EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

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EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by definite » Sat Oct 23, 2010 2:47 pm

Can any of you that are into DIY recording suggest some good general tips when it comes to mixing bass on tracks?

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by timi » Sun Oct 24, 2010 4:13 pm

Digital or analog won't make a difference, it's still just compression and EQ, same principles apply.

As a bassist you should already have an idea of how EQ works in general, but... Extreme EQ won't sound natural, for a natural sound you should only need to do subtle boosts or cuts at fairly wide bandwidths, but maybe you aren't going for natural... There is no way anyone could quote certain frequencies to boost or cut as it all depends on the captured sound and how it fits into the mix, you just need to experiment. Do a big boost or cut and sweep it to find problem frequencies, if there are any.

Compression is a bit harder to get your head around, but to use it you really need to understand how it works. Most compressor plugins will have bass presets, I would put them on and listen to how they change the sound. Start playing with the settings to learn what they are doing. Threshold is obvious, but learn what ratio, attack and release are doing. Once you have a grasp on how to use the compressor you should be able to get what you want out of it.

It's common for inexperienced people to overdo everything in the mixing stage, less is usually more.

Try not solo the bass for too long, you are better to crank it in the mix while you work on it. You could spend ages making the bass sound cool by itself only to have it not work in the mix.

Try changing the order of compression and eq in the signal chain, it can make a big difference to how the compressor behaves.

Try subtle compression on bass triggered from the kick drum (side chaining), this can help give more definition to the low end of your mix. Very common technique but the attack and release times are vital to make it work.

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by definite » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:22 pm

Yeah nah yeah I already know what EQ and Compression does, Im after some general ratio/knee/thresh-hold setting tips and frequency boosts and cuts! Obviously theres no magic setting for all this but just keen for peoples personal tips...

Thanks mate!

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by timi » Sun Oct 24, 2010 5:48 pm

Cool cool, sorry just assumed from your question that this was all really new to you.

Most of the bass players I record (including myself) are using at least a little bit of overdrive so it's already quite compressed. For this I like the smoothness of a soft knee, ratio is usually 2 or 3:1 and only getting a max reduction of perhaps 4dB, not really compressing it that much and not really changing the tone, just making it a touch more even. That would be my go to setting and I would tweak from there.

For someone playing clean with more dynamics I would probably have the ratio higher, 4 to 6:1 and have the threshold set so there is only the smallest reduction during normal playing, just nabbing the peaks. However, if the clean bass player isn't that good I will probably compress way more and have a faster attack, maybe even run one compressor at a lower ratio followed by another at a higher ratio. In the clean situation the compression will have more effect on the tone so it really depends what you are going for.

Can't say anything that exact for EQ, always depends.

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by definite » Tue Oct 26, 2010 3:41 pm

Cheers for all that Timi!

Ive been told (and shown) by a good friend that 200Hz is the enemy lol. Well, more that alot of 'mud' resides there sonically - amazing what a slight dip in 200 can do for the clarity of many sounds!

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by timi » Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:42 pm

definite wrote:Cheers for all that Timi!

Ive been told (and shown) by a good friend that 200Hz is the enemy lol. Well, more that alot of 'mud' resides there sonically - amazing what a slight dip in 200 can do for the clarity of many sounds!
Depends, around 200-300Hz is a common problem frequency range for untreated rooms, so make sure the problem wasn't the room you were in (or the monitors) rather than the actual capture. You might take the mix to another room or stereo and have it sound really tinny. Do a sine wave sweep and listen to all the dips and peaks you will probably hear, scary stuff.

Remember that of you mic an amp in a bad room you might have problems in the low mids that will be captured, with a DI you obviously don't need to worry.

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by joppo » Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:31 pm

Timi - what about eq'ing for specific playback situations? There are massive differences in quality of speakers that a recording can be played back through, and presumably in the rooms that they are played in. And then there are bass boosts and sub-woofers. I can get a bass tone I like on the computer, but when I try it on an ipod, or stereo it often sounds quite different.

Would you eq differently for an mp3 thinking it was mainly going to be played through earphones on an ipod compared to CD audio. Is the 200-300Hz dip more about where it is played than where it was recorded?

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by BluesBass » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:09 pm

joppo wrote:Timi - what about eq'ing for specific playback situations? There are massive differences in quality of speakers that a recording can be played back through, and presumably in the rooms that they are played in. And then there are bass boosts and sub-woofers. I can get a bass tone I like on the computer, but when I try it on an ipod, or stereo it often sounds quite different.

Would you eq differently for an mp3 thinking it was mainly going to be played through earphones on an ipod compared to CD audio. Is the 200-300Hz dip more about where it is played than where it was recorded?
Isn't that one of the things that 'mastering' is supposed to take care of?

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by foal30 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:30 am

ha, supposedly
Nev is touching on why so many modern records sound terrible, you have no idea what the listener is going to 'appreciate' the music on

even Home Stereo to Car Stereo is completely different, given how many people seemingly no longer require a stereo at all now, it's a hiding to nothing

very soon releases will be multi-mixes surely, by this for home, this is for your ipod, etc. It's aslo possible that people simply don't care and are happy to listen to $5 tunes on 75cent speakers.
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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by BluesBass » Wed Nov 03, 2010 9:05 am

Good points, old chap.

I may have posted this before... but check this out: http://www.cinchreview.com/bob-dylan-audio-scandal/570/

Ignore the Dylan content and get into the article a bit and its a very decent illustration of the issue (especially the video clip).
Warning: it's long, but well worth it IMHO.

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by dannowilso » Wed Nov 03, 2010 10:46 am

Thats what the Mastering proccess is for!
A mastering engineer will make a track sound even and 'flat' using EQ, compression and his ears so that it sounds good in general, if it sounds bad on a certain stereo etc its because that stereo boosts certain frequencies to appeal to certain listeners and music genres.
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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by BluesBass » Wed Nov 03, 2010 11:04 am

Sorry mate, you've lost me here...
dannowilso wrote:A mastering engineer will make a track sound even and 'flat' using EQ, compression and his ears so that it sounds good in general, if it sounds bad on a certain stereo etc its because that stereo boosts certain frequencies to appeal to certain listeners and music genres.
:shock:

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by timi » Thu Nov 04, 2010 4:34 pm

joppo wrote:Timi - what about eq'ing for specific playback situations? There are massive differences in quality of speakers that a recording can be played back through, and presumably in the rooms that they are played in. And then there are bass boosts and sub-woofers. I can get a bass tone I like on the computer, but when I try it on an ipod, or stereo it often sounds quite different.

Would you eq differently for an mp3 thinking it was mainly going to be played through earphones on an ipod compared to CD audio. Is the 200-300Hz dip more about where it is played than where it was recorded?
You have no way of telling what people will be listening on (even though it's often white earbuds), so mixing for just one thing will always let others down. If your finished product has an eq balance similar to well mastered commercial releases you should be safe because the people listening on crappy systems are used to the particular crappy sound of their system.
BluesBass wrote:Isn't that one of the things that 'mastering' is supposed to take care of?
A mix should work in context with itself, then mastering makes sure it translates across different systems (along with other things). This means that if the whole mix has too much 200-300hz then mastering can "fix" that, but if it's just the bass that has too much you could be killing the low end on the guitars and snare by cutting area that during mastering.
dannowilso wrote:Thats what the Mastering proccess is for!
A mastering engineer will make a track sound even and 'flat' using EQ, compression and his ears so that it sounds good in general, if it sounds bad on a certain stereo etc its because that stereo boosts certain frequencies to appeal to certain listeners and music genres.
Hmmm, it should already sound good in relation to itself and it's a common misconception that mastering can "fix" a mix. The eq part of mastering is to ensure translation across any stereo it gets played on, it's common to kill the subsonic low end and most modern masters are pretty toppy, but if the mastering engineer is doing more than reeeealy subtle things in the mids your mix probably sucks.

Compression/limiting can "even" things out to a degree but the intention is usually to get the average level louder, these days as "loud" as possible unfortunately. Also, a penis isn't necessary to be a mastering engineer :wink:

There we go, a thread about bass in the mix has turned into a thread about mastering 8)

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by joppo » Fri Nov 05, 2010 8:42 am

timi wrote:There we go, a thread about bass in the mix has turned into a thread about mastering 8)
And it always seems to be me getting the thread of topic! What can I say... it's a gift! :mrgreen:

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Re: EQ/COMPRESSING bass on digital recordings - TIPS please

Post by dannowilso » Fri Nov 05, 2010 9:01 am

timi wrote: Hmmm, it should already sound good in relation to itself and it's a common misconception that mastering can "fix" a mix. The eq part of mastering is to ensure translation across any stereo it gets played on, it's common to kill the subsonic low end and most modern masters are pretty toppy, but if the mastering engineer is doing more than reeeealy subtle things in the mids your mix probably sucks.

Compression/limiting can "even" things out to a degree but the intention is usually to get the average level louder, these days as "loud" as possible unfortunately. Also, a penis isn't necessary to be a mastering engineer :wink:

There we go, a thread about bass in the mix has turned into a thread about mastering 8)
HAHA agreed timi, if it sucks at mixdown its going to suck after mastering.
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