As has been said many a time in and about reggae music “Word and Sound have Power.” Words or lyrics can be a power for upliftment, but we cannot forget the importance of sound in that power. In this light, Reggae Sound Systems project the living musical spirit and message to the people. Personally, the more deeply I engage with reggae, the more strongly I feel that the music is meant to be both heard and felt. The message and musical intricacy is to be listened to, but likewise the music should be moved to and absorbed, letting it work its magic subconsciously as a full body experience. Of course, Reggae music can be enjoyed through an i-pod, a car stereo, or club PA, but when played through a Roots Sound System, the power of that word and sound takes on its full potential…
Blackheart Warriors and bredren stringing up the Sound – (Empress Abi – Livity Productions)
Sound System Equipment
So what is it about a Reggae Sound System, Sound, or “set”, that is so special and particular? Basically it is the sheer force of the sound, the ability to precisely control that sound, and the use of effects to expand the sonic experience. As said by Humble Tafari of Wildfiyah Rootical Sound, “Reggae music (Roots music) is the derivative of African music. Where the focus is on the drumbeat. And the melody is in the bass line… It is the bass that drives the soul and the spirit.” With the bass having the lead role in the music, naturally the speakers and amps must be able to carry that force. Most Sounds have at least four 18-inch subwoofers, often of the classic scoop design, with curved chambers inside. Whatever the speaker design, the sub bass boxes, often powered by heavy duty amplifiers with up to 10,000 watts, carry a heavy force that one can feel as movement in the air.
Most “sets” are built to play 3-way, or 4-way, with bass, low mids, mids, and highs separately amped and controlled. All 3 or 4 groups of speakers work together to play the music in its full audio spectrum. With amps and speakers producing the
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