Sweet and low down
I confess it, dear readers: I love a good bass line. I don’t just mean a chordally or music-theoretically sophisticated bit of bass playing, though this is true. I mean, I love a good bass line that, in just the right place, kicks in the subwoofers and threatens to rattle one’s innards and leaves one just a wee titch stunned when it’s all over. Doing this, without muddying the entire mix, mind you, is no small feat.
And for me, this is not just a southern gospel thing. For nearly three years in my twenties I attended a high Episcopal cathedral in Duluth MN not least of all because the dear old sainted dowager at the organ was unabashed in – quite literally, I think – pulling out the very best, or at least the very lowest, stops for the last rousing verses of all those grand old hymns of the Anglican brethren and sistern and in the process springing the lock on my musical soul and setting me as free as the clerestory windows were high and incense-encrusted.
But no matter: another confession I must make for this to make any sense is that I’m not really an audiophile. I like good sound and I complain bitterly at bad sound (cf any random half dozen of the last 10 years of NQCs) but I’m not the guy who shells out hundreds of dollars for gear with precious-metal-plated plugs or speakers whose cost rivals the GDP of some developing nations. I just like to be able to hear a well calibrated sound mix projected through some audio equipment of respectable quality.
Still, a more-than-decent pair of monitor quality headphones made their way into the Avery headquarters yesterevening, and I spent an hour or so moving my way through selections in my playlist of favorite southern gospel. And though I still don’t see any reason to bankrupt oneself on audiophilic toys, these monitor headphones do separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chafe, and the folks in southern gospel who know how to mix in the bass lines and those who … well, don’t. Worse than those that simply don’t bother with much of anything meaningful below a baritone’s range, are those mixes that power dump the lows into the track, swampifying everything, and producing the aural effect of Novocaine injected directly into one’s ears.
So let’s hear it for the Hoppers and Greater Vision and some Gaither and Goss and Haun stuff, among others, who seem to get the value of a deeply satisfying bed of shapely low notes that flow beneath the arrangement – without going flaccid or fouling the mix – and in the process creating a satisfying foundation on which to build upward and outward into a heaven of harmony.Email this Post