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Why was all the bass stripped out of music in the 50s/60s/70s?
Old 25th October 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Why was all the bass stripped out of music in the 50s/60s/70s?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Bing Crosby lately and the bass is so pleasing and lush and warm, clear tube effects to the max. But then you listen to anything from the 50/60/70s and it’s so flat and empty on the low end?

I listen to It’s Late by queen and the song would have been tremendously better with a solid punch. When the bass comes in it’s just flat. And really anything from those decades. Zero bass.

Then in the 80s and onward all of a sudden there’s bass again

Anyone know what happened in those decades?
Old 25th October 2019
  #2
Gear Addict
I hear plenty of low end from music made in the 60s and 70s. Maybe it’s the different instrumentation providing the low end that’s being perceived as lush and warm. Or the context of the low end in the arrangement.
Old 25th October 2019
  #3
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by a.m. son View Post
I hear plenty of low end from music made in the 60s and 70s. Maybe it’s the different instrumentation providing the low end that’s being perceived as lush and warm. Or the context of the low end in the arrangement.
No kidding, what songs if you don’t mind letting me know? I’ve listened to all sorts of music over the years and those decades have all been 100% bass free.
Old 25th October 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AevumWinter View Post
No kidding, what songs if you don’t mind letting me know? I’ve listened to all sorts of music over the years and those decades have all been 100% bass free.
Listen to Crosby Stills and Nash self titled, 1969.

My subs in my car get freakier then a lot of modern stuff I listen too.
Old 25th October 2019
  #5
Gear Addict
Plenty of r&b music from those eras (Motown, stax). Abbey road (album) has a good amount of low end information for the times.
Old 25th October 2019
  #6
Gear Addict
Also lots of Jamaican music from the 70s
Old 25th October 2019
  #7
70s Funk.....check it out!
Old 25th October 2019
  #8
Lives for gear
Also, are you talking about sub frequencies, like under 30Hz? Shake your gonads bass?

Then no, you won’t “hear” (feel) that stuff on older a lot of older albums because it ate up a lot headroom during the cutting process to vinyl, so that would’ve been rolled off or high passed.

But audible bass, that you can hear? > 50Hz stuff? Tons of that out there.
Old 25th October 2019
  #9
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AevumWinter View Post
I’ve been listening to a lot of Bing Crosby lately and the bass is so pleasing and lush and warm, clear tube effects to the max. But then you listen to anything from the 50/60/70s and it’s so flat and empty on the low end?

I listen to It’s Late by queen and the song would have been tremendously better with a solid punch. When the bass comes in it’s just flat. And really anything from those decades. Zero bass.

Then in the 80s and onward all of a sudden there’s bass again

Anyone know what happened in those decades?
Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Nat Cole, etc ...thats upright bass. And recorded on a 100% analog tube path.

Anything other than that, won't sound like that.
Old 25th October 2019
  #10
Gear Addict
Listening to crime of the century by Supertramp. Has a juicy sounding low end to me.
Old 25th October 2019
  #11
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Bing Crosby, Sinatra, Nat Cole, etc ...thats upright bass. And recorded on a 100% analog tube path.

Anything other than that, won't sound like that.
I think the RCA44 played a large roll in that fatness too.
Old 25th October 2019
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Lol you all are acting like the OP is crazy. Listen to virtually any of the classic al green records. Alllll mid range and only midrange. Virtually no one would do that today (tho RE did something similar but less extreme on voodoo.) Or parliament (eg flash light). Or nick drake. Cmon.

I tend to like this (I don’t want a rock band to sound like an orchestra) but obv what he’s pointing to is very real—like uncontroversially so.

Last edited by plainofjars; 25th October 2019 at 10:26 PM..
Old 25th October 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plainofjars View Post
Lol you all are acting like the OP is crazy. Listen to virtually any of the classic al green records. Alllll mid range and only midrange. Virtually no one would do that today (tho RE did something less extreme on voodoo.)
I'm not acting.
Old 25th October 2019
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
I'm not acting.
Or listening, apparently.
Old 25th October 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plainofjars View Post
Or listening, apparently.
Sick burn bro.

This exercise is pointless: for every bottom end weak album you and the OP cite, I and others can find another one that has a great bottom end, so maybe the answer lies somewhere in between, and if so, do we need a thread about this?
Old 25th October 2019
  #16
Gear Head
From a documentary on Buck Owens:

Buck owned an AM radio station. AM radio sounded bassy.

So Buck rolled off the low end on his recordings.

This made his recordings "pop" when played on AM radio.

(Could others have followed Buck's lead in that era?)
Old 25th October 2019
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Buja View Post
From a documentary on Buck Owens:

Buck owned an AM radio station. AM radio sounded bassy.

So Buck rolled off the low end on his recordings.

This made his recordings "pop" when played on AM radio.

(Could others have followed Buck's lead in that era?)
This is interesting. AM sounded different from FM? Why just mix for AM?
Old 25th October 2019
  #18
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TVPostSound's Avatar
Maybe dome Pink Floyd DSOTM, or The Wall, they will tell you if your subwoofers are starting to fail!!
Old 25th October 2019
  #19
Gear Maniac
 

There are a lot of records from this period where most of the musical action is concentrated in a narrower frequency band than in modern music. There are virtually no albums of the last 20-30 years like that—or for the pedants, comparatively much fewer. It’s reasonable to ask, why? The fact that you can find some wide-spectrum recordings from the older period doesn’t change the point, because the inverse isn’t true—you can’t find major recordings from the modern period with the top and bottom lopped off.
Old 25th October 2019
  #20
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Back when stuff was cut to vinyl, there was a limit to how much bass you could have before the needle jumped out of the groove.
Old 25th October 2019
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by plainofjars View Post
There are a lot of records from this period where most of the musical action is concentrated in a narrower frequency band than in modern music. There are virtually no albums of the last 20-30 years like that—or for the pedants, comparatively much fewer. It’s reasonable to ask, why? The fact that you can find some wide-spectrum recordings from the older period doesn’t change the point, because the inverse isn’t true—you can’t find major recordings from the modern period with the top and bottom lopped off.
There are technical reasons (headroom/range) that I already mentioned (mastering for vinyl) and taste/marketing reasons (loudness wars), but as I said, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "man, those albums from the 60s and 70s had no bass!"... which is why I'm asking if you and the OP are referring to sub-bass if you've truly done an exhaustive listening session covering this period.

I suspect it's more to do with rumbling subs than audible stuff, because I don't know how you could listen to King Tubby or Peter Tosh or Joe Farrell or Fleetwood Mac or Cream or James Brown or King Crimson or Parliament or...

... and even that, I just cranked up your "all mids" Let's Stay Together by Al Green on my stereo and my windows are rattling in my living room.
Old 25th October 2019
  #22
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vernier's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by plainofjars View Post
This is interesting. AM sounded different from FM? Why just mix for AM?
Everyone listened to AM up til sometime during the seventies when the masses discovered FM. Before that, the less expensive and smaller radios were just AM. Also, pop music was only on AM stations.
Old 25th October 2019
  #23
Lives for gear
One factor: In the 70s and 80s, the “serious” systems most people listened to were home stereos. As a mastering engineer of that era, I knew that a great percentage of those home stereos ALWAYS had the “loudness” button depressed (in). The loudness curve was intended to be switched in for low SPL playback, to compensate for our relative insensitivity to bass at low volumes. But give an idiot a switch... often the switch was left “on” at all volumes, including high volume. I can’t speak for other mastering engineers, but I was always trying to hit that fine line where the vinyl was reasonably (but a little less than perfectly) fat on a system that did not have the loudness curve in, but did not sound bloated and grossly bassy on systems with the loudness curve in.
Not the only or most important factor, but for me it was a constant “back of the mind” factor.
Old 25th October 2019
  #24
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by vernier View Post
Everyone listened to AM up til sometime during the seventies when the masses discovered FM. Before that, the less expensive and smaller radios were just AM. Also, pop music was only on AM stations.
Very interesting
Old 25th October 2019
  #25
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
There are technical reasons (headroom/range) that I already mentioned (mastering for vinyl) and taste/marketing reasons (loudness wars), but as I said, I don't think I've ever heard anyone say "man, those albums from the 60s and 70s had no bass!"... which is why I'm asking if you and the OP are referring to sub-bass if you've truly done an exhaustive listening session covering this period.

I suspect it's more to do with rumbling subs than audible stuff, because I don't know how you could listen to King Tubby or Peter Tosh or Joe Farrell or Fleetwood Mac or Cream or James Brown or King Crimson or Parliament or...

... and even that, I just cranked up your "all mids" Let's Stay Together by Al Green on my stereo and my windows are rattling in my living room.
Yeah I mean, what does this guy know :

Quote:
Originally Posted by gravyface View Post
See here:
Response Curves of Analog Recorders

Basically, a lot of tape machines had fairly steep roll-off below 100-70Hz. Factor that with length-to-volume limitations of vinyl, plus generally poor home stereos/transistor radios/car radios, and the mid-band was your friend.
Old 26th October 2019
  #26
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roger's Avatar
 

It’s true. I rambled on about it in the 70s thread. Where is the low end under 70hz on the 60s & 70s records? It’s just not there.
Listen to Bonham’s kick drum - we all think of the Led Zep stuff as Hammer of the Gods thunderous and huge....but it’s actually pretty lean down low. Why? They rolled it all out for vinyl I’m guessing.
Old 26th October 2019
  #27
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voodoo4u's Avatar
Physical limitations of the two main playback mediums dictated how much low end had to be removed from a lot of 60's and 70's music. I'm referring to vinyl and AM radio.

With vinyl, a cutting engineer had to balance the depth of the cut, the number of revolutions (program length) and stereo image to get just the right results so as keep the needle in the groove and not get too many record returns at the stores, because the record would skip. In the mid 70's, Disco became a big deal and we had 12" singles. Shorter program length on each side of a record meant that the grooves could be further apart and cut a little deeper allowing the ME to leave a little more low end in the program. Perfect for club mixes. You'll find that with a lot of records from the 70's, the longer the record, the lighter the low end (in general, not a hard and fast rule). It depended on how confident the ME was feeling at the time. It wasn't uncommon for a recording engineer and or the band to submit their record for mastering and get back a test pressing that was less than they'd hoped for.

AM (amplitude modulation) radio transmitters would go crazy with too much low end so radio transmitters had built in filters to eliminate too much harmful low end. FM (frequency modulation) allows for the low end to be extended a bit more as well as stereo of course.

In the 80's we had CDs and restrictions on the low end disappeared. Of course high pass filters and heavy limiting remained on AM radio.
Old 26th October 2019
  #28
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by roger View Post
It’s true. I rambled on about it in the 70s thread. Where is the low end under 70hz on the 60s & 70s records? It’s just not there.
Listen to Bonham’s kick drum - we all think of the Led Zep stuff as Hammer of the Gods thunderous and huge....but it’s actually pretty lean down low. Why? They rolled it all out for vinyl I’m guessing.
Yeah when musicians talk about wanting a 70s or a 60s sound, this I think is a huge part of it, in addition to just distortion, tape, console passes, etc. It just seems like its rly hard to convince the musicians or the engineers (I don’t know which) to amputate all those frequencies. The up-side is that it doesn’t take a bunch of money to do it, right?
Old 26th October 2019
  #29
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Just out of curiosity, does anyone feel the 45rpms of June 1967 Beatles "Baby You're a Rich Man" or Doors "Unknown Soldier" or 1968 Eternities Children "Mrs. Bluebird" ....lack low end? The album cuts do.....but those three singles...which were mixed hot and cut hot at the lathe....do they lack low end for you guys?

Personally, those used to blast windows out low-end wise....when I'd play them in 67-68 on great playback systems.....even now.

The def of low end may have changed for some folks.
Old 26th October 2019
  #30
weird cos I always think the 80s was the most bass light era, 60s and especially 70s sound very warm to me, some beatles stuff sounds aweful, especially from the early 60s.
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