powered Subwoofer Review: Top of the Line for a Reason

The 400-watt power range of this product is indeed a wonderful range and serves well for individuals who are looking for more bass. The machine is designed in such a way that it adds that deep bass you need for an extremely pleasant sound.

Adding this to your woofer will improve sound quality significantly. With this, you will be able to enjoy the movie of your choice to the fullest and most dynamic sound quality. Each sound that is thrown out of the speakers will be heard with the loudest sound and deepest bass possible.

The product is also designed with a digital LED display which displays both the volume level as well as the bass level. You will be able to control this product from 360 degrees to adjust the sound for your convenience.

The product is also known for being almost distortion free and adding that full range of bass to any music. The product is known as a high grade subwoofer that adds both bass and sound in depth that is very rare. The speaker has a built-in input jack which allows you to connect the speakers easily.

Yamaha YST-SW012

Bass is an integral part of sound, which is one of the ways we recognize different frequencies. Frequency is how often something happens and its rate is measured in hertz (Hz). Lower frequency may indicate more bass, but that’s not always the case.

Frequency directly relates to the size of the speaker drivers. In the past, there was an unwritten rule that the size of the speaker drivers somehow equated into sound power capability. The reason was that bigger drivers in subs and speakers had a lower Hz range as a result of their size.

While there is some truth to this, there are other factors that also contribute to the LOWER frequency and sound power of the speaker.

Other factors that lower frequency beyond size of the driver:

  • Resonance & Amplification: size of the driver and the frequency still have strong correlation, larger drivers potentially having a lower frequency range
  • Material: plastic has more resonance and vibrations; requiring higher power to push to the same level as other materials such as wood or metal
  • Design: Loudspeaker cabinet design has a huge impact on how well the speakers work together

Polk Audio PSW10

I have an Audio-Visual system for my home theater system that involves many audio components. I didn’t purchase my system from a single company (it was purchased from various Audio-Visual Online stores over the years) which would have meant that the Audio-Visual components could have been all messed up when it came to synchronization.

I am happy that my system works great in the way that I had envisioned. Everything that I watch on this system has thunderous soundtracks.

Due to this experience, I thought that since I am a technical person with strong engineering background I could build a website to help customers who are in search of complete home theater systems. My aim is to provide them with lot of information on different brands and products so that they can make an informed decision.

I created Audio-Visual Online with a vision to promote various brands and products in this industry. There are so many manufacturers out there who are producing home theater products in the market but customers need a single place where they have all the information at one place.

ELAC Debut 2.0 SUB3030

So you have a small room and are looking for ways to improve the sound. Well, in the case of smaller rooms you are likely better off putting your money into a subwoofer rather than those ultra pricey speakers which are great if you have the room for them.

But here is the real question.

Is a subwoofer going to bring that extra bass and rumble to your home theater experience?

If you have been reading a little bit about home theater then you probably came across people saying that 200HZ is the magic number when it comes to home audio reproduction. The thing is 200Hz is nowhere near as much frequency as you can get.

The human ear can hear between 20Hz and 20KHz (20,000Hz).

Don’t believe it?

Well, here is a great video showing off the 20Hz to 20KHz range.

Now we know that it is possible that a subwoofer will give you more low-end and that 200Hz is way above what your ears can hear. But, does that mean that your subwoofer is only useful until 200Hz?

Not at all, this is where the magic of frequencies comes in.

Final Words

In today's post we talked about the role of Subwoofer and Speaker Quality and their relation to audio frequencies.

We learned how The Frequency Range of human hearing is referred to as the *.

We talked about how the range of human hearing is 20Hz to 20KHz or 20,000Hz. and we learned that the most comfortable range for most people, usually falls somewhere in the range of 300Hz to 6KHz.

We talked about Subwoofers and how they pipe down to the frequency range of 20Hz to 60Hz, or down to 40Hz for some Subwoofers.

We learned about how our ears perceive sound and one way to look at it is that our ears perceive sound as a variation in air pressure around us.

We learned that different individuals can perceive sound differently.

We learned about Cymatics and how sound frequencies can cause matter to vibrate.

We learned about the new trend in audio equipment of Hi Res or High Resolution audio where we are talking about greater than CD Quality Audio.

We discussed mid-range frequencies and how they are very important for vocals.

We then talked about the most important component of a speaker in the frequency range of 20Hz to 300Hz. We learned about speaker Drivers and speaker cones.

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While it is true that higher frequency waves dissipate less as they travel, the actual effect is negligible. Humans are only capable of hearing a very narrow range of the audible spectrum, from about 20Hz to 20kHz. Low bass frequencies are, therefore, typically reproduced at much lower levels than high frequencies. This is why bass levels are more dependent on the amplification of the speaker than the low frequency response of the speaker itself.

When the amp is seen to have a stronger effect on bass than the driver, we refer to the amp as the dominant speaker component. When the driver is seen as more important than the amp, it is described as the dominant speaker component. The truth is, in a full speaker system, neither the amp nor the speaker is more important. How good the system sounds is dependent on the intertwined characteristics of both components working together. This is why speaker manufacturers vie for the best and most intelligent amplifier manufacturers to make their speakers even better.

What is bass?

As stated earlier, bass is a component of sound, more specifically a low frequency. Common examples of sounds that have some bass component are:

  • The low notes on the piano
  • A bass guitar
  • Thunder
  • Surf
  • Wells

Note that these are all non-human, inanimate examples. Human, animate bass-like sounds are more difficult to think of because they are not taught as an example in school.