Does Bass Even Matter in Metal?


Bassists in metal get the short-shrift. Often viewed as the least talented member of a band (“iT’s JusT a GuItAr WiTh LeSs StRiNgS, aNyOnE cOuLd PlAy BaSs!!!!”), bass is often buried in the mix, simply mimicks the guitar line, is an afterthought or some combination of the above.

We are here to call bullshit on that.

Bass is the foundation of music, providing a tactile energy to the sound that lets you literally feel it in a visceral way. In metal moreso than most genres, this is incredibly important; metal is all about letting go and riding that wave, allowing it to overtake your body while letting your impulses do the rest.

Bands and sound engineers put a lot of thought into this stuff, and frankly so should you to make your listening experience as full-bodied as possible. With that in mind, how do you get the most immersive, hard-hitting, bone-thudding bass imaginable?

In order to summon Cliff Burton’s spirit (satan rest his soul) and let the bass envelop your body, you need a subwoofer!

If you already know the ins and outs of subwoofers (even though you probably don’t, we’re venturing), feel free to skip the next section and get right to some examples from Opeth, Meshuggah, The Acacia Strain and more.

What exactly is a Subwoofer?

As you likely already know from that car that just drove by you in the parking lot with bass so loud it rattled your windows, a subwoofer is a speaker specifically designed to reproduce only low frequencies. While we can all agree that there is definitely such a thing as too much bass, most so-called “full-range” speakers simply can’t deliver the ultimate satisfaction that only comes from massive low-frequency output, so you need an extra piece of equipment specifically engineered for the task.

It’s important to note that the cheapest subwoofers are imposters masquerading as true bass-makers. They produce sloppy, one-note bass that can trash the overall sound quality with distracting distortion and excessive boominess, especially at louder volumes (see the car example in the previous paragraph). A properly designed subwoofer, on the other hand, produces the right amount of bass at the right frequencies at just the right moment to accurately produce potent bass riffs and drum hits, even at near concert levels. Music fans of all types often remark that their standard speakers have never sounded better after adding a subwoofer to their setup, because it frees up the speakers to focus on the mid and high frequencies where they excel.

Adding one (or two) subwoofers is perhaps the most transformative upgrade you can make to your home audio system. When you feel the bass of a good subwoofer, it makes music much more thrilling and immersive, elevating the listening experience to the next level. And if the subwoofer can pump out ultra-low frequencies, it can be breathtaking at times and unnerving at others — ideal for that Acacia Strain bass drop or deep, dark, chugged doom riff.

Choosing the Best Subwoofer for Metal

Now for those music examples we promised.

It’s important to understand what makes one subwoofer better than another. Here’s a quick summary of what you should listen for as you shop, along with example tracks that exploit each attribute. If a subwoofer can do all these things well, it’s within your budget, and it fits in your room, chances are it’s the right subwoofer for you.

  1. Capable of extremely deep bass, preferably below 20Hz where you can only feel it (Example: the chorus of Avenged Sevenfold’s “Almost Easy”)

2. Produce low frequencies at high volume without distortion (Example: The Acacia Strain’s “Beast”)

3. Pinpoint accuracy in frequency response (Example: Rivers of Nihil’s “Subtle Change”)

4. Crisp speed in transients (Example: Meshuggah’s “Do Not Look Down”)

5. Blend seamlessly with full-range speakers (Example: Opeth’s “Bleak”)

(For a more in-depth overview on the topic, check out the SVS blog post, 5 Things to Listen for When Choosing a Subwoofer.)

One or more subwoofers truly enhances the listening experience with just about any sound system. SVS offers a variety of models from the compact powerhouse SB-1000 sealed subwoofer with its stunning musicality and deceptively robust output to the colossal, earth-shaking PB16-Ultra ported subwoofer, which serves as the sonic anchor for many reference audio systems.

One Subwoofer to Rule them All

After adding an SVS subwoofer, many music fans comment that it’s the most impactful system upgrade they’ve ever made. You hear and feel sounds you’ve never experienced before from tracks you’ve listened to hundreds of times. Massive, subterranean bass that is also delicate and nuanced when called for is truly an incomparable sensation.

If you have questions about subwoofers or optimizing the performance of your audio system, you can reach out to the SVS Sound Experts at [email protected], 877.525.5623 or via chat to discuss choosing the best subwoofer based on your home, system, listening preferences, lifestyle considerations, and budget. 

If you want to transform a lifeless metal listening experience into a heart-pounding, high-energy assault on your senses, there is no better way than adding an SVS subwoofer. You don’t know what you’re missing!


This post is sponsored by SVS.

Tags: , ,
Show Comments
Metal Sucks Greatest Hits