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Thread: To BassQ or not to BassQ?

  1. #1
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    To BassQ or not to BassQ?

    Grumpy, two AVSers from the LA Home Theater Group, and I ran a JBL Performance Series BassQ through its paces today, plus drank some beer, ate some Chicago dogs, and had lemon meringue pie.

    At the end of the day, we pondered: To BassQ or not to BassQ?

    That is definitely A question, though maybe not THE question.

    Perhaps in a smaller version of "too many subs diminishes performance," possibly too many brains trying to set up and test BassQ diminishes the effectiveness of that enterprise, too.

    Some things we learned:

    1. A remote with only six buttons can still have a confusing user interface.
    \1a. Pressing the button that you think you should press can result in having to start all over.
    \1b. The more people who use the remote, the more times you have to start over.
    2. Do not assume you're testing four subs until you verify that four subs are working.
    3. On a Fosgate Audionics THX four channel amp in bridged mode, use the odd-numbered inputs. (see #2)
    4. Dim indicator lights that look cool in a darkened room are invisible and worthless in the bright light of day.
    5. It pays to run some sweeps and response curves after the BassQ is done, so you can see you obviously missed something and the "change" you heard the first time was mostly in your head. Now do it over, and do it right!
    6. Harman is correct that 75% of the battle is the right number of subs (2 or 4) and the right placement (corners or midpoints); 25% is in correction (like BassQ). That might even be 80/20 or 90/10 in some rooms.
    In.

  2. #2
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    Oh yeah, we tried it out at my place on my Performance Series MCH music system.
    In.

  3. #3
    Senior Member clmrt's Avatar
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    I was going to ask for details on #2, but #3 cleared that right up.

    What kind of beer?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Valentin's Avatar
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    sow at the end did the unit stay in

    did you like the results with correct placement


    where the 4 sub identical or was it only two subs

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by clmrt View Post
    I was going to ask for details on #2, but #3 cleared that right up.

    What kind of beer?
    The estimable San Lucas cerveza from El Salvador, typically derided by American beer drinkers as being "pissy", but then I tend to think American beers taste like somebody took a crap in them.

    Combine the San Lucas with the Jalapenos, diced onions, tomatoes, cucumber, dill pickle, green relish, spicy mustard, and celery salt on the Chicago dogs, the habenero-inspired beans, and the blue corn chips with fresh salsa, and you've got a bomb in every belly.

    Good thing I've got three toilets.
    In.

  6. #6
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    The jury is still out. When we added two more subs, everything smoothed out quite nicely. Whether the extra little improvement made by the BassQ after that is worth $1200 is a big question.

    The BassQ really tightened up the bass, but at the same time it lowered the overall volume by a few dB. I could increase the LF output, but what I missed was the messy slam from the HTPS400s. However, if we turned the system off, then started it with BassQ on, it sounded really good. If we then went to Bypass mode, the slam was noticeable, but then so was the bottom end bloom and sloppiness.

    The vocals tended to be cleaner with Bass Q engaged, and the midrange had the impression of being tighter, probably because the LF resonances had been tamed.

    Maybe Grumpy will chime in with his observations based on the readings he did with FuzzMeasure on his MacBook Pro.

    So the questions remains: To BassQ or not to BassQ?

    Since I think I got about 80% or so of the way there by adding two additional subs, is $1200 the price to get to the extra 20%? It seems a bit much, but OTOH if it were $300 would it be too much, or $600?

    I don't yet know the answer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentin View Post
    sow at the end did the unit stay in

    did you like the results with correct placement


    where the 4 sub identical or was it only two subs
    In.

  7. #7
    Obviously... not a golfer grumpy's Avatar
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    re measurements... unit seemed to do what I understood it was intended to do...
    flatten the response in the region it was operating, while identifying nulls and not
    trying to boost them. We improvised a bit with the mic (using a BassQ mic directly
    into the mac), as I forgot to bring the proper firewire cable ... putting my normal
    measurement mic and A/D, D/A system in the 'dead-in-the-water' category,
    so not much attention was paid to anything but overall trends and differential
    (before vs. after) behavior.

    Measurements were always done -after- we had a listen... After all four subs were
    verified to be operational, the BassQ unit appeared to intervene less (fewer corrections
    with less magnitude). We did do listening/measurements with pairs of subs also,
    but to me this was less satisfying.

    After fooling with the BassQ for awhile (which is really all that was done... this is not
    a review, just recollections of a brief experience), I feel like this could really be a good
    tool for rooms/setups that need it. I did not feel like we had the time to set this up
    properly, resetting bass levels after correction for spectral balance etc..., so I'm not
    convinced that the before/after listening comparison really gave the unit a fair chance.

    That said, bypassing the unit really put the system back in booty-shaking bass mode
    and would surely impress (or antagonize) the neighbors. BassQ on? tighter sounding
    and often I could hear bass tones/notes, not just LFE, so better in that sense, but the
    impression/wow/couch-shaking factor went down. So back to personal preference and
    recordings (do you like it? does the recording call for it? do you want party goers sitting
    or dancing?). It would be nice to live with a BassQ unit for awhile... probably the only
    way to determine if you like "better bass" or not.

    Dogs & cerveza made for a nice break, and those AVS guys are a good lot
    and have an extensive set of test discs (stereo, multi-channel, and of course movies).

    Nice of Doug(TD) to open his home up for this get-together.
    It's uh... uh... it's down there somewhere, let me take another look...

  8. #8
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    I feel like this could really be a good tool for rooms/setups that need it.
    I have no experience with the JBL BassQ, but I have installed Audyssey Pro and Audyssey's own stand alone Bass Equalizer in a number of systems. As you say, if the room has serious problems the effects are more significant than if things are pretty good already. In any case, the results are always tighter more controlled and tuneful with the addition of Audyssey. It sounds like you were getting similar results with the BassQ. Audyssey's Bass Equalizer is less expensive, but you have to pay your dealer a fee to come out and calibrate your system... the resulting cost is about the same as the BassQ alone, but you do get a system that was properly set up.


    Widget

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome
    So the questions remains: To BassQ or not to BassQ?

    Since I think I got about 80% or so of the way there by adding two additional subs, is $1200 the price to get to the extra 20%? It seems a bit much, but OTOH if it were $300 would it be too much, or $600?

    I don't yet know the answer.
    Perhaps next time around you & grumpy may want to employ Room EQ Wizard along with a Behringer Parametric EQ ( like the BFD1124P ) to suss what you can accomplish on a tiny budget ( re; tightening up the bass response ) .

    The investment to this entry level approach is very low ( a duplex sound card like the Behringer UCA-202 / aren't they all nowadays ? ) and a Radio Shack SPL meter ( with line level output ) & a RCA to RCA cable ( & the free software, of course ) . The hardware mentioned is "bare-to the bones" ( though one can always spend much more if so desired ) .

    The free REW software is quite sophisticated by any measure and keeps getting better.

    I know both of you are Mac based. REW does have an OS-X version though it's quite tempermental ( due to Apples lack of full compliance with JAVA routines ) . Also ( grumpy ), REW doesn't support FireWire Sound Cards on Macs.

    Still , ( IMO ) REW is the wave of the future ( that is until Harman buys out this software to protect their R&D investment in products like BassQ ) .

    <> cheers

  10. #10
    Obviously... not a golfer grumpy's Avatar
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    yep, been through much of that. REW (in the last iteration I tried) was seriously unstable
    on my mac. I -have- gone through using a few meyer sound para-EQ's with spatial averaged
    measurements to perform sub/room FR peak reductions, with audibly pleasing results.

    Systems like the BassQ attempt to do more, and optimize differently for multi-seat
    improvements (something we really didn't check fully at TD's).
    It's uh... uh... it's down there somewhere, let me take another look...

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    yep,,,, snip
    Systems like the BassQ attempt to do more, and optimize differently for multi-seat
    improvements (something we really didn't check fully at TD's).
    Yes, that seems to be the feature set that these software wars are currently being fought over ( ie ; expanding the sweet-spot so that it's as wide and as smooth as possible )

    FWIW, John M's software does support 20 separate IRs per single file ( under rev.5 Beta ) .

    That's 20 separate "tested" locations that one can attempt to average within a single file .

    Since I don't do HT, I'm not sure of the efficacies ( or not ) within his softwares approach to this type of averaging .

    A final comment, his forum ( Home Theater Shack ) doesn't display the full capabilities of the software since it seems to be mostly populated by 1 thread posters, many of whom struggle with just the basics .

    <> cheers

  12. #12
    Senior Member JBLAddict's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium Dome View Post

    Combine the San Lucas with the Jalapenos, diced onions, tomatoes, cucumber, dill pickle, green relish, spicy mustard, and celery salt on the Chicago dogs
    as a Chicago native, your inclusion of celery salt has earned you a whole new level of respect with this poster
    Performance Series 5.1/1990s L1.L5.L7/L100A
    http://adsoftheworld.com/media/tv/ac...cuses_tube_amp

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBLAddict View Post
    as a Chicago native, your inclusion of celery salt has earned you a whole new level of respect with this poster
    My only regrets are that Vienna Beef dogs are nearly impossible to find here (had to use Nathan's), and no one carries hot dog buns with poppy seeds on them.

    On the BassQ front, one thing we didn't do was use all four PS1400s as subs connected to the BassQ unit. This would omit the HTPS400s altogether and run the PT800s down to 80 or 100 Hz.
    In.

  14. #14
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    Jbl msc1

    Is the BassQ basically like 4 of the JBL MSC1s working together?

    The Control software that comes with the MSC1 looks like it could add useful functionality to the antimode 8033 for people with simpler setups.

  15. #15
    Moderator / Treasurer/Marketplace Czar boputnam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by grumpy View Post
    Measurements were always done -after- we had a listen...
    Any plots? I'd love to see before and after.

    What Widget said, too. Only to add (specifically) I've had the best results tackling hi Q subs - reducing the boost of that nodal response of the transducer is most satisfying. I am not a fan of hi Q subs...

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