Bass & Treble adjustment

Having both Naim and Luxman systems I also immediately thought, “hang on, loads of high end gear does, just not British stuff

I don’t think the OP necessarily needs to switch amps though. When gear changes there are a few things going on:

  • Synergy. Not compatibily. Compatibility can largely be determined by specs. But just because an amp can comfortably drive speakers across the range of their impedance curves and phase angles doesn’t mean they sound good together. Untested, any two very good components can sound subpar together. I know. I’ve been there. There’s no quick fix for that. Either amp or speakers have to go.
  • Expectation Conditioning. This very common. Perhaps as much as mismatched components that lack synergy. What you are used to conditions what you think sounds “correct”. This is one of those strange ones that no one admits too because… well it requires a realisation that the expectation was wrong and humans (especially blokes) just hate that. In short, something sounded wrong before (way too much/little bass; too harsh/soft, whatever) and when presented with something better, the unfamiliarity tells the brain, “this is worse”.

The best way to overcome the latter, or rule it out, is to listen to the new sound for a month, and then switch back. If you feel like “crikey this old setup is miles better” after not hearing it for a month, synergy is probably the culprit. However, if you hear the old in a new unfavorable light, you can be pretty sure that expectation conditioning was the cause for initial dissatisfaction.


It’s apparently not Mark experience. However his speakers has already inbuilt class D amps for the bass frequencies. It’s different from having passive speakers, even if very big and efficient, won’t give more bass at low volumes as you said, specially with non sufficient electronics

Active speakers don’t give more relative power at the bass end at low volume settings any more than do passive speakers (unless the amps have built-in”loudness” compensation).

1 Like

I give in. You don’t understand and I suppose neither did I until I had true full range speakers. I am sat here listening at really low volume at night with lovely full bass. My speakers do not get louder in the bass as the volume drops they are just more able to maintain bass presence as the air is being moved by 2 x 12” drivers. It’s not difficult to understand.

The issue i believe is not only the speakers’ abilities, but also how human hearing works. Evolutionary adaptations caused our ears to be less susceptible to bass and treble frequencies at low volumes, and more to upper midrange frequencies. This is perhaps because at night on the savannah it’s more important to be able to hear distant voices or animal sounds than subtle transients or low rumblings. So our ears react differently at different volumes, and some people may prefer a loudness-like function to compensate this.

[Edit] for a similar reason, human eyes can see contrast differences between shades of green better than between other colours, it’s all about our survival chances on the plains of Africa :blush:


Why is the Atom and nap 200 non sufficient? They are great products and I have really enjoyed listening to the atom over the last few years. Not everyone can afford to buy top of the line gear. Why do you think I have made my own speakers?

1 Like

I do understand this concept.

Would someone then kindly explain why my bass has improved so much at low volumes with my speaker upgrade? Yet I still have balance when at high volumes.

I think your earlier explanation about air movement is certainly also valid, the 2x 12" drivers may be able to energize the room better at lower volumes compared to smaller drivers, so that you can still feel the bass in the room. The part of the sound that is received through bone conduction in the body works a little differently than through the ear membranes, and doesn’t have the same frequency drop off.

When i added my current subwoofer i experienced a similar effect. I do still feel that the balance between frequencies changes a bit when the volume lowers on my system and some bass and treble extension is lost, but less so than before i used the subwoofer.

“Humans have two ways of perceiving sound. The first involves the well-known process of sound vibrations travelling through the middle ear to the inner ear, which is where they are transmitted to the brain. The other relies on sound being conducted through bones in the skull, a process known as bone conduction, which has been poorly understood until recently.”

Scientists explain in more detail how we hear via bones in the skull | Imperial News | Imperial College London


Thank-you for understanding what I was trying to say. I can’t be the only person to experience this. It’s like I was talking to a brick wall there for a while.

Although it doesn’t feel like I “feel” it, just hear it.


@Mark84 what model did you build?

Yes i believe that the part of the sound that is received through bone conduction in the skull is translated to real ‘hearing’, where sound that we feel in the spine is translated to physically ‘feeling’ the bass. The latter usually requires a lot more volume!


It’s in my profile @mpaltadonna . CNO4.

1 Like

Wow that’s really interesting. I just read that in your post. This may possibly explain it somewhat.

The same thing happens to me with my old infinity with a 10 "woofer and 100db sensitivity: they have good bass at low volume and they sound relaxed and wide. Now I prefer that, until I find a higher quality solution but do not sacrifice the above.

1 Like

Yes exactly. I remember now, you have those big old speakers. Unfortunately if you want to recreate that presence you may have to build your own or spend a fortune. Manufacturers seem to only build thin speakers at a reasonable prices. I think for a number of factors, shipping, storage, market demand. It’s a shame that not many people get to live with larger volume speakers.

And in Warrington too

I said at the beginning of my post that in your case, as your speakers have inbuilt power amp for the bass, it’s possible to have a good bass at low volumes.

1 Like

Why would the physical position of the amp (attached to the speaker cabinet or external and remote from it) make such a difference? As far as I can see, the only real difference is that with the amp attached to the speaker cabinet it’s subject to a lot more vibration.

1 Like

I would estimate that a class D amp inside the speaker will have a much higher damping factor, this would generally make the bass response faster but potentially also less impactful. This is one reason why class D amplification is sometimes perceived as more ‘immediate’ but also more ‘dry’ when compared to amplification types with a lower damping factor.

Another factor that may lower the damping is the length of the speaker cable. Longer cables lower the damping, which can make the bass performance more impactful (less dry) but also more muddy.

I think Litemotive may have identified a possible explanation for you feeling that tge roll off if human hearing at low frequencies may be less noticeable with your present speakers than with previous ones.

Another potential explanation could be your amps and/or speakers having significant non-linearity of amplitude response at the bass end causing relative amplitude compression as sound level rises (and hence expansion as levels reduce). however that would be surprising and probably j likely as it is unusual at lower power levels, with quality drivers normally only encountered towards the top end of power range (and some driver manufacturers such as ATC, go to great lengths to minimise through design).

Regarding speaker response, it is nothing to do with the size of the bass drivers per se, but simply whether the speaker goes low enough undiminished (i.e. before any rolling off) to reproduce all the musical information at the correct level relative to the rest of the music. They can be a pair of 12” drivers, a single 12”, 10”, even 8” or multiple smaller drivers, or a whopping 30”, anx can be as main speakers or as subs: How even (and well behaved) a response down to the lowest frequency musical information there is in the recording is all a matter of the specific driver design of which size is only one factir, *and, fundamentally, the overall speaker (cabinet) design. However, as a generalisation larger drivers do indeed make it easier to design a speaker that will go low (though with other challenges related to timing due to cone inertia).