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Acoustic Bass: to HPF or not?

Discussion in 'Bass' started by Baixo, Dec 16, 2001.

  1. Baixo

    Baixo Guest

    Been doing a bunch of Jazz recordings this year and can never decide whether it's better in the mix to filter the acoustic bass mics below, say, 60-100, because of proximity boom or to leave it, turn down the bass a little and go with that more traditional sound which is less articulate, but fuller.

    When you filter, you can turn it up and hear lots of the articulate mids that you don't really get otherwise. I keep going back and forth on this and am going mad. With no HPF, it just sounds warmer and nicer, but the bass becomes less defined.

    What do you do?
  2. td

    td Guest

    What did the bass sound like in the room? I would never try to lose sight of that. I had a conversation with consummate jazz bassist Gary Peacock once - his major complaint was "it never sounds like my bass". It's food for thought as any jazz bassist worth his salt has spent years developing a personal sound.

    I have played acoustic bass for many years and on my recordings always HP filter around 40Hz and usually give a small wide bump around 1kHz to pronounce the growl a bit better, a narrow low-mid mud cut helps too, around 300Hz - it sounds like my bass and sound in a room and helps it live better in a mix.

  3. Baixo

    Baixo Guest

    The bass sounded good, and pretty much like it sounds on tape, no bass is perfectly even and the proximity does cause some of the less-even notes to pop out a little, but this, to me, is more representative of the very fine instruments they are and trying to manicure them too much leaves me a little wanting for depth.
  4. Jon Atack

    Jon Atack Guest


    Tony's EQ sounds reasonable to me for many situations. It's difficult to answer your question without hearing the specific bass track in the musical context in question. With acoustic bass that I record, HPF at 100Hz is higher than I would normally need to go...20 to 40Hz would be more the norm for me, sometimes higher with a gentle slope, or sometimes none at all. Of course as you know, it also depends on the bass drum, the musical context, and having big monitors in the room that you know & trust for judging the low end in your mix.

    Which mics are you using and where are you placing them?

  5. Ang1970

    Ang1970 Well-Known Member

    Sep 5, 2000
    Ya Jon, I was just gonna say "who's twisting your arm to make you mic it so close?" Or why not try a mic with less pronounced proximity?
  6. Baixo

    Baixo Guest

    I like to use a U67 about a foot away from the treble-side F-hole, down a bit usually, facing upwards at a slight angle and a KM-54 higher and further back, maybe 2-3 feet, depending on the size of the iso booth.

    I don't feel like I'm maxing out on the proximity, although I'm tempted to go omni (M50 or maybe a 4003?) next time, just to try it.

    It's more of a mix question, really, because I think the tracks sound good, it's more about making them sit in with drums and whatever melodic instruments they're providing a foundation for. The filter can allow you to turn it up.

    Anyone heard the latest Brad Mehldau record? the bass is so thumpy that you'd think they were crazy to let all of it pass, but then again, I can feel and hear the bass in my car on the freeway (not a venue a jazz record was intended for, but there ya go).

    It's a taste thing; I'm not having disasterous problems, just trying to get some input here. Since we can't really compress in this idiom (someone will inevitably say, 'aww, ^#$% that, man, there are no rules, but....) one has to use other methods to get an acoustic LF instrument to sit well in a dynamic recording.

    Thanks for all of your thoughts.
  7. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Feb 13, 2001
    Nashville TN
    Home Page:
    I'd try using the low-end of a flat omni. as my guide to eq-ing the proximity effect of a directional mike because most monitors and control rooms don't translate very well at all around 40.

    Ribbons are great for bass because their low resonant frequency causes the proximity effect to occur at a lower frequency than a condenser or a dynamic mike.

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