Why a subwoofer is important… musically!

I really like this Musical Spectrum Analyzer plugin for my favorite—and free—music player, Foobar 2000.

The spectrum you see here is an ostinato bass-line from a Boards of Canada track called Happy Cycling. (The really low stuff starts around the 5:00 mark.)

Boards of Canada, Happy Cycling
Boards of Canada, Happy Cycling

The lowest note in the bass line is centered around 25Hz, is pretty loud, and it is absolutely musical in nature. Lacking a subwoofer, or suitably large main speakers, these musical notes are never heard. Many systems struggle to cope with such energy, and transform these sounds into higher-frequency harmonic distortions.

Just an interesting illustration…

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