Optimizing the Coltrane Supremes – Bass

[Hopefully, some of these techniques apply to other speakers as well, but regardless, perhaps you might find them interesting as a study in What is Possible with the right design and tools].

This setup in our main listening room is more or less the setup we used at the show [well, the bass towers are on the inside, and there are a few cable changes, but….yeah, the same. Kind of.]

This is part of the Marten ‘Coltrane Supreme’ speaker system. It contains the amp, for the bass towers, and, most important for this current discussion today, the active crossover.

On the back of the active crossover there are controls for the phase and the bass level (volume).

Because we were / are using an integrated amplifier (the Audio Note Ongaku) to drive the main towers, and no preamp in the system, we are forced to change the bass volume every time we change the main volume on the Ongaku.

Turn up the volume on the Ongaku, then turn up the volume on the bass amp. [For some reason, I always think about turning UP the volume, but it is the same when turning down the volume, when and if that ever happens].

So, that is the situation, we are forced to keep adjusting the bass when changing the volume because of this particular system setup we are using.

We keep having to judge what is the EXACT right amount of bass… for a particular volume, and sometimes for a particular song (have to turn it up the bass for reggae, Mon).

OK, here’s the thing. With one person adjusting the bass and others listening to the result, certain behaviors are noticeable.

* The resulting sound is linear, by which we mean that it smoothly changes in response to the change in bass volume… EXCEPT at a particular point

* At this particular point in bass volume, the sound suddenly ‘fills in’. It reminds me of something like an old TV / CRT – like the beginning of Outer Limits – the ‘picture'(i.e. sound) suddenly grows from nothing to fill up the entire soundstage (room?).

* At this particular point, and this is weird [well, it is weird to me, along with being an awesome side-effect] certain in-room distortions disappear.

At this particular point, where the bass level is just so, we could increase the volume to our (my) pain threshold and every note was clear and separated and positioned perfectly – whereas at a lower volume, when the bass was not just so, it was a little bit confused and not completely enchanting, shall we say.

Well, that is all we have to report to this date – we have not tried this here yet, we still have a way to go to position the speakers correctly [ Yeah, we’ve been busy here, which is good, but…]. And we only learned this the last few hours of the show when we felt that it was OK to get a little wild and experiment a little.

Hey I think one lucky room visitor did to hear all this… Perfect Circle, perfectly rendered at 110 – 120dB and something else which I always forget the name of…. But I imagine people outside in the hallway, and in the nearby stairwell between floors, well, not sure WHAT they thought… 🙂

Maybe this has to do more with the ears and not room interactions. Maybe we are just nuts. We’ll let you know when we try the same thing here, in a vastly different space.