You probably have it wrong
I remember the first time I managed to find myself in close proximity to a pipe organ. Terri and I had spent the night at Denver’s Brown Palace hotel and after breakfast we wandered a bit. Across the street was a cool looking old church with obvious architectural delights adorning its sides. As it was on a Thursday, we went inside just to poke around. From upstairs we could hear the sound of a pipe organ. Quietly we made our way upstairs to find a single person sitting in front of this massive instrument. It appeared to be preparing to swallow her whole. It reminded me of Phantom of the Opera.
She turned upon our entrance and invited us to grab front row seats if we didn’t mind listening to her practice. What a treat! An amazing instrument, the organ. On her break I asked her to play the pedals, low notes in particular. I was stunned at how those notes took over the room. The church was made from stone, my pants from cloth. The stone didn’t rattle but the cloth in my pants did, so powerful the low notes of this gargantuan instrument. I closed my eyes trying to imagine how this would reproduce in a small room.
From the messages I’ve received I feel rather confident your home systems aren’t reproducing organ notes as I heard them in church that morning. On the IRS or the Betas, those notes, reproduced in a small to medium room, take the room over; as they should. Does yours? Do you feel the organ in your belly and smile at its massive power when played in your room?
Now I understand not all of you listen to organ music. Perhaps none of you do. But there’s much in the subterraneum areas you’re missing if you don’t have the sub right, and an organ is a great test piece to get it right.
Why not run a little test to see where you are in terms of low bass.
I have two suggestions: Reference Recording’s Rutter’s Requiem and Daft Punks’ Random Access Memories. Yeah, I know they are so similar in content …
Use the Requiem to see just where you are with well recorded pipe organ music. Don’t worry that you don’t listen or like the music. My favorite is track 7 Requiem: Pie Jesu. There’s some very deep organ notes that take over the room. There’s also amazing spread on the chorus as the men first come in, followed by the ladies. This whole track should be completely divorced from your speakers, floating in a perfect soundstage behind the speakers.
And here’s something critical: when the organ comes in it should have no impact on the singers, for without a subwoofer, you’ll hear intermodulation distortion of the chorus when (and if) the organ takes over the room. Most full range speakers don’t reproduce the organ so it takes over the room and, if they do, it’s likely the chorus gets wobbly and muddled. You really can’t have it both ways without a 4-way system. So, rule of thumb – if a single speaker CAN produce bass like it’s real, it’s likely also affecting the midbass and midrange with IM. If it doesn’t have the IM problem, it’s likely not reproducing the organ notes properly.
Once you have this right, and I’ll bet money you don’t with a single pair of speakers, then go to the Daft Punk song. I like track 4, Within. The other tracks are ok dance music, if you like that, but track 4′s a gem. If your subs are working properly, there’s an extraordinary bass note that permeates the room perfectly when the intro’s done. On a full range system you probably have no idea what this note actually sound like.
Get the bass right. It, along with AC power, is the bedrock/foundation of our music systems.
Tomorrow, we move to another subject.