What's new

Not Enough Bass Question (1 Viewer)


Jul 18, 2008
Real Name
I recently purchased and set up a new Home theater system. I used an ONKYO receiver and Onkyo 6.1 surround. Everything sounds great, but it seems to lack that "bass feel". My main concern is music. On my wimpy $50 computer 2.1 speakers the Bass thumps to where you can feel it. Is there something i am missing in my home theater setup. The subwoofer is nearly as big as a coffee table. Maybe theater surround isn't meant to deliver the bass in music like car stereos and stand alone speakers do.I have tried many different listening modes to no avail. This is not to say the bass isn't there, it surely is, but the big feel of bass is missing. I am using a Squeeze Box to deliver music to my system and it is hooked up with Optical cable.

Any suggestions?

troy evans

Jul 2, 2005
In your receivers set-up menu there should be speaker(configure,distance,level) settings that you can adjust. Use a measuring tape to mark the distance from each speaker to your listening position and enter those values in the "distance" menu first. In the "level" setting each speaker will have a setting between -12 and + 12, or so, that can be adjusted. When you calibrate all the speakers, so that they all output at the same sound level, "level" is the setting to use. You really should invest in an SPL Meter from Radio Shack to help get the "level" settings right. Once you have the SPL you run the receivers test tone from speaker to speaker and adjust all the speakers to an output of 75db. Do this while sitting in your listening position and holding the SPL in front of you with the mic end pointed to the ceiling. Once you've balanced all the speakers to 75db look at the ranges you've set. It may read something like: Front Right+2, Center+1, Front Left 0, Etc. Once you've done all that, find the highest set speaker and put the Subwoofer at +4 above that setting. You should feel the Bass now. Be sure to adjust for taste afterward because that subwoofer setting may be too much for everyone. At least after all this you'll have a better understanding of what you need to adjust and can achieve your goals better. Take Care.


Senior HTF Member
Oct 26, 2002
Many subwoofers I've listened to sold for mobile use are usually tuned to generate their greatest bass output higher up in the bass spectrum, somewhere in the 30 to 50Hz region. That's where the bass in most music resides (this also means a less powerful amp is needed - go lower than 30Hz, and you need a lot more power). But many modern movie soundtracks can go much lower, down to 20Hz (or lower sometimes) so most subs for HT use are tuned accordingly. Plus many mobile subs deliberately have some designed-in "boom" which some people like, whereas the better home subs don't have any, causing the home sub to sound sterile in comparison.

So it's not that "movie" subwoofers can't produce lots of bass in that 30-50Hz region, it's just that relatively speaking they produce *less* of it.

One problem with using ref level to calibrate a system: when you DON'T listen at ref level the lower bass portion of the sound spectrum will seem to be less noticeable. Same situation with the higher (treble) frequencies. This is why I wish more receiver manufacturers would include loudness compensation systems on their gear, which for some reason started becoming very scarce around the mid 90s, but which pretty much all receivers at all price points included all the way back to the 1950s.

A loudness compensation system's operation is based on how the human hearing system works, and its increasing INability to hear the lower bass and higher treble at decreasing volume levels. Doing a search on the "Fletcher-Munson loudness curve" will result in many hits where one can read about this issue in detail.

Loudness systems are not perfect, and sometimes can cause some systems to sound a bit boomy if the frequencies it affects interact negatively with a specific set of speakers, but on the whole IMO their positives definitely outweigh the negatives and prevent most sound systems from sounding thin and dull at normal-to-low volume levels.


Personally I don't use ref level to listen to my system - for me it is too loud. So I calibrate at the levels I *do* listen at and everything comes out fine.

But for people who don't always listen at ref level but calibrate that way anyway, I have a strong feeling that is why so many of them write (many times with a vaguely guilty tone) that they run their subwoofer a little "hot" so they can better enjoy their music/movies.

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum Sponsors

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Latest member
Recent bookmarks