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Tips for Mixing 808s

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How to Mix 808's with a Layered Kick Drum
How to Mix 808's with a Layered Kick Drum - youtube Video
Hey, guys. Matthew Weiss here and I’ve released a new tutorial. I encourage you to check it out because it’s awesome, but you know what else is awesome? 808’s. Everyone loves 808’s. 808’s can be a little tricky. Why? Because they’re sinusoidal things that you don’t really hear because they’re too low to show up on your laptop speakers. Okay, so how do you make an 808 sound big?

Well, I’ve got a demonstration on that and, as a very special treat, I will be demonstrating on a record that I recently mixed for the multiple- platinum-awarded, multiple Grammy-Award-winning rap group, Arrested Development. Yes, I hit up Speech, and he said, “Yeah man, go for it, you can use this song.” And thank you very much. Rock on you guys, Arrested Development. Let’s give a listen to the track.


Good low end. Okay, so what’s the deal with the low end? Well, when I got the record it didn’t have that low-end, so I hit up Speech and I said, hey man, I’m going to redesign this low-end which is why there’s so many plugins in this session because I was doing sound-designy, kind of production-ish work while I was mixing. He said, go for it and I did it and he loved it, so it worked out. I’m going to show you what I did.

First of all, the components of the low-end are four fold mainly. There is this bass. There is a punchy kick. There is an 808. There is also this percussion overdub. The first and most important thing is selecting an 808 sample that you like. If it’s not an 808 sample that you like, then why use it? That’s silly. Here’s what the 808 sounded like to begin with.


So let’s play that with the bass. That is grossly out of tune, and also, it’s too high-pitched. I want a monstrous, beefy sub. So, I’m going to pitch this thing way down and, you know, I could sit here showing you how I pitched it and what it sounded like, but basically I ended up down at like, two doubles, like six notes down or something crazy.


The other thing is, anytime you’re mixing two bass elements together, always check the polarity, which means the phase. That’s usually marked with a Omega. So I’m going to flip the polarity. That sounds better. Also, I don’t really need that click at the front of the 808, because I have a punchy kick that’s in there. So, let’s just get rid of that. Let’s keep it cleaner.

[kick drums]

Cool, sounds good. All right, so now I’ve got plenty of sub. It’s really cushioning the bottom end. I know it’s going to make the speakers in a car explode, but it’s lacking something. What it’s lacking is tone. This mix is dense. There’s a lot of stuff going on. There’s some synthesizers. There’s vocals. There’s snares. There’s percussions. There’s kicks. There’s also some crazy stuff happening, so I need to give it some overtone. I am going to use my favorite plug-in, Decapitator, and give it some buzz.

Now, it’s going to show up on laptop speakers, and also, it has a nice character to it, which it didn’t have it before, and I’m going to enhance that a little bit with some EQ. I’m going to take off the distortion. I’m going to take off the EQ, and then I’m going to switch them on.


So, the song is called “Bio.” It’s by Arrested Development. It is currently unreleased, but hopefully it will be coming out as a B-side single soon, That is… I hope that inspires you to make some awesome 808 sounds. All right guys, ’til next time.


Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss

Matthew Weiss is the recordist and mixer for multi-platinum artist Akon, and boasts a Grammy nomination for Jazz & Spellemann Award for Best Rock album. Matthew has mixed for a host of star musicians including Akon, SisQo, Ozuna, Sonny Digital, Uri Caine, Dizzee Rascal, Arrested Development and 9th Wonder. Get in touch:

FREE Masterclass: Low-End Mixing Secrets

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Discover how to make your kick and bass hit hard by cutting (NOT boosting) the right frequencies! Plus, more counterintuitive ways to get fuller yet controlled low-end in your mix. Download this 40-minute workshop by Matthew Weiss, now for FREE!

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