How to Mix Bass
No matter how the part is written, mixing bass guitar is likely one of the most vital parts of your music. It’s additionally one of many hardest to get proper. Want to make your tracks sound pro? Read this guide to learn all the pieces you’ll want to mix with a killer bass.
Of course, this doesn’t apply to the kick drum. That’s the bass’s older brother. They battle and get on one another’s nerves, however in the end, they’re family.
In most kinds of music, we normally need a constant, stable low end. If we have each an amp and a DI, we will normally compress the DI signal very hard after we mix the two. Because the DI is so clear it may typically deal with very aggressive compression pretty nicely.
By compressing the DI and retaining the amp extra dynamic, we kind of get one of the best of each world — a constant low end with dynamic articulation.
If we don’t have each signal, grabbing a multiband compressor and simply locking all the pieces underneath 150 Hz in place with medium attack/medium release compression works very well.
Try going for medium gain reduction and attack and release times according to the line. Most of the time you will be after balance, so medium compression and medium attack and release times will be a good starting point to nail it. A medium ratio of 1:4 to 1:6 will be good and do not forget to compensate for the gain reduction loss.
Take care of the gain reduction compensation to even out the in and the out volume. A crucial step to even out your bass track.
Utilizing a limiter when mixing bass
Though it appears counterproductive, including a limiter to your bass can truly make it cut through the mix way better and produce a number of the upper bass frequencies. These upper frequencies usually get misplaced through the production of such sounds, where a low-pass filter is utilized.
Begin by including a limiter to your bass, even only a built-in one from whichever DAW you’re utilizing. The ceiling will likely be at -1dB to start out, you need to apply not more than a 6dB reduction out of your limiter. Less is more in this case.
This system will give your bass its energy back and help it to cut how it should without leaving out some of the important higher bass frequencies. Together with being a lot louder and punchier, all of the bass frequencies will now even be more leveled out.
Relying on what sort of bass you’re using, you may as well attempt using a compressor or soft-clipping your bass as a substitute. A limiter will work better on a sub or a digital bass, whereas a compressor will work better on acoustic bass.
Soft-clipping will level out the fundamental frequency of your bass and give it extra energy much as a limiter does. Nonetheless, it would additionally add its personal color and distortion so have fun with it and see what works for you.
Spectral slotting makes use of EQ to carve an area within the frequency spectrum for every track to take a seat. Going again to my dresser analogy—it’s like taking a track out of one drawer and placing it in another.
Right here are methods to pull it off:
Listen to the bass and kick drum together. Ask yourself—which is extra essential? Which carries the groove, or anchors the music?
Add an EQ to the least vital track.
Sweep a hefty increase up the spectrum while listening to each track together. Discover a spot where the opposite track becomes exhausting to listen to. That is the frequency you need to reduce.
Dip the frequency out slowly while listening to the opposite track. Cease when you may hear each track clearly.
Nevertheless, there are some basic pointers you possibly can follow, however, in the end, you’ll need to use your ears!
Listed here are some areas you may think about boosting/reducing:
- 60Hz – 200Hz: That is where the vast majority of the bass guitar sits. Don’t enhance too much otherwise, you’ll probably find yourself with distortion within the mastering stage.
- 200Hz – 500Hz: That is where your bass guitar can sound “muddy”. For those who cut around this range, you’ll obtain what we refer to as the “scooped” sound (very clear).
- 500Hz – 1kHz: That is where your bass guitar can sound “nasally”. For those who enhance around this range, you’ll obtain what we refer to as the “honky” sound (very metallic).
- 1kHz – 5kHz: That is where your pick attack (when you’re utilizing a pick) sits. Boosting/reducing around this range could make your bass tighter/looser.
Lastly, we simply need to emphasize that boosting/reducing more than 5dB isn’t the best practice. You’ll probably find yourself with phase issues and your bass guitar will sound “fake” when you make too many alterations utilizing EQ.
EQ Treatment for Mid Bass Area
In case you simply keep boosting the low end too much you’ll ultimately find yourself with a really muddy and boomy mix.
For your bass to cut via an audio system that has a narrower frequency response you should focus your power higher up on the frequency spectrum.
As a substitute for boosting at 100 Hz, start looking in the 200 Hz area for the solid low-end – mid-end weight.
Typically even that can get muddy rapidly so adding just a few dBs at 600 – 800 Hz will convey out the harmonic multiples of the basic note (no matter what that note is in your case, relying on the key of the tune and the playing type of the bassist).
The middle frequencies, even as much as the high-mids, are the place you’ll get the attack of the bass. If you wish to hear the sound of the bass strings more, hunt higher upon the frequency spectrum.
EQ Pocket for the Bass
One of many easier approaches to this is to simply get elements with lower tones out of the way of the bass guitar. If we would like our bass to stick out, ensure that the piano, low-end synths, and guitars are all a bit lighter within the low end with EQ.
Things can get fairly a bit more difficult when different components need to be on the low end as well. While you want guitars, vocals, or synthesizers to sound powerful it could take a little bit of compromise. In this case, we might wish to think about leaving a pocket for low-mid frequencies on the bass guitar.
Think about pulling out a bit more 700Hz-1.5KHz on the other instruments and giving the identical range a little bit of a bump on the bass guitar. Sure, the bass is probably not the star of the low-end on the record, however, it would have one other range where it’s not being masked.
The overtones of the bass guitar are inclined to stay within the low-mid range, together with the basic tones of the guitars.
We’re normally seeking to minimize this range out of kick drums and toms, opting to get their punch from the upper midrange. 4-string bass guitars don’t naturally have a ton of sub-frequencies. Kicks however, do have a naturally occurring sub-tone.
Sub-bass power eats up headroom, and also you want headroom to make a mix loud. Mockingly, genres that call for highly effective, exaggerated bass are sometimes those that should be made to look loud. It’s a battle even for skilled mixing and mastering engineers.
As a normal rule, the louder a track’s subfrequencies, the less limiting you may apply before distortion. So if you’d like a huge bottom-end, you’re in all probability going to have to sacrifice a number of dB of gain reduction on that master maximizer; likewise, if supreme loudness is your goal, you could have to rein in sub frequencies so you may push the limiter harder.
Fade out/in end/beginnings of the bass
When synthesizing sub-bass, start and end clicks at non-zero crossings are annoying. Elevating the amp envelope attack and release times can relieve these pops a bit however may also take away front-end impact.
One of the best – however most time-consuming – resolutions is to bounce your subpart to audio, then chop and fade the sides to take away clicks. It might not be a specific process, but surely is a crucial part of mixing bass guitar. Trimming those pops and clicks will clear the frequency image and you will have only the necessary signal.
Bass and Kick Mixing
Together, bass and kicks construct the musical sense that enables the lead instruments to be melodic, harmonic, and apparently rhythmic. For this reason, we should take particular care with these instruments.
They will need to have volume and punch without clashing or interrupting different frequency ranges, volume particularly since we like to feel the low-end as much as we hear it.
Luckily, the elemental range shouldn’t be the one portion that helps outline the sound of each instrument. The kick drum features an attack and decay, whereas the bass contains a good set of overtones that helps us distinguish which notes are being performed.
The aim for all mix artists is to let the bass and kick drum co-exist within the low-end clearly where the bass’s overtones do not intervene with the kick drum attack, and neither the overtones nor the attack interrupts the upper-frequency instruments.
This problem is amplified once we remember that we should not be panning both of those instruments at all. They should dwell properly up the center so each audio system can share the burden of thumping them out and maintain the listener anchored to the stereo area.
You possibly can have all types of fun playing with the stereo placement of many tracks in a project, however, the bass isn’t normally one in all of them. The power of low-end frequencies is critically compromised as quickly as they move away from the middle of the stereo picture.
That’s not to say that bass tracks ought to actually be mono tracks (though fairly a few are) however that they shouldn’t be panned until you could have an excellent purpose for doing so.
Layer Your Bass With A Sine Wave
Much like you’d with every other sound, you may layer your bass to get it to sound smoother, fuller, and stronger in your mix. Sub-bass all the time makes the bassline sound more full.
Nice sub-bass for a smoother low frequency is a sine wave. To do that, add a sine wave that performs the same notes as your major base frequency, ideally around 20-80Hz. High pass filters your primary bass to around 80-100Hz to make room for the sine wave. You’ll be able to high pass filter the principal bass more if wanted, however, this can be a good place to start out. The high pass filter will be your friend, in this case, so lean on it.
If you happen to find that including a sine wave is just too difficult for you, you may layer your bass in one other, less complicated way too. Merely duplicate your primary bassline and pitch the notes down an octave.
The most typical waveform for this sub-bass is a sine wave, however, it’s also possible to experiment with different waveforms like square, sawtooth, or triangle to provide your bass extra character.
Some Extra Bass Mixing Tips
Whereas we often wish to jump head-first into a number of the more thrilling points of mixing, ensuring that the bass guitar is as near perfectly tuned as possible is arguably more vital than another instrument.
It must be addressed first, as it may actually mess with the general feeling of the track if it is even slightly bits out of tune with the other tracks because it produces very sturdy basic frequencies.
One of the many main advantages of playing the bass guitar as a monophonic instrument, generally, is that auto-tuners can be utilized on them in a moderate stealth method. Generally, a well-tuned bass guitar will nonetheless be up or down a couple of cents when it will get handed over to the mix engineer. This tends to occur more typically with bass guitar tracks than with standard guitars, because of the thickness of the strings.
Pitch correction will simply get the job performed on the few final cents of distinction and lock it in throughout the mix phase. It should tend to make your bass a bit extra artificial sounding when it’s the star of the show though. However, perhaps that’s not such an issue for the aesthetic of your up-front bass guitar mix.
Saturation and distortion are related in certain methods, as each can be utilized to spice up the perceived loudness of your bass. The distinction lies in the effect of including saturation.
Including saturation can assist add extra coloration to your mix as an alternative to simply hard-clipping the frequencies. The consequences of saturation are much gentler and can be utilized to add a really good warmth to your mix.
Saturation is nice for rounding up bass frequencies, serving to them cut through the mix easily and softly with a really gentle compression referred to as soft-clipping. Where distortion is heavy and gritty, saturation is warm and well-rounded.
Distortion might help you increase the perceived loudness of your bass and make it sound heavier, or excessive. The amount you need to add will rely on what kind of sound you’re going after.
Distortion is commonly used for a more metal-type sound so as to add an angrier tone. It additionally works very nicely for genres like dubstep, and different music with heavy bass elements.
Though distortion is definitely the clipping of frequencies, you need to use distortion to your benefit by playing around with the amount you add. Experiment with the completely different effects you could get by including more or less and seeing what happens. Keep in mind that parallel distortion is also your friend here, so use it!
Enhance Room Acoustics and Monitoring
A correct listening setting is crucial when mixing bass. Poor quality monitors and room acoustics can result in issues in low frequencies. This causes engineers to make bad choices and craft mixes that do not translate.
Ensure that your studio has a pair of full-range monitors. Smaller monitors might only reproduce frequencies right down to 40Hz – 50Hz. These audio systems work for some mixing purposes. Nevertheless, they aren’t accurate for mixing low-frequency content material. A subwoofer could also be used with smaller monitors to reproduce low frequencies.
Use acoustic treatment to scale backroom modes. Room modes are a collection of resonances created by a room’s natural acoustics. These resonances normally exist between 20Hz – 200Hz and might create major issues in this range. Use bass traps and absorptive acoustic treatment to scale back the effects of room modes.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to make DI bass signal good
Recording bass guitar via a DI (Direct Input) may give you a clear signal to work with, however, usually, it lacks the power and warmth that you simply get when miking up a bass cabinet. To get an extra attack in your bass tone, a subtle enhancement within the mid-range frequencies across the 700-800hz range will give it extra bite and attack. To convey more definition out of the strings, attempt boosting around 2.5khz.
For heat and smoothness, you possibly can run the signal through an amp emulator and add a subtle enhancement to gain around 80hz.
How loud should the bass be within the mix?
If you end up mixing your bass, you need it to be loud and punchy enough to cut through the mix but not too loud that it overpowers your kick drum.
How do you get a funky bass tone?
An effective way to get a funky sound out of your bass guitar is by utilizing an envelope filter. It’s a sort of pedal very similar to a wah pedal that responds to your playing attack. Mess around with the knobs till you get what you’re searching for.
How do I make the bass be fuller?
You may make the bass sound fuller by layering your bassline. You are able to do this by duplicating your bass track after which taking the duplicate down an octave to provide your bass extra depth, or you possibly can merely add a sine wave of the identical note of your primary bassline.
You can too use a stereo effect to widen your bass by duplicating your bass track after which high passing the duplicate so as to widen the high area without affecting the low one of your bassline, avoiding phase issues.
How do I make my bass sit in a mix?
To get your bass to sit nicely in your mix, make sure that there aren’t any frequencies or instruments inside a similar range competing with it. It will trigger muddiness and make your bass disappear within the mix.
You can too help your bass cut through the mix better with distortion and saturation, or you possibly can bring the volume of your bass up by including a limiter in your bass or utilizing a high pass filter to take away the inaudible bass frequencies so you can turn the volume up.
How can I make my sub-bass sound better?
Utilizing a sine wave in your sub-bass is mostly very efficient, simply ensure you put it in the fitting octave to match your principal bass better.
To make your sub-bass sound better on any speaker, attempt to include more harmonics to the sub-bass. You are able to do this by experimenting with completely different waveforms like a triangle wave for instance and trying it at the next octave.
In the end, like most issues, mixing bass and/or kick drum is simply deciding what you need and then figuring out methods to get what you have to that destination. The magic is all the time within the choice-making.
Spend some time working around various bass samples and lines and practice a lot! This is the only way on getting better and better at your job. Taking proper care of the low end will result in great low basic for your building and if that is done right, then the rest of the song should be easy peasy for you.
Hopefully, this article has given you some food for thought in addition to some strategies as a way to get there.