Category Archives: Acoustics

Red Army Choir Doing “Annie Laurie”

From 1963 at Albert Hall, London. That space was the only space in the UK large enough for the Choir. The acoustics in that arena are very bizarre such that the top levels hear the music some time after the conductor has moved his arms to indicate the movements. The recording spent a lot of time in the USSR, went on sale there, was then remastered in Russia and appears now for the first time. Amazing singing.

Leave a comment

Filed under Acoustics, Britain, Europe, Music, Regional, USSR

Some Thoughts on the Bass in Acoustics and Music

The bass instrument, and the frequency it plays at, is interesting. It is difficult for the human ear to hear it. You will realize this if you ever put on a recording of music with electric bass guitar in it and try to listen for the bass. You can hear it best if you turn the bass up all the way, and it helps if you have a seasoned ear.

The question arises that if it is so hard to hear, why even bother to have an electric bass in rock music (I can’t speak for other forms of music)? The reason is that without a bass guitar, rock music sounds really bad. I’m not sure why it sounds bad, but it just does. You need the bass.

The bass actually has interesting effects in rock music. Although you don’t really hear it with your ears, you do feel it with your body. What is it about rock music that makes you want to get up and dance and move about, or head-bang? It’s the bass. The bass actually goes into your body, creates a strong feeling, and makes you want to react to it.

Bass waves are pretty interesting acoustic critters. While treble waves only go a few feet (Yes, it is true), bass waves can actually go for miles. Bass waves are so powerful that they can actually bring down buildings if they are loud enough.

Sounds are classed in a tripartite fashion – treble,  midrange, and bass. Bass might be necessary for rock music, but it’s nearly or totally useless for human speech. That is because human speech only operates in the treble range and in the upper half of the midrange.

Human speech does not use the bass range at all. We can make sounds in the bass range, but they won’t be normal speech sounds – they would just be weird, non-speech noises. Animals sometimes make bass sounds when they vocalize, like the low growl of the cat.

This is why if you really want to hear a speech recording well and have bass and treble knobs handy, you should turn down the bass and turn up the treble. You can turn up the treble all the way and turn down the bass all the way if you have to. The reason is that bass does absolutely nothing beneficial for human speech whatsoever in a recording – all it does it muddy things up.

You also hear difficult speech recordings better if you turn up the volume. The increased volume alone enables you to make out a difficult accent better.

1 Comment

Filed under Acoustics, Music