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How to add bottom end when it isn't there!?
Old 12th July 2007
  #1
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How to add bottom end when it isn't there!?

I'm mastering an album and all is going well except one tune which has the bass guitar really, really low in the mix. There's no kick on this tune, so right now at least half the bottom end is actually the acoustic guitar track. A remix isn't possible as the mixer, who has the mix at his studio, is on vacation for a few months. Actually the song sounds alright on it's own with low bass, however when you're listening to the album and the bass drops out it sounds lacking in comparison.

I boosted as much as I felt I could get away with using Eq but it's still not even close to the other tracks. If I add more the low end of the acoustic guitar and vocals (very deep male singer) start to get boomy.

Are there any tricks/software you would suggest for this situation? There just isn't much information below 180hz. I know you guys hate "fix it in the mastering" but you have to do the best you can with what you have and I'm working with budget material... Thanks in advance.
Old 12th July 2007
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
I boosted as much as I felt I could get away with using Eq but it's still not even close to the other tracks. If I add more the low end of the acoustic guitar and vocals (very deep male singer) start to get boomy.
Maybe try the opposite and reduce everything but the low end? When it comes to most things in general I find that you can't enhance what isn't there to start with.

Another option may be something like MaxxBass, but it can be a bit artificial.
Old 12th July 2007
  #3
jdg
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retrack a bass over the top of the mix? (ive done some weird **** b4 on mastering day...)
Old 12th July 2007
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdg View Post
retrack a bass over the top of the mix? (ive done some weird **** b4 on mastering day...)
it sounds like really good idea
Old 12th July 2007
  #5
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Are the kick and bass balanced in their lack? If so, then some dramatic eq should be helpful. If the bass alone is gone and everything else is balanced, and you can't sidechain/eq it up, then a bass track stem is in order. If you cant get a bass stem then maybe you can make one with a radical eq and a compressor.
Old 12th July 2007
  #6
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Doesn't always work, but sometimes it can save a mix:

Make a copy of the song filter out everything but the low end on the copy(what little of it is actually there) and boost where needed, and mix it with the original. An extreme boost of the low end on the copy can work if it's mixed in right, and hey, sometimes a little reverb on the filtered copy can make it work even better.

It's all subjective though, I've never used one of these before, but here you go: "YMMV".
Old 12th July 2007
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
Actually the song sounds alright on it's own with low bass, however when you're listening to the album and the bass drops out it sounds lacking in comparison.
Be sure you keep it realistic and don't compare apples and oranges. I mean the difference seems logical.

That being said, MaxxBass or Renaissance Bass, both by Waves (either plugin or on the MaxxBCL) might help in some situations to add bass that's not really there.
Another (dirty) one is the bass enhancement function on Raygunn plugin by Arboretum.
And in the analog realm you may try BBE Maximizer or maybe some enhancer by Aphex?

All of which are low harmonic generators. Just like an octaver basically. Not exactly mastering tools but hey...

Peter

Last edited by finetuner; 21st July 2007 at 08:56 AM.. Reason: some stuff added
Old 13th July 2007
  #8
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Personally I'm not a fan of the sound of Waves "MaxxBass" - usually good analog choices make it sound like a "mini."

If remixing and retracking simply aren't possible then sometimes the "sub bass" boosts with an SPL Vitalizer can work to synthesize a bit of bottom. A really great analog eq capable of some heavy bottom boosts without breaking up can help a lot - I used to love the bottom shelf on the Neumann OE-DUO for chores like this - but really any good eq (or maybe a couple chained together) can help out with this. I'd probably start with a shelf boost and then do a wide bell in addition to this if needed.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 13th July 2007
  #9
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bass stem is being sent

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll have to try those. I asked for a stem and It'll be sent soon, however, he's not sure it will line up at zero. If it does, that will be easy, but if not, it sounds like an easy way to get phase problems or a chorus like effect. I've got good ears for timing but these things can go down to a tiny fraction of a second. There is no section with the bass playing loudly or alone.

Any tips to match stems and check for phase problems. Of course I'll use my ears but any other tips would be great.
Old 13th July 2007
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll have to try those. I asked for a stem and It'll be sent soon, however, he's not sure it will line up at zero. If it does, that will be easy, but if not, it sounds like an easy way to get phase problems or a chorus like effect. I've got good ears for timing but these things can go down to a tiny fraction of a second. There is no section with the bass playing loudly or alone.

Any tips to match stems and check for phase problems. Of course I'll use my ears but any other tips would be great.
Stems shouldn't cause phase problems, unless one source is sent to two or more stems, in which case you just need to get them lined up precisely. I usually ask people to copy a click to each track, when they send me track for mixing, if they can't make them all start at zero for some reason.

As to adding bass, you might try adding a really dark reverb, with just low frequencies, to make it seem more 'boomy'. I think having the stems should solve the problem though.
Old 13th July 2007
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll have to try those. I asked for a stem and It'll be sent soon, however, he's not sure it will line up at zero. If it does, that will be easy, but if not, it sounds like an easy way to get phase problems or a chorus like effect. I've got good ears for timing but these things can go down to a tiny fraction of a second. There is no section with the bass playing loudly or alone.

Any tips to match stems and check for phase problems. Of course I'll use my ears but any other tips would be great.
If he sent you BWF wav files you should be good to go, just align the timecode. If not you may want to try reversing the polarity of the stem, lower the level to match the original bass track the best that you can, and listen for the greatest cancellation against the original mix.
Old 13th July 2007
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll have to try those. I asked for a stem and It'll be sent soon, however, he's not sure it will line up at zero. If it does, that will be easy, but if not, it sounds like an easy way to get phase problems or a chorus like effect. I've got good ears for timing but these things can go down to a tiny fraction of a second. There is no section with the bass playing loudly or alone.

Any tips to match stems and check for phase problems. Of course I'll use my ears but any other tips would be great.
If the client can send a bass "stem" then they should be able to send a stem session [or all the stems as individual files with a common "start time"]. All the tracks should be lined up so phase should not be an issue at all. If fact if the bass is on a separate stem, which seems to be the case here, then there would be no phase problems even if the bass was not lined up correctly..... but anyway.

If the client can't get you the materials you need to fix this issue then do yourself a favour and make it sound as good as you can within reason, but don't waste too much time pissing in the wind [a little pissing will do].
Old 13th July 2007
  #13
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Many times electronic artists come over and ask me for help making this problem fixed. Most the times I just use Rbass. Now why doesn't someone make something like that for the rest of the FR range. I know there is various hardware stuff.
Old 13th July 2007
  #14
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You may or may not get phase problems with the stem....only way to find out is to give it a try.........if there are phase problems, you could lo-pass the stem as the phase will be more obvious on high freq's of the bass.

Sometimes adding a bit of low frequency distortion can bring out a bit more bass, although this may not be appropriate with certain kinds of music! (or client!)

Another point: if the artist / producer thought the mix good enough to be mastered, then i wouldn't get too dis-heartened if you can't make the track all that you think it should have been - bend over backwards to fix it, but not so far that you fall over!
Old 13th July 2007
  #15
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Lots of great advice here, not just for this problem but for similar situations in the future as well.

I'll let you guys know how it went when I try it out later today. Thanks again.
Old 14th July 2007
  #16
There's always the Caffrey Mastering Matrix....


Put the Drawmer 3Sum on the inserts of the Dangerous S&M box. Tha will make the Drawmer 3Sum's inserts be Low, Mid, High for the center and L/M/H for the sides. EQ, or just simply turn up the Low/Center with gain and the bass will be louder.
Old 14th July 2007
  #17
does anybody have used some dbx subharmonic synthetisers ? like dbx 500, dbx 120A, 120XP...
to add some low ends ?
Old 14th July 2007
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by livingstone View Post
does anybody have used some dbx subharmonic synthetisers ? like dbx 500, dbx 120A, 120XP...
to add some low ends ?
I think it's an awesome mixing tool for selected tracks (as you can hear on a good number of Bill Laswell productions) - but I think in general for most tracks it would probably be too dirty to put the entire 2-bus through. ymmv.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 14th July 2007
  #19
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Not exactly the same thing since the mixes were great to begin with, but on a recent session I added a parallel track to a couple of bridge parts on the album to make them jump out more.

I did it by taking all the high end off, boosting the lows and dipping in upper bass (to prevent it end up sounding tubby) and slamming the **** out of the track. A couple of tries later I ended up with something that really made the track move - sounded like the band switched on 11.

In your case, I'd try to EQ the lowest part up and also try to search for snappy sounding bass around 80-120Hz. Compress it pretty hard, do various pieces and see how they fit in parallel with the original.

I used the pieces pretty low in level, -16dB to -20dB..
Old 14th July 2007
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
I think it's an awesome mixing tool for selected tracks (as you can hear on a good number of Bill Laswell productions) - but I think in general for most tracks it would probably be too dirty to put the entire 2-bus through. ymmv.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
to pass it thru for sure ....
these dbx stuffs are not on the clean side at all....

but it could be nice in parrallel,
that's already what i do while mixing,
i double the track i want to process,
apply some eq tweaks on the bass freqs,
i filter the highs, and the unwanted extreme lows
and then i send it to the sub harmonizer ,
and finaly mix this with the original track with sometimes a touch of compression

never tryed it on a mastering session,
i never really needed it yet, it's an extreme cure
Old 14th July 2007
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Virtalahde View Post
sounded like the band switched on 11.
But, why don't they just make 10 louder ?
Old 14th July 2007
  #22
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if the stem doesn't work, providing it's a proper stem, there's no reason why it wouldn't, try Renaissance Bass at 32hz - Renaissance Bass 60hz - multi-band compression between 20 and 300hz.

in effect, the two Rbass plugs linked create a multiplier. really, all this chain does, and you can substitute with any harmonic generator mentioned above, is create bass that isn't there.

all an eq boost will do is bring up what IS there. this chain is also nice for "all-digital" recordings also, as they tend to lack body in the sub 200 region. if you do use reverb, be careful as you can blur the entire stereo image with too long a tail or too high an amplitude.
Old 15th July 2007
  #23
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and here's my favourite suggestion
if you have izotope ozone3, try to add some of the lo band exciter/saturation. it can add boom and deepness quite well. compare between tape-mode (little more harsh) and tube mode (more silky) to find the right sound
Old 15th July 2007
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quantumpsych View Post
if the stem doesn't work, providing it's a proper stem, there's no reason why it wouldn't, try Renaissance Bass at 32hz - Renaissance Bass 60hz - multi-band compression between 20 and 300hz.

in effect, the two Rbass plugs linked create a multiplier. really, all this chain does, and you can substitute with any harmonic generator mentioned above, is create bass that isn't there.

all an eq boost will do is bring up what IS there. this chain is also nice for "all-digital" recordings also, as they tend to lack body in the sub 200 region. if you do use reverb, be careful as you can blur the entire stereo image with too long a tail or too high an amplitude.
i´d go for the rbass/maxxbass and multiband comp... (as a remedial solution, not aesthetic)... i have done that many times while mastering live recordings made on a DAT recorder from a p.a. system...

but although you´ll most likely never get a great bass sound that way... you might end up with something listenable ...
Old 15th July 2007
  #25
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"A remix isn't possible as the mixer, who has the mix at his studio, is on vacation for a few months."

I want this guy's job.
Old 16th July 2007
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fretbored View Post
"A remix isn't possible as the mixer, who has the mix at his studio, is on vacation for a few months."

I want this guy's job.
As I had dreaded, the stem didn't match up! The client had a copy of the raw files pre-mix so the mixer sent me a different file. Working with the bass I quickly started to see why he buried it... it varies between rushing and dragging, sometimes on the same phrase. I spent a whole lot of time aligning it at the beginning of the song only to find out that later he moves way back on the beat towards the end of the song.

In addition there were disappearing notes which I kept attributing to phase problems between the original bass and the overlayed bass. I put a high pass on the mix at 85hz so it left the low end of the vocals and acoustic guitar intact and still the same problem. Then I noticed the bass was on a stereo track - which often even mono sources get sent as. When I got in close, I noticed it was two different sources. It was an Upright track with two mics - that was the source of the phase problems. I split the track and I chose the better of the two sources which was really bright and then added low end and rolled off the highs. In the end the bass track sounded way better.

I can't believe how many hours I spent trying to get at this problem before figuring it out. Now I will always check stereo tracks to make sure they are indeed just double mono first! Talk about chasing your own tail. I'm sure an experienced ME would have figured that out in a small fraction of the time - but it was a learning experience. I'm sure the client will like the sound of the bass track - it's a huge improvement (and I know his tastes) but we'll see if he likes where the bass track is sitting time-wise. What a lot of work (90% unnecessary!). I'm sure everyone has had some experience with phase problems that mystified you - at least when you were starting.
Old 16th July 2007
  #27
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Maxxbass probably won't help as it does the opposite of what you need- it creates an upper harmonic of the low bass to make the bass instruments apparent on small speakers. Ren Bass on the other hand might very well work for you. Or else a subharmonic synth like the DBX 120 series. In any case whatever you use put on a sidechain so it doesn't mess up your main signal, and as you're working with it check the phase relationships- I usually print the effect & check it visually.
Old 16th July 2007
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fretbored View Post
"A remix isn't possible as the mixer, who has the mix at his studio, is on vacation for a few months."

I want this guy's job.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
I'm mastering an album and all is going well except one tune which has the bass guitar really, really low in the mix. There's no kick on this tune, so right now at least half the bottom end is actually the acoustic guitar track. A remix isn't possible as the mixer, who has the mix at his studio, is on vacation for a few months. Actually the song sounds alright on it's own with low bass, however when you're listening to the album and the bass drops out it sounds lacking in comparison.

I boosted as much as I felt I could get away with using Eq but it's still not even close to the other tracks. If I add more the low end of the acoustic guitar and vocals (very deep male singer) start to get boomy.

Are there any tricks/software you would suggest for this situation? There just isn't much information below 180hz. I know you guys hate "fix it in the mastering" but you have to do the best you can with what you have and I'm working with budget material... Thanks in advance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarRuss View Post
As I had dreaded, the stem didn't match up! The client had a copy of the raw files pre-mix so the mixer sent me a different file. Working with the bass I quickly started to see why he buried it... it varies between rushing and dragging, sometimes on the same phrase. I spent a whole lot of time aligning it at the beginning of the song only to find out that later he moves way back on the beat towards the end of the song.

In addition there were disappearing notes which I kept attributing to phase problems between the original bass and the overlayed bass. I put a high pass on the mix at 85hz so it left the low end of the vocals and acoustic guitar intact and still the same problem. Then I noticed the bass was on a stereo track - which often even mono sources get sent as. When I got in close, I noticed it was two different sources. It was an Upright track with two mics - that was the source of the phase problems. I split the track and I chose the better of the two sources which was really bright and then added low end and rolled off the highs. In the end the bass track sounded way better.

I can't believe how many hours I spent trying to get at this problem before figuring it out. Now I will always check stereo tracks to make sure they are indeed just double mono first! Talk about chasing your own tail. I'm sure an experienced ME would have figured that out in a small fraction of the time - but it was a learning experience. I'm sure the client will like the sound of the bass track - it's a huge improvement (and I know his tastes) but we'll see if he likes where the bass track is sitting time-wise. What a lot of work (90% unnecessary!). I'm sure everyone has had some experience with phase problems that mystified you - at least when you were starting.


As long as you move the track in a positive direction. Part of our job is assessing the situation and figuring out what can, and can't be done.
Old 16th July 2007
  #29
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My experience with this kind of bass processing has been that it rarely translates to different speakers.
Old 28th August 2007
  #30
The MaxxBcl in Mastering is a Doctor Comp, use it on the digital routing on the end of the chain as limiter before hit Software.
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