Janis Audio

The Janis Audio W-1 Subwoofer



How do you reproduce bass? Not just artificial low frequencies which appear as if the "bass" is always on, but a bass such as is perceived in real life. You just know that it must be on modern recordings, but somehow it never comes off.

As described fully in "The Janis Bass System" information paper, the reasons are derived from a number of sources -- in particular, the bass speaker and the nature of the room interface. To reproduce bass properly, what is needed is a special type of speaker, namely, one designed for only one purpose, the reproduction of low bass. Such a speaker is the Janis Woofer. When properly set up, and set up is so important, the result is astounding in both what you get as well as, end even more surprising, what you no longer get. Herein we will convey to you just what it is that is brought to the listening experience by a Janis Woofer System implementation, and the reasons why.

To begin, let us convey just what a Janis Woofer System does. The result we call the Janis Listening Experience. This can be achieved by a proper implementation of the total system. On the one hand, the Janis Listening Experience is a sense of amazement, as is conveyed by one reviewer in Modern Recording, vol 2 no 7; July 1977. On the other, it is a sense of elation experienced by the relatively select few owners of Janis Systems, which comes from a realization that at last the bass performance can be taken for granted in their present or future sound systems.

There are certain elements that are common to the Janis Listening Experience. One begins with a sense of anxiety after having hooked everything up and balanced the woofer to one's wide range speakers using the Audio Systems Set-Up Tape for Multiamplification SST-1WR. It is an anxiety which comes from not quite knowing what to expect as you put that first record (which you are told has some super bass) on the turntable, and then gently lower the stylus unto its surface. Upon contact, there is a thud quite unlike what you have heard before from your system. It is puffy in quality and without boom or heaviness, but with a force and weight. You suspect that something quite special may happen, and it does. In an inexplicable way your system has been transformed in a manner you never expected. Bass melody lines have detail, and you get a sense that your ears are limiting just how low you hear. All your records have more ambience, and instruments appear to be more detailed and focused than you have ever heard before from your system. The power and dynamic range appear to have increased manyfold, and your system just breezes through material which before sounded constrained. The effect is overwhelming. Your new system just does not appear to quit. You wanted better low bass reproduction, but in addition received a new order of performance from the whole system. That, in short is the Janis Listening Experience.

Since all things must have an explanation, let us now look at just what is at work. There is no magic here, just careful engineering designed to work with nature. The Janis Bass System consists of a Janis Woofer, a Janis Interphase 1 crossover/amplifier, and the Audio Systems Set Up Tape for Multiamplification, SST-1WR. These components assure that a user can interface a Janis Woofer to his sound system in a way that the transition between the woofer and the wide range speakers is completely undetectable. The interfacing process, in fact, can be done by ear alone, and is entirely objective and unambiguous. The accuracy obtained is the same as when acoustic instrumentation is used. This facility in a Janis Bass System is a direct result of the way a Janis system is configured, and assures that in the end the user will have sound which is similar in sonic character to his wide range speakers, but with lows extended well beyond their normal capability.

To do this, a Janis Bass System makes use of the flexibility and precision derived from an electronic crossover with 18 dB/octave slopes, to symmetrically divide the music into two parts at 100 Hz. This configuration allows each of the speakers, woofer and wide range, to be placed where the smoothest room response can be obtained. This cannot be achieved without compromise using other configurations. The sonic characteristic of the Janis Woofer is derived from the fact that it is configured to be acoustically flat in average sized rooms to below 20 Hz. (That is the reason why the anechoic response is deliberately rolled off at 30 Hz.) As a result, the effect at extreme low frequencies is perceived to be natural without any sense that the low end is artificially augmented. In fact, when listening to a Janis system, it is your hearing that determines how low you hear, just as in real life.


The Hidden Element . . . , and a pleasant surprise.

The improvement in low frequency response and smoothness that a Janis implementation allows is only a part of the explanation why a Janis Bass System brings something special to the total system performance. The Janis method for implementing a woofer brings an additional bonus by removing a substantial source of distortion in reproduced music. It is a hidden element, normally everpresent in music reproduced from records, but one which is effectively removed from the wide range speaker system by the very nature of the Janis implementation.

A Janis Woofer provides the user with a degree of control over the most difficult part of the audio spectrum, the bass, in a way not possible by others. Bass is problematic. Its function in the language of music is to punctuate, enhance, and support the rest of the musical architecture. In this role the demands imposed by music are enormous some of the time, and very small at other times. For example, just one bass drum produces more than 1/4 of all the acoustic output of an entire orchestra. However, the proportion of the time when extended bass capability is really needed in music reproduction with most program material is relatively small. This infrequent demand does not detract in any way from its importance. A lack of bass in music is readily apparent. Its lack in music is comparable with the lack of exclamation points, commas, periods, question marks, and capitals in written language. All of these serve to convey life and sweep. Without them, language becomes bleak, two dimensional and artificial. In the language of music, a lack of an adequate bass leads to the same result. But behold! When properly set up, the clarity and capability for inner detail which the addition of a Janis Woofer System makes possible is present even in the absence of bass. How can such a thing be? The cause is to be found in several factors.

First, the bass driver in a wide range speaker system is constrained by economic reasons to-operate over too wide a range of frequencies. Often this range covers not only the bass end, but the midrange as well, with significant output as high as 1000, 2000, and even 3000 Hz. This same driver can and does respond to extremely low frequency signals including DC. So, all the sonic low frequency muck derived from such causes as record warp, record eccentricity, tone arm resonances, grain noise are all passed through wide range DC coupled electronics right into the speaker, and results in large amplitude cone motion. For example, when a speaker is distorting substantially, a 10 Hz signal derived from a tone arm resonance has audible distortion components at low bass frequencies. Such a signal has nothing to do with the program material, but may add a false sense of heaviness to the sound. Most of the time however, we do not hear the extraneous low frequency signals directly. The frequency is just too low even for the distortion components. But these extraneous nonmusical signals drive the cone of the woofer in a wide range speaker periodically into regions of nonlinear operation. Under these conditions, other audible signals reproduced by this same driver are distorted because the driver is not operating in a linear region of its cone motion. In more technical terms, one can say that the extraneous subsonic signals frequency modulate the audible music signals with the result that in the music spectrum are introduced additional components. These components are inter modulation products between the music and the subsonic extraneous signals. As it turns out, the range of music reproduced by the bass driver represents the most important part of the whole, program. In this range the ear is also the most sensitive to distortions, and it is precisely this range which is affected by the extraneous subsonic signals. It is a wonder that records sound as well as they do. Only by the removal of such sonic garbage, and this occurs quite naturally with the addition of a Janis Woofer system, does one realize just what one has had to live with. This realization is a part of the Janis Listening Experience.

The Janis approach to implementing a separate woofer system causes the sonic muck to be removed from the wide range speaker via the electronic crossover, and puts it into the Janis Woofer, which because of its tuning and design, is eminently more capable of coping with this unwanted signal. The high efficiency of the Janis Woofer at low frequencies and optimum damping keeps the cone excursions due to extraneous low frequency signals under control The cone just does not have to move as much for a given sound output in the Janis design as compared to other more conventional designs. In the more conventional designs efforts to get extended low frequency response often come to grief from the unwanted subsonic signals. Such signals do not cause problems with the Janis Woofer.

The benefits of the Janis Woofer System are derived from both what it adds as well as what it takes away. What is added is an extended bass capability which is heard some of the time when there is demand by the music. Here the sense of power that is brought to the reproduced music by an unconstricted low bass capability creates an exhilarating listening experience. What is taken away is a sonic muck that beclouds midrange performance. This sonic muck which a Janis Woofer System effectively removes is otherwise everpresent. Its absence is noticed all the time. It is the sum of these two effects under listening conditions that adds up to the Janis Listening Experience.

(The picture of the Janis W-1 is to be found on the Lansing Heritage forum).


"The Janis Bass System" information paper available on request.

Last modified: 12-Nov-2009