Get the Best Performance from Your Gear

September 8, 2020
David designing

At BASSBOSS we are driven by a love for music and the desire to improve the experience of sharing it. Our goal is to provide every concert, festival, nightclub and party attendee the experience of pristine high-fidelity sound at the level required for a totally immersive experience. Whether listening alone, creating music in a studio or creating experiences for audiences, BASSBOSS brings artists and audiences closer together.

While we do our best to make beautiful, powerful and practical products, what we want is to help you create great experiences sharing music, and improve the experience of sharing music for everyone. A great sound system is essential for the ultimate experience, and yet it’s possible to create wonderful experiences with lesser systems. (And it’s just as possible to create a lousy experience with a great sound system.)

Based on many conversations we’ve had over many years, we’ve heard a lot of people say they wish they had known lots of things sooner, so to start you off on your BASSBOSS journey, here are a few things we’ve found that really help our customers create great experiences, regardless of the equipment in use.

1) Create Amazing Moments!

People remember moments, the highlights of shows and events, and the highlights they remember are how they remember the whole event. Why is that important for a sound system? Because you want to use your SPL wisely! Every system has a limit, and every audience member does, too. You know your music, and you know the big moments in the songs.

Always leave at least 25% of your system capacity available to deliver the impact that highlights a moment. Running your system at 99% or 110% in the limiters all night will just lead to listener fatigue, driving people away from the dance floor to a “comfortable distance”. It might even lead to complaints and requests to “turn it down”, and nobody wants that. (See #2 below)

In addition, people exposed to a certain sound level will experience what’s called “temporary threshold shift”, which means that they essentially get used to the level and so, in order to raise the energy in the room, you have to raise the SPL again/more, and the laws of physics and sound systems don’t let you keep doing that all night long.

Instead, bring the level up for the highlights but either drop the level immediately after the moment or carefully work the level down again over the next few minutes. (Don’t forget that you’re also going to experience temporary threshold shift, so getting louder all night is a natural tendency that you have to fight.)

2) Keep it clean!

I’m not talking about the lyrics, I’m talking about the signal. Distortion is a sound system crying in pain, and people are made uncomfortable when they hear something crying in pain. Again they may retreat to a comfortable distance or make requests to “turn it down”.

Most equipment has some red lights to warn you when you’ve exceeded its limits, but your ears can also tell when the system isn’t at a level where it’s comfortable. Some systems can get very loud with very little distortion, and some simply can’t. You’re going to create a better experience/event if you keep your system, whatever it is, operating at a level where it sounds as good as it can.

If you need more SPL than your system can produce, you do need a better or bigger system, because turning a system up to where it’s screaming in pain is likely to create bad memories of bad moments rather than good ones. Remember to use your SPL, more particularly your level control, wisely. A few moments of pushing your system a little past its limits to highlight a moment and you’ll probably be forgiven but hours of distorted noise isn’t going to make a crowd very happy. (Unless they came to hear a distorted noise show.)

Bottom line, use what you have well and wisely to create hours of enjoyment and moments of ecstasy. It’s far better than hours of agony and moments of disappointment or worse, failure.

3) Keep it simple!

More equipment isn’t always better. Don’t add things that don’t actually do you any good. Sonic Maximizers, Drive racks and additional mixing boards usually do more harm than good.

The Sonic Maximizer is as much a maximizer as pecker pills, or a bottle of snake oil. The drive rack is, or was, a great tool for tuning and aligning passive loudspeaker powered by a rack of amplifiers that it could drive. Everything a drive rack can do is already being done inside the superior DSPs inside the BASSBOSS boxes, so save your money and prevent all the issues and mistakes that can be made by using one.

And a DJ mixer or controller sending signal into a band mixer is another recipe for disaster. First off, the XLR inputs on most mixers are microphone preamps, not line inputs, so they are prone to distortion from overdriving. If you have to use a mixer to bring additional elements together, be sure to get one that has +4 line level inputs to feed into from the DJ board/controller and use the right connectors to access them.

Make sure to get one that provides sound quality that’s at least as good as the gear you’re feeding into it and be aware that more gain not only almost always means more noise but that more gain doesn’t necessarily mean more SPL. Only more or better speakers can provide more SPL. More gain can actually kill a perfectly good set of speakers.

– David Lee

Music Made Physical