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Thread: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

  1. #1
    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I've always had a good ear for music. I can read tabs and such, but I just don't need them. In a few weeks, I'll turn 59, and I know that at my age, it's normal to lose hearing. I'm having trouble with hearing bass frequencies. Sometimes, my ear is a half-step off. I know now how it feels for people who don't have an ear for music, and I hate it. With guitar, piano, and most other instruments, I'm still spot on. And when I listen to songs by others, I have no trouble hearing the bass and tuning. But when I play, the half step thing is really throwing me off.


    Have any of you experienced this? Is it a matter of aging? Merde alors!
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I'm only turning 58 this year so I don't have those problems yet!

    I'm kidding! My hearing is still good, but I notice that some things sound more "cluttered" for lack of a better word. I sometimes can't pick things out when it's noisy.

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by a "half step off?" Pretty much everyone starts losing hearing after they turn 40. Most don't notice, ignore it, or go into denial about it. About three years ago, I went to a doctor because I had been feeling congested. The doc put me on allergy medication, but after a couple of months I had shown no improvement. At that point, the doctor told me to get my hearing checked. Excuse me? But I did.

    I expected to have a bit of hearing loss, but the amount surprised me. The audiologist then had me try on some hearing aids. Wow! Long story short: I now have a pair of hearing aids that are actually quite nifty: They connect to my phone via Bluetooth, and I can use them as I would AirPods. Except that are nearly invisible (they tuck into the ear and the control pod sits behind my ear). If I grow my hair a bit, you'd never notice a thing.

    I don't wear them every day. In fact, I only use them when I know I'll be in a place where it will be difficult to hear things clearly. When I'm at home (most of the time these days; thanks, Covid) I find them unnecessary. If I need to, I just crank up the sound on whatever I'm listening to.
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    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I mean a half tone up. If I'm playing along to a song in G, my ear thinks I'm playing a G#.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Forum Member OldStrummer's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    Now that's weird. I've never heard of that before!
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    Forum Member Gravity Jim's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    Are you wearing headphones? I've worked with several singers who's sense of pitch went to hell as soon as they slipped on a pair of phones.

  7. #7
    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    No. I’m just standing about 5-10 feet from my amps.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I'm 71 and having trouble with the real low stuff but I've had this problem for at least 20 years or so. Good thing I'm a guitar player

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    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I don't know if this will help but I'll share these two things.

    1) We were recording bass and drum tracks on an 8 channel machine many years ago.
    The singer sang a reference track just so everyone would know where we were in the song during the recording.
    We thought the reference track sounded really good and wanted to keep it. Then, we added the guitars. The singer was quite flat. The vocal was scrapped. It sounded great all alone with the just the bass.
    There is something about singing to low tones that throws our ears off.

    2) The low E string on a bass produces a sine wave that is 28 feet in length. If you are standing any closer that 30 feet from a bass amp, you are not hearing the entire spectrum of that note.
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    Forum Member Offshore Angler's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    Quote Originally Posted by Tele-Bob View Post
    I don't know if this will help but I'll share these two things.

    1) We were recording bass and drum tracks on an 8 channel machine many years ago.
    The singer sang a reference track just so everyone would know where we were in the song during the recording.
    We thought the reference track sounded really good and wanted to keep it. Then, we added the guitars. The singer was quite flat. The vocal was scrapped. It sounded great all alone with the just the bass.
    There is something about singing to low tones that throws our ears off.

    2) The low E string on a bass produces a sine wave that is 28 feet in length. If you are standing any closer that 30 feet from a bass amp, you are not hearing the entire spectrum of that note.
    Sound waves don't work like waves on stretched string. You can detect the entire wave from any distance provided the sensing equipment is capable. Think about it. The speaker is moving in and out. Your eardrum is moving in and out. Sound waves are pressure waves and the wave may not be sinusoidal. All sound waves travel at the same speed regardless of frequency provided the temperature remains constant. That's why we can put the microphones touching the speaker grills on the amps.

    In the stretched-string model, you'd need to match the amplitude not the wavelength to get all of the information contained in the wave. So, you can have the same pitch as a square wave or a sine wave, the frequency will be the same, but the information it contains will be different.

    Gosh, retired rocket scientists are boring nerda$$'s, aren't we? Yeah, but low-frequency vibrations are what we're all about on rockets. They play havoc with the injectors, combustion chamber and piping, not to mention the rocket's structure or it's payload. Don't get me started on Hemholz compensators to control combustion instabilities, lol!


    Chuck
    Last edited by Offshore Angler; 03-05-2023 at 10:48 AM.
    "No harmonic knowledge, no sense of time, a ghastly tone, unskilled vibrato, and so on. Chuck is one of the worst guitar players I know" -Gravity Jim

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    Forum Member Tele-Bob's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    You forgot the Fletcher Munson effect, LOL. For those who don't know, it's a perception that the relative bass volume becomes louder in entire mix as the master volume is raised.
    When I was on staff at a recording studio, and the bass complained he couldn't hear his bass in the mix, I would just reach over and raise the master volume a little. The bass player would always say, "thanks." LOL.

    However, standing 3 feet from a bass amp sounds completely different than standing 30 feet out in front of it. The sound is different when you're standing at the length of longest wave in the cluster.
    Sometimes the science says things should be one way, but the actual perception differs greatly from what is on paper.

    Take for instance, the Haas Precedence Effect where a guitar solo averaging 40 db is played through the speakers with digital delay added as an effect.
    The delayed notes need to be at least 60 db before the ear hears it as being equal in volume to the first notes at 40 db. Perception is a tricky thing.
    If you're bored, you're not groovin'.

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    Forum Member phantomman's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    Quote Originally Posted by Tele-Bob View Post
    However, standing 3 feet from a bass amp sounds completely different than standing 30 feet out in front of it. The sound is different when you're standing at the length of longest wave in the cluster.
    Sometimes the science says things should be one way, but the actual perception differs greatly from what is on paper.
    Doubly so when the bass amp's speaker(s) are mounted in a folded-horn enclosure such as an Acoustic 370, Fender PS400, or Sunn Coliseum 118M. The stage volume is relatively quiet while forty feet out the audience is ducking falling light fixtures and crumbling sheetrock.
    "When injustice becomes law then rebellion becomes duty."

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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    I had a really decent sound system for our area, and in the 80's I would hire myself out when we weren't playing. I never ran bass through the system, as most all had large folded horn cabs, and lots of power. When I would get a bassist complaining he couldn't hear himself, I would couple two cords together, and have him play while standing in the middle of the dance floor. Most were unaware they were overwhelming the mix!

  14. #14
    Forum Member ch willie's Avatar
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    Re: Can't Hear Bass Frequencies--WTF?????

    It’s awful when the bass is too loud and everything booms and roars. It’s tough being a bassist too when you can’t hear yourself. In-ear monitors might have made things easier when I gigged.
    If we'd known we were going to be the Beatles, we'd have tried harder.--George Harrison

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