Mixing Bass / Low End

Hey guys, it’s been a little while and I had a lot of stuff going on. I got busy, but I wanted to get another video up before I head back home, back to Texas for the holiday.

I’ve got a lot of questions about low end, and so this isn’t really a bass walkthrough or a kick walkthrough, but it’s sort of just sort of how I group the low end and sort of — some of the little things I do to the bass, this is kind of a pop/acoustic track, it’s a little different.

There’s elements of acoustic drums, samples, synths, as well as organic instruments. I’m going to show you how I sort of have drums and bass grouped and how they sort of work together and kind of what plug-ins I used and the usual kind of stuff.

Let’s get into it. I’ll play you sort of the full mix as it is right now, and then we’ll dig into it. So here we go.

[mix]

Pretty full track. This is a chorus going into a bridge, so coming up to sort of like, the peak of the song. Let me mute the vocal group and synth group.

So we’ve got — let’s look at — we have our kick drums up here. I have a low kick sample and just the normal kick drum. Here’s what the drums sound like on their own.

[drums]

So a decent mix of organic and synthetic kind of instruments.

Normal kind of stuff routed to a drum buss, and then I’ve got a crushed buss here using parallel compression with various things routed to that, and then out of that, I go into a drum group, which I have right here, where I pull in drum and bass.

So as far as bass world goes, I’ve got an acoustic, a J-Bass, and then I have this synth bass as well. Let’s play that with the drums.

[drums and bass]

This is kind of a common thing. Nowadays in Pop music, people will be using multiple basses and a lot of people are blending the new and the old. So that was sort of the vibe for this song.

So we’ve got bass and we’ve got drums coming to this group right here, and then on this drum and bass group, sort of mix buss kind of thing you’ve got an API 2500 compressor. You’ve seen it before.

It’s not doing much as far as gain reduction goes. Take a look at it.

[drums and bass]

Those needles are just barely moving. Pretty high threshold — or, not very aggressive. 8.82. Really fast attack, 1.5 ratio, 0.5 on the release, soft knee, normal tone, kind of an old school tone type. Back the makeup gain off a little bit.

[drums and bass]

And what that does is it pretty much molds the two sort of worlds together with bass and drums. I don’t know. So that’s one small piece of the low end puzzle is getting the two to really merge.

Let’s look at this acoustic bass, what we have going on here. I’m going to mute the synth bass. It’s a J-Bass.

[drums and bass]

Alright. And let’s play — this is what we started with.

[drums and bass]

Then we went to the Renaissance EQ, four-band. We did some high passing at 50Hz to get rid of some of the low end subby stuff, did some low passing as well, 8,000, because we don’t really want it to get in the way of the synths and pianos, and I think there’s like, a Mark II Rhodes kind of sound on here too.

500 we cut, like, what was it, 549. The tone just kind of sounded a little cheap, I guess you could call it cheap, and then boosted a little attack-ish kind of top end bass sound at 1.3kHz. Take a listen to that.

[bass and drums, with and without bass EQ]

This is without it. With it.

So it’s getting a little more separation. It’s not as wide, it’s a little more controlled, and then we went to this SofTube focusing equalizer saturation kind of plug-in they use.

This is the first time I’ve ever really used this. So I know brainworx makes — There’s a bunch of different kind of saturators out there that add sort of harmonic magic to the tone, and this was like a preset that I tweaked a little bit. Bass Guitar 1. So let’s take a listen to what that does.

[bass and drums with saturation]

It sort of just beefs it up. You can dial in saturation. Back that back off.

Here’s without it.

Really just sends the bass guitar to the gym for six months, and it comes out a little bigger.

Then we used this — our trusty CLA compressor.

[bass and drums, bass with CLA-76]

Sort of tame it a little bit more. Control the beast.

What do we got. Dead in the middle on the attack, fairly — not all the way fast, my release, but it’s a pretty quick four to one ratio. Here’s without it. No, here’s without it.

Here’s with it.

[bass and drums]

So that’s our sort of J-Bass. Now let’s listen to our synth bass here. Stacked — I’ll mute the J-Bass.

[bass and drums]

Synth bass, and it’s got that high end, edgy kind of synthy tone, and that’s sort of the unique thing about that sound, and that’s what we really want to highlight.

Here’s where it started.

[bass and drums]

Totally mono, right? And if we bring in the J…

There’s a lot of fighting that goes on there.

So we EQ’d it first, and really just high passed it.

[bass and drums]

78. Then I really just want to make it wider, so not everything is fighting in the center, right?

So we pull up a short delay and you guys can do a screen capture or something for these settings, but sort of just a trick to get things to go wide.

It defaults at this setting here on the left. You’re going to make your mix 100% on the right, and you adjust the width on the delay on the right side.

So it’s at 19 point something something milliseconds right now.

[bass and drums]

But it’s wide. You can bring it down and see what happens. Narrows it up. Bring it back out. Wider again.

And you can play around with it, but for me, 19 was kind of the sweetspot.

So that’s — so now all of a sudden, they’re playing together a little better.

[bass and drums]

So now we’ve got the width thing, they’re both working, and you get this synthy kind of vibe, and then you have the acoustic sort of electric bass kind of vibe.

You may get into — I used the SoundToys, this Phase Mistress plug-in to kind of give it some movement so it’s not just dead in the water.

[bass and drums with Phase Mistress]

Here’s without it. With it.

Cool, so this is where we started.

[bass and drums]

Womp womp. And then this is where we ended.

[bass and drums]

Bring the J-Bass back in.

Bring in synth group.

[bass, drums, and synth]

So yeah, everything kind of has its spot, and it’s a lot of little things, it’s not one plug-in that’s going to make your bass and your kick and your low end come together. It’s a lot of little things from grouping them with this sort of multi-buss kind of compression philosophy.

And again, I mean, there’s not much gain reduction here at all. I mean, it’s barely moving these needles.

[mix]

That’s kind of the key with this. I also have my vox grouped up on one, and then I have sort of all of the synths. Acoustic instruments.

[synths and vocals]

So that’s it. Again, it’s a bunch of little things, EQ, compression, saturators, and this is one way to do it, in this track. Try some of these ideas, let me know what works, what doesn’t work. I’ve got a new website built up. Go check that out, I’ll post the link.

Add me on Twitter. I’ve been talking with a bunch of guys on there lately. Subscribe, like the video, and I’m going to play this out, and I’ll see you next time. I hope you guys have a good Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you later.

[mix]

Mixnotes

Mixnotes

Mixnotes is a YouTube channel with tutorials on mixing, recording, business, plugins and more. We've partnered with them to feature some of their videos on The Pro Audio Files.
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