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Some expert advice needed on MIX...bass and kick

Member for

21 years 2 months
hey guys whts up...i m doing mixing now a days of an album i have done.. i m dealing with the person who has some issues with the bass...he wants his bass to stand out as well as kick... his voice is very MIDDY. and yet he wants the crisp... now i have mixed it quite well the thing is i m confused about selecting bass tone... i mean there are few songs that i hear which does'nt seems to have bass at all all you feel is there is a feel on the lower end side.and it has a lot of punch when you listen to it on a good system.i hope you are getting wht i m trying to say... and on the other hand there are some basses that looks that wow man its pumpin' but on the hi fi system it sound just ok and does'nt have that punch you know wht i mean..i mean it does'nt sound wide. same thing with the kick too. and one more thing abt the mix... when i m doing a mix it sounds pretty good and client likes it too...but has an extra wish to that... i mean as far as the stereo imaging is concerned the song is stereo and has some nice stereo feel. but does'nt sound wide. any advice and comments on that...please..


Member for

16 years 2 months

RemyRAD Sun, 05/07/2006 - 19:47
That is so cool shezan! I'm glad things are going well.

Regarding your problem with the bass and bass drum, since most of us here are predominantly in Canada, England, the United States and Western Europe, we deal with a lot of rock and roll. Are you referring to a Pakistani rock and roll recording or is this something people like us would call more ethnic oriented music? I only ask this because I'm trying to understand what you're desired sound is that you would like to create? I wish I could speak urdu since it would make this a lot easier with our communication differences? I mean the only Pakistani that I do is the news program with Anika Ossmam (spelling?), the newscaster from the Voice Of America news broadcasts.

But I digress. Away the way I get my bass guitar and bass drum sound largely depends on the instruments that I am recording to begin with. Some folks got good popin' soundin' instruments and some don't. I find that the most frustrating thing in the studio. Those people with bad sounding instruments are very difficult to make them sound good but that is half the fun about being an audio engineer. What it really comes down to is when you have a good instrument, it will end up sitting in the mix much better regardless of what you do to it. I find for quite a bit of my rock and roll work I like to both compress and gate bass drums, snare drums and tomtoms. The compressor can generally get you a little more of a popping punchy sound but with the extra gain and associated leakage and noise, you want a fast gate which will also aid to tighten up the drum it is on. Along with that it may require a good chunk of equalization as well? Now I'm speaking basically of just the drums here.

For the bass guitar, some people like to use a DI box, the bass players head preamp, miking the Cabinet and/or all of the above. Again a lot of the quality of the sound of the instrument is based on the quality of the instrument. Generally I don't like to put a microphone on bass cabinets. I'd much rather use direct boxes but if the bass player has a very nice preamplifier head, many of those feature both balanced and unbalanced direct outputs. Those can certainly improve your recorded tracks sound.

When your talking about that dynamite sounding mix on one system versus another system not sounding as good on, you have now learned why we are all so passionate about what we do and why we all need to have more than one set of monitors that are available when we are working on our mixes as everything sounds different on everything and different volume levels make good things sound bad and bad things sound good depending on what level you listen to things on. Some engineers have worked out magic formulas that allow them to achieve that sonic brilliance every time but many of us have to work hard to get exactly that. I find that if you want to accentuate the sound of the bass guitar, rolling off some of the low frequencies may get you there faster than boosting upper midrange frequencies? Adding some fast limiting may allow the bass to hold a certain " position" within the mix, unless unwildly is what you're after? We are all artists in our own right and learning how to mix the colors on your palate is a life long endeavor.

I don't think this has answered any of your questions but I also wanted to know if you ever watched those news shows from the Voice Of America? If so what do you think about them? I would love to know?

Pakistani practicality
Ms. Remy Ann David

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Mon, 05/08/2006 - 12:34
Hi Remy..thanx for the reply that pretty much explains things... for my upcoming project.. and yes i do watch VOA.. its comes on GEO TV Pakistan. i like the show gives pretty relevent information abt our community too.. its a good approach to catch people... and i m happy to talk to someone from the west who has intrest in our cumminity too... hmm ok lets get back to the music issues....well right now i m doing RnB and Hip Hop kinna music.... and the mix sounds quite fine but i was just askin a general question like abt from where i can get the relevent information about the type of bass guitar tones...i mean as i mentioned like few basses sounds dull but if you listened on good system you can feel the pounding and pumpin' know wht i mean.... and sometimes good bass tone sounds week on the same system... my client is satisfied with my work but i've been trying to reach the best possible answer for tha...and i m experimenting on that too...i m like makin few tracks and play different bass tones on the track and checking them on different systems ....same problem few sounds good on few and few sounds good on i guess there is nothing like appropriate sound electronically not rock n roll...cuz in rock n roll its abt the bass guitarist too...and his bass guitar offcourse and then recording but thats far from my issue right now.. :).... so Remy i hope i get the best reference...cuz if i do it will clear alot of concepts of mine...and infact will help me make better music too...

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Thu, 05/11/2006 - 00:13
Another tip - a lot of the low end we like to hear out of a bass guitar is not even below 100hz. Even on a 5 string with the low B fundamental at about 30hz (most cabs not even capable of producing this at a reasonable level anyawy)! Its all about the harmonics! I don't mean cut the low end of your bass guitar below 100hz with a hardcore shelf, but you can certainly leave lots of room in the 60-100hz range for the low end of the kick, and of course give it some snap in the higher end as well, which is well above the meat of the bass guitar.

Since you are doing more RnB and Hip-Hop, or perhaps something with a bit more of a dance kind of feel you might concider this:

Run your bass through a compressor whos sidechain is controlled by the kick drum. Set the cmopressor to reduec the level of the bass guitar whenever the kick hits, and do not use make-up gain on the compressor, this will cause the bass guitar to duck when the kick drum is hit. This is a pretty extreme suggestion and you definitely would only want to use just a little ducking (which can go a long way), and only use it when it works with the style. As with any type of compression, you know its working when you can't hear it working. You don't neccessarily want to hear any heavy duty ducking, you just want to give the kick a little wiggle room.
I know most outboard dynamics processors have sidechaining capabilities (even cheaper things like the Alesis 3630 and DBX units) and sidechaining in Protools is a synch as well. If you use Cubase or Nuendo its not even worth the effort.

Good luck!