Mixing Bass

Discussion in 'Tracking / Mixing / Editing' started by Peppercorn, Jan 17, 2012.

  1. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn Active Member


    I have just completed a song which sounds great in the studio and the studio monitors, but when I listen to it on small speakers, like those of a computer or small headphones the bass just disappears in obscurity.

    My question is can someone give me some advice on what eq or filtering or whatever tricks I can look at to the get bass to sound full on a good speaker system as well as being heard on a crappy system??

    The song is a bluesy type of song not a thump thump thump disco type tune. if that matters.
    Thanks for any help!
  2. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Good question.

    What do professionally mixed (commercial CD) songs sound like on both systems?


    please correct your registered email address as its bouncing back as incorrectly entered.
  3. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn Active Member

    Thanks for the email address. I overlooked that when I changed my address, it is now fixed.

    To answer your question is very difficult! How can I describe sound in writing??? CD's sound qiute balanced on the monitors. My problem is knowing how to mix the Bass with correct EQ so it sounds punchy on a good system but audible on an iphone.
    I have been producing music for a LONG time and produced 3 CD's, but I'm the 1st to admit that you never stop learning.
    Different types of songs require different sounds too which confuses the matter further for me.
    This particular song has a slow beat and there is a lot of emphasis on the drums and bass to produce the "feel" of the song.

    I'm sorry if this doesn't help you.
  4. Paul999

    Paul999 Active Member

    A lot of people find bass super tough to get right. Don't worry you are not alone. Hear is my philosophy on bass.

    I divide bass into three sections in my mind. Sub lows, low mids and mids. What you do in the sub lows really depends if you are having the bass guitar or kick carry the tune. The mid range gives you the articulation. You know the 1-3 k clack. 300-700 gives bass guitar its identity in the mix. If you have a lot of this area bass can seen to loud or draw too much attention in a mix. It is amazing how loud you can get a bass guitar in a mix if you don't draw too much attention in this area.

    The BIGGEST thing that lets you crank the 300-700hz area(which is what will get your bass heard in small speakers) is careful attention in the sub lows. I really try to knock out any peaks. Like those times were you hear an E note quiet and then an A note super loud. If you even out all these peaks so that your low end has no massive peaks it may make your bass seem a little wussy. So you may need to thicken it with some compression. This will tend to bring up some low mids and voila! There are a million ways to get there but keep a close eye on the relationship between those 3 spots and you'll nail it.

    Here is a quick bass tutorial I did some time back that may help. Bass tutorial - Medium.m4v - YouTube
  5. Peppercorn

    Peppercorn Active Member

    Thanks heaps Paul. I'll definitly play around with some EQ and compression on the Bass when I get a chance. One thing I think I may have done is to boost the bottom end and without realising, that has caused a bit of boom in the Bass on small speakers or small headphones.

    I appreciate your effort and I'll check out that link. Thanks mate!
  6. Le Vab

    Le Vab Active Member

    Take a great recording on which you like the bass. Listen on the same systems so you can hear the loss of a good bass recording for example on your computer.
    It;s always important to decide who gets the low lows............the kick or the bass.
    Paul999 explains it very well, so that's a really good advise.
    Always remember that if you boost in a kick for example, you cut in the bass or the other way around in the same frequencies.
  7. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    I'm curious if people here, think they can get "real music" bottom end to kick like electronic music? I've been trying for years and have yet been able to accomplish this to my satisfaction. Now that I've invested in high end hybrid gear I'm getting closer and think I may actually get there if I find the magic combination.

    I downloaded Fruity Loops Studio and within ten minutes was blown away on the bass. Nothing I've used comes close to the ITB sound you get with this DAW. But it ain't real. Its all samples and what a kick they have loaded in this beast.

    Here are three examples of the kind of bass I would like to get using tradition acoustic kicks and basses, (and there are way bigger mixes than these exapmple) but its all I found for the moment.
    You don't have to like the music to hear what I'm talking about.

    Are you able to get your bottom end ( acoustic kick and electric bass guitar) this big?
    Steve Aoki feat. Wynter Gordon (Tommy Trash Remix) - Ladi Dadi (PREVIEW) by tommytrash on SoundCloud - Create, record and share your sounds for free
    Nenna Yvonne - "We Came To Rock" Remix Contest - Indaba Music
    Nenna Yvonne - "We Came To Rock" Remix Contest - Indaba Music

    The new generation is drinking this stuff up like coolaid. If I could get acoustic music to kick like this I would consider myself on the right track.
  8. aj113

    aj113 Active Member

    Everybody has their own way of doing things. For me, I make a decision as to which is more important on this occasion - kick or bass, because one of them is going to have to change. (usually the kick wins this one!). Then I put them both on a spectrum analyser, and use a 31-band graphic to ensure that they are both occupying different frequencies where they peak. For example if the kick is peaking at 100 I will try to move the bass away from 100 and to peak more at 200. I try to do the same in subs and top end too. Generally, I try to put the bass where the kick ISN't. Obviously you can't stick to this rigidly every time, because it can too much of a negative effect aurally, but that's the general principle I work to.

    Despite all of this ^^^ I always maintain that ultimately, it's all about levels, levels and more levels. Everything is secondary to levels IMHO.
  9. mtm1

    mtm1 Active Member

    It's really all about EQ as mentioned. This is also why top studios have a range of monitors, in the old days Auratones, which were small mono speakers to replicate small AM radio speakers so engineers could know they got the mix right for what people would really listen to their music on. The modern version of this is to listen to your mixes not only on your main monitors but also on a pair of smaller stereo speakers, iPod earbuds, Beats headphones etc. Whatever you think your target listener will use, and tailor the sound around sounding good on all of the options.

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  10. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    great comments by everyone. i think electronic music in general benefits from the fact that many of the samples or sounds used have been tamed in terms of dynamic range. that's why you might perceive those sounds as having more "kick" or "punch". a lot of getting things to sit correctly in a mix comes down to dynamic range.

    old days we tracked to tape and in doing that, we brought real world dynamics down to manageable ranges. modern day converters have much more dynamic range than even a 1" 8 track and as such there is much less natural compression / dynamic range reduction happening at tracking stages. modern 24 bit 96 / 88.1 recording produces much wider dynamic range than analog did. while the tracking the benefits are less worries regarding overload / distortion more kick or punch we still need to bring this dynamic range down to manageable levels for playback on small systems / car stereos / i pods / TVs etc. once we do this a lot of that punch can get lost.

    to the op, i would have to ask for more information. was this bass electronic or a stand up or a bass guitar? was it tracked with a di or a mic or both? did you compress it when you recorded? did you eq?

    in general what i do is first as already mentioned i make a decision which is going to get the nether regions of low end, kick drum or bass? then i will apply a narrow notch boost at 220Hz on one and a narrow notch cut at the same freq to the other. this carves out a place for one to sit.

    i also like to record bass guitars using an amp and a di and miking the bass cab. mics will naturally compress the signal as you record and the speaker adds a bit of edge that is very defining.

    my personal preference is to let the kick get the very low end and to boost the bass while cutting to kick at the aforementioned 220Hz. try it. it works .

    hope that helps.
  11. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    dbx driverack doesnt sound bad. ough to beat for 600 bucks. i mean dollars. different eq options, comp, limiting. tough to scrap the driverack in practical pa use.
  12. e-mixmaster

    e-mixmaster Active Member

    Hi every one,

    I am a new member to this forums. I really want to share and give my 2 cents.

    The bass is a tricky thing to get right, (like a lot of instruments LOL) and may be, we some times as mixers tend to be more on the conservative side of things to be safe, for me the bass has to be prominent, since it occupies a space by itself, harmony wise and frequency wise, and is my opinion that is better to be not afraid to turn the bass up and make it stick out pretty well, obviously if it is well equed and compressed. But is really easy to just talk about it.

    Also some side chaining with the kick helps to have the bass up and be sucked down when the kick plays, and so save some db's on your master bus. Also have some small monitoring system just to check things as well.

    Anyway, as some one here says you never really stop learning, it would be wise to hear the song and have a real approach and see what is really going on.

    Home - e-mixmaster.com
  13. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Oh yes indeed you can. I've actually found it can be even more excellent, since as a player you have that bit more touch and inflection, you can really find the right phrasing and sweet spot, and you've got a much more expressive way of playing, glissando, vibrato etc.

    Basically you throw a lot of DSP at the job, run it through the computer.

    Don't bother with Fruity Loops, you need PD or Max MSP, that sort of thing.

    Also helps a lot to use a 5kW PA to build the patches, then you *know* when you've got it right because you can feel it right through you, and lightbulbs fall out of the ceiling.
  14. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Simple, a typical bass sound isn't a straight sine wave. It's got a timbral structure involving various other sounds and harmonics. Actually, most of the pitch you use to identify the note on a bass guitar is upper harmonics, octaves, 5ths, major 3rds etc, and various other extra noises which make up the tone. Stick a bass guitar through a spectrum analyser and you'll see that it's not just deep bass, nor should it be.

    A good bass guitar sound is as much about the 100Hz to 200Hz range as it is about the 30Hz to 80Hz range, you also need to get the 200Hz-500Hz range properly balanced against the other instruments occupying that range.

    When you then highpass everything above 150Hz due to a paltry speaker system, you'll still have notes left there in the midrange frequencies, and when you have a great speaker system, the notes will sound much beefier and fatter with the mids in addition to the deep bass, they blend into a good strong note. That's what a good round bass sound is about, balancing the subs with the mids.

    One way to check your mix is to use a crappy speaker to see what happens. The other way is to highpass the bass at 100Hz and see how that sounds, fit it into your mix, and then switch off the highpass and finish off balancing the lows.
  15. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

    hey bishop - take my name out of your signature line or you may find that you have been deleted.......
  16. bishopdante

    bishopdante Guest

    Prefer it if I use "my head hurts?"
  17. Rod Gervais

    Rod Gervais Active Member

    That would be fine - and not surprising either..... facepalm


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