More thumping bass? You came to the right place. Don't worry, you're not alone - not everyone are using bassy PC speakers / headphones. This instructables will teach you to add more bass without destroying the rest of the sound.
/**Updated on 23 Jul 2016**/
- Major revision in each steps.
Before we get started, let me tell you that I have tested dozens of "free" software on the market and even some paid ones with the sole purpose of adding bass to my speakers. This method may not be the easiest, but definitely is the better sounding among others.
What is bass?
Bass is low-frequency sound we associate with thumping (boom boom). Bass frequencies start at 20-200Hz, while human ears perceive frequencies from 20-20,000Hz. That is approximately just 1% in number, but we can 'hear' and distinguish lower frequencies (bass) easily such that it is very common we demand good thumping bass.
How to add more bass?
Well, perhaps the easiest way to add bass is to do the opposite: keep the bass at 0 and the reduce the others. That seems easy but trust me, not alot of software especially free ones are capable of doing that properly. Once you completed this instructables, you will hear the difference. The only drawback is that this instructables only work with music files on your computer.
Disclaimer: This instructables comes with a low risk of damaging your audio equipment such as blown speaker or amp. Do not attempt to change settings that are explicitly prohibited!
What you need:
- PC with Windows OS
- foobar2000 [See attachment] or Click here for my portable version with some plugins added.
- foobar2000 plugins [VST Adapter, SH-1 EQ & Voxengo SPAN]
- Working built-in / external sound device
- PC speakers preferably with a subwoofer (or headphones)
- Access to Tone Generator for initial testing
Step 1: Initial Testing
Before we begin with adding more bass, first we have to ensure that there are no issues to your speakers or subwoofer. No I don't mean if they're faulty or not, but whether they are working properly.
1.) Check if your speaker or subwoofer are "rotten"
The problem with all speakers is that they are prone to foam degradation, especially when left in a long period of time. If you have a rotten speaker / sub, do not continue as this will not help them sound better. You have to re-foam the speaker by getting a repair kit or send it to a professional.
2.) Find where your subwoofer sounds best
There is a thing called sweet-spot for subwoofer. A subwoofer can sound better in certain place depending on the room, so it may be better to find a spot that will allow your subwoofer to sound much better before we continue.
You can place it under the table, facing the wall, behind a cupboard etc to find out where your subwoofer sounds best. I have a downfiring subwoofer (Megaworks 550) that sounds better if I tilt it 90-degree. So I put a thick rubber feet on the left side of the subwoofer where the port is located and it sounds better below my old desk.
3.) Bass knob: MAX is not best!
For PC Speakers, most bass knob only act as either attenuation knob or fixed equalizer knob. Maxing this knob doesn't help you get more optimal bass. Find out which position gives you the smoothest bass. And then foobar2000 will take it from there.
4.) Test your subwoofer
Use this Online Tone Generator to check your subwoofer frequency response. Set your volume at your normal listening level, and listen to your subwoofer. You can start listening from 100Hz to 30Hz and figure out where you would want to add some bass. Ideally most PC speakers struggles at 60Hz and below, but if your speaker is small it may already struggle at 100Hz.
Warning: If your subwoofer is smaller than 6.5" you can stop at 40-50Hz instead to prevent damage.
Step 2: Add Some Bass!
After testing, you should have any idea at which frequencies you would want to increase. Unfortunately, boosting frequencies are not as easy as it seems: raising the 40Hz bar at the Equalizer does not mean it will boost only 40Hz frequencies. It will most likely boost frequencies from 40-90Hz.
As seen on the graph, the frequencies above 100Hz are actually lower. This means you have to turn up your volume, but your bass will be solid and distortion-free.
So now here is a guide to enable the SH-1 (Pic 2):
Run foobar2000, then press CTRL+P
At the left column select Playback > DSP Manager
Enable SH-1 and click OK
Configure SH-1 Equalizer (Pic 3):
Go to View > DSP > SH-1 Equalizer
Turn it on (left top corner lit)
Reduce the input gain on top left bottom (this is to prevent clipping)
Boost the bass on 30Hz / 40Hz / 63Hz / 100Hz
Play your favorite bassy music!
Now that you have added more bass, it is very important to check that you do not introduce clipping to your speakers. Clipping is a form of distortion that basically means you are pushing your speakers too much in a way that it will overdrive both the speakers and amp that will result in overheat and eventually permanent damage. Fortunately in foobar2000 we can easily check for clipping using Voxengo SPAN plugin which is also included in the attachment.
Enable Voxengo SPAN:
in foobar2000, press CTRL+P
At the left column select Playback > DSP Manager
Enable Voxengo SPAN and make sure it is most below position and hit OK
Check for clipping:
Go to View > DSP > Voxengo SPAN
On top left corner first select 2 (for 2 channels)
Click Edit on top right corner, and adjust some sliders according to Picture 4
Carefully read the clipping value and ensure it's always 0 even when the bass hits hard
If there is any clipping, refer back to SH-1 and reduce the input gain until there is no distortion.
WARNING: I am not responsible for your subwoofer / headphone / ear damage if you set too much bass or allow too much clipping. You have been warned!
Step 3: Optional: for 5.1 Speakers Only
If you have a 5.1 speakers (6-channel) for your PC, you can add bass directly into the Subwoofer. All music that you're playing comes in stereo (2-channel) format, and therefore we can add additional bass to the subwoofer.
Unless you're using upmix software such as Dolby ProLogic II, DTS: Neo, etc this method will work. This is particularly useful if you want to add more bass without losing the volume like the previous step did. I will assume you have setup your 5.1 speakers correctly.
Click CTRL+P (Preferences)
At the left column select Playback > DSP Manager
Enable Channel Mixer and make sure it is at most bottom. Click OK
Go to View > DSP > ChannelMixer
Set channels to 6 for 5.1 speakers.
Leave stereoimagewidth to 1.00 (default)
Mode: Off / Copy / Surround
As an added bonus now you can customize how the rear and center speakers sounds
Slider "rear in front" and "front in rear" is identical to the stereoimagewidth. Default value is 1.00
Tick Use Subwoofer
Select Subwoofer channel
Optional: Enable Bass Redirection [Leave Satellites / Leave Sub / Full Redirection]
Try each one and check which one sounds best on your system (because different 5.1 have different crossover system)
Note that in ChannelMixer, when you set subwoofer volume beyond 1.00 in either page, you can introduce distortion.
Step 4: Extras: for MP3 Players
I love the bass. I wanted to get the same experience when I'm listening to my MP3 players or even my smartphone. None of the paid software apps on Android can deliver the same smooth bass as foobar2000 did, so here is the way to make your music bassier for your MP3 players:
Create a quick new playlist on the left by double-click the empty space.
Drag desired tracks to that "New Playlist".
Select all the tracks, right click > Convert > [..]
Configure it according to the settings you found in previous step
Make sure the output format and destination are correct.
Warning: You will get lower volume in the CD / MP3 that you've just made. Set EQ accordingly, and remember to reduce input gain for SH-1 to prevent distortion.
Tips: You can use a sync folder as destination target. When I connect my phone I will automatically get the songs with more bass from that folder.
Step 5: You're Done! Enjoy the Bass!
Thanks to foobar2000 my ears heard enough bass. Everywhere: PC Speakers, cellphones, MP3 players, and even the stock CD player in the car. Here are the frequently asked questions (FAQs) for the foobar2000:
I am new. How do I add my songs?
Go to: File > Add Folder > and point it to your songs' folder > and click OK / Select Folder
Or simply drag your desired folder from explorer window into foobar2000 window.
I want to add artwork to the library page.
Right click the column and check artwork
Go to right bottom corner, you will see values indicated in dB. Click to adjust volume.
or right click on upper area and add volume toolbar.
When I drag some tracks to the new playlist, I want to switch to it / not.
File > Preferences > Column UI > Playlist Switcher> Drag & Drop > Activate target playlist
Start foobar2000 always maximized
Create a shortcut and go to its properties. In target box, add [ /show] at the end. Example:
More tips: right click -> options
In many positions (such as playlist tab, visualizations window, toolbar), there are many 'hidden' options which can be accessed by just right clicking it.
Change foobar2000 colors and fonts
File > Preferences > Display > Column UI > Colors and Fonts
Fade in / out
File > Preference > Advanced > Playback > Fading
Configure playback buttons
Right click buttons > Options.
Resume playback when foobar2000 is launched
File > Preference > Playback > Resume playback after restarting foobar2000.
File > Preference > Playback > Output
This is the length of the buffer of your songs. Shorter means lower latency, therefore it avoids playback-skipping when working with other heavy process. Just an example if you're gaming, sometimes it takes longer time to adjust your volume or pausing the songs. This is because of the high latency. I set mine at 500ms.
Full File Buffering
File > Preference > Advanced > Playback > Full File Buffering (in KB).
Load your currently playing music to your RAM instead of HDD. This also means lower HDD activity, and is useful if you're playing from external drives or network. My songs are between 3MB to 55MB so I set it at 60000KB there. foobar2000 memory usage will increase according to your songs file. Check at task manager to see the difference between each songs.
Many thanks to:
- Peter Pawlowski (foobar2000)
- CrazyCoder (foo_amip_wrapper.dll)
- SkipyRich (foo_channel_mixer.dll & foo_dsp_span.dll)
- Yuobe (foo_ui_columns.dll)
- NEMO7538 (foo_quicksearch.dll)
- Yegor Petrov (foo_vst.dll)
- sweetboy@programmer? (SH-1 Equalizer)
- Voxengo (free SPAN analyzer)
- AIXcoustic (free Electri-Q posihfopit)
- pro_optimizer (FreeSurround)