An incredibly over asked question...

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Puff-E-Mike-T, Sep 26, 2006.

  1. All,

    I realize this has been asked a million times in a million different ways. I am recording my first full album project with a band and am having tons of problems getting the bass and kick drum to standout right in the mix and get them seperated enough to distinguish them from each other. I have mixed each song at least 10 times in 10 different ways yet am still not satisfied with the outcome. The kick drum (on most songs) sounds perfect at around 115hz, with the midrange scooped around 600hz and then a small peak at about 2.4khz to get the snap. The bass has a good tone across the spectrum but lacks some articulation once mixed down. To try to compensate for this lack of articulation I tried adding just a few db in at 400 hz and 800hz.

    The problem I am having is that the kick and bass tend to blend together or mask each other at certain times. I haven't been able to come up with anything that seems to help. Any advice is appreciated...and I realize that anything you throw my way is subjective and is really going to need to be filtered through the needs of the specific song. What I am looking for is merely a starting point from which I can adjust to make the low end of the song sound better.

    Mike T.
  2. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Feb 9, 2005
    South Florida
    Home Page:
    What sort of compression (if any) are you using on the kick and bass?
  3. chrispick

    chrispick Guest

    It's not unusual for a mix engineer to notch out some bass guitar frequency so the kick can pop through.

    Also, you can often acheive better clarity with bass and kick if you high pass the sub-lows. Try rolling off frequencies 25 hz and lower, give or take.
  4. So compression wise I am using TC electronics Classic compressor on both to varying degree depending on the sound I want. In some cases as little as 4:1 in others as high as 8:1 or even 16:1.

    I tried rolling off a little bass from the low end of the bass guitar and it helped but its still not perfect.

    Any other thoughts? I know some people try actually using a high pass filter up to 100hz on the bass, but this sounds a little extreme to me.

    How do you guys approach getting the two similar instruments to complement each other?
  5. natural

    natural Active Member

    Jul 21, 2006
    Add to the above list:
    PANNING- A little left, a little right, lift and seperate.
    RADICAL EQ- If all else fails. (It sounds like you've taken the logical steps that should work in most cases) When all else fails, try sacraficing the low end on the bass. It might not sound good by itself, but if the bass player and drummer are tight, it sometimes creates a little magical aural illusion that there's more going on than meets the ear.
    LEVELS - In this case, sacriface the level of the instrument that is most busy. (ex-if bass player is holding notes but the drummer has a nervous foot, Bring down the kick)
    ARRANGEMENT- Sometimes it's just a very bad arrangement between bass and drummer- Both are too busy or are not tight. In which case you're pretty much out of luck, but the good news is ,it's not your fault. (technically- although the band will blame you anyway.)
  6. Thomas W. Bethel

    Thomas W. Bethel Distinguished Member

    Dec 12, 2001
    Oberlin, OH
    Home Page:
    All good suggestions. I find that mastering a lot of tracks for newbie engineers they try to put everything in the middle of the mix which makes it a mess and muddies up the sound especially in the bass region. Every instrument should have its own space and that can be done by panning, by frequency adjustment or by levels, You need to listen to your mix as a complete entity and not as separate tracks.
  7. Rosemary

    Rosemary Guest

  8. Thanks everyone, I went back and remixed some of the songs last night and they have improved. The only items I have center panned at this point are the kick, bass and snare (other than lead vocal), everything else is panned left or right. I cut a few low frequencies from the guitars and organ and I used a low shelving eq with a high Q to cut some frequencies from the bass. This allowed space in the 115hz and below range for the kick. This seemed to create the illusion that the bass fills the whole range from 800hz and below but still creates space to hear the kick on its own.

    As the bass player in the band, I want my bass to sound good and round and after doing this I was suprised at how little it seems to affect my impression of the bass guitars tone and "bass-i-ness."

    As a relative new person at this (less than 2 years experience) I really appreciate the openess of this forum and that fact that people are willing to share and don't tend to judge. Thanks!!
  9. Rosemary

    Rosemary Guest

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