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Mixing: Kik vs. Bass ---> Happy Medium? Dynamics Plugins
Old 15th March 2003
  #1
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Thread Starter
Mixing: Kik vs. Bass ---> Happy Medium?

This part of a mix is often the most challenging for me.

I want the kick to be felt, and the bass to be heard.

Or is that the other way around?

Depending on the song and style of music, I might focus on boosting the bass guitar EQ at around the 60-80 Hz range, while boosting the kick between 100-120 Hz.

Or I might do the opposite. Or neither.

And while I might not necessarily compress the kick, I almost always compress the bass.

Speaking in vast overgeneralizations, how do youze guys keep your kick punchy and your bass phat, without the two clashing for the same EQ range?
Old 15th March 2003
  #2
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Steve Smith's Avatar
 

Wow..

If someone has a formula for this I would love to get it.. You pretty much summed up the process for me on you post

"... I might do the opposite. Or neither..."

picking one or the other or deciding on freq sight unheard would be next to impossibe for me, it is all program dependant with 90% of the music I do.[
Old 15th March 2003
  #3
What are you guys mixing to and what kind of music?
Old 15th March 2003
  #4
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Saucyjack's Avatar
 

I struggle with Kick and Bass mixing and levels as well.....
I wish there was a magic formula.

I usually find myself boosting Kick at around 70-90hz,whacking out some mids 250-400hz and boosting 2-5khz.Often I will boost bass around 100-300hz and try to get it to fit with the Kick....sometimes works ,sometimes doesn't.Maybe I need to try a different approach.
I've attributed a lot of my problems to the Mackies 824s but I assume most peeps struggle with the low end....I have to double or triple check kick/bass levels on boombox/car,etc.
Listening to well done major label stuff the low end thump and plump is what jumps out at me first.
Old 15th March 2003
  #5
Producer Tony Visconti like to use a frequency / musical note chart to boost "in key" frequencies...

Old 15th March 2003
  #6
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by dBunny:
Depending on the song and style of music, I might focus on boosting the bass guitar EQ at around the 60-80 Hz range, while boosting the kick between 100-120 Hz.

Or I might do the opposite. Or neither.
You want to do the opposite, for the reason you stated:

Quote:
And while I might not necessarily compress the kick, I almost always compress the bass.
You've got a sustaining bass, so let it live in the low-mid range. Drop at 80Hz, and boost at 120-300.

Carve the kick around the bass: boost at 60Hz for bottom, and 2.9KHz for attack.

Lemme know if this works.
Old 15th March 2003
  #7
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally posted by thethrillfactor
What are you guys mixing to and what kind of music?
Yeah, that information would help. (D'oh!)

Mixing mostly rock and electronic music with male vocals, hard funky beats and sometimes a punk/metal guitar edge.

Mixing almost exclusively within the DAW box lately, using little, if any outboard gear. (Flame suit on.)

Any suggestions are welcome. Anecdotes appreciated.

Tell me about how you treated the last hard rock song you mixed.

Thanks.
Old 15th March 2003
  #8
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally posted by Curve Dominant
You want to do the opposite, for the reason you stated:



You've got a sustaining bass, so let it live in the low-mid range. Drop at 80Hz, and boost at 120-300.

Carve the kick around the bass: boost at 60Hz for bottom, and 2.9KHz for attack.

Lemme know if this works.
Thanks, EV. One thing...

You're doing mostly funky dance music, and what you say makes perfect sense for a more dance-oriented track.

But what about rock music, where the kick has to punch through a thick slab of bass with chunky guitars? In that case, I might elect to do the opposite.

Whaddaya think?
Old 15th March 2003
  #9
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malice's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally posted by dBunny
Thanks, EV. One thing...

You're doing mostly funky dance music, and what you say makes perfect sense for a more dance-oriented track.

But what about rock music, where the kick has to punch through a thick slab of bass with chunky guitars? In that case, I might elect to do the opposite.

Whaddaya think?
Still what he said to you might apply. If you want the bass to be "heard" and the kik to be "felt", try as he said...

You know, for some style of dance music, THERE I would do the opposite, with boosting the kik higher than the bass etc ...

There is no golden rules, but try to eq kik and bass in complementary freq, not same freq ...

malice
Old 15th March 2003
  #10
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by dBunny:
quote:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Curve Dominant
You want to do the opposite, for the reason you stated:



You've got a sustaining bass, so let it live in the low-mid range. Drop at 80Hz, and boost at 120-300.

Carve the kick around the bass: boost at 60Hz for bottom, and 2.9KHz for attack.

Lemme know if this works.
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Thanks, EV. One thing...

You're doing mostly funky dance music, and what you say makes perfect sense for a more dance-oriented track.

But what about rock music, where the kick has to punch through a thick slab of bass with chunky guitars? In that case, I might elect to do the opposite.

Whaddaya think?
I think you should try what I suggested, try the opposite, forget both, then find what works best for you...find a third way. Between the extremes you find bliss, somewhere...anywhere.

That was a guideline for experimentation, Bunny, not dogma.

There's no magic formula. Every mix is unique in its needs. What does the song want to be? Where will it be listened to? In a car? A small lounge? A medium sized club? A huge disco room? A theater? An arena? Radio? TV?
Old 15th March 2003
  #11
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Coming from the land of 1073, rupert has already made most of the choices for me!

As the choice of LF EQ are 60hz, 110 hz and 220hz this helps a lot.

For me its really a case of what is going to drive the song in the sub 100 hz area like the bass or the kik. Aminly i do rock things so i find that the more 'chesty' vibe of a kik helps to cut through the dense mush that rock mixes often turn into, whilst the bass will just groove and slide along underneath.

The choice of EQ will also come down to the tempo as well. For slower songs the kik is lower (60hz) whilst the bass is higher (110hz) and vice versa for faster songs. I like the low subs of the kiks on slow songs to be felt!

Kik and Bass are also EQ'd heavily in the LMF Between 150 -900 hz so they dont interfere with my snare tones as i like to add a bit of bottom to the snare and find that it can start to screw up the synergy between the 3 elements if there is too much intermeshing of frequnecies. But at the end of the day its just gota sound good so just turn them knobs till it gives you a hard on and ull be winning smiles all around!

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 15th March 2003
  #12
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Where will it be listened to? In a car? A small lounge? A medium sized club? A huge disco room? A theater? An arena? Radio? TV?
Oh, it will be listened to EVERYWHERE!!! MU-HWA-HAHAHAHAHA!!!

Seriously though, thanks Malice and Eric, you're making me feel better already. I tend to get anxious about specific aspects of my mixes. This month, it's the bass/kick battle. Heh.

Who knows what it will be next month? Probably back to depth. <g>

I'm still very interested to hear what others might have to say about this topic.

Hey, Slippy, you wanna serve me up with a good, home-style PSW slapping-down? Y'know, you never flamed me over there. I'm not feeling the love, man. <g>
Old 15th March 2003
  #13
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally posted by Wiggy Neve Slut
Coming from the land of 1073, rupert has already made most of the choices for me!

As the choice of LF EQ are 60hz, 110 hz and 220hz this helps a lot.
Rupert says a lot right there, doesn't he? Nice. Thanks, Wiggy.

Quote:
Originally posted by Wiggy Neve Slut
For me its really a case of what is going to drive the song in the sub 100 hz area like the bass or the kik. Aminly i do rock things so i find that the more 'chesty' vibe of a kik helps to cut through the dense mush that rock mixes often turn into, whilst the bass will just groove and slide along underneath.
Now, see, that's what I was talking about. The kik can be punchier that way, cutting through and hitting you in the chest while the bass slithers around underneath the chunky slab of guitars for warmth and support. Well, it sounds nice in writing...

Quote:
Originally posted by Wiggy Neve Slut
The choice of EQ will also come down to the tempo as well. For slower songs the kik is lower (60hz) whilst the bass is higher (110hz) and vice versa for faster songs. I like the low subs of the kiks on slow songs to be felt!
This paragraph is a thing of beauty to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Remember folks, I did ask for "vast overgeneralizations."
Old 15th March 2003
  #14
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Berolzheimer's Avatar
 

Bass/Kik

I'll let you in on a little secret for locking the bass & kick together into one beautiful groove machine:

Get good basic sounds on the bass & kik with EQ, Compression, whatever, then sub them together & put another compresssor & eq on the sub. season to taste.
Old 15th March 2003
  #15
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Thread Starter
Re: Bass/Kik

Quote:
Originally posted by Berolzheimer
I'll let you in on a little secret for locking the bass & kick together into one beautiful groove machine:

Get good basic sounds on the bass & kik with EQ, Compression, whatever, then sub them together & put another compresssor & eq on the sub. season to taste.
No ****, huh? Thanks, Paul! I'll give that a try.

Anybody else have an opinion on this technique?
Old 15th March 2003
  #16
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Thread Starter
Thanks also to Steve, SaucyJack, and Jules for their input.

Quote:
Originally posted by Jules
Producer Tony Visconti like to use a frequency / musical note chart to boost "in key" frequencies...
I've considered this before, but never actually done it.

So, conceivably, would you separately EQ each bass note?

Or just uniformly EQ the whole bass track, like usual?

For example, an A on bass would be boosted at 110 Hz.

Conceivably, each note of the bass line could be EQed to the corresponding frequency in a DAW. Like I said, I've never done it, but I've considered it...

That's so crazy it just might work!!! <g>
Old 15th March 2003
  #17
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I do mostly dance oriented music, mostly chillout/jazz...

The first is the choice of the sounds, I prefer to begin with the bass... so then I need to find suitable kick. It depends on what tones plays the bass (or how low it is).

Then I tune the kick to fit between the bass harmonics on most of the tones. It makes kick and bass to be percieved better without need of eq, but eq is often nessesary. I don't boost much, I like to cut the bass narrow at the kick's dominant freq. The same with bass.

However the most important trick I found is using the compressor on bass with the sidechain taken from the kick to attentuate the bass a bit when the kick hits. I sometimes send the kick and the bass to the group (left-kick, right-bass) and then insert stereocompressor... they coexist better then.

I use these techniques as needed, finding what is more suitable... sometimes is more of sidechain comp att. sounding then EQing, sometimes I use more eqing.


Hope it is useful, and now I have to go to earn some money to repleace my Event 20/20s ;-)))))
Old 16th March 2003
  #18
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Wiggy Neve Slut's Avatar
 

dBunny,

Im glad this is all of help to u.

There are some excellent answers here and the Visocnti thing is something of interest that i will have to investigate when ive got more time to waste (like i dont waste enuff of it here...lol!)

Also to get some more definition into yor kiks and bass, try some a mult of the kik or bass and shape with HP and LP filters. On a kik i usually LP @4-5K for the attack of the sound and then HP @ 110hz with a 32dB octave filter. This creates a type of EQ sandwich where by the mult of the channel contains frequnceis within the HP and LP frequncy range and effectively cuts off any frequncies( liek they wont be audible!) bneyond the HP and LP points. I almost allways do this with a CLM dyanamics Expounder cos i am yet to find an EQ where the filters are so musical and powerful. I then get to work with the rest of the EQ section ofthe expounder and boost and cut to taste. This is then blended in with the original 1073 channels of kik and bass , which of course have been EQ'd as well!

THe expounder will be awesome for you ppl into dance music, u owe yourselves a try of it!

I know a lot of engineers liek to set the kik @-5dB and then build the mix up from around that type of gain structure.

Lets keep it coming cos for most of us im sure it has been a problem at some point in time.

PEACE
Wiggy
Old 16th March 2003
  #19
Re: Re: Bass/Kik

Quote:
Originally posted by dBunny
No ****, huh? Thanks, Paul! I'll give that a try.

Anybody else have an opinion on this technique?
Hey db,

Later on tonite I'll post some of my ideas on this subject.

Peace.
Old 16th March 2003
  #20
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
quote:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by Berolzheimer
I'll let you in on a little secret for locking the bass & kick together into one beautiful groove machine:

Get good basic sounds on the bass & kik with EQ, Compression, whatever, then sub them together & put another compresssor & eq on the sub. season to taste.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

No ****, huh? Thanks, Paul! I'll give that a try.

Anybody else have an opinion on this technique?
quote:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Originally posted by dBunny
No ****, huh? Thanks, Paul! I'll give that a try.

Anybody else have an opinion on this technique?
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Hey db,

Later on tonite I'll post some of my ideas on this subject.

Peace.
I am all ears.

And this has been a wonderful thread SO FAR...let's keep it going dammit.

I've been trying out some of the things posted here on various mixes, and attained some interesting results.

Lesson learned #1: It really does depend upon what you want to communicate on a song-by-song basis.

Lesson learned #2: It's interesting to make some guidelines as reference points, then BEND those rules.

Exploration...
Old 16th March 2003
  #21
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
Duration of the kick. Good point, SM.

And this relates directly to the tempo of the song, too.

As in, fast tempo/short duration, slow tempo/long duration.

Let's definitely continue this conversation when we've all had some sleep.

Matucha and Wiggy, thanks for the input.

Thanks for your input, too, Eric. If you want to post examples of some mixes you've done based on ideas from this thread, let me know. I could post some MP3s on my site for you. I'd love to hear some examples.

Well, gotta sleep...
Old 16th March 2003
  #22
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There's no rules to this.......depends on the style of music, quality of the original sound, quality of the player, what you're going for....

...actually, i can think of one rule: good monitoring, right down to the 40hz region and below.......if you can't hear the full spectrum of the bass end accurately, you're just fumbling in the dark..........maybe invest in a pair of real good headphones...
Old 16th March 2003
  #23
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Thread Starter
Hi Jazzius. Thanks for your reply. While I do intend on upgrading my personal studio monitor situation soon, my headphone situation is solid. I reference everything through my Sennheiser HD535s. Plenty of low end clarity (20-25,000 Hz range).
Old 16th March 2003
  #24
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Quote:
posted by dBunny:
Thanks for your input, too, Eric. If you want to post examples of some mixes you've done based on ideas from this thread, let me know. I could post some MP3s on my site for you. I'd love to hear some examples.
Yo Bunny I might take you up on that.

I'll email you later today.
Old 16th March 2003
  #25
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Basically I did what Wiggy Neve Slut said: EQ's the kick above the bass for the faster tempo stuff...and what I originally suggested for the slower stuff.

I've been doing a lot of downtempo triphop lately, so the deep kick works for that.

But just finishing up a house mix of "I'm A Freak," I noticed the opposite worked better for the swifter tempo...a punchier kick with the bass rumbling beneath it. It feels more festive, and less muddy...cleaner.

So...thanks to Mr. Wiggy!
Old 16th March 2003
  #26
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stuntmixer's Avatar
 

Give them legs....

Great thread y'all.....

I love getting the Kik/Bass compressor attack and release times just right so that the wrap around each other perfectly. I haven't got any kind og formula down yet I just start nudging the settings around until it works. I like letting the kick stick its nose through before the comp grabs it then letting the bass bloom through.
It invariably amazes me how the bottom of a rhythm section can suddenly get up on its legs and walk around the room when these settings find there places.
I haven't done the sidechain thing yet, been meaning to for ever. I've got an old Drawmer 241 that I could experiment with I guess.

Thanks,
Old 16th March 2003
  #27
Jax
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recent CD worth checking out

I don't have anything to add to the techniques presented in this thread, but I wanted to say I am dumbfounded by the bass control I'm hearing on a recent CD. The Breeders "Title TK" has songs with two basses playing at the same time - one stand up and one electric - together with a punchy, round kick and snare, and guitars that have wonderful bell-like tones ringing from them... plus Kim Deal's vocals going at the same time... and it doesn't just work, it is mixed beautifully together.

I'm trying to sort out how it was recorded and mixed so perfectly woth so much low end information that almost should be conflicting, yet isn't.

I'd say check out Title TK if you're interested in hearing low end controlled mixes in rock tunes. Whether or not you like the music is a different story, but also not the point.

Title TK production lineup:

Steve Albini - Producer, Engineer, Mastering
Steve Rooke - Mastering
Andrew Alekel - Engineer
Old 17th March 2003
  #28
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Thread Starter
We should try to get 'electrical' in here to comment on that Breeders record.

Curve, check yer email.

Stunmixer, good stuff!
Old 17th March 2003
  #29
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Curve Dominant's Avatar
Copy that email Bunny.

Whoah...this subject and this thread has got The Curve back to the drawing board, ditching the old formulas and calculating new ones.

When you DO get it right, REALLY right...it makes you realize how WRONG you got it before.

ESPECIALLY when you try to burn CDs of the mixes and get them loud as possible without clipping...THAT seems to be the "acid test" because you can get the "right" sounding mixes MUCH louder sounding than the "wrong" ones. When that low frequency energy builds up, it squeezes everything else out. (DUH!)

Quote:
posted by Jules:
Producer Tony Visconti like to use a frequency / musical note chart to boost "in key" frequencies...
Yo, we's gots to get that sucker and post it here...shame cause I met His Tonyness at Bat Bar in NYC a few years ago...if I knew I woulda been like, "Yo, can I buy one of them charts off ya??"
Old 17th March 2003
  #30
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Pricey's Avatar
 

What Slippy said - duration. You know how you can make instruments coexist by "shelving" frequencies, so that each instrument has its own frequency range? Well, "shelving" also works with dynamics. On drums, a sharp but controlled attack can drastically reduce the need for EQ. I typically use a Waves L1 limiter, a noise gate, and an 1176 in that order. I also like Dominion, a free transient-designer plug.

I stopped using a low-cut on my overheads; I just notch out the 2cd harmonic on the kick (the one that makes it sound like a plastic garbage can), and sometimes I boost the fundamental a little. That way, the sustain and low end of the kick comes from the overheads, and I'm free to go nuts with the close-mic and make it very staccato. That way it can be "thumpy" AND distinct; I'm not forced to go with a "clicky" sound. A multi-band comp/expander like Waves C4 can accomplish the same thing, even on a full mix! It's a great education in frequency vs. dynamics; the C4 can practically remix your song, because it isolates different instruments by exploiting frequency and dynamic differences.

I mix the drums on the attacky side, and rely on the mastering comp to bring down the attack and give the drums the proper sustain. (A good, resonant kit, with new heads, does not require any reverb.) That way, the attack ducks the entire mix, and sounds louder than it really is. It's very, very delicate - the drums often go through 3 stages of EQ and 3 stages of compresssion (individual tracks, group, and full mix), and everthing interacts with everything else.

For rock bass, I mic up a solid-state amp, so it's overdriven yet clean. (I hate DI bass.) The attacks clip in a wonderful way; they actually sound MORE attacky (especially on slap bass), but it's an illusion. If you look at the waveform, it's not spiky like drums. I usually put an LA2A on the bass, which compounds the illusion due to its unique attack envelope. An LA2A actually has a very fast attack; it just sounds slow because it takes longer to reach maximum gain reduction.

That's how I make the kick and bass coexist - dynamic differentiation. Then I can EQ the bass to suit the guitars.

DAW's are great for processing drums. If I want a really controlled sound, I do Strip Silence on the kick and snare, then I normalize every single hit, and apply Envelope processing to every single hit, so that every hit has exactly the same volume and decay. (You won't get this sound with a limiter and noise gate.) The resulting sound is insane - as consistent as samples, but with the variation of real drums.

I freakin' hate drum samples - they don't take to EQ or compression at ALL, and it's a PITA to make them sound real. If I have to use 'em, I make my own. Most sample CD's are pathetic - I don't know of any drum library that has separate left-hand/right-hand samples, or takes advantages of the multi-dimensional capabilities of Gigasampler.

If I'm doing metal, I might trigger a really clicky kick sample, cut all the lows, and layer it with the acoustic kick to add attack.

However, by using my above techniques, and a hard acrylic beater, I've been able to get a suprising amount of click, without taping a quarter to the head (which I think ruins the souind and ruins the beater bounce).
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