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"ADDING WEIGHT & BODY" (Read 15055 times)
DBC
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"ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
02/08/13 at 20:35:10
 
Over the years I can't count the number of times the subject of  "How to add Weight & Body" to the music has been discussed on this Forum. I know because since purchasing my original Decware Zen Select over 12 years ago I have read all of these posts with interest in doing the same. In almost 35 years of listening to Rock and Blues I have used a variety of subwoofers to augment the low end.

My main interest is music and for years I've seen a lot of bands locally (couple times a month normally). Can't beat sitting 30 feet from the band while tapping your toes to that awesome bass line. Each pluck of the bass guitar distinctly audible and clean, thinking why can't I make it sound that great at home?

Until recently I've always blamed it on poor recording technique, poor mastering, poor room acoustics and a variety of other excuses. That is until I ordered the MBM-12 MK2  Mid Bass Module from HSU Research last spring: http://www.hsuresearch.com/products/mbm-12mk2.html

After lots of research I was still skeptical, kind of like 12 years ago when I ordered my Decware Zen Select: 2-watts, yea right, does that come with a can of snake oil and bag of pixie dust too ???  Long story short, I soon sold all my solid state gear and have listened to the little Zen all these years until replacing it a couple months ago with the Super Zen.

So against my better judgment and based on everything I thought I knew about audio and subwoofers, I hit the purchase button. Just like Decware, HSU has an no questions asked return policy so I'll have a little fun, maybe learn something and send it back right ???  

Well it's 8 months later and I'm still amazed at what the MBM-12 adds to the music presentation. Each bass note is clean and distinct. Drums really pop !!  Actually I have two and run them in stereo, one located next to each of my mains. One is great, it gives you about 85% of what two will do in a large listening room.

I have full range Klipsch RF-7 mains connected directly to my Super Zen (running full range signal). The MBM-12 is connected to the Super Zen via speaker level connection also operating in what HSU calls "Augmentation Mode". So the mains and MBM-12 are both reproducing the signal below 150 Hz down to around 50 Hz.

Now I know there are a Zillion technical reasons that can be cited as to why there is no way this can possibly work, or at least sound good. Even HSU considers using speaker level connections and operating in "Augmentation Mode" as their least desirable connection and set-up method. All I know is it's hard to dispute what I'm hearing, so I'm just going to enjoy the music !!

When I purchased the Super Zen things got even better. The Super just seems to have much better resolution across the board and especially on the low end compared to the 12 year old Select with no mods. Lots of Weight & Body for all day listening without having to crank it to the edge of clipping. And when you do crank it up, well it is just GREAT !!!  No more wishing I had just a couple more watts. For the most part I now listen at lower volume levels because as I turn that volume knob up I just reach that "Satisfaction Point" sooner.

The HSU MBM-12 (Mid Bass Module) has been a great $500.00 investment for me. I also have the HSU ULS-15 15" sealed subwoofer which is a great product also (the best of many subs I have owned). I have listened to music with the MBM-12 only and the ULS-15 only. If you told me I could only have one, then I would say hands down keep the Mid Bass Module.

Augmenting the mid bass region has that much of a positive impact on music. There is simply more going on in most music between 150 & 50 Hz then below 50 Hz. Obviously the ULS-15 tops it all off if your budget allows. If however you are on a tight budget or simply looking to add a substantial bit of "Weight, Body & Punch" on the lower end you owe it to yourself to audition the MBM-12.
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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dla405j
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #1 - 02/08/13 at 21:12:38
 
interesting...I run taboo with vcap & hazen mod and old zen select with hazen mod..also use zen tube buffer plus Monarchy audio dip...one classic and other 24/96...I buy them used and find that they boost sound and increase base...with decware outboard dac and Lars audio equivalent I find that my sound is smoother and less digital (harsh).  It's a pretty cheap way to improve sound.I have a smaller listening room and listen mostly to jazz so these minor tweeks fit my listening environment well.

dla405j
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Lon
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #2 - 02/08/13 at 23:25:30
 
Interesting! Thanks for sharing your observations.
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stone_of_tone
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #3 - 02/09/13 at 16:10:41
 
Thanks DBC! I wrote a question to you over in the SUPERZEN AND Z-STAGE thread. You just answered all for me. Thanks again for your insight on this. I am going to try this module. I now have a room where I can stretch the legs of my Super Zen CKC to obtain more dynamics-not-just tone and texture that I have enjoyed over the years with the SE84CS and now CKC.  My Zu Union's in Sangria Red arrive next week!   -Stone
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« Last Edit: 02/09/13 at 16:12:08 by stone_of_tone »  

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DBC
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #4 - 02/09/13 at 17:58:11
 
Stone,

As you probably gathered from my original post I have a Pair of HSU ULS-15 subs. If I'm not mistaken ULS stands for "Ultra Linear Sealed". So these have no ports. Before my purchase I called HSU Research and Dr. Hsu answered the telephone himself on about the third ring. He told me the ULS-15 was their most accurate sub for music but that the VTF-15 was very close. VTF for "Variable Frequency Tuning" . You have the option to run sealed or vented with the VTF Sub series as you know.

At that time I was looking to replace my 13 year old 18" Velodyne sub. I purchased the pair of ULS-15's which is overkill in some respects. The main benefit of the pair is more uniform bass throughout the listening space.

When the ULS-15's arrived I wheeled the old Velodyne out and the ULS-15's in and powered everything up. That moment was similar to powering up my Super Zen for the first time. WOW, this is a real improvement right out of the box !!

I had the ULS-15's for a couple months before I ordered the pair of MBM-12 MK2 (Mid Bass Modules). I was so impressed with the ULS-15's I wanted to see what Dr. Hsu's mid bass module would do in a music system. Interestingly HSU does not really advertise the MBM as a music product. I get the impression they are pretty much in the digital multi-channel universe (like most). While talking to Dr. Hsu about my tube set-up I kind of got the feeling he was thinking "Why don't you just buy a good $400.00 multi-channel AV receiver?". It was a bit funny.

An interesting side note from this same conversation with Dr. Hsu. He stated that tube amps typically have somewhat poor low frequency response compared to Solid State. I didn't think much about that comment again until I powered up my new Super Zen and realized how much cleaner and more defined the low end was.

So when it comes to the Mid Bass Module I'm not really using it exactly as the nice folks at HSU envisioned. As you know from looking at the HSU site, the Mid Bass Module is basically the same design concept as their VTF (Variable Tuning Frequency) sub line. Difference being it is specifically optimized to reproduce the 150 to 50 Hz frequency range.

You can run the MBM in Sealed or Vented mode. I have listened extensively in both modes. Since getting the Super Zen I can say I prefer the Sealed mode for music. In the Vented mode drums have a bit more slap but low bass guitar notes on some recordings can sometimes get a little "Wooly". Just seems like I can play just about any material in the Sealed mode and it sounds good if not great.

So as I said in my original post, if I were forced to choose only one, I would opt for the Mid Bass Module over the ULS-15 sub as best audible improvement and bang for the buck. I listened to a couple Door's CD's this morning with MBM only and then Sub only to confirm my earlier impressions and statement in this regard.

HSU makes some fine products. Problem is if you try the MBM i think you will like it. Worse yet, the MBM will likely leave you thinking "What would it sound like with one of their subs?".

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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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Lon
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #5 - 02/09/13 at 18:18:21
 
DBC, are you running two of the mid bass and one or two subs?

My imagination is tickled, I bet you have killer sound.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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DBC
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #6 - 02/09/13 at 19:35:46
 
Lon,

I have two ULS-15's and two MBM's. I know that is a little over the top. I have run the set-up using one ULS-15 and one MBM and there is not much more a sane person could ask for if they just had one of each.

In my case I am running these in stereo (left Sub & MBM left channel only, right Sub & MBM right channel only). I posted a couple pics in the Member's Picture Gallery. Sorry for the poor quality, just into music more than photography and interior decorating. Room is approx 15 feet wide by 21 feet long with an equally large adjacent dining and kitchen area.

Having twin subs and twin MBM's does a lot to produce even bass through the listening room and quite frankly the whole house. I realize this is not a practical set-up for most working folks with real lives to live.

You might think by looking at the system that I'm some type of Freakish Bass Head in need of serious help. Well I'm not into Bass simply for the sake of Bass. I like smooth distinct audible bass that is not in your face but rather contributes to the overall presentation. On the other hand Black Sabbath and Michael Jackson really do kick out the Bass on their recordings.

A good solid Bass foundation gives the impression the whole system is playing MUCH louder. I would describe the Bass as Effortless, and it does not get in the way of other instruments or vocals. Even at low volume the bass has a real physical presence. As a result I tend to listen at lower volume levels with a great deal of satisfaction.
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« Last Edit: 02/09/13 at 19:53:03 by DBC »  

Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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Lon
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #7 - 02/09/13 at 19:51:36
 
Thanks for the info. I can imagine it sounds really rich and deep. I know you enjoy the sound very much, and that is what counts.
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Decware:ERR,HR-1,ZP3,CSP2+,Torii Mk III,PS Audio PWT+PWD MkII,PowerBases,PPP,AC-12 pcs, Denon DBP-A100, Denon DCD-A100,Rega RP3 +TTPSU,white belt+Exact2, VooDoo Cable:Evo,Ultra Linear, Iso-PodMapleshade:Double Heiix Plus.Samsonv2+v3 +4" platforms,Herbie's Iso-Cup
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DougK
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #8 - 02/10/13 at 02:52:52
 
I was just looking at the HSU ULS-15 sub, thinking of getting a single one, with the general idea that the larger sub I can get, the better off I'll be for full bass reproduction.  I wanted a sealed sub, but your statement that you preferred the MBM over the ULS if you had to choose one surprised me.

Can you expand on this?  Any idea why a smaller sub would add more weight than the larger one?  Is it related to your speakers frequency response perhaps?  Placement of the ULS vs the MBM?  Very curious to hear why you like the MBM better.  I do have to choose only one, so any insight would be great.  Thanks,

Doug
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DBC
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #9 - 02/10/13 at 16:45:40
 
DougK,

You ask a great question. I have to say going in to this (experimentation with the MBM) my past experience and preconceived notions on what I thought I knew about subwoofers was actually an impediment. After all if you know the world is flat then you are unlikely to set sail for the horizon.

A little background. My Klipsch RF-7 mains are full range speakers. I've been to the local Klipsch dealer and when they crank them up with 200 Solid State Watts per channel they can kick out the bass. Problem is you have to play them loud and your ears start to bleed from the Solid State highs after about 5 minutes.

Come home crank the RF-7's with my Super Zen 2 Watts per channel and the mids and highs are to die for at normal listening levels. But where's all the Bass ??  I can hear it but it's a little faint for my liking.  Well lets crank it up some more and I start to drive the Super Zen into clipping.

No problem, I've got the HSU ULS-15 (15 inch sealed sub) tucked into the front right corner of my listening room. Turn that baby on and set the crossover at 90 Hz (max crossover setting on this sub). Yuck, it's boomy. Darn I've got a room induced peak at around 70 HZ. Turn the sub volume down from 50% to 20% and no more Boom, in fact pretty much no more nothing.

OK lets set the crossover at 50 Hz and the volume back to 50%. That sounds really good with Black Sabbath, Nickle Back and other music with lots of low bass (hey lets start spinning some RAPP) not really. Does not do much for The Rolling Stones though ??? OK Lets move the sub to the Front Left Corner. Darn, I've got a peak around 45 Hz there.

OK let's move the sub more to the center of the room along the front wall. Not too bad. I have the sub volume at 50% and crossover set at 90 Hz (max). I'm listening at a comfortable level, Super Zen sounds good and the music has a little meat on it's bones, I like it. Lets see if there is more of that to be had, tweak the sub volume up to 55%. What happened  ?? That does not sound natural. OK, sub volume back to 50%. I like what I'm hearing but wish I could get some more of that. Another point, now that the sub is in the center of the front wall I don't have the really low 20 Hz extension on movies ??

OK, fast forward to today. Having used the MBM (mid bass module) for months now I can appreciate how much music material lies between 50 and 150 Hz (150 Hz max crossover setting on the MBM). I don't think it was a mistake that Dr. Hsu designed and optimized to MBM to accurately reproduce material in this range. If you read some of Dr. Hsu's material he states below 50 Hz you need a big heavy driver and above 50 Hz a smaller lighter driver is optimal.

My Theory: You have a sub reproducing low frequency up to 100 Hz as an example (assuming no room induced peaks, good luck on that). As you increase the the sub volume at some point your brain says there is a disconnect between everything below 100 Hz which is going up in volume and everything above 100 Hz which is not going up in volume because the mains are producing that portion.

As you increase the volume on the MBM the frequency range that Dr Hsu felt was important (50 to 150 Hz) increases across the board as opposed to my example above using a single subwoofer and the mains.

I have to admit I was sure there would be a conflict to deal with given that my mains go down to 40 Hz. Certainly the MBM and Mains reproducing the same frequency range was going to be a problem. Well I run the MBM crossover at 150 Hz (max) and there is no issue. Basically just keep increasing the MBM volume until you brain says that's not right. Back the MBM volume off just a tad and enjoy.

Now will a system with a single MBM benefit by introducing a good sub, well yes. For reference I would say 80% of the performance bang comes from the MBM. Add a good subwoofer and you can increase performance (Weight & Body) another 20%. I think this goes right back to the fact that most music material does not have a lot going on below 50 Hz.

Recap:

Best room location for a box to reproduce frequencies below 50 Hz is often not the best location for a box to reproduce frequencies above 50 Hz.

Best driver to reproduce frequencies below 50 Hz is not the best driver choice to reproduce frequencies above 50 Hz.

Listening using a single MBM as opposed to a single Subwoofer there is a whole lot more going on in the bass region above 50 Hz then below on most music material. Therefore IMHO using a single MBM has a more profound impact on the overall "WEIGHT & BODY"  of the overall presentation.

Dr. Hsu knew something I didn't when he decided to build a box optimized to reproduce frequencies between 50 and 150 Hz.

The new Super Zen heightens the performance of the MBM compared to my 12 year old stock Zen Select. Point being if your source or amp are a tad muddy on the low end that will be reproduced by the MBM.

Final Thought: Prior to receiving the Super Zen I had a tendency to tinker with the MBM module volume. With better more modern recordings it seemed I could run the volume a tad higher without the MBM calling attention to itself. Older material could get a tad muddy so I would tweak the volume down a tad. Since introducing the Super Zen I have not touched the MBM volume. I think this is due to the Super's improved low end clarity and separation.

My apologies for the long winded response. If anyone does manage to get this far then I hope it was of some help.

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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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4krow
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #10 - 02/10/13 at 19:05:15
 
I have to say that there is a lot that I agree with about your experience with bass frequencies. All rooms lie in some fashion when it comes to bass. Placement is really the best way to achieve most of what can be done. I also use a Velodyne SMS-1 to help with the process.
Your point about different sized drivers used to reproduce low(below 50hz) and bass(50-150hz) sounds like a very good idea. It doesn't help my wanting to keep a system as simple as possible, but then things should be kept as simple as possible, but not simpler(Einstein said it right).
On a different note, I have always liked the folded bass horn for the power and purity. I built a K-horn sold by Speakerlab when I was in high school. Though it definitely wasn't a Klipsch, it gave me an idea what bass could be.
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Decware 34I.3 integrated amp/Forte' 3 bass amp/Velodyne SMS-1 bass mngmnt system/Decware ZOB speakers/BESL subs/Emotiva ERC3 CD player/BPT 3.0 power cond. PS Audio P500
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DBC
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #11 - 02/10/13 at 20:02:25
 
4krow,

I agree with your comment regarding simplicity. Take my system for example; without the subs it is pretty basic which is always good. Source, pre, amp, mains.

The intent of my original post was to suggest that if someone has a simple system and would like to add a noticeable amount of quality "Weight & Body" to the overall presentation that a single HSU Mid Bass Module is a simple and effective option based on my experience.

I wanted to comment on placement also. The MBM is not all that sensitive to placement. With one unit you would want it somewhere along the front wall center or slightly off center depending on what your arrangement allows. Corners are not the best choice since at these frequencies you may start to sense that most of the bass is coming from one side of the sound stage.
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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Mark
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #12 - 02/10/13 at 22:41:53
 
As long as the subject is subwoofers, I'd like to know people's opinion about something I was thinking of doing:

I wanted to augment the sound of my Tang Band full range back horn loaded speakers, and a mini sub would do just fine... The only thing is, no sub out on my Zen amp... I do, however, have a Zen CD player, and I was wondering if I could use the standard [op amp] outputs on the CDP to feed the sub... I mean, they are supposed to be live... ???...
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If a rabbit defined intelligence the way man does, then the most intelligent animal would be a rabbit, followed by the animal most willing to obey the commands of a rabbit. -Robert Brault, writer (b. 1938)
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DBC
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #13 - 02/11/13 at 16:30:21
 
I was reviewing Steve's paper on "Insights About Subwoofers" the other day.  http://www.decware.com/paper01.htm

"The common application of a sub woofer is far from high fidelity because of two things: The user turns up the volume to a level greater than his speakers, and turns up the crossover frequency to 90, 120, even 150 cycles. He does this because he is waiting to hear the sub work, and that is what it takes to get it to draw attention to itself. In this application, the response of the speakers are altered by overlapping them with a thick veil of bass."

I agree with with Steve's observations. If a sub is crossed over at say 80 Hz, as you increase the sub volume at some point the brain recognizes a disconnect between the volume of Sub frequencies below 80 Hz and Mains frequencies above 80 Hz.

On the other hand if one tries to overcome this problem by setting the crossover at say 150 Hz a second problem arises. Subwoofers by their very nature are designed to play Low & Loud and in my experience sound crappy when you attempt to cross them over at higher frequencies.

The HSU Mid Bass Module seems to solve both problems in my system. A unit optimized to reproduce frequencies between 50 and 150 Hz with accuracy and authority. No sense of "overlapping the main speakers with a thick veil of bass". The MBM simply adds to the music rather than drawing attention to itself.
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Oppo BDP-83SE, SE84CKC amp, Klipsch RF-7 mains, HSU MBM-12 MK2 mid bass module, HSU ULS-15 sub
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Mark
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Re: "ADDING WEIGHT & BODY"
Reply #14 - 02/11/13 at 17:17:20
 
I would look at the bottom end rolloff on your speakers, and adjust the sub accordingly... Maybe a mild 'suck-out' between the two, some overlap... Yes, crossing over to the sub too high introduces too much mid bass, which causes all sorts of phasing problems... That's why some subs have variable phasing...

Having had a sub previously, I'd keep the X-over low... And not want to 'hear' the sub... Also, the level on the sub should be rather low...
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If a rabbit defined intelligence the way man does, then the most intelligent animal would be a rabbit, followed by the animal most willing to obey the commands of a rabbit. -Robert Brault, writer (b. 1938)
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