There's nothing quite like the thrill of great bass from a music system. This round up of tracks celebrates my love for low frequencies with a selection of go-to tracks that can deliver oodles of rich and joyful bass when played on a capable music system.
I'm not talking about one-note bass, or bass that's so overpowering that it muddies every other strand of frequencies in the music mix and is fatiguing to listen to over long periods. I'm talking about musical bass that brings a sense of scale and tunefulness to whatever I'm hearing.
A system capable of producing good bass with the tracks below will have a level of subtlety to energize a room to the kind of levels you only thought possible at live performances. Several of the tracks I've chosen below are useful demo tracks for testing other elements of a music system's performance, and also feature in my how to get the best headphone sound for you feature.
A selection of demo tracks can be found on our Tidal playlist.
My 5 best bass tracks
1. Dangerous by Big Data
I often feel that Dangerous by Big Data (feat. Joywave) should come with a health warning or a 'proceed with caution' warning at the very least. It's an immense track that's fun but not for the fainthearted, and truly lives up to its title as far a bass levels are concerned.
The bass levels on this track are so powerful it feels as though it could easily damage a bass speaker, and playing this track at high volume levels should really be carried out cautiously. So far though, it's been nothing but bags of fun and pure joy to hear it played through a capable music system, and energizes a speaker's bass drivers like no other track I've heard.
I first heard this track while watching the Euphoria season 1 finale. Even on a mediocre TV sound system it sounded spectacular, and I could tell that it had the right kind of qualities to put today's speaker systems through their paces. It has since become one of my favorite go-to tracks for making a quick assessment of bass handling for plenty of speaker products. I used it during my Devialet Mania hand-on and was blown away.
2. Time by Hans Zimmer
Although I enjoy a solid bass sound, sonic balance is also important and orchestral tracks naturally provide the best spread of frequencies, from double bass notes and kettledrums, through to soaring strings and flutes, for example, and contemporary soundtracks can be useful here.
Hans Zimmer soundtracks are some of the most recognizable around today, and Time taken from the movie Inception is a masterclass of a stirring soundtrack, with rich strings, considerable bass weight, and moving dynamics. It's an engrossing piece of music that should fill the room — or your head if you're listening on the best headphones — with a sound that's full of depth and detail.
Also try out Like a Dog Chasing Cars from the movie soundtrack The Dark Knight; you should hear plenty of low-end heft without it being too overpowering. There's also plenty of high frequency detail to listen out for, which gives the piece its pace and a sense of the chase.
3. Teardrop by Newton Faulkner
As one of my go-to tracks, Teardrop by Newton Faulkner is very useful for highlighting the tricky area of lower mid frequencies before crossing over into the bass range. If the tonal balance is incorrect, an artist's vocal performance can sound muffled and distant, like they're singing from a neighboring room perhaps, and disconnected from the rest of elements on the performance. If certain mid frequencies are boosted, meanwhile, then the vocal can sound forward and too 'big' compared to other elements of the performance.
But in this case, the reason I've included it here is for the powerful bass note that comes right at the end of the track. It happens just before the song fades out, but really is worth the wait if you're listening on a capable music system, or pair of headphones that dig deep.
Plenty of speakers I've heard simply don't go down deep enough to handle this final note, and it can easily go unnoticed when played on lesser music systems. But with a good set of hi-fi speakers in place, or with an integrated subwoofer dedicated to taking care of the lower frequencies, this track hits the spot with a sustained bass note that can jiggle your insides. If you play this track and don't feel the power at the end, then you need a better music system.
4. The Ballad of the Runaway Horse by Jennifer Warnes
Another tried and tested track that I also use for checking out a system's abilities with vocals, this Jennifer Warnes track has great bass on the right speakers. The Ballad of the Runaway Horse is a lengthy track that can become a bit tiring to listen to on an inferior music system. It's proves far more engaging on a capable music system, with tuneful bass notes on the right setup. The double bass should sound like an instrument playing a full range of musical notes, rather than sounding like its limited to same bass note through speakers that aren't able to dig deep enough.
5. Spoons by Rudimental
As the saying goes: "timing is everything." If a performance sounds loose, disorganised or dull, it's probably down to poor timing and will result in poor levels of engagement with your favorite music.
One of my favorite tracks for assessing timing is Spoons by Rudimental (feat. MNEK & Syron). Of course, it has big bass energy too, and if you're not getting hooked into the infectious beat and rhythm while listening to this track, then the system isn't working properly.
My bass obsession
Who doesn't love listening to music with a bit of bass? Bass is a key element to our enjoyment of music, so if a music system isn't able to recreate and produce the low frequencies you love to hear, it's unlikely to be making any kind of music connection when you play your favorite songs.
Some would say I'm fanatical about bass, but without it I argue that you're only getting part of sonic picture. For me, the thrill of experiencing big bass sounds is one of the sonic factors attributed to the euphoric feeling I get from attending live events. It energizes the crowd, can influence emotions, and encourage a powerful sense of connection to the artist I'm hearing. Bass brings scale to anything I hear, tapping into the power of the music and even (occassioally) making me want to get up dance. Without good quality bass, the sound coming from a speaker is just background noise.