Mixing 808: 3 Simple Steps to Stunning Low-End!

Mixing 808


In relation to hip-hop, and generally pop and different genres, the 808 is as much the point of interest of a tune as the vocal. Bass to us, whether or not it’s an 808 or a live bassline, supplies the soul for the music. It’s essential to have the ability to carry that 808 to life within the mix without drowning out the kick drum or different musical components.

Why is it tough to do that? Because when contemplating frequency ranges, usually bass and kicks share comparable ranges from 30hz – 400hz for the low end and generally greater than that for clarity.

Just a few plugins and instruments may help make the 808 actually stand out. First, it begins with the 808 samples. Relying on what the producer used within the instrumental will decide what tools you utilize to make it stick out.  There have been lots of various sounding 808s we’ve come through in our time engineering. From tremendous clear sine wave 808s to muddy, slightly distorted ones.

For the cleaner 808s, on most occasions, not a lot is required. For compression, we like utilizing CLA-76 or CL1B plugins. So far as EQ, we could use Renaissance bass to spice up the low mids and use an EQ like SSL E-Channel or Fab Filter Pro-Q3 to chop any frequencies which may be clashing with the kick drum. Multiband compression is another tool that you can use to fix certain areas of your elements.

We additionally are likely to decrease any excessive frequencies that aren’t wanted (usually over 500hz). For 808’s we are likely to deal with freq range from 40- 120hz. If we are in search of some character or additional harmonics, we will use Blackbox Analog Design.

Roland TR 808 Unit

Fix Phase Issues Before Mixing

Until we dug hard into audio engineering, we had no concept of what phase was or how huge of an element it played in mixing beats. Turns out it’s a vital one, particularly when low finish is concerned as phase cancellation can destroy your mix whilst you hope an EQ will make the issue go away.

Phase cancellation happens when two sounds consisting of identical or comparable frequencies are out of section (transferring in opposite directions), resulting in a total discount in perceived volume.

For instance, say you will have a kick drum and 808 that each hit perfectly when they’re isolated on their very own, however, while you put them collectively in your mix- all of a sudden the low-end disappears – every sound does not hit clearly, and the general track sounds hollow and flat because of the phase cancellation that’s occurring inside the bass frequencies of the track.

phase issues

It is a widespread problem, and there are a number of methods to appropriate phase points like this.

First – you possibly can flip (or invert) the phase button ø on one of the offending sounds utilizing a trim, utility, or any plugin that has phase-invert performance built into it. Upon engaging the phase flip, listen to see if the low end hits clearer or tougher. If it doesn’t, undo and re-evaluate your method.

Second – you possibly can change the sounds you’re utilizing to seek out 2 which might be in phase with each other. The easiest way to know if one thing is in phase is to use your ears. Audition your kick drum samples alongside your bass sounds and choose one which cuts through and feels good inside your low end.

TR 808 in Studio

808 Sample Choice

Selecting a top-quality 808 sample that works along with your track is essential. 90% of what makes a wonderful sounding 808 is choosing the right sample. Search for clear and punchy samples which have a constant body. Will probably be simpler to process and form them to suit different components within the mix. Quite a few sample packs supply quite a lot of 808 sounds to accommodate any style.

You even have the choice to synthesize 808 sounds. The foundation of an 808 is a sine wave with a quick attack envelope assigned to the pitch. Xfer Serum is a wonderful alternative for synthesizing 808s. It gives a number of options to form and modulate distinctive-sounding 808s. There are additionally devoted 808 instrument plugins equivalent to KICK 2, New Era 808, BazzISM, BD-808, and lots of others.

Both ways, it’s important you select or create the very best 808 sound to make use of as a place to begin. Composing a track around a weak or inadequate 808 will cause issues later on.

Digital Synthesizer

Shape Around Your 808s

Many mixers attempt to make their 808s cut by including things. Extra-low end, distortion, tape saturation. The reality? In case your 808 isn’t cutting through, it’s in all probability as a result of one thing else getting in its way.

This implies you’ll usually get better outcomes by leaving the 808 alone, and as an alternative shaping different tracks to suit it. If the 808 is dominating the sub-range of the frequency spectrum, you don’t want loads of sub-frequencies from the rest. Just follow the frequency spectrum and aim for a balance between these two elements.

Take away excess low-end on tracks that don’t need it. Frequent culprits embrace kicks, basses, and synths. High-pass filters are your pals. Give the 808 room to breathe, and it’ll usually cut through with no processing.

Behringer 808 Clone

Mixing 808s: Tuning

Around 50 percent of this time, when I’m doing a record using an 808 kick drum, I simply use it up! I place it into the mix where I like it, and that’s the start and finish of it. 99% of the time, your 808s do not sit properly in the mix since they’re out of tune with your song. 808 samples that you download will always seem out of place if played along with your melodies. In that case, you will need to tune it to the song or to a precise key in your arrangement.

Locating the correct key and tuning your 808s can be an issue and it’s time-consuming. This is truly a weak stage for most producers that are just starting off. The quickest and simplest way you can do this would be transposing the samples along, using your own ears to get the perfect sound.

But if your ears are not trained to listen for these subtleties, luckily, you can find plugins you’ll be able to turn to get this done. Ableton includes a stock plugin known as Tuner.

808 Tuning

Mixing 808: Layering Kick and 808

Here is the thing, most producers make the error of thinking that the attack on the 808 kick isn’t quite crucial as its body/tail. In my opinion, this is the biggest mistake a producer can do. You need to sort out the sub-frequencies in order for the kick and 808 to fit in together well.

I have heard 808 which was totally great and I’ve been lucky enough to place my hands on some of them. It turns out that they had been nothing but pure sine waves with a fantastic attack layered in.

A good kick sample assists your 808 cutting through the mix more. That first slap helps you to deliver that extra click that if brief, somehow tricks your brain. It simply allows you to perceive the whole kick / 808 mix as more complete.

So what’s the ideal approach to do this? Once again, finding the right sample is crucial. You would like the perfect quantity of attack and the perfect quantity of “hump”.

FabFilter Multiband Compressor

Balancing The Volume Levels

In a variety of instances, the untrained ear desires to have each 808 & kick be tremendously loud; nevertheless, for those who research & hear carefully the mixes of mainstream artists like Migos, Drake, or Lil Baby, you’ll discover that the bass and kick should not hit quite as hard as it’s possible you’ll think.

That’s a result of their engineers knowing that the low end will play an enormous function within the final headroom and quite a lot of clashing can happen when there’s an excessive amount of low end going on.

The factor that we’d like to consider is which instrument of the two is most necessary within the mix to be heard. You’ll wish to have one instrument be louder than the other. All of it is dependent upon what every instrument sounds like.

Let’s say that the 808 is an extra sub-based & low-end heavy sample & the kick is punchy & tight. In a case like that, we’ll need the kick to be heard & the 808 to be felt. We might have the kick be slightly louder in the mix & the 808 kick a little lower.

This might be key in the case of balancing these two instruments and it’ll tremendously help keep away from clashing. There are still methods to get your 808 to be heard with some parallel processing although & it offers to thrill the mid-range on the parallel channel.

balancing kick and 808

Mixing 808s: Effects and Processing

Another technique I have seen is to distort the kick sample. Does not need to be a drastic distortion, only enough to allow it to seem clipped. This will add that excess bass as well as that normal distortion, “sharp” at the highs. It’s a crucial issue having the kick play along with your 808. In this case, the 808 should always be separated from the punchy kick that brings the click in. Using a high-pass filter to clean them out should be one other process that you need to take care of. The high pass filter is essential to process them right.

The easiest way to do it is to fade in the 808, just enough for the kick transient to go through the bass of it. A bigger fade-in will create a bigger pumping effect. Also, this issue can be fixed with sidechaining and/or automation.

Sidechaining isn’t necessarily a go-to method of mixing Hip Hop drums. There are other methods to separate the kick and the 808. But if done properly, it can actually help your 808 stand out simply by being pulled down if you do not need it. Also, multiband compression can play a huge part in processing these two elements. By using multiband compression, you will be able to address separate areas and make them fit together with the kick and bass.

What happens, as you’re giving the kick room to breathe, you’re effectively getting the 808 ducked up. All you need to do is turn the 808 down if that kick shows its head and that is where the sidechaining would come in. This will make the process to be more gentle and fitting.

mixing 808

Process Them Through the Same Subgroup Before Hitting The Master

Each DAW handles this in a different way – what we are particularly referring to is sending the output of the 808 and the kick to the identical subgroup bus channel where they get processed together before going out to the ultimate master.

Most mixers will historically have all of their drums going to a drum subgroup, and the 808 (and different bass parts) going to a bass subgroup before every subgroup goes to the ultimate master bus track for exporting.

This method is completely different because it has your kick and 808 going to the identical subgroup bus before being summed with all different sounds on the master bus level.

The processing on this subgroup might contain numerous tools – including EQ, compression, distortion, and tape saturation (that’s what we often do with ours).

What’s essential is to not overdo the processing. These sounds are supposed to be dynamic, subsequently, some delicate compression might help them glue together, and including some harmonics by way of distortion or tape saturation could help improve their mixed presence and synergy.

Saturation Plugins

808 Sliding & Gliding

The 808 slides are one of the generally used strategies in modern digital music and beat production. It’s an easy approach that may be achieved by utilizing minimal setting changes. To start, it is very important to make the 808 ‘monophonic’ by setting the number of voices to ‘1’. This means that just one note might be triggered at a time as an alternative to a number of notes, reminiscent of a chord.

Then to make it slide/glide, you might want to switch the 808 samplers to the ‘Legato’ setting. Lastly, you possibly can adjust the Glide Time to create long/quick sounding 808 glides. For this instance, we used Ableton’s sampler which has a direct ‘Glide’ setting however you possibly can apply related settings on whichever DAW/sampler that you’re utilizing.

mixing 808 glide

Work on the Transient Shape of Every Sound

Let’s take into consideration every sound logically for a second. A kick drum has a clearly outlined transient, with the loudest part of the hit or attack of the sound taking place instantly and then fading out with minimal sustain. An 808 is similar however has rather more sustain than a normal kick drum hit because it “rings” out.

808s have lots of sustain whereas kick drums are mostly attack-based.

We will use transient designers, such as the SPL Transient Designer or Native Instruments Transient Master, to control the transient form of every sound to make them match better collectively.

This will include decreasing the sustain of the kick so the preliminary attack punches through, whereas decreasing the attack on the 808 so the kick punches through (sidechain compression will help with this as nicely).

Just like our EQ practices, we are often attempting to make use of a transient designer in a subtractive fashion – eradicating what we don’t need to be able to make room for what we do need from the other elements.

SPL transient designer


If you’re likely to go with wideband compression on your sidechaining endeavors, simply try to be elegant with it. If you’re going to make it pump, then try and time the pumping into the speed of the trail and fool the brain into thinking the bass was there the whole time. It is an art itself but I’m confident you could figure it all out.


Nikoloski is the founder and main content writer and editor of Mixing Tips. With his experience in audio engineering, mixing, and mastering for over 15 years, will provide hands-on experience and expertise in all the matters covered on this website.

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