bass hits sound covered up

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bass hits sound covered up

Post by justinwcharles » Wed Nov 17, 2010 2:28 pm

please forgive me, i'm very new to ableton live.. but your help is appreciated!

i'm currently creating electronic beats. when i solo out the kick track (bass hits), it sounds loud and clear. when i add in the rest of the mix the kick sounds really buried (even when volume is maxed). the bass line (bass synth) however, has no problem getting over the rest of the mix. i sampled the bass kick from a daft punk song.

is it a mixing problem? an eq problem?

any ideas?

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by justinwcharles » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:03 pm

i've read some other posts, and people have suggested that bass hits 'bump' best at 400 hz.

anyone care to explain how to achieve this? are there any videos that teach about mixing/eq/hz levels for bass kick / bass lines?

where do you find a bass sample to start with?

thanks in advance ;\ and sorry for my no0bisms

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by cosmosuave » Wed Nov 17, 2010 3:11 pm

Look up side chaining and run a comp on your bass track with the kick triggering the side chain on the comp...

Check out the Abe tutorials on side chaining..

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by Tarekith » Wed Nov 17, 2010 4:00 pm

Probably a mixing issue, or the bass and the kick are just too similar sounding and in the same frequency range. Try a different kick.

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by MarcAaron » Wed Nov 17, 2010 11:31 pm

Most of what I've learned about this problem comes from reading and working through sample chapters in Rick Snoman's book The Dance Music Manual (which despite the title isn't just about dance music, but since dance relies so much on kick and bass working together the topic's covered extensively).

You've probably got other instruments in the mix competing for the same frequency range as the kick. IMHO a spectrum analyzer is invaluable for finding this. Solo your kick track, look at freqs where the kick has the most energy. Probably something at 200hz or below for the "thud", and then something between 1-3khz for the 'click' of the beater. Then repeat this for the other instruments, one at a time. It's hard (for me at least) to judge bass accurately by ear and quite often the picture presented by an analyzer really surprises me. I don't like Live's built-in analyzer because I can't float it in a separate window & make it big enough to be useful while still looking at the main Live UI. I use Nu-gen's Analyzer plugin which costs a few $, but I believe that Voxengo still offers a nice freebie plugin.

Once you've figured out what's competing with your kick, you can try to EQ it away. Or, like the others suggested, feed the offending instrument(s) to a track with a compressor and use the kick to feed the sidechain. Google "compressor" and "ducking" and you should get lots of ideas. Sidechain compression is initially the reason I purchased Live. It's fantastic for dance music.

You might just have a kick that isn't going to work in your mix, which would suck since you've sampled a certain one and clearly want to use it. You could try zeroing in on the most important frequencies (there's that spectrum analyzer again!) and adding a slight EQ boost there but I've read that you can easily mess up a mix by doing too much with EQ boosts to bass. As an alternative you might try layering in another kick track, heavily EQ'd to CUT anything that competes with the kick you sampled, just to get a little punch where your main kick is lacking?

Your bass might sound so much more clear than the kick because... well, a bass can really end up covering a really wide frequency range. You might think its fundamentals are down there with your kick when they're actually at a higher frequency, and you're lucky enough that none of the other instruments in your mix are competing. Or there might be some distortion or other effect added to the bass that's helping it punch through where the kick can't. Or you might have the levels on the bass set higher than you imagine. Try temporarily putting your mix into Mono by putting the Mono device (under Utilities) across your Main and it should give you a better idea if the bass is just drowning out everything else.

Finally, as strange as it sounds, try walking around the room while you're looping back a troublesome section of the mix. It's amazing how differently the bass frequencies of a mix sound as you change the distance between you and your monitors. Your ears may be fooling you as to where the bass problems are happening. I've made so many misadjustments to kick & bass because of this that I always drag in a kick/bass section of a commercially-produced song and use it as a reference as to what "right" sounds like.

Apologies for such a long response. You're fighting a problem that's pestered me constantly in my admittedly-short time as a music producer. I've managed to start getting it right more often than not now, and the above are things that helped me along. Good luck!

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by simonlb » Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:38 am

^ Good reply.

It always worries me a bit when the first thing people recommend for kick/bass is to reach for the sidechain. SC can definitely be a useful technique but it's not a substitute for mixing and sound choice fundamentals. Arrangement matters too - often you can just simply not have the kick and bass sounding at the same time without ruining the track.

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by leedsquietman » Thu Nov 18, 2010 3:07 pm

Other things to consider are high pass/shelving instruments which don't contribute to the bottom end (i.e. guitars, synth/piano, rhythm and percussion sounds like hihat and cymbals etc) to create space. Be careful not to cut too much and too low and use automation if necessary to prevent things going too hollow thin.

Other than this, any of the above is correct.

Kick drum tends to be in the 50-100 Hz range for the thud, 2-3 Khz for the beater, and if you have a lot of airy type synths, you might want to put a bit of a peak on the 'click' with a narrow boost at around 10 Khz as well to help it cut through. You might want to try cutting some around 300-500 Hz and boost the bass sound at that frequency. High pass filtering around 30Hz can help clear out some muddiness.

bass tends to be more in the 80-200 Hz range, but the body of the bass carries through well at harmonic intervals (especially on small speakers which generate no sub frequencies), so you often find bass boosted in the 400-800 Hz range (with an inverse reduction in the kick). Sometimes high pass filtering around 50-80 Hz helps the kick drum to cut through without damaging the bass sound too much, but it varies dependent on the sounds you're using, so you need to sweep the bands.

Compression also typically helps if you use it right. Sidechaining or changing your arrangement so the kick and the bass don't always hit on the same beat - ditto. Tarekith's idea is often the simplest and quickest though. Audition several kicks and choose the one which cuts through the best. You can also layer kick sounds and process them differently but this requires more experience to achieve successfully.

Remember that anything soloed will sound different within the context of a full mix - I personally don't like to keep things soloed for ages while building up a mix, because usually once vocals and guitars/synths are introduced, all that moulding of the perfect kick to bass sound will need adjusting anyway. Live 7.0.18 SUITE, Cubase 5.5.2], Soundforge 9, Dell XPS M1530, 2.2 Ghz C2D, 4GB, Vista Ult SP2, legit plugins a plenty, Alesis IO14.

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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by loydb » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:02 pm

Maybe a phasing issue? Back when I played in bands, there was one practice room that, if I pointed my cab at a certain corner, the room would *eat* the sound because of phase cancellation. It was freaky, I could turn it up to what would normally be frog-sterilization levels, and it would just disappear.
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Re: bass hits sound covered up

Post by Digital_Damage » Fri Nov 19, 2010 3:03 pm

cosmosuave wrote:Look up side chaining and run a comp on your bass track with the kick triggering the side chain on the comp...

Check out the Abe tutorials on side chaining..

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