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Low end clarity
Old 3rd April 2004
Low end clarity

Hi Charles
Let's assume that all tracks are recorded very well.
Live instruments...Rock.
Can you offer tips,suggestions,plug-ins you utilize to help define the kick drum and bass.
I typically aim for a solid tight bottom. The balance between "no mud" and "Too thin" is always a challenge.
Old 8th April 2004
FX smörgåsbord user
Charles Dye's Avatar


In these two HDL columns I pretty much cover all the plug-ins + how I use them on kick + snare:But in addition, low end clarity comes from two basic sources:
  • Those instruments that contribute to the low-end (e.g. kick + bass).
  • Even more importantly by cleaning up the low end end the rest of your tracks.
I approach the cleaning up of the low end in a few steps:
  • 1. Listen to the mix for a minute with the kick + bass in.

    2. Mute the kick + bass and listen to the same passage. If you hear any low end, the instruments creating them may (but not always) be contributing to low-end muddiness.

    3. Locate + mute all the instruments in Step 2. that had low-end in them. In a rock mix for example this might be all the guitars. Turn on the kick + bass and listen to the same passage again, noting what your mix sounds like with the pure low-end of just your bass and kick. Shape the EQ further on the two tracks if you feel they require it.

    4. Once you are satisfied with the low end in your mix coming from just the kick + bass, unmute one of the other tracks that has low-end, let's use the main rhythm electric guitar. Listen to the same passage and now note how the gtr + bass interact. Elec gtrs are often recorded with lots of low end, but in rock the rhythm gtr may often be doing a part very similar to the bass. There may be a lot of overlap frequency-wise and some of the low end from the gtr might be unnecessary.

    5. Place a HPF filter on the rhythm gtr track and while listening again to the same passage slowly increase the hi-pass freq. It's important to note that low end interaction between guitar + bass is not necessarily a bad thing. A little bit of beating, that wah-wah-wah sound in the low end created by two notes that are ever so slightly out of tune with each other, can add a nice richness. So don't be too hasty and just strip all the lows from your gtr tracks. Listen to hear if combining the gtr's low end creates a richness, fullness, or muddiness. One trick can be to set the slope of the HPF to be as soft as you can (e.g. 0.71 on Ren EQ) that way you are lowering the lows, but not eliminating them all together.

    6. Once you are satisfied with the main rhythm gtr, add in each of the other muted low end tracks one at a time and repeat the process.

    7. Now, with all the tracks in, listen to the low end of your mix as a whole. To get everything to work together you may need to tweak some of the HPF's again, as well as re-EQ the bass a little. Do this without muting any of the instruments. And since you're now familiar with where all the low end elements are coming from, it will be much easier to find problem spots. Just remember that sometimes having a pure low end coming from only the bass + kick can sound great, and sometimes it can sound too sterile. Experiment to find the dirtiness that works for you.
Hope this helps.
Old 8th April 2004
Lives for gear
matucha's Avatar
pretty standard procedure I think... I'd just add one thing that helped me with some material. Nothing new too ;-)

Put EQ on the 2Buss and try to listen to your mix with HP and LP and both. Dial through the spectrum. Hear the collisions and holes... It is like covering canvas with blank paper to se what's happening at this area of the picture. Do I understand it? Isn't something missing there? What the mess?

As allways it is just another look, decisions must be done hearing the whole thing.
Old 8th April 2004
FX smörgåsbord user
Charles Dye's Avatar

Originally posted by matucha
Put EQ on the 2Buss and try to listen to your mix with HP and LP and both. Dial through the spectrum. Hear the collisions and holes...
Not a day... not a single day goes by... just stick your nose into the internet and you'll learn something new.

That's a clever technique that never occurred to me. Thanks matucha for sharing it.

Great looking website too.
Old 9th April 2004
Lives for gear
matucha's Avatar
thanks ;-), I found when lowpassing the freqs around the cut off freq are somewhat excessive, one have to get over this... in other words, narrow bandpass isnt great for making judgements.
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