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I'm wondering, does anyone know why software bass boost solutions (like equalizers in various media players or that come with sound card) are really awful? I mean, you can boost max. 3-4dB without getting your sound distorted, and that's only if you're lucky ...

The only one software solution that has worked for me is Bass boost in Windows 7 HD Audio Drivers (maybe it isn't software solution?), but unfortunately I have another computer now and my sound card doesn't support Windows 7 generic HD Audio driver. So I don't know what to do, and I really need bass boost. My current sound card is Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE.

Any suggestions?

EDIT: I am sorry, but I forgot to mention this. I have Sennheiser HD 215, and they are really capable of outputting loud and bass-rich sound. I know that because I've successfully done it with my laptop sound card (that supports Windows HD Audio Drivers and Bass boost feature) and little amplifier. So I am only asking is there any good software alternative to this Windows Bass boost feature?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Solution: Always use the EQ's PREAMP slider to reduce the level of the audio at least as much dBs as the total bass you're going to add. If you increase bass on multiple frequency sliders, lower the preamp further to compensate. Finally, increase your master volume and enjoy.

Explanation: Most media players like Winamp, iTunes, foobar have EQs that are at least equal, and likely much better than windows' old bass boost or onboard soundcard settings which tend to sound gimmicky at best.

Perhaps what you need to understand is that digital audio can never exceed MAXIMUM volume (or 0dB) - the ceiling after which sound will get distorted (the correct term is clipping). Since the windows mixer is almost never at maximum volume, it has plenty of headroom to add bass without distorsion.

However, media players will generally process EQ on the raw content of the track - read: at maximum volume. That's a good thing because you want to process sound it its rawest form to obtain the best quality, but adding 3-4dB in this situation will almost invariably produce unwanted clipping/distorsion. Note this even applies if the media player's volume slider is low, because the EQ is generally applied first, before the sound gets to that. That damaged audio will then be passed on to the windows mixer and to your headphones.

An EQ preamp serves this purpose of lowering a track's volume prior to applying EQ to avoid clipping.

Fun fact: Apple iPod's EQ settings have had this problem since the first generation in 2001. In forums, people requested for years that Apple fixes this ridiculous problem for such a "high-end" device. Well, I understand they fixed it in 2010 with iOS 4 - you now clearly hear the volume drop when choosing a "bass boost" setting. It took almost a decade! Phew!

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Any suggestions

Bigger speakers.

The strength and quality of the bass frequencies is heavily dependent on the physical size (and power) of the speakers.


Headphone amp

a headphone amplifier is a small power amplifier that can be connected to a standard headphone jack or (usually) the line output of an audio source. The headphone amplifier improves the sound quality

Some of these include bass boost


Experiment?

According to Creative the Creative Sound Blaster Audigy SE PCI Sound Card allows you to "Bring out the best in your music with Bass Boost, Smart Volume Management, Audio Clean-Up, and more!" (my emphasis).

I'd try the EQ app mentioned in music2myear's answer though Creative's support suggest it won't work on Win 7!

  • This Graphics EQ is a stand alone application included in the installation cd originally intended for use on Windows XP.

  • It's not available for download separately, you won't find it in the download page. Even if you managed to extract it from the installation cd, the installation will fail with an error 6003 because it's not meant to work that way.

  • There is no Windows 7 version.

  • You might want to do a search for modded driver packs from Daniel_K or Robertmc8 to see if those fits your requirement but that note that those are not supported by Creative.

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never under estimate your room-acoustics, too. –  bamboon Jan 13 '12 at 17:06
    
The quality of the speaker is also very important to the quality of the sound. Your basic $10 computer speakers will never sound as good as a decent set of Logitech computer speakers of the same size. –  MBraedley Jan 13 '12 at 18:09
    
I've edited my question, but just to say it again, it's not problem with my headphones (they can produce very powerful and rich bass) –  xx77aBs Jan 13 '12 at 20:33
    
@xx77aBs: Answer updated. –  RedGrittyBrick Jan 13 '12 at 21:16
    
@xx77aBs - your headphones may be good headphones, but they are headphones. They are not 10 or 12 inch bass cones. There is a significant difference in what you can do. –  Rory Alsop Jan 13 '12 at 22:09

Creative included an EQ app in the driver CD for that sound card. You CANNOT download this EQ app from the Creative website driver downloads. Yes, Creative is stupid like that.

If you can find your original driver CD, or download a full driver CD (I've done that for my Audigy Platinum before, as a torrent) you should be able to install the EQ app that should show in your Creative sound control panel.

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1  
yup, someone hacked up the creative CD parts (infs) and launched it on the web, making it available for win7 install. after creative put them on the discontinued list. Large ammounts of it work , even if it would be smart to do a full backup before messing with it. –  Psycogeek Jan 13 '12 at 17:21
    
I've downloaded drivers from Creative website (because the drivers on the cd just gave me BSOD), and I also got Creative equalizer. But the strange thing is, I get following error message: "The audio device supported by this application is not detected." –  xx77aBs Jan 13 '12 at 20:32

Modern music is generally mastered very loudly, to the point where it's to some extent pre-distorted. Chances are, the bass portion of your music is already as loud as it can be without being severely distorted.

It turns out, however, that using EQ to lower everything that isn't the bass by, say, 6dB, then turning up the volume knob on the analog end (receiver or speakers), is generally equivalent to boosting the bass. So try that.

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I have headphones (I've just edited my question), but thanks, I'll try lowering volume of everything else :) –  xx77aBs Jan 13 '12 at 20:31
    
It's certainly not true that lowering all higher frequencies is equivalent to increasing the bass. Graphic EQs works by boosting or reducing frequency bands but those are bell curves, not squares. By increasing all bands by the same amount, you are effectively creating little hills in the sound. To test this, move all sliders to the bottom and notice the sound will be very different. Shelving EQs allows to increase things evenly "everything after 1000hz by 3 dB" evenly, but those are different to common graphic EQs. To add bass on a graphic EQ, reduce the preamp first (see my answer). –  mtone Jan 13 '12 at 23:37
    
Depends on the design of the EQ - a digital FFT-based EQ can have a flat shelf response rather than the humpy filterbank EQ you describe, for instance. I will edit my "exactly equivalent", however, and you're right that compensating with preamp attenuation, if that's available, is simpler. –  Russell Borogove Jan 13 '12 at 23:52
    
Flatter, perhaps, but never perfectly flat AFAIK. All types of frequency manipulation require some form of gradual curve (the Q factor) to avoid introducing phase artifacts. OK, it's nitpicking at this point, but even on a professional high-order parametric band EQ, reducing the preamp and increasing the desired frequency still makes more sense. –  mtone Jan 14 '12 at 0:15
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FIR filters (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finite_impulse_response) don't have Q factors. –  Russell Borogove Jan 14 '12 at 1:27

I would suggest trying out Breakaway Audio Enhancer (it's worth every penny):

http://www.ceaudio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=135

It works great in Windows 7 and has many presets (and allows you to make your own) to shape the sound output any way you'd like. I use the "Plutonium" preset and it makes everything "better".

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