Rock and metal - bad sound quality

Hi,

I'm thinking, why do rock and metal music sound harsh and without (or with very little) bass?

I had 3 hi-fi systems and on all of them I had really poor rock and metal sound experience. Seems that all music is recorded only on upper mids and highs and without bass or with really little bass. On low volumes I actually do NOT hear bass at all, only upper mids and highs.

And I really don't understand why it is so. I think metal and especially rock should be energetic music with powerful kicks on low bass. Bass should be exaggerated for such genres of music.

Is this the problem of amplifier, speakers, recordings, lack of subwoofer? Currently I have Uniti Atom + Focal Aria 926. And I do not listen to rock and metal, because it sounds not good to me, as this was also in all previous systems.

Seems that situation is perfect with all other music genres (pop, jazz, electronics, hip-hop- reggae, etc ). All frequencies are well balanced. But rock and metal sound is not good for me. Is this the nature of metal and rock music which I don't understand?

Original Post

My first instant query would be Rock and Metal does not sound good in your system in comparison to what  precise experience?  What scource do you use when you play this music?  Its a mystery to me as I have a system fraction at the cost of yours and Rock and Metal sounds great (to its limits of my system) but then all my music comes from ripped CDS.

Romi posted:

My first instant query would be Rock and Metal does not sound good in your system in comparison to what  precise experience?  What scource do you use when you play this music?  Its a mystery to me as I have a system fraction at the cost of yours and Rock and Metal sounds great (to its limits of my system) but then all my music comes from ripped CDS.

My precise experience would be rock concert in stadium or in concert hall . It sound strong and powerful there. But when I come back and play the same music through my system, it seems like only mids and highs are playing with only very small amount of bass and lack of strong kick feeling.

But if I play electronics, jazz or something else - everything is fine. Strong, powerful bass, balanced sound. Also I was thinking to buy a sub for particularly for rock and metal.

Yes, vocals are nice, clean, very pleasant. Instruments (that operate on mids and high frequencies) are also pleasant and very detailed. Bat bass (in rock and metal) is really big problem and lacks of impact.

My precise experience would be rock concert in stadium or in concert hall . It sound strong and powerful there. But when I come back and play the same music through my system, it seems like only mids and highs are playing with only very small amount of bass and lack of strong kick feeling.

Your room is not the size of a concert hall so bass will not be so loud. Generally, the further from the stage, the more bass. Generally far away from the action you are means you are subjected to more bass because lower frequencies travel further. In fact, given the same amount of energy as a higher pitch frequency half the length, a bass frequency will travel twice the distance. 

Stephen

Your speakers should be able to do reasonably - how loud do you listen? What are the dimensions of your room, where are the speakers positioned, ditto listening position? What is the actual source material (CD, downloads)? Can you give some examples of specific albums? 

I’ve had recordings with very limited bass, but many others that have sounded right (when played at somewhere approaching rock levels).

You say other music is OK, which tends to negate the system and room, but I suppose it is possible it could be different ranges - it could be worth getting a copy of REW software (Room Equalisation Wizard), and a suitable measuring microphone (the mic is the only cost as REW is available free of charge), and checking the response of your stpystem in your room, 

This premise of this topic is odd to me, especially when you say pop, electronics, hip-hop, and reggae sound perfect. The Aria 926 have no lack of bass or overall tonal balance, and there is a lot of overlap between how we define genres. To specifically call-out rock and metal seems strange. It could be down to your expectation that home replay should rival a rock or metal concert. Then again, tell us about the rest of your system. As IB asked, is your source material consistent between the various genres you play? CD vs LP, MP3 vs higher resolution files? If rock and metal sounded better, what part of your overall listening would it comprise?

tony123 posted:
Romi posted:

My first instant query would be Rock and Metal does not sound good in your system in comparison to what  precise experience?  What scource do you use when you play this music?  Its a mystery to me as I have a system fraction at the cost of yours and Rock and Metal sounds great (to its limits of my system) but then all my music comes from ripped CDS.

My precise experience would be rock concert in stadium or in concert hall . It sound strong and powerful there. But when I come back and play the same music through my system, it seems like only mids and highs are playing with only very small amount of bass and lack of strong kick feeling.

But if I play electronics, jazz or something else - everything is fine. Strong, powerful bass, balanced sound. Also I was thinking to buy a sub for particularly for rock and metal.

Yes, vocals are nice, clean, very pleasant. Instruments (that operate on mids and high frequencies) are also pleasant and very detailed. Bat bass (in rock and metal) is really big problem and lacks of impact.

I think I know what you mean, the nearest I got to that live experience is playing Rock music via headphones.  Music via headphones for me atleast is a different presentation of music in comparison to music via speakers.  The presentation captures that live organic sound for me that simply is not there with speakers.  For me no need for any super quality expensive headphones, even a simple £20 Sony headphone captures that elusive feeling which gives Rock that on the spot, verve sound.  However my little Stereo system in its own way still presents rock in that exciting way but different to headphones sound.

Romi posted:

I think I know what you mean, the nearest I got to that live experience is playing Rock music via headphones.  Music via headphones for me atleast is a different presentation of music in comparison to music via speakers.  The presentation captures that live organic sound for me that simply is not there with speakers.  For me no need for any super quality expensive headphones, even a simple £20 Sony headphone captures that elusive feeling which gives Rock that on the spot, verve sound.  However my little Stereo system in its own way still presents rock in that exciting way but different to headphones sound.

I haven’t had difficulty getting rock to sound good through speakers, though always closest to a live spund when turned up to approaching realistic levels - but then since the mid 70s I’ve used transmission line speakers, which just ‘do’ bass, regardless of genre.

I think headphones canbe dangerous for rock listening, because it is somehow easier to wind them up very loud without really realising, especially when in a situation where others would complain if you did similarly with speakers. When I had headphones back in the very early 70s still living in my parents’ home I used to do that, then one day with ringing ears realised that it was not a wise thing, and stopped. Other than for travel I haven’t used headphones since getting decent speakers.

But I’m not convinced the limiting factor is the OP’s speakers, while even room size or positioning causing cancellations seem a bit less than likely given apparently good bass from other music - other than the posdibility of just bad recordings it’s a mystery, though many relevant questions have been asked but not tey answered.

Thanks everyone for replies. As for listening sources, I’m listening mostly to Tidal lossless quality music. And also I have my own collection of FLAC files in HDD connected to Uniti Atom.

As for listening volume, I mostly listen at about 25-30 volume setting on Atom (I would call it as “average” listening volume. The “max volume” setting is set to 100 in Naim app). And sometimes I like to turn the volume up till about  40-45 and I would call it “pretty loud”.

But I do not turn up the volume till 45-45 listening rock and metal, because it becomes unpleasant to my ears. Ok, I know that it also depends on recordings. But let’s take Bon Jovi (album “Crush”), Bryan Adams (album “11”) and Metallica (album “Death Magnetic”) as examples. These albums sound not good in my system. If I turn the volume up, highs and mids become unpleasant, because there is not enough bass compensation.

I know, that turning the volume up makes bass perception better and we begin to hear lower notes better, but this do not help. Music is unpleasant, harsh, and “thin”.

I also thought that it could be room acoustics problem (as Bystander also recommended). I have REW software and measuring microphone and checked frequency response in listening position. The measurement is here:

https://imgur.com/lbsdgTY

https://imgur.com/WyWl746

The graphic is far from linear, but besides that seems there is plenty of bass (though much bass is created from modal ringing as waterfall shows). However there is a slope down at about 50Hz which makes me worry. Maybe rock and metal bass is mostly located in 35-45Hz region (bass guitars are widely used here). This would explain why electronic music sounds good. Maybe the main bass line here is located somewhere between 50-60hz…?

As for room size, my speakers are located in small space 4mx3.5m, BUT there is no left wall – it opens to larger space connected with kitchen. The whole flat size is 56 sq m and it is divided with drywalls (single layer with rockwool between layers). So I don’t know should we count drywalls or not, as they pass low frequencies below 100hz. This is my living space:

https://imgur.com/qEH18SM

And maybe here is another problem. but I’m not sure. Drywall passes low frequencies below 100 hz to another room, while reflects frequencies above 100Hz. So maybe this creates a frequency mess which is very noticeable in rock and metal. High frequencies are “ringing” between drywalls in smaller space, while low frequencies are “ringing” in much larger space, because they do not “see” drywalls.

I was thinking to reverse speaker placement – place them to concrete wall and see if it helps. But didn’t do it yet.

Well..

The albums you chose are quite  prouced - espcially Metallica.

But what you decribe is a problem with your room resonance.

Try this one as an experiment - take some blankets and soft cushions and place them in corners - next to your right speaker and next to your sofa.

Let me know what happens.

Adam

 

tony123 posted:

I was thinking to reverse speaker placement – place them to concrete wall and see if it helps. But didn’t do it yet.

This was my immediate thought when viewing your room layout. The other thing is that you have your speakers tight to the front wall. Even though the 926 are bottom ported, they probably would play better pulled out from the wall, perhaps as much as 2-feet, but experiment to find the best distance where bass sounds tightest. If you do flip the speakers to the concrete wall I'd also keep the corner speaker a good 2-feet or more from the side wall.  This makes theoretical sense, but again what's odd to me is that the other genres are sounding good.

BTW - the other thing re-positioning the speakers may do is alter the areas of bass drop-out in your room, just in case your listening position happens to be in one.

The problem you have is the massive room resonance peaking at 760Hz (extending from 600Hz-950Hz).

This is most likely to be related to the speaker positioning in relation to the shape of the room and the materials used in it's construction; but it could be fundamental to the room itself.  Moving the speakers so that they back to the solid wall may well help, but you also need to try different distances from the drive units of the speaker to the wall behind them, and to wall the side (shorter distances here can play havoc with the mid-range as is suggested by the REW frequency plot).

To see the effect of the side wall compare the L & R speaker response plots.

Whilst I tend to agree that the sourse material itself may be the culprit, or at least not doiny any favours, playing with positioning could make a l the difference. And, whilst conventional considerations have their place, sometimes rooms that depart from standard rectangular can benefit from unconventional laying out:

A friend of mine with a similar size/shape as yours put his speakers in rather odd positions out of lack of available space with other things in that he room. His sofa, the listening position, was as far right as possible on the wall where your speakers are. One speaker had its back to the left side wall, about where there is an odd squiggle on your plan, just a bit forward of the front of the sofa, pulled out marginally from the wall, firing straight ahead. The other speaker was where the gap is just to the right of your sofa, firing straight ahead (at the end of his sofa, wher you currently have a speaker. Surprisingly, to everyone, it worked, and sounded pretty good especially towards the right hand end of the sofa. When he put it that way just after moving into the house, his intention had been to rearrange as soon everything else was settled. In fact he never bothered, it sounded so good that it stayed like that for many years, and didn’t change until he did some structural work that changed the room. 

I’m not saying that would work for your system in your room, or that it would fix the rock sound, rather that it is worth playing around , and not necessarily adhering to conventional setup, especially where that makes it unsatisfying.

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