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You aren't listening loud enough! Equal Loudness Curve - Deal with it.


"Do you know who I am?"
I've gone on and on about this for a long time on this forum and with anyone will to put up with my rants on the topic, but how we hear frequency response is entirely tied to how loud we are listening. Recently, I've realized that about 2/3rds of the audiophile systems I've auditioned have the bass turned WAY up - like the sound below 100Hz being >10dB louder than the sound in the midrange. I find that very disturbing, and for my ears, unacceptable as the over-abundant bass masks the sound reproduced in the octave or two above it (100 - 400Hz).

While I generally don't like this sort of sound at my reference listening levels (92 - 98dB SPL time-average weighted), if played 10dB to 20dB lower these systems sound pretty okay.

This is due to how we hear loudness at different frequencies. Here's a quick video explaining it:

While I don't agree with some of the conclusions (such as completely retuning for a specific listening level), I think this video does a good job summarizing the most important aspects of how we hear sound in terms of loudness and frequency.