LF Roll Off In Mix

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Derm, May 20, 2005.

  1. Derm

    Derm Guest

    Hi,
    I know this is a terrible idea but Im an amateur trying to master my own songs. Anyway, when I play my mixes on large speakers (B&W 603's), I often here a lot of unwanted stuff going on down low.I record with Mackie HR 624's. To get to the point ,would it be the done thing to roll off the low frequencies in the mix, and if so where do I cut?
    Thanks
    Derm :wink:
     
  2. Massive Mastering

    Massive Mastering Well-Known Member

    I hate to say - It's totally dependent on each particular mix.

    If they're your own mixes, I'd highly suggest attacking this at the mix level also. If the lows on the guitars are fine and it's the drum overheads causing the problem, there's no advantage to removing the lows from the guitars just to spite the drums.
     
  3. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    It's most likely 1 or maybe two things that are causing the problem. Depending on where the problem lies, roll off might work or not. It could also be something a little higher up where just a dip might work. but correcting this is the mastering stage will be a tradeoff. You'll have to see if the cure is better or not.
     
  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    These days, I'd never suggest mixing and mastering without a good sub in the signal chain, so you can hear what's going on down there. IMHO, it's critical to know what your low end is sounding like, esp the 20-40 hz range.

    When I finally got my bass management set up properly, it was a shock to hear what I'd been missing. Even more eye (ear) opening was what some commercial recordings have missed over the years, on both vinyl and CD. I've heard plosives, footfalls, even car/truck rumbles on some live/acoustic recordings, not to mention bass & kick drum settings that were all over the road. (Yet another good reason to make sure you run your stuff past a professional mastering engineer at least one final time before committing to the replication phase.)

    Some feel that what most can't hear wont hurt them, but I disagree.....along with robbing your mixes of available amp power (and perhaps one of those inexplicable reasons why some mixes just sound better than others), your overall levels may not be giving you the real-world truth, esp if there's "junk in the trunk" - low end goop mucking things up instead of letting things stay tight and bouncy.

    There's lots of places where needless bass/rumble can creep in to a mix.....esp on tracks that have no business having anything useful below 80-100 HZ anyway. (Starting with most vocals - at least female vocals.) I'm not talking about removing natural "under"tones and the meat that makes a track full and warm, I'm talking about needless stuff....bass bleed, room noise, air handler rumble, plosives, etc.

    Track by track, it all adds up, and again, IMHO, it's important to sort this out in the mix stage; trying to fix it in the final 2-bus master is more of a band-aid than a true solution. You MIGHT get lucky and fix it that way, but if you've got the multitrack masters to work with, it's better to find out where the culprit is at the get-go. (Sometimes even your reverb return could use a little "thinning out" - get rid of the low end muck, and suddenly your reverb sounds cleaner, smoother, and more effective.)

    With so many 5.1 surround systems out there now (and the subwoofers that go with them, even for 2-channel playback), one should assume there WILL be a subwoofer present during any given playback scenario. Having a good solid low end that goes alllll the way down, coherently, with no ugly surprises, should be part of your game plan.

    And again, that's what a good mastering engineer will help you with, if your not sure of what you've got on your own.
     
  5. tmcconnell

    tmcconnell Guest

    good stuff down under

    I'm with JoeH all the way. There's lots of good and bad stuff below 40 hz - but much more good than people usually think.

    For starters, every string attack has stuff from DC on up. Having it in the mix adds credibility and realism. I roll off at 30 hz at 18 db per octave. This leaves audible material in the high 20's, but its gone by 20. I used to roll off acoustic guitars at 125 or higher routinely to kill off the coloration and boom. Now I get rid of it as a notch (or, hopefully, by micing correctly) - and let the infrasonic stuff stay in the mix. It adds power, and percussiveness. So many people listen with subs these days you just can't ignore the low lows. Likewise, if you don't hear the bad stuff down there, it will make it on to the master and annoy people and steal amp power. The big issue with subs in mixing is that you don't really feel those lows at close distances (like near field). Thus, I use a set of distance monitors and near field both for every mix. They both have subs, but the distance monitors represent the low lows much better.
     
  6. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    You do have to listen at some point on a system that can reproduce the subs. But i'm in the belief that they should not be rolled out. Just brought in line. Don't forget that if a sub system is setup for 5.1 or 2.1, that bass management is going to bump up the subs. It's designed for film and impact, not necessarily for music. I work differently for material intended to be used with a sub like DVD titles or film than I do with stereo music. Either way, I have full range monitors and I have 2 sets of 5.1 monitors. They won't translate 100% from one to the other but you try and get a happy medium without loosing depth and body on full range 2 channel systems and too much booty on bass management systems.
     
  7. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Don't get me wrong, I don't believe in "bumping up" the bass in monitoring, so I hope that wasn't what came across in my post. It's certainly true that a lot of home systems are exaggerated to have more spine-tingling/floor rattling bass than what would be considered "Flat" response. I monitor with what I've tried to set up as close to flat as I can get it, all the way down, including the sub, with no exaggertion. (And it's tough finding a "Standard" for subwoofer levels for all the various genres of music out there...)

    My home theater system is another animal entirely, in another room/space, and I do use it for the occasional reference for 5.1 soundtracks, etc., but again my monitoring environment for mastering is flat, not exaggerated. Even so, you can still hear things people miss when not working with subs.

    5.1 home theater setups are all the more reason, IMHO, to make sure that the bass is in line across the spectrum. You never know what some people will do to your mixes and make them even more bass-heavy on their own systems.

    I also don't mean to imply that bass should be removed entirely down there, but there's a lot of sounds that just don't need as much content. SOME do, sure, but not nearly as much. I just like to leave room for the instruments that DO have sub-soncics down there as part of their sound, be it a kick drum, bass guitar, and all the other low-end transients that make up for good, full sound.

    I've been to rock/pop shows where the subwoofers are so exaggerated it's silly. One was a female folk singer who, when simply speaking to the crowd between songs was shaking the floor and rattling the drinking glasses as the club because of all the sub-bass the sound guy had dialed in on her vocal mic, an SM58. Utterly ridiculous, IMHO. Even with the proximity effect of the 58, there's no real-world low freq content down there, and in addition to all the p's popping and rumble every time she touched the mic stand, it was seiously lopsided/out of balance with the rest of her voice.

    Sub-bass-heavy mixes can be like that sometimes, if ya don't at least check it with a sub present.
     

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