Do 55 hz Pioneer speakers have enough bass for average person?


Bronze Member
Username: Dmehling

Post Number: 26
Registered: Dec-08
I am thinking about getting a pair of Pioneer bookshelf speakers to replace my tower
speakers in order to save space. My stereo receiver has no subwoofer output, and so I
am wondering if Pioneers will have enough bass. These speakers can go all the way down to
55 hz, which I am hoping will be sufficient. But when I think about certain instruments
that can go lower than that, I'm wondering if I will be missing anything. I listen to a
lot of instrumental and classical music. I just want to make sure that all of the notes
can be heard. Will some of those lower notes be inaudible, or I will I hear bits and
pieces of it, like overtones that go above the actual note frequency? I imagine plenty
of people use bookshelf speakers and they sound great and nothing seems to be missing.
I myself do not have a good ear for sound and could not really tell you if one speaker
is better than another. So I am 95% certain that these Pioneer speakers will be perfect
for me, but that 5% uncertainty keeps nagging at me a little.

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 18046
Registered: May-04

No one can truly say one speaker will have "enough" bass for another person's taste. The number you quote has been taken, I assume, from Pioneer's information regarding a specific speaker. Such numbers are not very helpful when assessing the capacity of any speaker. Without more information regrading just how useful the 55 Hz number is, it's about like saying a Honda Civic can go 200 mph. Which it might under specific conditions the actual user would never meet.

If the 55 Hz spec comes as the speaker has already begun rolling out bass extension, then the roll out per octave is more important - but still an unknown. If the speaker system is a closed/sealed enclosure, the bass roll out per octave is half that of a ported/vented enclosure. If the 55 Hz is the actual system resonance spec, then a sealed enclosure could still provide some amount of bass extension beneath that number. If the 55 Hz is at system resonance and the enclosure is ported/vented, then I wouldn't place many bets on the speaker having usable bass extension beneath about 45 Hz. (As a reference, 41-42 Hz is roughly the frequency of the open string, low E on an electric bass guitar. Most digital recordings can accurately present this fundamental frequency and even deeper notes. LP's and cassettes, due to their physical restraints, will tend to lighten the load on the system by inducing some gentle roll off of these bass frequencies. Several instruments in a full orchestra can produce frequencies lower than 40 Hz but they used most often for effect and these deepest frequencies are not constant additives to the sound of the orchestra. Even a low 32 Hz pedal tone from an organ is not a common sound in most classical music.) However, without knowing where that 55 Hz spec resides on the speaker's way out of the bass region, there's no way to tell what the actual usable response might be.

You will, of course, hear frequencies which are included in the instrument's overtones/harmonics. And in many instances the second and third harmonics of a note are more pronounced than the fundamental itself. Several very well respected small monitor type speaker systems have played on that fact by altering the "Q" of the system, or the bass alignment of the enclosure, to place a slight bump in the 80-120 Hz range. By using the human brain's tendency to perceive louder bass as deeper bass - the Doppler effect - such a system can fool the listener into believing there is deeper bass extension in the room than actually exists from the system under test conditions. This has become a very common trait for many small speaker systems which can make a casual listener become comfortable with a small monitor system. The intelligent listener, though, knows and buys into the perception but is equally aware of the real world limitations of a speaker system.

Where you place the speaker enclosure will affect the perceived bass response. Out into a room and on a stand, the bass response has little reinforcement from the room itself. Most speakers can sound rather thin if they have been designed for placement closer to a wall or on the floor. Place the speaker on the floor and deep into the tri-corner of a room (where two walls and the floor meet) and you will have more perceived bass response due to additive reinforcement of the bass frequencies by the room. The ideal system location will generally be between those two points where there is sufficient bass response/extension and clarity through the mid and upper ranges. If the speaker is to be placed out into the room, then a good stand can make an improvement in bass quality - which is not to be confused with that same speaker having "enough" bass.

The most common issue with smaller enclosures for a speaker system will be the limitations of overall volume capacity (sound pressure levels) and dynamic range. Small drivers inside small enclosures tend not to be very efficient at turning electrical watts into acoustic watts. So volume levels will never even approach realistic live music levels. For most listeners, that's not a problem since your neighbors tend not to want to hear your music and listening in your home is simply not the same as listening to a live performance. The more limiting factor with small drivers (in small enclosures) will be their dynamic limitations. It should be obvious that a small driver cannot move sufficient amounts of air to carry a dynamic bass drum thwack or a sustained low pedal tone from an organ. (Meaning no main fare from Holst, Shostakovich, Mahler, Wagner, etc. unless you keep volume levels to a minimum safe zone.) When the orchestra rises to a crescendo, there will generally be strain on small drivers. Since these two limitations would be issues in most of the classical repertoire, you would need to listen at lower to moderate levels and be rather aware of those moments when the music may overwhelm the speaker. Even with a subwoofer included in the system, the crossover between the monitors and the sub would need to restrict the bass frequencies from the small system.

You've given no indication of cost for the speakers and that implies they are not at the top of the small monitor game. Pioneer is marketing a small enclosure system which was designed by their chief engineer who also oversees their professional speaker design team. They aren't very expensive and they have been praised for their performance from the mid-bass frequencies upward. If this is the system you're considering, they should be very satisfying through the considerable amount of music you will likely play. No one, though, has found a real world way to overcome the laws of physics which dictate many of the performance limitations of small speaker systems. By buying a small enclosure system, you've placed certain limitations on your music selection and your playback levels. If, however, you can see your way through those limitations, the benefits of small enclosures can be quite rewarding to the attentive listener.

You really need to audition the speakers in your own room with your own equipment. Listening in a store demo room won't give you a real idea of what can be achieved in your room. Any retailer unwilling to allow a small speaker to be auditioned in home is not a dealer I would trust to help me should the need arise.


Bronze Member
Username: Dmehling

Post Number: 27
Registered: Dec-08
The speakers you referenced, designed by Andrew Jones, are the very ones I am considering. After reading some reviews, I got the impression that they had good bass, considering their size. I am not an audiophile and I am on a tight budget, so I was hoping that these would be sufficient. I just wanted to make sure that it had a modest amount of bass, but it's not necessary that I feel the bass. As long as an instrument such as a bass drum actually sounds like a bass drum, that's fine with me.

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 18047
Registered: May-04

Whether a bass drum sounds like a bass drum depends on your subjective experience hearing a live bass drum. Most folks don't have a clue what a real bass drum sounds like. They know what their car stereo does when a bass drum is on the track. Or their iPod and $10 headphones.

The Pioneer speakers are, by every account, very good from the midbass upwards. They have the same limitations as any small speaker. They also have the benefits of most decent small speakers, they can disappear sonically from the room. For that they will require good stands and some set up. However, a bass drum depends on that fundamental frequency to actually be a bass drum. The Pioneers cannot manage that frequency. They will give a fairly good accounting of what the bass line does as it moves the song forward but you will not have the visceral event of a bass drum playing in your room. There's very little information in most music beneath about 40 Hz.

If I had to choose one thing to give up a bit with a speaker, it would be the bottom octave of bass. When I sold audio most clients wanted "tight bass". Fine, that was going to cost them if they wanted tight bass all the way down. Most mid-priced speakers have resonant enclosures which preclude tight bass from existing. They favor quantity over quality. For my tastes, quantity without quality is worse than nothing at all.

Keep the levels down when using the Pioneers and be aware of their limitations. They can be a rewarding experience if you are familiar with the sound of live music.

What amp and source player are you planning to use with the Pioneers?

They will show you the quality of what goes in front of them. Poor quality into the Pioneers will only get you poor quality out of the Pioneers.


Bronze Member
Username: Dmehling

Post Number: 28
Registered: Dec-08
My source is a usb dac, sending audio from my computer to the inputs of my stereo receiver. The receiver is a Onkyo TX 8225. The music files I play from the computer are either in wav format, or 320 and 192 kbps bitrate mp3 files. So I'm not exactly sending the highest quality audio, and the receiver is fairly basic.

I currently have a pair of Infinity tower speakers, but they take up too much space and are hard to position very well in the room. I am just trying to determine how much bass I might be giving up. But, the reality is I have already decided to get the Pioneers, since they seem to be the only bookshelf speakers in my price range that can handle a decent amount of bass. I would be willing to spend two or three times higher if I could find some better bookshelf speakers, but based on my reading of speaker reviews so far, I cannot seem to find anything else.

In regard to the bass drum, I was just using that as an example of a low-frequency sound. I am sure it would sound real enough to me on the Pioneers. I just need modest approximation and it doesn't matter if it lacks the more visceral quality of the tower speakers.

Gold Member
Username: Magfan


Post Number: 3237
Registered: Oct-07
A listening test is in order. Nobody can simply TELL you this speaker would have 'enough' bass for YOU.

Any way to HEAR before you BUY?

I was happy for decades with panel speakers. Great tonality but nothing much below maybe 45 or 50hz. When I went to new model panels which were a bit larger, they had much better bass. A SUB was the final piece of the puzzle.
Space being the issue here, you probably don't have room for even the modest sub it would take to give you an extra octave in the bass.

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