Does my bass sound normal?

Isaac Adni

Member
Joined
May 4, 2016
Location
London
For some reason my bass sounds really distorted and bassy. When I do a low cut and put a compressor on it it sounds much better though. Is this normal? I am plugging my bass directly into my Focusrite Scarlett 18i8. I have attached an mp3 of the unprocessed bass. If it clips at all, that is my fault, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't clip. Please have a listen and tell me whether this is normal. If it isn't, please tell me what I am doing wrong.

 

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  • Bass Sample.mp3
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Sean G

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Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Location
Sydney, Australia
Welcome to RO Issac.

Sounds like a Bass should to me ;)

Maybe its whatever you are listening to it through that could be giving you the issue.
 

Isaac Adni

Member
Joined
May 4, 2016
Location
London
Welcome to RO Issac.

Sounds like a Bass should to me ;)

Maybe its whatever you are litening to it through that could be giving you the issue.

Ok, I guess I just need to process it then, and not turn it up too loud on speakers that can't pump that much bass. I just didn't want to record my friend playing bass and then find out I have to redo it because it wasn't recording properly.

May I also ask what is the best configuration for the knobs on the bass when plugging it directly in to my audio interface. Should the volume be turned up to full (to minimise the interference) and the tone knobs adjusted to taste?
 

Sean G

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Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Location
Sydney, Australia
Ok, I guess I just need to process it then, and not turn it up too loud on speakers that can't pump that much bass. I just didn't want to record my friend playing bass and then find out I have to redo it because it wasn't recording properly.

May I also ask what is the best configuration for the knobs on the bass when plugging it directly in to my audio interface. Should the volume be turned up to full (to minimise the interference) and the tone knobs adjusted to taste?

You don't want to go in too hot...try to keep everything at or below -12db with your instrument track in your DAW...

dial in the bass knobs to taste. YMMV.

You can always add volume by raising the faders if needed down the track, but can't subtract it if you go in too hot to start with.;)
 

DonnyThompson

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Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Please have a listen and tell me whether this is normal. If it isn't, please tell me what I am doing wrong.

Welcome to RO.

I don't think you are doing anything "wrong", it sounds like a bass to me, perhaps a wee bit "boomy", ( I'm listening through Alesis M1's with a 6" woofer) but, you'll likely get differing opinions on that, depending on whom you talk to, and without hearing it in context with other instruments in a song, it's difficult to tell what it would need processing-wise.

I can tell you that I'm not hearing any obvious clipping.

What kind of bass guitar do you have? It may just be that it's inherently muddy or boomy sounding.

What monitors are you listening through? What are their Woofer size?
If they can't reproduce those lower frequencies, most novice recordist's knee-jerk reaction will be to add more low end through the use of EQ-gain, BUT - if your speakers can't handle that rise in LF gain - if they can't reproduce that low - then distortion can occur in the speaker... but that doesn't mean that there's actual distortion on the track itself.

Also, as Sean mentioned, the environment you are listening in will have a big effect on how tracks will sound to you.
If you are in a space that is untreated, and you're not getting an accurate reproduction of frequencies ( in all ranges) you'll likely hear frequencies that aren't really there, or, you'll not hear frequencies that are there, and it's more than likely that your room / monitors is to blame, and skewing the sound to how you perceive it.
 

Isaac Adni

Member
Joined
May 4, 2016
Location
London
You don't want to go in too hot...try to keep everything at or below -12db with your instrument track in your DAW...

What I meant was that I thought I should turn up the bass to max, and then turn it down at my audio interface, in order to minimise interference.

I don't think you are doing anything "wrong", it sounds like a bass to me, perhaps a wee bit "boomy"

I haven't processed it at all, so I guess I could roll off some of the the really low end to remove some of the 'boom'.

it's more than likely that your room / monitors is to blame, and skewing the sound to how you perceive it.

Yeah, my monitoring situation isn't perfect. I have 2 yamaha HS7s which I've managed to get about half a meter away from the wall...
But it's probably better to start mixing after getting all the tracks down
 

Sean G

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Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Location
Sydney, Australia
What I meant was that I thought I should turn up the bass to max, and then turn it down at my audio interface, in order to minimise interference.
Most 24-bit audio interfaces have low noise floors and heaps of headroom, so I'd start with your interface dialled in at about 10 o'clock and your bass guitar at zero, then dial up your guitar while watching the meters in your DAW. You can dial one up / back the other off to suit until you have a nice round, full sounding bass sound that is to taste.
 

DonnyThompson

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Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
I haven't processed it at all, so I guess I could roll off some of the the really low end to remove some of the 'boom'.

Well, maybe. But my point was that you may be hearing "phantom frequencies" or "nulls" created by your room instead of what is actually there.

It might be helpful to you to do a few mixes and then play them back on systems outside of your studio - a car, a boom-box, or even through another audio system in your house - or at a friend's place - to see how the mixes are translating from system to system and room to room...

You could also do a test of the room to find out what you need to do to correct it. Treatment doesn't have to be all that expensive. Most of the materials that are used can be found in any home improvement store.

But don't just go randomly throwing up auralex tiles on the walls... you need to find out what your room's acoustic signature is doing before you attempt to correct it.
 

Sean G

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Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Location
Sydney, Australia
But it's probably better to start mixing after getting all the tracks down

In a way you are mixing to a degree while tracking, in such as setting the basics like levels going in.

But...treat these as two different stages in the process...don't blur the lines or otherwise you tend to lose focus on what you are doing and this can effect the decision making process. Focus on getting the tracks down nice and cleanly and then worry about the mixing stage once all the tracking is complete.

Just remember to not apply any plug-ins during the tracking stage as these will add latency, which if you are tracking / recording using headphones whilst playing along to a track thats already laid down you run the risk of that latency making a harder job of it...as the signal is doing a round trip and that delay caused by the pc's processors having to do the extra processing work on those plug-ins will cause a delay to what you are hearing verses what you are playing in real-time.

So save those plug-ins until you have all your tracks recorded. Once that task is done then you can concentrate on the mixing stage on its own merits, the sculpting and shaping of your tracks without muddying the waters between the job of tracking and the job of mixing. You don't want to be making mixing decisions whilst in the tracking stage or vice-versa.

Also remember that you have a 24-bit interface so make sure that your DAW sample rate settings are the same (ie 24-bit) going in and out (ie when recording and mixing down / exporting the finished track).
 

Isaac Adni

Member
Joined
May 4, 2016
Location
London
Most 24-bit audio interfaces have low noise floors and heaps of headroom, so I'd start with your interface dialled in at about 10 o'clock and your bass guitar at zero, then dial up your guitar while watching the meters in your DAW. You can dial one up / back the other off to suit until you have a nice round, full sounding bass sound that is to taste.

Thank you very much. But do you have any idea why medium gain on both the bass and the audio interface is a good idea, rather than lots of gain on one or the other?
 

DonnyThompson

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Joined
Nov 25, 2012
Location
Akron/Cleveland, OH
Thank you very much. But do you have any idea why medium gain on both the bass and the audio interface is a good idea, rather than lots of gain on one or the other?

It's called "gain staging".

providing even outputs and inputs in amplitude prevents you from over-driving one device while under-driving another. The more equal your gain staging is, the better your signal quality will be.

There are exceptions of course; as with tube guitar amps, where you hit the preamp stage hot and then turn down the master volume to obtain that distortion that guitarists like.

And, occasionally, engineers will drive a mic preamp a bit hot to take advantage of the character of that particular tube or transformer based amp... it's a "pleasing" kind of edge.

But for now, you're best off to stage all your gain equally until you know what you are doing, or until you have a preamp that will sonically benefit from being driven a bit hotter, but these are generally expensive pres that are known for having a particular character that is sought after by the guys who push them to sound that way.

None of the current budget preamp/I-O's will give you "that" sound, so keep your staging "even" for now.
 

Sean G

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Location
Sydney, Australia
But do you have any idea why medium gain on both the bass and the audio interface is a good idea, rather than lots of gain on one or the other?

In a nutshell, input levels from sound sources must be high enough to ensure that noise levels remain very low by comparison, but not so high that they overload the equipment and cause amplitude distortion, which is distortion occuring when the output amplitude is not a linear fuction of the imput amplitude of the device, which in this case would be your audio interface.

In respect to your bass guitar, increasing the volume to maximum comes at a cost which is increasing the noise floor of the input signal going into the device or interface, where issues such as noise from earth leakage and RF interference are increased exponentially as the volume is increased.

Think of it as a trade off ;)
 

paulears

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Joined
Feb 7, 2014
Location
Lowestoft - UK
My jazz bass is quite prone to interference - it doesn't like video monitors very much, so I always have the controls on full, and the tone set to it's brightest - I can cut it afterwards - I plug it into the interface and turn the wick up so that the loudest I could play still doesn't light up the red light. This gives me a bit of headroom on the meters - and if I do add a compressor I can lift the level a bit in that anyway if I need it.

My attitude to guitars is that as my bass is passive, reducing it's output, then amplifying that introduces more noise than taking the basses full output.
 
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