Mixing Bass, how do you like it?

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 06/11/2014 - 12:20

Bass is like love. Some like-em full figured, some like-em slim and bossy. Some like-em noticed but covered up just enough to leave it to our imagination.

  • How do you like it?
  • Are you hearing what I am hearing?
class="xf-ul"> I personally think bottom end is the most difficult area in music to get right without domination.
Over the last few years I've noticed a very wide and confusing preference to how we all critique bass and sub frequencies in a mix.
If there is one thing I've noticed since I was a kid, Mom and Dad don't like it as much as I do so this leaves me to think, why would I ever listen to my Dad when it comes to bass?

But, there is also a flip side to this. Capturing and mixing Bass is subject to personal taste AND each and everyone's room acoustics and monitoring system.
Are your speakers lying to to or or are mine? Or, are you stupid with bass or are you like my Dad?

Critiquing a mix:
Do you hear what I hear?

When someone suggests I should add or remove bass in a mix, how do I know you are actually accurate?
Is there a norm?
Some music I listen to has subs that would keep mice from breeding, others like it completely tucked in the background behind a floppy kick. How do we know whats right?

Remember the 80's? tick tick tick. Are you still caught in the 80's? Or, are you from the Elvis area? Or Jazz of the 40's?

Speed metal, OMG, if that doesn't sound like a stick metronome on top of every 16th kick on quantization... How do you even mix bass without HPF 250hz.

30 years ago there was less confusion. Do you think that was subject to our capture and playback systems? I do. I think music is inspired around sound. Styles are formed from the sound of our times.
When you have a drum, you bang it! When you have a violin, you bow it. When you have a sampler, you sample it. and thus... a style happens.

The limitations around vinyl, which imho, suffered massively for both top and bottom end freq capture and playback, no wonder everything sounded like it did. And a generation was formed. Today, we have serious control and this ability to capture wide bandwidth, so, where do we go from here? Are you leading the pack or following and dragging along the past, hoping it will fit in some where?

Not until digital audio arrived, was bass and the kick drum even a focus point. Subs were a supporting role back in the day. Today, sub freq are as important, if not down right dominate and this is where, "whats right for you, may be the complete wrong things for me" Style and taste of bass is all subjective to more than we might even know about ourselves.

I propose a mixoff of some kind to try and find out "discover in our selves" where we belong in this constant craving so many of us want but can't seem to get right. Lets demystify some confusion.

Any suggestions?

i like bass with nothing rolled off below 100Hz. i like to put a narrow notch boost at 200 to 220Hz. so i can hear the bass on small systems. this is based on a track that has been recorded with a little LA2 pulling out -3dB and flat eq. it ain't rocket science.

Ya, but that's the bass you record and mix right? How does such a simple answer apply to us all?

Some bass is so heavy in the subs, or almost dead there too. And on small speakers, my cubes don't even produce subs. If small speakers were all I was using, man... I'd be lost below 100hz.
My laptop is so unreliable in both the top and bottom freq, however, I will admit, if I don't use anything else, I can train my hearing to adapt, but it isn't fun.

Also, A synth or keyboard bass goes right down to 20 hz no problemo. If I have a kick there , which is very common today, that goes up to 120hz, I can tell you I would start sweeping the bass hpf at 200hz until it starts crossing over into the kick, or vise versa... and, there could be something else in the mix there too. Like a dominant guitar or hand drum. And maybe only in parts of an entire song as well. Side chains, oh ya... what else?

I don't know, I think this is way more science that we think. And we aren't even touching room acoustics and monitoring.

most small speakers will do at least 70Hz. if i were mixing something that had a lot subs below 40Hz i would hpf it. who the hell needs anything below 40? at that point it not musical it's for effect ... to impress the other idiots with sub woofers in the car. i don't mix for that crowd. in fact i wouldn't really want to mix keyboard or synth bass either. those people should die. double bass, fender bass, baritone guitar is the real stuff. all the other crap should die. damn you Craig Anderton!

audiokid, post: 415732, member: 1 wrote: I don't know, I think this is way more science that we think. And we aren't even touching room acoustics and monitoring.

I don't know either, but philosophically I'm inclined toward more art, less science. To me, the one-size-fits-all approach is one of the shortcomings of modern music, not in any way moving the ball forward. When I hear new music I like, it hasn't been homogenized to death and has something unique / quirky / special about it. In the end there is no accounting for taste. The approach is at least as varied as ways to play the bass: Pick? Fingers? Thumb and Fingers? Slapping and Popping? Mellow? Round? Aggressive? Driving? Funky? Jazz? P-Bass? Rick? Hofner? Fretless? Electric? Acoustic? Upright? Bowed? ... to name a few. I'd hate to see someone run all those through the same blender.

seems to be two schools of bass in pop/rock

a) either the kick drum has the impact energy and the bass supports or b) the bass has the low end impact and the kick supports.
i prefer a. i want my kick drum loud and through my chest.
best sounding live drums ive ever heard was at a Mogwai concert. It made air exit your lungs.

a mix of 808 and a regular kick is where its at old man!

When you're talking about recording bass guitar, it's not all encompassing. There are different kind of bassists. Those that tickle the strings with their fingertips. Playing nice round subdued,fat mellow notes. That just sits there, relatively unnoticed. And then you got those bad ass dudes that pick and pop in contemporary jazz, with the most incredible Funk. Rich in so many harmonics, it's bad ass on 1 inch laptop speakers. Bad ass on Aura Tones, KRK, JBL. So what are we talking about here? Bad ass Funk, bass? Or, Bobby Blob and his crooners?

808 and regular kick? Never. That's only for guys that can't get the kick drum sound right. It's not rocket science. It's a kick in the ass... So to speak.

808? I like 1 after 909 a lot better.
Mx. Remy Ann David

RemyRAD, post: 415746, member: 26269 wrote:

808 and regular kick? Never. That's only for guys that can't get the kick drum sound right. It's not rocket science. It's a kick in the ass... So to speak.

808? I like 1 after 909 a lot better.
Mx. Remy Ann David

Sorry, in all due respect Remy, but this is absolute rubbish coming from someone very dated and out of touch with commercial music of the last 30 years.
There is so much more to music than just standard sounds of yesteryear. I DO however agree with this statement, if I was sticking to our wonderful standards and style that I am also professionally experienced. From a creative, producing and mixing POV, wow, your are missing that mark which my friend is your creative right but, to say "That's only for guys that can't get the kick drum sound right." , them are bitch slapping words lol.
I get your passion for real, I too have decades of experience in tradition, but I also have decades of writing and programming hundreds of songs using all sorts of musical tools that go back to the days of Devo of the late 70's.
Lets get up to par on a site that has more than just your style here and stop the elitist dribble.

There are people in the dark ages who think an electric guitar is noise, everything should be back in the 1400's. Or Ma and Pop spoons, fiddles and accordions singing the Lawrence Welk or Tommy Hunter era. Are you still there lol?

Every decade has flavors adding to our musical expression of tools. The 808 has definitely been part of a huge influence in kicks. Those kicks serves as a main or supporting tone to countless hits.
The 808, and millions of sounds part of lush keyboard patches, to thousands of hits have been made from the 1979 Roger Linn, Synclavair to MPC's kicks for over 3+ decades prove you so wrong. Its hard to choke this utter crap down without saying this right back at you.

I disagree. :D

There is no rule to getting bass right, or kick right. Because there is no "right". It depends on the song, the player, and the instrument.

Perhaps you may want the kick tucked back a bit, a'la Motown, or maybe something that resonates a bit, like Joe Morello's sound on Dave Brubeck's Take Five, or the steady, unchanging, ever present kick found in funk and disco; or a more in-your-face sound with that speed metal "click" to it. It's all song-style dependent.

Bass I think, is the same thing. There's that pop and slap from cats like Larry Graham or Louis Johnson, or the warm, creamy, melodic sound of Paul or Leland Sklar, or the incredibly moving and sometimes complex lines of Jamerson or Babbit, and there's also that edgy and distinct sound to a Rickenbacker, as with Yes/Chris Squire on Roundabout.

I don't think you can say that there's a right or wrong way, there just is, depending on what you want it to sound like, or what the song requires.

There were occasional times when I would insert a tone generator into a channel, select it to play 80 hz or so, then insert a gate onto that channel with a side chain trigger from the kick track D/O, so that every time the kick struck, it would open the gate on the tone generator channel and allow the 80 hz tone to pass, adding another dimension to and along with the kick. Did I do that every time?, Of course not. It all depended on the song, because there were plenty of times when I simply DI'd the bass, tracked flat, and with the exception of balance, never even touched it in the mix stage because the player was so consistent.

As far as what I will do or what I won't do, I have no real hard and fast rules. So, as Josh mentioned, if I need to combine a real kick with an 808, or a Linn, or a vsti sample to get the sound I want, then that's what I'll do. Other times an RE20 on a kick will work just fine. Not once have I ever thought to myself "I'm doing it this way because I don't know how to do it that way. Never even thought that way. Ever.

And, I EQ and mix the levels of those instruments with the same approach... It's always song/track dependent for me.

I use the tools I have to achieve that which I want. I'm not a purist in the sense that there's only "one way" to do things.

FWIW

d/

totally flattered remy looked my way ;) even if it was to tell me "no".
let me be more specific:
other people get whatever sound they are looking for, as best as im able to give. i have alot to learn, and a long way to go.
for my band, which is just me )mostly) the groove is key (mostly), so i want a big ass. :) Addictive drums retro pack. the 808 kick sounds sweet through the internal signal chain they setup, the rest not so much. and bass is usually synth bass so it could be anything, so rules go out the window

are you saying you dont enjoy "techno"?!?! lol. ;)

in general i like bass like id like my wallet, fat and full. w/ some note definition up top, but thats if im making the song. In general for mixing, put the bass as loud as it will possibly go w/out sounding stupid, for whatever given genre. but thats because i just hate thin recordings. but thats what i go for, and obviously different rooms mean i get there different ways. in my home, im in a null, so i put it where i like it, and then go a couple notches back. at the studio i just put it where i like it, and its usually pretty close everywhere else.

i think subwoofers are a great thing! there super fun, and allow me to feel the musics power, w out ear bleeding levels. they get a bad rap cuz of rap kids having pi$$ing matches all day. i live about 30yds from a highway, so i know all too well. but if you employ them as part of a system, not the focus of one, they can be quite entertaining. and it helps your system increase headroom by letting the speakers do their job, and not make 6 or 8" speakers try to reproduce stuff they cant, which ends up as distortion

i think just automatically filtering out sub freqs is a cheap shortcut, and can be a detriment, if your talking modern sounds. i get it, that up until the last what, 15 years, most peoples systems didn't have subs, so it truly wasn't needed, but this is not the case anymore, w home theater systems (which people never seem to hook up right) being more common, and just better more efficient stock car systems, and just speakers in general, it is crucial.

the senior engineer i work w has the stuck in the past approach, and mixes w no sub freqs at all, guess how the mixes sound? thin in comparison to anything in the last decade or 2. no matter how well balanced the rest is, the low lows are missing. obviously this is just my opinion, and i am in a weird position of being some conglomeration of old school and new school.

i personally have a much much harder time w/ a rich/full sounding mid range than bass or top. bass has always come pretty easily to me, live and recorded.

Man, you nailed that one Kyle, couldn't have said it better. Only thing I would add, was a clarification as to why I think bass is so difficult.

Too much bass, your low mids suck. So, which is it, bass or mids that get in the way? Then, there is headroom. Big V Rails seem to sound better, so its why I invested in that, but its still a challenge for me. Then, so many mixes I get have bass issues. Bad rooms create the most awful mess in a mix. Some days I feel like tossing it in because I can't take the walls and standing waves out of the track. Makes me go crazy.I'll try and use a hpf but its still in there, just less obvious.
Bass to me has always been a bitch to get awesome. I've invested in all sorts of gear over the years to get that big ass bass I crave so much.

How do you all start a mix? do you leave the bass full bandwidth and mix into it or what?

I tend to LPF it anywhere from5-12, and cut some mud, I will usually try and bell boost a fundamental of 60/80/100 depending on where the kick sits, so like maybe 60 on the bass 100 on the kick, and since I do a lot of rock/metal I gotta fit some lows of the gtr in there too. And I'll usually add some clarity/definition anywhere in the mid/upper mids that I have room for, w the guitars vocals taking precedence, in general.

Then if it's cool I'll leave it, or I'll shelve out some lows, so it's a less gradual reduction in the 20-40 range, than what a HPF would do. We have a set of cheapo CPU style speakers and if I can't hear the bass the ways I want it on them I'll look anywhere for 250-800 ish and see what I can do.

I gotta add, that I don't get a whole lot of mixes that I, or one of my colleagues haven't tracked, so I definatley can understand your pain Chris. Although, lately I have been doing more just straight mixing for people than I have in the past.

Also, for tracking, I always do DI and try as often as it makes sense to mic the amp too. And when at the studio I always slplit the bass out off the patch bay go thru the silverface 1176 w slow attack fast release, and about6-8 db gr. Then blend them w a simple AH zed, to one input channel on the DAW/interface. I would rate my bass tone as decent/average, and most bass players I record as sub par.

The OP is clearly vague at best.
Naturally everyone responds with what they typically like to record. So Remy is correct from her world. Josh, and everyone else is also correct coming from whatever background they're coming from.

Obviously you mix for the genre that you're recording.
Typically, when you're first starting to engineer/mix, you mimic. You listen to examples of the style you're mixing for.
You have a benchmark or a goal to achieve.
Later, after you've had some success at reaching those goals, you might be able to expand on those skills in an intelligent fashion. The Beatles story of them insisting on more hi-end when it's " just not done that way" comes to mind.
It's a typical rookie mistake to attempt mixing without comparing to a reference. Of course, you must make sure that during the recording process the same reference was agreed upon.
You wouldn't have a jazz drummer play his jazz kit during tracking, and then come mix time, decide that this has to be a high energy rock drum sound.
DonnyThompson has the right approach.

Gotta have and agree on that reference. Otherwise, you're just guessing, or playing around with the knobs.

natural, post: 415817, member: 29673 wrote: The OP is clearly vague at best.
Naturally everyone responds with what they typically like to record. So Remy is correct from her world. .

RemyRAD, post: 415746, member: 26269 wrote:

808 and regular kick? Never. That's only for guys that can't get the kick drum sound right. It's not rocket science. It's a kick in the ass... So to speak.

808? I like 1 after 909 a lot better.
Mx. Remy Ann David

na, far from it. (n) More like arrogant, insulting and out of touch is not part of correct. The rest is fine.

Tonight I tried mixing on cubes first, starting with bass G, then drums etc. Worked much better for a song I'm working on right now. I wish I could post it for some help but its not released yet.

threads like this one seem to imply there is only one way to approach a task. but there are many ways to do something and that's the beauty of it all. the question is does it serve the song and the performance? is it musical? it has to sound correct in context.

to say there is only one way to mix bass would be like telling Van Gogh he should try to paint like Rembrandt .....

we will all come up with different takes on something. that's why that joke, "how many recording engineers does it take to mix a song?", is funny.

if i don't care for how a snare sounds, or a bass or guitars tone sounds like, i will say, "i hate that" .... but i would never think or say i have the answer to how all tones should sound. i can only decide if i love a tone or if i don't. that's why when i critique a song i usually won't get into specifics on what to do to the mix ... i will just say "sounds good" or "it sucks" ... not constructive, but then who am i to assume everyone should do everything like i do?

Kurt Foster, post: 415819, member: 7836 wrote: threads like this one seem to imply there is only one way to approach a task. but there are many ways to do something and that's the beauty of it all. the question is does it serve the song and the performance? is it musical? it has to sound correct in context.

DonnyThompson, post: 415753, member: 46114 wrote: There is no rule to getting bass right, or kick right. Because there is no "right". It depends on the song, the player, and the instrument.

d/

There is never just "one" way that works every single time, without fail. There is no such thing as an"end-all/be-all" method, regardless of the instrument/track.

And, this goes for both ITB digital processing and OB gear as well. I'd no more say "I'm going to put a real dbx 165 on that kick" than I would say "I'm going to put a Waves C1 on the bass" just because it's a "given" that the bass always needs a compressor. If it needs it, then I choose and set accordingly - to the song. If it doesn't, I don't automatically reach for a compressor ( or EQ or whatever) just out of habit. You have to approach each song on its own, and what it requires - or, what it doesn't - and that is going to change from song to song.

Everything is dependent upon the song. If you are mixing on a discreet track by track level, or worse, through solo mode, (not referring to Kurt here, or anyone else individually for that matter, I'm just saying "you" in general) then you are mixing very narrow-mindedly, and, if you are sticking with a "cookie cutter" type of mix method, then you're not really mixing at all... at least not with any sense of art or creativity.

The song has got to be the motivation behind - and in support of - the processing choices we make. Sometimes, the bass guitar may benefit from the things that the OP mentioned above. Other times, it may require a completely different approach...And sometimes, well, sometimes it's even best to do nothing. ;)

IMO of course

d/

.

rewrote this:
I'm trolling but it is specific to bass / technique, personal taste, room acoustics and monitoring. Bass is hard to control, its a challenge. I'm amazed so many find it that easy which makes me ask:
Are the bottom end freq I hear (or don't hear) lying to me, lying to you? How do we tell?

Lets try this.
I've been saying for years that public interaction and participating in forums by means of auditory A/B demonstration (auditory problem based learning) is where I need to be going with others. I don't think I'm alone.

Let's steer this into an auditory thread based around "bass" and challenge us into posting mix's/ examples to see if what I hear is accurate to what my peers hear. Lets cut to the chase.

If all goes well, I'm going to follow up with a contest (that could be related to this) and a good prize.

Any suggestions on any of the above?

Here is where we are going, some of us are following me. Sorry I'm not a wordsmith, I'm more a farmer that plants seeds. Here is another seed that shares a common direction I'm taking the forum..

Other OP: The death of the Mastering Engineer thread, Analog vs digital, can you hear the difference and Mixing Bass, how do you like it.
The next thread should very well be: The death to all the GearSlutz Bull shitters who claim to have all the answers but never post jack to show they are for real:

Joel said it well here:

Gette, post: 415792, member: 46761 wrote: Wow, now, i have been paying more attention to a baby Amek then the forum. audiokid, I hear ya, it takes a willingness to learn and use the negative as a tool. Most, are not able to withstand that kind of learning environment. it makes them feel inferior and unworthy, an emotion todays generation is not equipped to deal with in a constructive manner. Thats why no one shares, no one says anything or actually stands to be counted or dismissed.

Once this console is completed. I will post my rough mixes all the way down to the final mixes…. I would use it is a tool, for insight. How else can you get that many deferent ways to hear a mix and get feed back on how it was received? . Lets face it, its time we get out of the control room and beyond just the car stereo test, to see how our mixes will be heard, in nearly every imaginable environment…… This way, we get input from all angles…. to include the personal biases of other individuals neutral to the original environment the song was created/recorded/mixed.

here's the conundrum ... ([="http://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb021999.htm"]link[/]="http://www.soundstage.com/maxdb/maxdb021999.htm"]link[/]) and this ([[url=http://="http://www.soundoctor.com/freq.htm"]link[/]="http://www.soundoctor.com/freq.htm"]link[/])

depending on atmospheric conditions, a bass wave @ 40 Hz is 28 feet, more or less. so unless you have a room in which the smallest dimension is 28 feet, you are not going to hear that 40 Hz wave correctly, no matter how much bass trapping or room treatments you have. you cannot stuff 40 Hz. into an 80 Hz. room ... contrary to what some snake oil bass trap salesmen claim. sure you can improve a room with treatments and trapping but you will never make it correct.

this is one reason (among others) why most recordings in the past have hpf at 100 or lower.

sure you can add sub lows into the mix but unless you have a pretty big control room to mix in and the listener has a room as equally large for playback, , chances are the sub bass is going to sound radically different from system to system. we call this a mix that doesn't travel well.

BBC specs call for minimum dimensions of 14 feet ... which equates to approximately 80 Hz. Most professionally and commercially designed control rooms adhere to that spec. perhaps it's also the reason that many pro large format consoles have fixed hpf's at 80 Hz?

natural, post: 415817, member: 29673 wrote: The OP is clearly vague at best.
Naturally everyone responds with what they typically like to record.

Obviously you mix for the genre that you're recording.

Exactly my point. and take advice from those who know it well.

natural, post: 415817, member: 29673 wrote:
Typically, when you're first starting to engineer/mix, you mimic. You listen to examples of the style you're mixing for.
You have a benchmark or a goal to achieve.

Exactly, why we need examples of the members work too.

natural, post: 415817, member: 29673 wrote:
Later, after you've had some success at reaching those goals, you might be able to expand on those skills in an intelligent fashion. The Beatles story of them insisting on more hi-end when it's " just not done that way" comes to mind.

Exactly, again! why we need "audio" examples of members work that reflect their opinions. We often trust members that may be way out there. Trusting Remy as an example, may not be the best thing for someone. Hearing her work would undoubtedly confirm the sound she is describing in a critique. She is known for sm57's and compression compression compression compression compression compression and thinks anyone that uses an 808 kick doesn't know what they are doing.
As I said many times, would I listen to my Aunt when I was producing a Pop song today? Even as sharp as I am, I still have to reflect and think about whether I am doing something because that is my old way or ... whats fashionable and appropriate for the client.

Anyone that give a blanket statement that an 808 is for people who don't know what they are doing, I have to say, I lost all respect right there. Cluess less comes to mind. Clueless in the world I make a living. Good thing I know the difference between someone that has no idea about pop. I that was confirmed real fast from an audio example.

natural, post: 415817, member: 29673 wrote:

It's a typical rookie mistake to attempt mixing without comparing to a reference. Of course, you must make sure that during the recording process the same reference was agreed upon.
You wouldn't have a jazz drummer play his jazz kit during tracking, and then come mix time, decide that this has to be a high energy rock drum sound.
DonnyThompson has the right approach.

Gotta have and agree on that reference. Otherwise, you're just guessing, or playing around with the knobs.

Exactly. references and qualifying.

Thank you
The perfect responses. This is why I think we need to have examples of who the member sounds like.

audiokid, post: 415851, member: 1 wrote:
Exactly why we need "audio" examples of members work that reflect their opinions.

Yes and yes again.
I'm happy to show my work, what would be the best way to go about that? Link on our profile?

I think this thread topic is great, Chris.

My preference in the low end and low mids is unique to each song, however I do have a overall preference.
However.. compromise always has to happen of course, especially in the low end for the sake of translation, imo.
I always start with all faders up with a general overall balance, no eq, no nothing.
Usually Ill start sorting out the mids, work my way down to the low mids, then the subs, and then move my way back up.
To me the real trick is getting the kick and bass to work together like one unit.
Personally, I'll find where the kick should be punching and then sometimes I'll
notch the bass guitar where the kick is kickin, only if needed, but then theres side-chaining which I usually find superior...
Then again, it all comes down to what YOU hear, how YOU hear it, knowing that one mans adjective is another mans cuss word, I won't even begin to start with trying to describe what I like to hear.

[MEDIA=soundcloud]kyle-gushue/porogative-cover

I did this demo for a cover band about a year in a half ago. It was tracked and mixed in about an hour and a half, tho the drums are the house kit using the standard mic setup we always have up. Not that we don't treat each project differently, we just have a standard setup so when people come in for tours, or to do quick demos, it's easy to startup the computer, and get recording very quickly, usually in about 15 mins if nothing breaks. I feel this has a reasonable low end for what it is, and travels decently, as far as the usual systems i reference on. I think some drum samples would have helped reinforce the kick/snare, but I didn't use any on this when I did it. And also the vocals could use some pitch correction, but this was just supposed to be a quick snapshot of the band playing so they could get some gigs.

I certainly dint mean to imply I use the same method every time for bass, cuz I don't, but in a general sense for rock which is mostly what I do, that's my starting point, or fallback. I recently mic'd a swr stack w a 57 a few inches off the grill, no DI for a death metal ep. And achieved the clanky sound they were looking for. It was my boss's suggestion to start there, and I totally would not have thought of it myself, but now it's in my small but growing bag of approaches. I've got a lot to learn, and a long way to go, which is why I really enjoy all your thoughts and approaches, that's what makes this a fun, rewarding thing to do in life, and why I am trying my best to not have to go work at a bank. Don't be shy or pull punches if you have any comments on the demo I posted, i can handle criticism, and insults. I think it's cool that we can take advantage of technology and and post audio, so I'd love to hear your stuff too, and even examples of stuff you (you as in you all) didn't record, but think is a good example of a great bass recording/mix, or whatever the topic happens to be at the time.

Cheers!

Ps, this is not my band or anything, just one that came by the studio for a Saturday afternoon. 5 songs tracked/mixed in about 8 hours, for $275. They came well rehearsed, w a click, and the keys as backing tracks. It was done on a Mackie d8b in DP, w a liquid mix, and a couple basic waves plug-insfrom the native power pack. And Meyer HD-1 monitors, along w some cheapo computer speakers. Nothing fancy, beside the monitors being quite expensive back in the day.

Kyle, How do you get it that loud? What did you use? I just uploaded a track I'm working on and had to limit 7.5 db off the top and it still wasn't as loud.

Kurt Foster, post: 415838, member: 7836 wrote:

BBC specs call for minimum dimensions of 14 feet ... which equates to approximately 80 Hz. Most professionally and commercially designed control rooms adhere to that spec. perhaps it's also the reason that many pro large format consoles have fixed hpf's at 80 Hz?

Now there's an interesting observation... I'd never thought of it that way before.

LOL... I always just assumed there was some grand audio deity in the sky who, over a millennia ago, and long before the first wire was connected to the first transformer, chose the corner frequencies... LOL

"Thou Shalt Filter Low Frequencies at 80hz And Downward. From This Day Forward, Thoust Name Shall Be High Pass, And Thou Shalt Suffer Those Heathen Who Falsely Worship 100Hz As The Fundamental Frequency Of The Wind Chime."

heheh.

Seriously though, it's an interesting point.

I want to know when it became fashionable/trendy to have the tiny little control rooms that are so often seen... with the console shoved up against the front wall and the glass.. and this isn't all that new either, so you can't blame digital. I remember seeing my fair share of those layouts back in the 70's, too. With some of those studios I was in, I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the frequencies from a bass track recorded in '79 were still hanging around in those rooms. ;)

Those studios are still around, 8 x8 closets, only these days they use Pro Tools instead of tape, and instead of egg cartons, they're covered from floor to ceiling with auralex. (insert massive eye-rolling emoticon here, please).

:)

form follows function. small c/r's were the thing in the 30's 40's and even 50's. "broadcast quality" meant (i'm guessing) 25 dB dynamic range and 100Hz to 6 k Hz .... roughly the capability of AM radio ....

in the 60's FM gained more listeners and there was a demand for wider dynamic range and more bass and high end to 15k ... so control rooms grew to accommodate the requirements.

i remember reading an interview where Bill Wyman was asked what the secret to his bass sound on records was and he said something like " Be sure they don't turn off everything below 100 cycles. "

audiokid, post: 415886, member: 1 wrote: Kyle, How do you get it that loud? What did you use? I just uploaded a track I'm working on and had to limit 7.5 db off the top and it still wasn't as loud.

If I remember correctly I used a drawmer dsp pluggin on the board, which has a compressor and limiter, like 3-6 db GR on the compressor 2:1, w medium attack/release, and no more than a db or so once and a while on the limiter. Then I took the mix down and ran it thru an ssl emulation on a focusrite liquid mix, probably about the same thing, 3 db of GR, slowest attack fastest release, and just an L1 pluggin same thing , about 3db GR. I honestly forget if I did use the drawmer or not, but most likely I did, it kinda beefs up the low end and brought the mid forward. That's pretty much what I always do in general and the just fine tune it.

I really think that since it's such a sparse arrangement, that's the real reason, I don't really know much about mastering, so I don't have any tricks, I just think there was a lot of space in the recording frequency wise so it could get pushed, it came out louder than my metal recodorings from that time frame, which are a lot more dense.

I was just contemplating that concept today, cuz I brought some of my rough mixes to my boss to do finals, and even tho we were were w the same tracks, and same/similar plugins, and even balance wise they were similar, but his mixes came out significantly louder. It must have to do w the way the frequencies are distributed, where maybe a db or to on the kick or vocal won't sound very different timbre wise, but probably collectlively adds up.

I've also been thinking about CR design, and layout lately, since we been talking low end, and one thing I've noticed, is that most of the books on the subject, suggest the speakers throw the longest dimesnion of the room, but it seems to me that more often than not in the "big" time rooms they are usually wider than they are deep, and oriented that way. Is that because at a certain point it becomes more about cubic footage? Where if you reach a certain benchmark, orientation doesn't matter? is it just clever design where they figured out how to get the sweet spot accurate in a "sideways room"? Or maybe it's just the angle of the picture lol.

It's really a testament to how good those guys were, working in shoebox rooms w minimal treatment. It's amazing that pink Floyd recordings don't sound nearly as dated as much of the stuff from that era, and the abbey rd studio b was nt much bigger than an average room, and the tracking are was tight too. I can only imagine how hot it got in those rooms w a tube console and fairchilds, and pultecs.

The bigger studio I work in the CR room was rebuilt 3 times, it's an LEDE room, and it was made smaller each time. the former owner said that the first one ws like28x30 or so, and didn't work cuz it created a slap echo, so it got smaller, and then another false wall was built for the soffits and front, to actually take it from realativy flat in the low end, to actually producing 5 extra db around 80, so that the speakers didn't have to work as hard on those frequencies, freeing up headroom. It's now like 19x23 and relatively small/cozy, and w the compression style ceiling, it barely meets the (bbc?) standard for 3500 cu ft for a proper listening room. I honestly can't say I convinced either way yet on the bass response cuz I've only messed around/listened for a few hours, but there is significant bass trapping behind the inner shell, something like 5-6 feet depth on the rear wall. One of these days I'm gonna just take a trip and rent some time at a proven flat room to really get a feel for what mixing on a flat system is like. I'm curious if my mixes would translate better or worse, because the majority of playback systems aren't flat, so I wonder if I would be compromising still, or truly to just be able to mix so " it sounds good " in the room, and it'll just translate? Im sure I'd have to re assess my sense of balance and have to learn how to mix in a flat room. It's def gonna be worth the loot.

The best translation I ever got - at least up until now with this current project of treating the room I'm currently in - was when I had my pro studio... with a large control room, with the console/mix position in the center of the room.

Now, to be fair, this room had been professionally designed and built, with splayed walls, canted ceilings, etc.

I was so busy running the business at the time that I didn't have the time ( or energy) to follow the designer and builder around, or to ask questions. To this day I'm still kicking myself for not doing so.

I can't remember exact dimensions but roughly, the control room was 10' -12'H(canted ceiling) x 20W x 25L.

Part of the reason for the size was because of the acoustics, but part of it was also to house a lot of gear, along with allowing room for clients, producers, etc.

Various traps, absorbers and diffusers were used to tune the space. FWIW, there wasn't so much as an inch of auralex anywhere in that room.

I never had any problems with accurate translation of mixes coming out of that room.

d/

Everyone, this thread is right on.
Kyle, thanks for all that info! This is exactly what we needed now. You describe the relation to volume and density right on.

I really think that since it's such a sparse arrangement, that's the real reason, I don't really know much about mastering, so I don't have any tricks, I just think there was a lot of space in the recording frequency wise so it could get pushed, it came out louder than my metal recodorings from that time frame, which are a lot more dense.

Have you tried to get a mix that loud with acoustic music?

Lol, I pretty much make all my mixes as loud as they can go, that is appropriate for the genre, and or before it starts to alter the balance too much. So yeah I have, some of the stuff I recorded where it was just a acoustic guitarist/singer came out pretty loud, pretty easily. But I don't have like a particular volume that I shoot for for everything, and usually the limiter just does it's thing and somewhere between 1-4 db give or take, usually is about as much as I can get out of it. I've never really had anyone say my mix is too loud or too soft, so I've been sticking w that.

I have tried to level match recordings to commercial stuff, but they always fall apart before they get there. Usually I find my stuff is about 2-5 clicks softer on the volume knob. Which is probably a testament to where my mixing skills are at, as well as equipment, proper master, songs ect. I don't really chase volume, but again, I do try to make things as loud as they can go w in reason, same thing for live. As loud as I can go, that is appropriate, dance bands get more kick and bass than others, most times live people are out to socialize, not scream in each others ears, and still not hear each other, so I keep that in mind.

I've found electronic music to be much easier to get loud over acoustic music. I used to scratch my head on why, then came to the conclusion its because there is more complex transients levels in acoustic music, which are part of what makes it real sounding. The slight too much chop off the top seems to start removing the space followed by harmonics. Electronic music starts out with less which can be pushed substantially before we take notice that something isn't right anymore. Thus, trying to compete with electronic music level is impossible for me. I hear the bad happen at low level limiting and just can't do it.

Man, I would like to hear from anyone about this issue I have and even some examples of how you get acoustic music loud. It would be helpful to hear stages of where we all think it starts loosing.

Your mix example sounds pretty damn good, but it also sounds like there isn't much sparkle to it. But, you seem to have managed to still get it punchy and not muddy, current sounding. (y)
I'm wondering if some of us "old guys" who cut our teeth back in the FM days, (where we really took notice to that FM sheen , ah... the open footprint of our era), if that's why we don't deal with the sound today and miss analog so much too. That sheen is missing on the radio. I get it in my studio, but for some reason, it just ain't translating the same online yet. Its getting there but something flattens out.
What do others think? I'm I way off?
If we all had volume controls on our playback systems and there was some sort of "law" that we couldn't exceed a set level, acoustic music could compete better. I long for that day. I think people would heal that sparkle that caught our attention and maybe start loving it again. requesting it. lol.

Its also a reason why I spent all this doe on my analog system, I am trying to discover how to mix acoustic music loud without loosing the sparkle.
I hope its not because I just don't have the chops somedays. ;)

Finally, last question for the night... how do you get the level and bass/kick to keep its form to the end mix. I mean, you said you know when to stop crunching but do you also mix a bit shy on the kick and bass expecting what happens as you push it up?
I definitely notice bottom end and the mids increase as I compress and limit the master. I always mix into the master, but even though I have gone to great lengths in monitor control, there is always still a bit of guess work getting it to this finish line.

I'm not sure when you put whatever it is in the bus in, but I usually get a rough mix up w in the first half hour/hour, and once all the tracks are up together and I've got all the energy going that's there in the song, I engage the bus comp/limiter, which is whatever is available. So I'm mixing w those effects in there and usually by the 6-8 hour mark I'm done.

What I have noticed, is that when I take the steroe mix down, and mess w the mastering plugins, I find my hi hat gets too loud, and my snare disappears. So I've actually been questioning the same thing, and it's something I wanna bring up w my co workers, and see what they are experiencing. So i don't really have a good answer yet.

I also agree that the mix lacks sparkle, or in my words, a bit dull. Part of that is the Meyer hd1s are pretty bright and it took a while to figure out how much top to put, but honestly I can't ever seem to get the sparkle to translate as well as I'd like, my stuff usually sounds a bit dull and small compared to commercial releases. I think another aspect of it is the subjective quality of the top. I prefer mellow, and silky, which I used to get w my dad's old radio, and record player. Even on cheAp tascam and Mackie stuff, I can crank it and it doesn't get harsh, so I honestly think I shy away a bit w the stuff I have access to, partly because of my skill level, and partly because I just don't seem to like it. It's like yeah, there's more top, but it's not that kind of top. So when I can get away from finish carpentry wiring and broken gear, I think I'm gonna experiment w adding more sparkle than I normally would, during tracking, as well as using some of the OB eqs, which are pretty inexpensive (range peq 15s, and eureka channels), as well as some of the more expensive API and trident, at the big studio. Performance/song things aside, I myself have been toying with if it was an issue that would be solved w hardware vs the binary code stuff I have to use right now, particularly In the 'mastering' step. obviously I'm going the way of the analog, but one thing at a time, so I just use what the studio has, along w any gear I have they that they don't.

To be honest I don't usually get the low end acceptable first shot. I have a radio at my house That farts out w too much bass, so I use that as the judge, and the subs in my car as well. This is stuff is stuff I am still learning.

That's a very interesting perspective on electronic vs acoustic, volume levels, that makes a lot of sense. It's very true, cuz when you think about it, some of that stuff is basically a 60/80 hz sine wave, w no dynamics to have to manage, that has been created, often w a big budget, under a microscope. Now in the context of like a rock record, I find I have to make it gel, where as a hip hop record, the isolation of each element is accepted, so it more a matter of keeping things uncluttered. I find I can use much more radical eq curves, becuase it's really just affect the individual thing, where like in a live drum kit, the bleed and everything else comes into play, as a whole. Where hip hop basically treat each drum as an individual thing.

I wonder what everyone else does??

I agree that frequency separation is paramount and comes right after basic balance, once I learned that my mixes improved dramatically.
Here's a mix I did recently, would love to hear your critiques.
[MEDIA=soundcloud]ivory-thieves/thousand-crimes
[[url=http://[/URL]="https://soundcloud.com/ivory-thieves/thousand-crimes"]View: https://soundcloud.com/ivory-thieves/thousand-crimes[/]="https://soundcloud.com/ivory-thieves/thousand-crimes"]View: https://soundcloud.com/ivory-thieves/thousand-crimes[/]

Man, I don't know how you all make sense of my writing lately, its getting worse and worse. I'm looking forward to listening to your mix once I get back to the studio, Chris! Thanks for posting something (y)

Sounds pretty damn good man. Super 80s, I like it. Sounds nice on my iPad, I like how the mix builds, and gradually increases in volume till the End where it settles just a bit. Excellent. I'd have to listen to it at the studio, or my own speakers if they were set up, to really say anything constructive/critical, as there is nothing glaring.

Just curious if you tracked it, and what keys/virtual instruments were used? Good songs and arrangements make good mixes. It's tough to tell on this thing but I think I'm hearing some fuzz guitar? Was that mic'd up?

kmetal, post: 416090, member: 37533 wrote:
Just curious if you tracked it, and what keys/virtual instruments were used? Good songs and arrangements make good mixes. It's tough to tell on this thing but I think I'm hearing some fuzz guitar? Was that mic'd up?

Thank you for the kind words, I appreciate it.
I did indeed track it myself, you're correct, that is a fuzz guitar with a uni-vibe effect but I actually didn't mic up and amp for it, it's a line 6 pod.

Currently I don't have a separate tracking room to mic up an amp and personally when tracking guitar I don't like the amp to be in the same room while wearing headphones, I like to overdub while listen through monitors. There's something strange to me when overdubbing guitar in the same room as the blasting amp while monitoring with headphones, being able to feel the vibrations of the amp but not of anything you're overdubbing to, there's a disconnect doing that (for me) so when the amp isn't in the control room and you monitor through the monitors or even headphones at that point it evens out the "feel" while tracking.

As far as virtual instruments and keys go, that's an actual keyboard (Yamaha s90xs), the drums are all programmed, everything else was tracked.

Yeah I feel ya, I hate headphones. If your close mixing w a dynamic, just about any room would do fine w a blanket or two over the amp. As long as there are no serious rattles or whatever, the room sound ant gonna really get into the mic w an amp cracking an inch or two away. Just a suggestion if you did wanna do some live mic ing, but was weary of the rooms effects.

I've never had room issues w close mincing electric guitars, from closets to bars, to clubs. Fwiw

Kurt Foster, post: 415729, member: 7836 wrote: i like bass with nothing rolled off below 100Hz. i like to put a narrow notch boost at 200 to 220Hz. so i can hear the bass on small systems. this is based on a track that has been recorded with a little LA2 pulling out -3dB and flat eq. it ain't rocket science.

What do you make of this?

View: http://youtu.be/4G0KGb8rpt0

This looks really useful. Best tool I've seen in a long time. Looks like it will go where ever an insert is. This appears to be an awesome patch between a patchbay or DA stems in a hybrid setup as well. Its one of those things every studio should have ready and able in a chain if ya ask me. cool.

These are mono, I'd like to see a stereo version for stems.

I had the chance to work on a Harrison 32 Series desk once.... around '88 or so. I still remember it, this many years later, because it was a fantastic sounding console. Everything just worked, man. The individual tones, the summed mix, it all just came together so effortlessly. With the exception of minimal Q, I didn't really have to do all that much to the tracks... it was like "instant tone".

I would say that this unit, along with their mic pre, would be a fantastic step towards - or an addition to - any hybrid studio. As a front load, or as an outboard EQ via insert, I can't see where you would go wrong with this.

If I had the money, I'd pull the trigger on those two pieces right now.

FWIW

One thing that I think we've overlooked on this subject, is how the bass guitar was recorded to begin with. Some may say that this has nothing to do with how you mix a bass, but I strongly disagree with that sentiment.

For example, if a bass player has a certain tone that they want, or to take that further, if a particular player has a "signature sound" that they are known for - (like Jaco, Paul, Entwistle, etc., these guys don't sound the least bit similar to one another, but they do all share the common factor of having their own well known "sound" ) - I think you have to be true to that when mixing... meaning that in many cases, you might not add anything at all, other than perhaps a little gain reduction to keep peak transients controlled.

If you start reaching for dramatic EQ changes or effects on bass tracks recorded by particular players that have a certain overall tone that they are known for, you're likely to get a slap upside yo' head. LOL.
And, I completely understand and accept this without debate.

Example: There's not much point in accentuating those particular frequencies that enhance a pop/thump/slap style - like that of Louis Johnson or Larry Graham - if you are working with a bass player that is more "McCartney-esque" in their tone and style. Another example would be with fusion guys - like Jaco, who preferred a more mid-range gradient, or cats like Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci, etc - who are generally going to want more mids attached to their tone, because of the nature of their playing, which focuses more on the bass as a focal instrument - as opposed to the basic "support" role of a rock-style bass player and a P Bass, where a more full and rounded sound, with a solid bottom end is generally the preferred tone.

McCartney was known for his tone, but, he was also known for his style... he had a very melodic sense when it came to the parts he played - lots of counter-melody, walks and glisses. Take a listen to Getting Better from Sgt Pepper, or Paperback Writer, and the bass tracks are incredible, not only tonally, but from the way that Paul approached the performance.

So, while it's one thing to discuss various techniques of mixing bass, I think that we need to consider how it was tracked to begin with first, and while we certainly need to be concerned with the balance and how the instrument sits in the overall mix, we also need to respect certain styles and tones that are sent to us the way they are, and/or to accurately capture performances and tone - as they are played, when it comes time to mix.

On a final note, personally speaking, I find it far easier and much more productive to mix bass guitar when there's an actual bass part that is being played; a performance that is well thought out and planned, that works with the song, sits in the pocket perfectly, and has the nuances that only a true bass player knows how to get out of their instrument - as opposed to the bass player simply following the same thing that the guitar player is doing - but just an octave down... and this is where I think the line of separation exists between real bass players vs " just some guitar player who decides to play a little bass".

There's a big difference. A huge difference. And anyone here who has ever had the privilege of working with a REAL bass player will know exactly what I'm talking about. ;)

IMHO of course.

d/

most of the Beatles stuff after the first two albums, was done with two- four track machines. they would load up four tracks and then bounce to one or two tracks on the second machine. sometimes they would add a part while the bounce was being done. rhythm tracks were recorded first. usually John & George on guitars, occasionally John, Paul or George Martin on piano and drums. solo overdubs, strings/ orchestra whatever else they wanted all being "sub mixed" as they went. bass was recorded last. this is because at the beginning the tape machines had limited sync frequency response. you couldn't ping pong on one machine without loss of highs and lows and if you bounced the bass several times between two machines, the tone would get real flabby. Paul laid the bass last on the final open track(s) and has said himself this allowed him to figure out bass parts that were very melodic while keeping the bass tones solid and up front. all part of the genius of Sir George Martin.