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measuring and adjusting sub bass levels in the studio to prevent rumble in car?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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measuring and adjusting sub bass levels in the studio to prevent rumble in car?

thanks for any advice anyone might have. To be clear, the commercial releases I describe below sound great in my car with no low end rumble issues.

commercial releases I am trying to sound as good as:
rap: kendrick lamar, rae sremmurd, migos
EDM: deadmau5, noisia, zedd, skrillex.
basically competitively loud, pro mixed and mastered popular artists

my setup: I mix/master with studio monitors and a sub, so I can hear sub frequencies just fine when in the studio. My mastering chain is pretty simple these days, usually my first plugin is an eq with a 12db highpass @ 30Hz and a brick wall low pass @ 20k. My last plugin is the Pro L and I turn up the gain slider until Im hitting between -10 and -8 on the RMS. Also on the pro L I pull the output down a tidbit and turn on oversampling. Every once in a while I'll stick another eq in between these two plugins to shape the sound a bit.

my problem: Whenever I make tracks that are in the same style of music as the above mentioned artists, I always struggle with the low end, and it becomes a huge time suck to go back and forth between studio and car to get the sub to the perfect level without the car rumbling too much. After a while I can always get it to sit right but it's taking me way too long and I wish I understood what I was doing a bit more so I am not wasting too much time.

I am wondering if anyone has any tips for mixing/mastering the low end in the studio and being able to measure whether or not the sub content will cause rumbling in the car. Specifically, it would be great if anyone had any recommendations on any measurement techniques or measurement plugins that could help aid the process of honing in on the low end and car-rumble proofing the sub without having to actually check in a car. I would imagine mastering engineers know how to do this and I'm hoping to figure that out for myself.

Thanks!
Old 1 week ago
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drycappuccinoguy's Avatar
Lots of Bass trapping
Old 1 week ago
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Thanks drycappucinoguy, I definitely do need to look into treating my room I am sure this will help a lot!

However, while I wish I could be, I am unfortunately not from the "just use your ears" camp of mixing and mastering. I am definitely not a natural born engineer, but would very much like to be good at it.

I found that for me personally, my mixes and masters got a lot better once I started really paying attention to RMS, peak levels, frequency analyzers, and gain staging, and just using measurement tools in general.

My current attempt at measuring sub bass levels in order to match with reference tracks (which is not really working obviously) is to put a low pass filter on my track and the reference track and check out the RMS levels and the peak levels, and also just generally check out whats going on in in a spectrum analyzer.

This approach seems to work pretty well on the rest of the frequency range but for some reason the way I'm doing it it doesn't seem to hold up when analyzing the low frequency range and trying to match to a reference track. Im hoping that maybe I'm going about it wrong with my technique, or perhaps there is another technique with different plugins that other people use.

I can't help but think that mastering engineers that deal with a lot of hip hop and EDM have some sort of surefire measurement tool to make sure that the sub bass content on their masters don't cause cars to rattle. While some might be able to rely purely on their ears and a good room for this, I am hoping there are also some that have a technique and plugin measurement tool they use to help them.

Thanks again!
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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You mentioned pro-l. Do you have pro-q? Eq match to your reference may point you in the right direction.
Old 1 week ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m_gant View Post
You mentioned pro-l. Do you have pro-q? Eq match to your reference may point you in the right direction.
Thanks M_gant, I'll try it out!
Old 1 week ago
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lowland's Avatar
 

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A good set of headphones could help.
Old 1 week ago
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Waltz Mastering's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by djohnq View Post

I can't help but think that mastering engineers that deal with a lot of hip hop and EDM have some sort of surefire measurement tool to make sure that the sub bass content on their masters don't cause cars to rattle.
I don't think there's anything to use to measure a surefire way to get the bottom to sit nice.
Mostly a combination of gaining trust in your room, monitoring system and experience.
Second guessing isn't uncommon when any of those is off. gl
Old 1 week ago
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Slug1's Avatar
Bass trapping and good monitors. I struggled mightily with low end until I treated my room. I put 48"x24"x4" OC703 stacked floor to ceiling in all corners, at the speaker reflections, and above my chair. I didn't measure like a $250,000 designed room, but it helped TREMENSOUSLY! I wanted to spend that money on more gear or cool toys, but I'm glad I made those traps. Some of the best money (and time building them) that I have spent. If you want to get better with the low end you should consider spending some time and money on buying or building some bass traps. You can't appropriately fix what you can't hear. Just my opinion.
Old 6 days ago
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
Bass trapping and good monitors....
Thanks Slug1! I guess I have always been scared of treating my room because its seems pretty expensive to do properly. I know I have problems in my room just by putting a low sine tone on and walking around the room. Certain frequencies really change in volume depending on where I stand. It seems though that anything above 100Hz doesn't fluctuate in volume too much as I move around.

When I sit at my desk, it is a good 3 feet pulled away from any wall. I have I have yamaha HS7 monitors, about 4 feet apart both directed inward toward my head. And Im probably about three feet back from them when I listen, and the cones are about ear level. I have an Infinity sub under my desk (not sure what model, too lazy to crawl under my desk), it doubles as a foot rest haha. When I sweep the sine wav from 30Hz up to 20K, I really only notice a very slight volume irregularity around 115Hz and it is pretty small, everything else seems to sweep like it should.

So yeah, when I move around the room the sub is pretty inconsistent, but when Im sitting at my desk the only real inconsistency is that there is a very slight volume bump around 115Hz. So I guess I'm wondering, how worthwhile is it to spend so much time and money just to flatten out that inconsistency? I've read a lot of mixing engineers that say they have to mix in a lot of places that are sub optimal acoustically but they rely on reference tracks in order to tune their ears and mind to the room. I'm hoping I can eventually get my ears good enough to truly understand my room.

That's another reason I was hoping there was a good measuring tool for sub. Besides car rumble proofing, i was hoping it could help me to train my ears to my room a, but as Waltz Mastering pointed out

Quote:
Originally Posted by Waltz Mastering View Post
I don't think there's anything to use to measure a surefire way to get the bottom to sit nice.
Mostly a combination of gaining trust in your room, monitoring system and experience.
Second guessing isn't uncommon when any of those is off. gl
So yeah, maybe I do need to get serious about the room treatment as Slug1 and drycappucino suggest.

I've been pretty busy today and actually didn't drive anywhere so I still haven't car tested M_gant's suggestion of using pro q2 eq match. I messed around with it in the studio today though and it seems like it might be a promising solution, I'll report back once I have conclusive results.

Also, lowland, thanks for the suggestion about headphones. What kind of headphones do you use?
Old 6 days ago
  #10
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Adam Dempsey's Avatar
 

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How does the mix sound when you add no further processing to it, ie no filtering, no limiting, just turn it up in the car? If you're not happy with that, keep working on the mix.
*Harmonic build-up between 100-200Hz is common and natural and, if excessive, is often what can set off resonances in car door cavities.

Last edited by Adam Dempsey; 6 days ago at 08:50 AM.. Reason: *
Old 6 days ago
  #11
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Slug1's Avatar
I hear you dude. Sweeping a sine wave won't help with things like time domain and really knowing if sub frequencies youre hearing are real or just bass build up in the corners. A sine wave sweep won't really help. It was a painful process and I hated spendinget that money. But it really helped me work the low end. If you're mainly producing then maybe not worth it. But if you throw the word mastering in your discussion, it's about critical listening and making decisions on critical listening. Really hearing the music. And the low end is key. You have to know that you're hearing the real bass in the program and not bass from the room. And be careful with that sub. In a poorly or non treated room it will do more harm than good. And for mastering it might be better to have a pair than a single.

All in all, if you're producing and doing some mixing, you may be okay. But when you throw the word mastering, and trying to match something to commercial program that's been mastered in a $100,000 room with $20,000 converters and $50,000 monitors, by a person with 20 years mastering experience, spending $500 for some OC703 shouldn't hurt as much

Rock Rock Rock On!!!
Old 6 days ago
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lowland's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by djohnq View Post
Also, lowland, thanks for the suggestion about headphones. What kind of headphones do you use?
I have Sennheiser 600 HDs and an older pair of Beyer 990 Pros, both open-style cans which tends to give a more neutral presentation than closed-back. Although I rarely use headphones these days except for occasional QC and low-level noise checks, before I had my current room they were useful for confirming what the low end was up to.

Last edited by lowland; 6 days ago at 12:41 PM..
Old 5 days ago
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
I have Sennheiser 600 HDs and an older pair of Beyer 990 Pros....
cool, thanks! I have an old pair of sony MDRv600s, they were like 100 bucks at the time I got em, so I dont think they are anything special. I only use them when Im tracking vocals or guitar ( I do most other stuff in the box). I don't think they are very helpful in terms of checking sub content, so I'll definitely look into some quality open back headphones like the 600HDs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Slug1 View Post
But when you throw the word mastering, and trying to match something to commercial program...
Yeah I see what you are saying. I think maybe I need to skip a virtual instrument purchase or two in the future and put it toward some of that OC703!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
How does the mix sound when you add no further processing to it, ie no filtering, no limiting, just turn it up in the car? If you're not happy with that, keep working on the mix.
*Harmonic build-up between 100-200Hz is common and natural and, if excessive, is often what can set off resonances in car door cavities.
Quote:
Originally Posted by m_gant View Post
Eq match to your reference may point you in the right direction.
Good to know I should to focus on 100-200Hz to fix this problem. I was thinking it would be lower frequencies that would be causing the problem so that's gonna help me a bunch. I actually turned off the filtering and limiting and did a quick remix earlier today after reading Adam's suggestion. Then I coupled that with M-gant's suggestion to use the EQ match with a reference track, and after tweaking that and figuring it out, I am actually pretty stoked with the new mix! I brought it out to the car and it still has low end issues of course haha, but its better, and also the mix in general is just better. I also forgot to bring a non-limited version of the mix out to the car like Adam suggested so I need to remember not to skip that step, as I think that was his main point. I have a bad habit of always running the master eq and limiter while mixing, so this is a good reminder to cut that crap out.

So I am thinking I need to focus on that 100-200Hz range, which would make sense, I have been trying out a new technique with the sub bass and parallel saturation/distortion on a high passed copy of the sub signal (so that it still cuts through on tiny headphones, laptops, and phones), so I am thinking that is probably the culprit in terms of buildup in that range.

Oh man, I've seen so many videos and forum posts on the internet of people saying how simple the sub bass is and that the key is to not to make it complicated, but I feel like it's the hardest part! Thanks everyone for all the advice, I really appreciate it, and would be glad to hear if anyone else has any gems of sub wisdom they would be willing to share. I'll be sure to post back if I get anywhere with more progress.
Old 5 days ago
  #14
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Slug1's Avatar
Depending on your room size, it's best to get 4 inch thick OC703. Stack two 48" pieces in each corner and then one on each side at the speaker reflection points. And lastly, put one on the ceiling over the listening position. These 11 pieces will get you started. You don't have to stop there, but you can start there and do some room measurements. One other place would be behind your monitors especially if you have rear ported monitors. I actually use 2" thick pieces behind my monitors and they are front ported. But do some room treatment if you want to listen more critically and get the low end right. You wont regret it. Have fun bro!
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