Help me feel the bass
November 1, 2019 11:47 PM   Subscribe

I remember loving the "feel" of loud music when I was younger - the sheer force of a loud soundsystem playing great music, thumping in my chest with every beat. I'd like to experience this again now, but anxiety precludes me from experiencing this through any of the venues I'd traditionally expect to (clubs, shows, etc). Help me find an alternative way to experience this again.

I... can't deal with crowds anymore. And the traditional places where I would experience the sort of loud music I'd want to hear tend to be crowded with people. Does there exist an alternative, like a place where I could rent a room with some serious sound equipment for an hour and just blast away? I'm not precisely sure -what- to look for, or if anything like that would exist, so if you have any ideas please let me know.
posted by isauteikisa to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe a rehearsal studio or band practice room? They usually have a small PA system set up in there. They usually don’t have the full acoustic wallop of a properly tuned club system, but it’d be loud?
posted by prismatic7 at 2:32 AM on November 2, 2019

Yes a rehearsal studio would be great for this!

I’m not an audio person so I don’t know exactly what it is but I have a thing that’s like a speaker box that I call a sub woofer (I don’t know if it actually is) and I also call it The Homewrecker because it makes such good sub bass and shakes everything in my house! My point is that you can also buy a thing for your house if you want bass on demand at home and your home situation is suitable. It’s not very big and lives under my coffee table.

And maybe this is out, but in case you don’t mind small groups, I’ve recently been to some smaller experimental music things that are quite civilised. One was in a massive art gallery so even though there were a couple hundred people, it wasn’t crowded or boisterous in any way. They had cushions and people lay on the floor, plenty of space between them. I sat on a bench with plenty of personal space. And a few months ago I saw Stephen O’Malley and Merzbow in a similarly not crowded, very relaxed, cushions on the floor warehouse-y space. If you didn’t want to be on the floor there were tiered seats and enough for everyone. Maybe look for smaller events like that if you don’t mind people and just don’t want crowds and jostling? Because there’s nothing quite like the real thing.
posted by stellathon at 3:11 AM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

It happened that the car I wanted for other reasons comes with a subwoofer and it absolutely does this - I suspect the fact that you're sitting in box with springs between it and the solid road helps the sensation. If you own a car you can buy some epic subwoofers and just fill the boot with bass-producing awesome (you can get people to fit them for you, so it's all integrated with your existing sound system), then drive out somewhere you're not disturbing other people and, well, "the hills are alive with the sound of WUBWUBWUB" :D

Unfortunately if you're not a car owner, rented cars don't tend to have decent sound systems. Your best option in that case would be persuading a car owner you're friends with that they need a subwoofer (which may or may not be a goer, depending on the friend).
posted by Vortisaur at 4:13 AM on November 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

If you can tolerate some people, just not crowds, you can ask around to see when local clubs get crowded. In my area, showing up at 9pm will mean music on a near-empty floor.
posted by metasarah at 4:50 AM on November 2, 2019 [3 favorites]

Check out the device in this article (as well as the links to similar ones):
posted by jonathanhughes at 5:19 AM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

thumping in my chest with every beat

So, sound is literally moving air molecules, and low/bass/sub frequencies are relatively large powerful waves of air molecules - that's where the "thump in your chest" comes from, you're essentially getting hit by a sort of "air hammer." In large or open spaces, this requires large speakers (like 15" or 18" in diameter), often lots of them, with a lot of amplifier power behind them. To put this in some perspective, tonight I'm working a hip hop show in a gym, and I'm using 24 18" speakers with 1600 watts of amplifier power on each speaker.

You can often emulate this feeling in smaller spaces with smaller and less powerful equipment, because you don't need to move as much air. So Vortisaur's idea about installing subwoofers in a car could work for you, or you can buy subwoofers for your home stereo setup. (Picking an example pretty much at random: Polk Audio PSW505 12" Powered Subwoofer)

Another way to emulate this effect is to bypass the air molecule part and just directly vibrate you and/or something you're sitting on - this is the principle behind the device johnathanhughes linked to, and you can get devices that can attach to your couch or chair or whatever and vibrate those. These are generally known as "thumpers" or "shakers" - for example: AuraSound AST-2B-4 Pro Bass Shaker Tactile Transducer

The wrinkle with either subs or thumpers is that the waves of air molecules or vibrations can travel through walls, floors, ceilings, and often go much further than you would think. (Lots of clubs or live music venues have problems with neighbors complaining that the bass frequencies are disturbing them.) So it kinda depends on your living situation and how much "thump" is enough for you - it's possible by the time you get the level you're looking for your housemates/neighbors/whoever are going to be annoyed by it. And there's kinda no way to know this except by trial and error.

The rehearsal studio idea is worth looking into, but I feel it's a "maybe" at best. Even if a rehearsal studio comes with or can provide sound equipment, they are usually concentrating on mid/high speakers, the gear you need so singers can hear themselves over the sound made by drums and guitar amplifiers, and less on the sub frequencies. If they do offer a fuller larger sound system that includes subs it might get cost prohibitive.

metasarah does raise a good point, especially if you're into hip hop or EDM or dance stuff - lots of clubs are open and playing music hours before any serious crowd shows up.
posted by soundguy99 at 8:16 AM on November 2, 2019 [4 favorites]

Depending on your neighbors' tolerance for noise, a subwoofer connected to your home stereo should be sufficient; you can get a lot of bass out of them (I have one with its own volume control and it is only about 10% turned up because it rattles things on the walls and overwhelms the rest of the speakers).

PC subwoofer systems used by gamers are small but put out a lot of sound, and they come with regular speakers and a headphone-type input, so you can connect them to an MP3 player or phone, crank the volume, and rumble to your heart's content.
posted by AzraelBrown at 8:21 AM on November 2, 2019

If there's ever apartment-hunting in your future, I can say from experience that you can get some phat bass through the floor if you live above a bar, or across the street from the sort of club where bass-pumping SUV limos enjoy idling for hours.
posted by Beardman at 9:22 AM on November 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

thumping in my chest with every beat.

Have you considered a subpac? It's a device which converts subbass frequencies into that thumping feeling, so you don't have to buy a subwoofer or annoy your neighbours. I've never used one, but some of my friends into electronic music production use it while mixing and swear by it as it enables you to feel the frequencines that you'd typically get on a club soundsystem.
posted by spikysimon at 11:54 AM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]

You can do this at home with a fairly modest setup. The main thing is having a subwoofer, which doesn't need to be particularly good or expensive.

Maybe you have a friend with a stereo system whose place you could borrow for an hour or so?
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 12:22 PM on November 2, 2019

Seconding the subpac. Experienced it once as part of a VR installation, and I immediately thought of it as I read your question.
posted by oceanjesse at 12:52 PM on November 2, 2019

You could learn to play the bass! When I sit on my amp at a gig I consider it the best seat in the house.

I'm using 24 18" speakers with 1600 watts of amplifier power on each speaker
posted by STFUDonnie at 1:40 PM on November 2, 2019

Thanks all! I somehow completely forgot that car audio was a Thing, and the other suggestions also look like good ideas. Looks like I might be tricking out my Fit come Christmas :D
posted by isauteikisa at 8:38 PM on November 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

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