The best of bass

Bass is a vital element in any music. Even if you don’t know it is there, on a great Hi-Fi system bass adds shades and subtlety to apparently bass free recordings – such as sound of an acoustic guitar or the concert hall of a piano recital.

Bass is a vital element in any music. Even if you don’t know it is there, on a great Hi-Fi system bass adds shades and subtlety to apparently bass free recordings – such as sound of an acoustic guitar or the concert hall of a piano recital.

Bass is also part of the audio bandwidth that is not easy to reproduce well. Anyone can make bass – but great bass is much harder! We have worked for decades to get the performance of the likes of our 800 D3 to where it is now. And the new Aerofoil cones deliver controlled, clear bass that is both deep and agile. Better than any full range speaker we have produced before.

However even with that exceptional loudspeaker, the likes of the new DB Series subwoofers can add some magic into the mix. These high-powered subwoofers are not just for the special effects that make home cinema so exciting, but are also capable of revealing intricacies and subtlety in music.

But bass is also about fun, and feeling that thud in your chest that makes you realise that some serious air is being moved… and these are some of our favourite tacks for doing just that.

Portishead – Machine Gun
When people think Portishead, they normally think the early years and Dummy in particular. But 2008’s Third showed Portishead were far from finished, and this track – the first single from the album – was particularly innovative and exciting. The driving bass keeps things moving throughout and the simple, repetitive nature of the piece coupled with Gibbons’ wistful vocals make it a great test track.

Indie Dance outfit RÜFÜS (RÜFÜS DU SOL in North America) hit bass gold with this excellent track, particularly the version remixed by fellows Australians What So Not. The bass is a key feature throughout, but as the track builds towards the end a good system will almost transport you to a club in the early hours – in a good way, obviously.

UNKLE – Guns Blazing (Drums of Death, Part 1)
This is the opening track to the debut album from UNKLE, a heady combination of DJ Shadow and James Lavelle, and it perfectly sets the tone for what is to come. The bass creeps in early; a resonant drone with interstellar qualities, before the signature drums and bass kick in to support vocals from Kool G Rap. A great opening to a fantastic album.

Massive Attack – Teardrop
This is a truly sensational track. It combines Liz Frazer’s exquisite vocals with a wonderful acoustic guitar riff and a low end that has to be felt to be believed. On a truly capable system with the help of a high-performance subwoofer lending a hand with detailed and controlled bass, that bottom end retains its shape and form throughout – never getting flabby or indistinct.

Beastie Boys – Shake your Rump
The bass appeal in this track is three-fold. There’s the stunning drums that kick through the whole track, the occasional obscenely low synth breaks, and then there’s the funky bass guitar playing. If you have a system that can get the most out of all three, then you know you are on to great sound!

Method Man – Bring Da Pain (Chemical Brothers Remix)
The Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man was one of the collective’s first to hit the heights of solo success, and this is an incredible remix version of the first single from the monstrous Tical album. Remixed by Britain’s own Chemical Brothers, it builds on the amazing bass of the original song, and is a blinding test track when listening out for low end.

Yello – Oh Yeah
A long-term classic in the world of bass-heavy test tracks, but well worth a reminder of just how great this well-recorded track sounds today – at the time of writing some 30 years after release! Even if for some reason, you don’t know this track by name, you will recognise it immediately. And boy, that bass is spectacular.

Muse – Hysteria
Devon’s best-known export hit the sci-fi button hard with this monumental track off 2003’s Absolution album. This is all about the incredible bass line; a powerful, driving riff that drives the song along throughout. A system – or a sub – that enables you to hear the depth of that low end AND the leading edges brings this track to life.

Charles Mingus – Solo Dancer
There’s nothing bombastic or steroidal about the bass in this sublime opening section of 1963’s incredible The Black Saint and Lady Sinner album. Mingus is arguably the greatest Jazz double bassist of all time, and this is his masterpiece. The detail and subtlety in the recording is astounding and on a well-balanced system it is more than capable of just hitting you in the stomach, a joy to behold.

David Guetta – Titanium
Proviso: personal taste in music doesn’t always come into it when collating great bass tracks. And that is certainly the case here. But what cannot be denied is that this massive global hit has an incredible bass presence that sounds amazing when turned up on a high-quality sound system – and preferably one with a hard-hitting subwoofer in the mix.
Trust us, try it.

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  • Nigel Day says:

    Very interesting playlist, but slightly surprised there was nothing classical. A decent recording of a Cathedral organ will take you down to 16Hz (and that’s before the building acoustics take over with additional ambience).

  • Bill says:

    Nice stuff. Love B & W too.

  • Balázs Fejes says:

    J.S. Bach – Toccata and Fugue in D minor BWV 565

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