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Old 13th September 2004
Gear Nut

Mate, i do quite a bit of dance music as it is. Most important thing Iv learnt is not to over do the bass. With might sound daft but dance tracks dont have as much bass as they sound.... seriously! Most a very tightly compressed and have loads of punch and on big PA's this can give a really powerful sound which many misconcieve as extra bass.

Two techniques which are text book imo:

- Layering is very important in dance music. If you want a real BIG dance kick then you really need to layer at least two sounds. Once again, dont reach for the EQ, cuz this will not help. Take a really tight sampled kick, layer it on to an electronic kick (909 is good) and send both to the same buss. If your using a DAW make sure their phases match and that they are layer sample accurate, or else you'll get some real nasty flamming. One the bus I usually use a compressor with almost instantaneous attack, short release and high ratio. What you what to achieve is a real hard squish. This brings out some nice bass towards the end of the hit with some punch at the start.

- Side chain compression is a choicy weapon which many dance producers are only just starting to notice. Its particularly useful when mixing four to the floor type tracks. For example, say you're mixing a techno track with lots of breaky percussion and a nice sharp 909 ride. Send all to the same buss, and trigger compression with the kick drum. This way you get the whole mix swelling out on the off beat, kinda like exaggerated speaker compression! I use this all the time to simulate speaker compression and get that big 'club' sound on little systems.

One final point that might or might not be useful. Iv found that when mixing dance music it can pay to be a little more liberal with the EQ. I tend to use EQ only when necessary with other types of music. But when doing dance stuff i use it practicallt every track. Why? Well Iv found that many of the drum sounds can have horrible 40 - 50Hz crap on them which really destroys mixes. This is likely caused by the fact that many of these sounds originate off old vinyl. I tend to EQ out loads of bottom end from most synth and sample based tracks, purely to avoid that sound. I think this really ties in with my earlier point about dance music being deceptively bassy. Some might disagree, but i think you need to aim for a tight punchy sound, and the rest should fall into place.