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Tips for giving synth bass punch
Old 20th May 2006
  #1
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BradM's Avatar
Tips for giving synth bass punch

I've been mixing tracks for my band recently. We are a four piece with two guitars, synth/keys, and drums. Our keyboardist holds down the low end with a Juno 106 synth. There's two songs that have been especially problematic for me since the synth patch is very fat and the parts are long sustained bass notes. So there's really not much attach or punch to work with...not what you would get with a bass guitar.

Does anyone have any good tips for making this type of fat Moog-ish sound work in the context of a mix? Would you automate the bass parts to have more attack and then draw in some faked decay?

thanks,
Brad
Old 20th May 2006
  #2
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max cooper's Avatar
 

You should be able to get a nice punchy bass sound out of that Juno.

I'd say that instead of the automation thing, just find a sound that works better.

I've used a few different synth bass sounds, hardware and virtual, and I think tweaking the sound to taste is crucial.

Oh, and try some paralell distortion. For longer sustained notes, that can give it some meat.

Like run it thru a marshall amp and mix that in with the clean signal.
Old 20th May 2006
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan
I've been mixing tracks for my band recently. We are a four piece with two guitars, synth/keys, and drums. Our keyboardist holds down the low end with a Juno 106 synth. There's two songs that have been especially problematic for me since the synth patch is very fat and the parts are long sustained bass notes. So there's really not much attach or punch to work with...not what you would get with a bass guitar.

Does anyone have any good tips for making this type of fat Moog-ish sound work in the context of a mix? Would you automate the bass parts to have more attack and then draw in some faked decay?

thanks,
Brad
Just place a multiband compressor on the signal and boost the low mid band to the max...
Old 20th May 2006
  #4
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by max cooper
You should be able to get a nice punchy bass sound out of that Juno.

I'd say that instead of the automation thing, just find a sound that works better.

I've used a few different synth bass sounds, hardware and virtual, and I think tweaking the sound to taste is crucial.

Oh, and try some paralell distortion. For longer sustained notes, that can give it some meat.

Like run it thru a marshall amp and mix that in with the clean signal.
Okay more info I forgot to mention. The synth patch has plenty of bite and buzz to it up top that allow it to cut through. But dynamically it's pretty flat. I had reamped it through a slightly overdriven tube bass amp and it fattened it up nicely, but also squared it off. We're done tracking so there is no going back and redoing with a new sound. Besides, our keyboardist is not capable of pulling it off again...know what I mean?

Brad
Old 20th May 2006
  #5
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Sounds like distressor time.
-Brian
Old 20th May 2006
  #6
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Cojo's Avatar
 

Hi.

If understand correctly the problem is with the longer notes, right?

First you should have programed the sound with a lower sustainlevel and adjusted the realease time for a suitable value. But... since it already on disc, why not run it through a compressor with long attack and medium to fast release. Set the gain reduction to a nice value and you're ready to rock again!

/Cojo
Old 20th May 2006
  #7
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BradM's Avatar
Wouldn't a medium-long release be better so that it brings up the perceived attack level and squashes the sustained portion of the sound?

Brad
Old 20th May 2006
  #8
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Cojo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan
Wouldn't a medium-long release be better so that it brings up the perceived attack level and squashes the sustained portion of the sound?

Brad
It will squash the sustained part anyway as long as it is over the treshold level. When I said fast I didn't mean really fast, just slightly faster then medium. What you want is the level to return before the next note start.

Just dial and listen till you find the right value.



/Cojo
Old 20th May 2006
  #9
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BradM's Avatar
gotcha
Old 20th May 2006
  #10
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max cooper's Avatar
 

Did you record the midi or just the audio?

Because if you had the midi, I'd layer another sound on to of it, maybe. But I'd guess you probably only have the audio.

maybe get someone to tuck an electric bass under the synth bass.

I think the multiband compressor deal would work, except I think you're saying that the lack of punch is when the bass is sustaining, right?

How about some kinda modulation effect. They can be good for adding some motion where there's very little.
Old 20th May 2006
  #11
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allstar's Avatar
 

If the compressor doesn't work,

expand it, keyed from the kick drum.



I'm just throwing ideas in here.
Old 21st May 2006
  #12
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Mr Rich's Avatar
 

I've actually done that before and depending on the sound, it can work quite effectively.

In future, you could try and use the synth's filter envelope to add a little 'bite' to the note-ons.
Old 21st May 2006
  #13
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BradM's Avatar
I really appreciate all the great suggestions. I'm going to have to play with some compressors and expanders the next time I'm at the studio. I think some of the problem is that the attack of the sound got compressed by the overdriven amp.

I unfortunately don't have any MIDI for this one.

Brad
Old 21st May 2006
  #14
MDM
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MDM's Avatar
Have you also tried working with a (Stereo-) Chorus ?
Sometimes that can be great on synth basses to give them their own space in the mix
Old 21st May 2006
  #15
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native instruments has a little essay on the punchy minimoog sound in their battery tutorial

http://www.native-instruments.com/index.php?id=page9_us

that might help with figuring out how to set a comp or something to get that sound.
they suggest a couple of ways to do it, one of which is to set the attack really fast on the envelope, and then limit it a little so the attack is flattened out for 20 or 30ms. anyway, you should read the essay.
Old 21st May 2006
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

I think you could set a compressor to an appropriate attack time, a high ratio, a hard knee, and a quick release. just guessing!

Otherwise you could draw an amplitude curve on each note. talk about time consuming.
Old 21st May 2006
  #17


Compressor with a slowish attack (say, 50mS) and a fast release (so it resets in time) or put a kick drum or another patch from that 106 in there manually in the studio.



-tINY

Old 21st May 2006
  #18
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What about setting up a compressor to duck the bassline with the kick. That can impart some movement and excitement.
Old 22nd May 2006
  #19
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Good stuff! Keep 'em coming. I'll hopefully be able to try some of these suggestions this week and will report back.

thanks,
Brad
Old 22nd May 2006
  #20
MDM
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MDM's Avatar
why dont you just post a little bit of that track here mp3 ?

than we can hear and actually give you some sane advice instead of just kinda guessing what you mean ...

If I can hear the track, I can say : Ah ! now here, I would try this .. blah etc.. that 'd work faster dont you think? best mdm
Old 22nd May 2006
  #21
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I'd say DON'T compress it...
mix the reamped track with the full range original (being careful of the phase relationship) and then fish around with EQ until it pokes forward enough.

I often find you need to add a good amount of middle on a synth bass to focus the sound .
Old 22nd May 2006
  #22
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BradM's Avatar
Hi William,

Thanks for your comment. Well right now there is zero compression on the track. I have the reamped synth bass track with a healthy dose of 3k from a UAD Pultec plugin to give it some cut. The raw sound had a lot of buzz and bite to it anyway, but I just added some more to make it stick out. In hindsight I really think my bass patch is just lacking attack and the sustain has too high a level. I find that I can easily get the track to poke through. That's not the problem. The problem is that it doesn't have any dynamic punch. It's practically a square wave that is either on or off. So the low end of the mix is motionless. Know what I mean? The kick drum is there of course, but it's an closed kick drum. I luckily had a mic on the batter side so I am able to boost some attack there.

Before I start posting clips, I'd really like to take a second stab at it based on some of the suggestions people have given me. Something has got to work.

thanks,
Brad
Old 22nd May 2006
  #23
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guildonnie's Avatar
 

I agree with Wittman. Don't compress it. Try playing the part again with the same sound except pulsing it with the kick. You could even key the new part with a gate from the kick to tighten it up. Therefore giving the bass track movement without introducing a different sound.
Old 22nd May 2006
  #24
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H-Rezz's Avatar
 

Brad what platform have you recorded into ???

If you use Logic Pro, they have a great plugin called enveloper that gives you as much attack as you want ....
Old 22nd May 2006
  #25
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BradM's Avatar
I'm on Cubase SX. Does anyone know of anything similar? I have Digital Fishphones Endorphin and also Waves TransX. Would those work instead?

Brad
Old 22nd May 2006
  #26
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BradM's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by guildonnie
I agree with Wittman. Don't compress it. Try playing the part again with the same sound except pulsing it with the kick. You could even key the new part with a gate from the kick to tighten it up. Therefore giving the bass track movement without introducing a different sound.
Random thought...I'll be Columbia, SC this weekend for my cousin's wedding!

Brad
Old 22nd May 2006
  #27
Run it into a tube bass head then into the cab of choice. Nothing fattens up a solo synth line like a tube amp, just ask Jan Hammer.

Jim Williams
Audio Upgrades
Old 22nd May 2006
  #28
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GYang's Avatar
Many good advices here.
I can just add that my weapons for 'problematic' synth bass on some tracks are:

CLM Expounder (dynamic EQ)
SPL Dynamaxx and Transient Designer
Distressor
Old 22nd May 2006
  #29
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BradM's Avatar
I'm going to have to try my dynamics sculpting options. Sounds like I need a Transient Designer...

Brad
Old 22nd May 2006
  #30
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Dave Peck's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan
the synth patch is very fat and the parts are long sustained bass notes. So there's really not much attach or punch to work with...
From the description, it sounds like the problem is that the synth bass is playing the wrong part for these tunes. You're just not going to get 'punch' out of long slow sustained notes. Perhaps you need to retrack with a bass part that plays a lot of punchy percussive quarter notes instead of the pedal tones.

But aside from that, here are a few tips for punchy synth bass sounds (some of these may not be possible on some simpler synths):

Detuned oscs can fatten up a pad or lead sound, but they can cause annoying level fluctuations in a bass part. Try a bass patch with only one sawtooth osc or one fat pulse osc (like 53% duty cycle).

To add more oomph, add a hard-sync'd sine osc. This will boost the heck out of the fundamental while assuring that you don't get the level fluctuations of detuned oscs. If possible, mix this osc in AFTER the filter but before the VCA. You may need to invert the sync'd sine wave for best results.

If you still want some of the detuned osc fatness, try keeping one main osc at full level and one or two more detunes oscs at a much lower level.

24dB/octave filters often sound much punchier than 12dB or 18dB filters for bass sounds.

If your synth can do this, send some of the filter output back to the input creating a filter feedback loop. This will boost the low end a lot.

If possible, add a HIGHPASS filter (Yes, a HIGHPASS filter) after the standard LPF. Now set this HPF to track the keyboard 100% and tune it to the fundamental of the osc(s). Now crank up the resonance, and the HPF will boost the heck out of the fundamental.

If you want to get fancy, you can use a keyboard tracking multimode filter with simultaneous HP/BP/LP outs to split the signal and process the high, mid, and low harmonics separately and then mix them together again. For example, add some overdrive to the middle harmonics while keeping the fundamental and lowest harmonics clean.


DP
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