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Old 17th March 2003
  #31
Some quick discoveries I've made over the years when it comes to mixing kick and bass:

1) For the harder styles(Rock,rap,dance,Rnb etc) mix to analog instead of digital. Why do you ask? Analog does certain things which help the bass and kick fit together. Such as(depending on how hard you hit it) spread the bass and kick out more and not make it sound so pointed which digital has a habit of doing. A more pointed bass makes it appear to our ears as thin(its an illusion)Because its pointed it pulls our attention(ears) to this area. Analog acts as a mask almost. Also some of the analog machines takes away from some of the highs(and lows if you are not careful) and less highs makes the brain think there is more bass. Also analog has a natural compression that happens when you spank it, digital does not. That is one of the reasons that I am not crazy about these analog simulators(Hedd tape knob for example). Because its digital you get just one sound and anyone who mixes down to analog knows that the effect can change depending on how you hit it(I think the term is analogous to the signal). Now this can be accomplished in digital by riding the effect(which I have done in the past on my HEDD unit), but again since its not automated there is no way to recall it.

Lastly there is a rolloff(steep or not)filter when recording digital(there is one in analog too but its more gentle). Now not all analog 1/2" machines sound the same(Ampex and Studer are the most common but each sounds way different). You have to check them both out to see which is better suited for your style(and music).

2) Nowadays I personally don't compress the dynamic instruments when mixing(except vocals). To my ears it robs some of the clarity that you are desperately trying to achieve(especially Bass and Kick). I prefer to parallel compress/EQ or sub compress/EQ the missing parts and fill it in(I have different chains and ideas on this too). This will make the sounds bigger and much more dynamic in the mix. This technique takes a lot of practice(this is where your mixing talent comes in). Its actually a very popular technique here(in NYC). I think it came from the fact that a lot of the early samplers had no wave editing displays(back in the mid to late 80's). A lot of the cheaper samplers back then weren't designed to well . You basically had to edit by ear. What happened was the clients(R&B) who were used to punchy live drums wanted the same kinda punch from these samplers. So basically what we had to do in the mix is augment the sound with itself(or parts of). Also when loops became popular we had to the same thing. We were asked to pull bass parts out, as well as kicks and snares. Same concept of taking a sound and breaking it down and augmenting that. But there were things to consider when you did these kinda tricks(phase is a big one).

I think when you are mixing your kick and bass one thing to check for is the phase between these two tracks. Some times this will rob the impact of each.

I know some guys do the sub-harmonic tricks on their tracks. They put a low sine wave(usually an octave lower) and have it keyed from either the Kick or the bass(or both). The secret to this is level. If you can hear it, than its too much. This is something you should feel more than hear. Sometimes why I do to tighten up the mix(especially if I do this) is to put a roll off at the very bottom(20hz-25hz) and what this does it gives the illusion that the bass moved up an octave. Even though your just cleaning up a lot of the looseness.

3) Monitoring(including your room) is important and i am sure its been mentioned. You have to be able to hear the true bottomn of your track. If your room becomes part of the sound than you are in trouble.

I hope this helps a little.