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How to Mix Low End (MaxxBass, H-EQ, NLS)


In this video I’m going to be giving you some tips for mixing the low end of your music

I’ll show you some processing techniques using equalization and special effects, and also show you some different kinds of routing that you can use to have more control over the low-end of your mix.

So here’s a session that I’ve got going right now. For the most part have I have all the individual instruments mixed how I’d like them to sound, and they’re all going through this master bus over here, so I’ll play you back the audio so you can hear out sounds and then I’ll get into more of the techniques for the low end.


So the first thing I’m gonna do is pull up an equalizer on my master buss. This is just one thing that you can do. I’m going to be using a Pultec style EQ, specifically because I like the way it controls the low-end and gives you the option of boosting and cutting around the low frequencies together. You can float these two knobs to find a sweet spot where you’re boosting a good amount of the low end but also not making it too muddy by using this attenuation right here to scoop out a little bit of the low-mids. So I’ll play it back and show you how you can use this EQ to really thicken up and tighten up the low end.


So what I’m doing here with the low frequency selector right here is you can choose different frequencies from 20, 30, 60 and 100 Hz, then what you do is you boost with this knob and then attenuate with this knob and the difference is that the attenuation is occurring at a slightly higher frequency than the boost is, so it’s just giving you a nice little low-mid scoop right above this frequency. The thing about a Pultec EQ is you don’t really have to worry about just boosting a couple dB, you can use generous boost and attenuation and it still sounds great. So, I found that I liked the 30 Hz the best and then boosting around 6 to 7 and attenuating between 7 and 8.


So to me, Pultec style equalization is one of the easiest ways to really fatten up the low end but keep it nice and tight at the same time. Next I want to move on to a special effect that you can use for the low end as well, and this is the MaxxBass, this is a special processor from Waves and uses their proprietary signal processing in order to synthesize a new bass sound that you can use to replace the original bass. This is good if you think your mix is going to be played back on computer speakers or small earbuds or something like. The MaxxBass signal is a little bit higher frequency but it gives the perception of lower frequencies. So what you basically do with this plug-in is fade in and out the original bass in the MaxxBass until you find a balance that you like.


There’s not much to it, you basically play around with these two knobs and you find a balance that you like and hopefully what that will do is cut out too much of the low rumble but give you still plenty of presence in the bass.

Next I want to talk about how you can use mid-side processing to focus the bass in your mix. So what I’m going to do specifically with this, the H-EQ plugin from Waves, is I’m using mid-side processing. What I’m gonna do is with the mid-frequencies, I’m gonna boost the low end around 150 Hz. Then with the side processing I’m gonna cut around hundred 150 Hz. What this is gonna do is those really low frequencies of the bass guitar and the kick drum are now gonna be focused in the center of my mix, I’m gonna pull them out a little bit from the sides. And so what it’s gonna do is now all the really low frequencies are being played back through both speakers at the same time they are gonna be perceived by being the center of the mix and it’s gonna widen up the higher frequencies to be perceived more through the sides, so I’ll play it back and show you what is going on.


So here’s the sides by itself. See how I’m pulling out that low end at 150 Hz. Here’s the mid. Now them together.

What this kind of processing also allows you to do, is have control over these things separately so I can change the volume of the middle channel right here and change the volume of the sides so I can almost use it as control over the stereo width as well.


So if you’re able to hear how I could focus the really low-end to the center of the mix and that’s all I was really trying to do with this kind of mid-side processing. I’m gonna show you a different way to do that using some special routing for your mix, so what I’ve done already is created two auxiliary tracks here in my session: one called low end and one called high end. What I’m gonna do is route all my audio from my session by shift clicking here, then shift-option clicking on the output of each channel. And I have a bus called sub-mix. Now all my tracks are gonna be going over here to my sub-mix. What I’ve done is used two equalizer filters here: the first one is a low pass filter at 150 Hz with the six dB per octave filter cutoff. Then for the other one I basically have the complement of that: 150 Hz high pass filter with 60 dB per octave. What this is gonna allow you do now is have independent control over the low end and the high end of your mix. So I’ll play it back and mute these so you can here how they sound.


This is just the low end. And this is just the high end. So not only does this give you independent faders for each of these parts. But as I was doing before, you can use the panning to focus the bass in the center of your mix.

So before I was using mid side processing to focus the low end in the center, but now I’m using different kinds of routing. Another thing that you can do is after you have these things split out into different tracks — the low end and the high end — you can insert different effects. So here what I’m gonna do is use the Waves NLS Buss to add a lot of harmonics using the Neve console to the low end of my mix but then the high end i’m not using the drive not as much. What this is gonna do is just provide a little bit more saturation and glue to the low end.


So hopefully you guys got some idea of things that you can do to really get control over the low end of your mix and improve the quality of the sound by tightening it up and making it really fat.


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Eric Tarr

Eric Tarr

Eric Tarr is a musician, audio engineer, and producer based in Columbus, Ohio. Currently a Professor of Audio Engineering Technology at Belmont University in Nashville, TN.
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