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Eventually I replaced the Adagio Jr. loudspeakers with my own Tidal Pianos. Those are rated down to ca. 30Hz and I've measured usable in-room response to 25Hz. I was absolutely certain I'd never get the subwoofers to integrate. I was certain there would be far too much overlap between the Tidals' own deep bass and the 40Hz cut-off of the Genesis subs. But I had to try. Truth be told, it sounded a lot better than anticipated and the room was flooded with bass energy. Despite considerable overlap, I was surprised by how well timed the bass frequencies sounded. I had expected the music to bog down and wallow in an excess of lumpy bass energy. A couple of days later, Bryston's 10B- Sub active electronic crossover arrived. Keep an eye out for its feature review because this piece absolutely transformed the entire system and lifted it to a higher plane. Hyperbolica? Not in the least.

I wrote earlier that good bass can actually minimize some of the drama of the listening experience because a lot of what you're accustomed to hearing is nothing but distortion. I wrote also that one of my new criteria for quality bass was a more relaxed listening experience with less pressure at the ears. That I'd attributed to the large displacement of multiple woofers and less distortion. I was partially correct. What I was about to discover was that the largest contributor of that ear pressure had been the main speakers. Once Bryston's active filter had high-passed the Tidals at 80Hz and low-passed the G-928s at the same frequency, that pressure completely disappeared. It simply vanished. Where previously the entire room would be engulfed in omnidirectional bass energy, I could now clearly sense all the bass arriving from the front of the room and only the front. Where before I sensed a mass of bass as large as the room itself, that bass now seemed to emanate from a single point in space upon the virtual stage in front of me. While the system was delivering all the room-shaking window-rattling power I'd hoped, it came from a focused point in space with a tremendous sense of ease and, yes, less drama. The deepest bass notes, be they from bass drums, pipe organs or of the synthetic sort didn't create a big bloated sense of amorphous shake 'n' shudder bass but instead sounded like much more controlled and naturally musical bass notes. What I had been listening to previously now appeared more like low-frequency cacophony than music. Big words again? Hardly. I don't think I could exaggerate the importance of the transformation or the satisfaction I was taking from it.

As surprised as I was, once I thought about it, I realized I really shouldn't have been. I'd already suspected that the twin 6-inch Tidal drivers weren't the sharpest tools in the real-bass shed. Plus everybody knows that situating large speakers will always involve a compromise between bass performance and imaging. It's doubtful that speakers end up where they produce the best bass, at least for an imaging freak like me. These two factors together mean that as satisfied as I'd been with the Tidals' bass, I should have expected better. Much better.

What I still wasn't prepared for was how the performance of the Tidals themselves would elevate yet further. Now the speakers vanished more than ever before and the music sprang forth completely decorrelated from the enclosures. While I thought the speakers pulled an excellent disappearing act before, now they had left the building. The soundstage grew wider and more holographic. Tracks that featured vocals moving about the stage or even various sound effects doing the traversing did so with much less ambiguity than before. What really shocked me while being especially welcome in my room was the newfound sense of depth. The addition of true deep bass will always add dimensionality but once relieved of the burden of reproducing it themselves, the Tidals became even more holographic. The sense of depth is always greater at reduced SPLs but now it didn't fade as I increased the volume.

When the G-928s no longer competed with the bass output of the main speakers, it became incredibly obvious what stellar performers they were and how much better suited they are to reproducing bass than the speakers themselves. Bass distortion within my room seemed non-existent before but power, punch and musical detail were so much better now. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I can't help myself from returning to the sense of bass ease. Weights had been lifted from my eardrums. Think about it. Were someone to pluck a double bass in your room, the lowest of the low frequencies wouldn't seem to come from all corners. They would come from the instrument in front of you. Kick drums may well shake windows and knickknacks scattered about but you're going to hear that energy from a focused point in space - the drum! For some reason, this localization so low in frequency was something I'd never considered until recently. The deep bass had always been huge and all-encompassing. While I was always able to sense the instrument in front of me because of the associated higher harmonics, the deepest bass frequencies had seemed omnipresent. That's just the way it's been. No mas. Bass no longer sounds like heroic pyrotechnics. It sounds like music - powerfully, musically detailed and highly focused music.

Reasonable people will disagree on where to locate subwoofers. Some recommend corner placement for highest room loading. As I moved a subwoofer into the corner, I also increased that pressure in my ears, something I wanted so badly to minimize or eradicate. Not only was it uncomfortable, it was musically unnatural. The convergence of three room boundaries in the corner simply caused too much pressurization in my space.

Some suggest placement between the speakers but toward the right, reasoning that localization cues would then coincide with the double basses in an orchestra. Once again, not in my room. No matter where I sat the subwoofer(s), I couldn't detect their locations, certainly not when crossed over at 80Hz or below. The source of the bass moved about the room as it varied from recording to recording and I never felt I was hearing the G-928s.

That said, I did end up with a single location - just to the inside of the right speaker. I didn't place it there for imaging purposes. It just sounded best there. Using two subs meant that the sub on the left had to go to the outside of the left speaker which placed it closer to the corner and sidewall than what was optimal and had me feel a tiny bit of that ear pressure again. Hence I settled on a single sub. Had I desired more output, I could have stacked the pair. But here I suspect that all rooms will differ.

So high are resolution and pitch definition in the bass now that differences in bass contours, timbres and textures are immediately brought to the fore. Take "In The Flesh" from the Pink Floyd disc. The song starts with powerfully concussive bass strikes that startle with both penetrating bass power and incisiveness. The drums that follow are full-bodied and less supernaturally incisive and then the heart-beat bass pulses are almost muted and still less sharply articulated. Particularly during the early stages of evaluation, these contrasts were impossible to ignore even had I wanted to. "On Thin Ice" then produces bass of still a different character. Here big tom-toms have you sense their looser skins as well as the expanse of air within the drums. You can hear the air compress inside the drum and you know these are large and deep drums. "Young Lust" features yet another bass feel. This time it reaches across the room to pound you in the chest - a physically imposing bass. Ditto for on "One Of My Turns". We're talking about bass intended for a completely different sensory experience. Then there are the sustained bass notes from "Don't Leave Me Now" whose texture and power are not to be denied as you feel the sustained rumbles and incredible textures inside your chest. The magic is that it
's all happening below the radar of the other instruments and vocals which suffer nary an ill effect such as excessive boom, thickening or added warmth. This is not like stacking your speakers closer to the wall to increase bass output. There's no thickening of the music because only the deep bass is affected and midrange frequencies remain unaltered.