Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

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Citizen
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Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Citizen » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:22 am

I recently had the opportunity to hear one of my (unmastered) tunes played in a club - and overall I was reasonably surprised with how good it sounded....except...

...the BASS!

God.... the whole room was shaking - and not in a good way. Clearly I had massively underestimated the sub in my tune. If I wanted to do a quick fix to at least make the tune playable in a club - what should I do?

Surely it is not as simply as just rolling off at a certain freq, with a certain slope? How do I know if the problem was that the bass was too low (hz) vs. simply being too loud?

Any tips would be hugely appreciated! Thanks!

Citizen
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Citizen » Fri Jul 12, 2013 10:23 am

Oh, here is the tune:

https://soundcloud.com/theworkflow/texture-rough-draft

Bass comes in fully at 0:55 ish. :wink:

Kent_in_CO
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Kent_in_CO » Fri Jul 12, 2013 3:42 pm

If the sub-bass is shaking the whole place and dominating the mix, it's definitely too loud. But this is a super-easy fix.

Since the track is unmastered, you have the luxury of fixing this problem in the mix. We also know that the problem is the bass, as opposed to the drums (which can also cause these types of problems when the kick is mixed too loud).

So - go to your bass channel (or the one with the 30-150 Hz content on it, if you're using multiple bass parts), and put a Spectrum on it. See where the massive spike is occurring? That's the problem area.

If you place a Spectrum on your master channel, you'll likely see a similar spike from the bass that overwhelms the other frequencies in your mix.

For starters, try turning the bass down by 3-5 db and see if you still get the same fullness you're looking for across the higher harmonics. Remember that listening in your bedroom or studio can give a false impression of bass sounding good, versus what a club system will produce. In this case it probably caused you to mix in too much sub.

The more precise way to fix this is simply slap an EQ8 on the track, and zero in on the problem frequency - the part that's spiking. Depending on where the spike is occurring, you can employ either a high-pass at the very low part of the spectrum or use a narrow cut (use your Q knob to adjust) at the problem freq.

Use spectrum to see the results of your cut - you're aiming to bring down the sub closer to your other frequencies.

Another solution would be to go back to the source of the problem - the instrument device itself, assuming you're not using a sample - and dial back the bass. Yet another solution would be to slap on a multi-band compressor, dial in the low band to about 100 Hz (assuming it's all sub that's causing your problem), and then spank it with some fairly heavy compression. That would also tame your spike.

A good rule of thumb when playing a track for the first time live, is HAVE YOUR HAND ON THE MIXER'S LOW EQ KNOB. That way you'll be ready to crank down those crazy spikes if they appear. But this shouldn't really be an issue if you can dial them back in the mix.

Note that the same techniques could also be applied on a finished, mastered track that you can't mix. But it's much better to address any problems on the instrument itself if you can; that way you're not impacting other instruments, like the kick.


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Citizen
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Citizen » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:17 am

Thanks for the excellent advice - on all points. Very clear and easy to follow. I'll give it a shot and see how I go.

:D

I'm guessing I simply just mixed the bass too loud, being that my monitors (and headphones) didn't accurately give me an impression of how it would translate on a club system.

Everything else sounded very clear in the club, so at least I'm on the right path ( I think)

I guessing having the bass too loud is a classic rookie mistake, and it is a case of getting to know your monitors better and using Spectrum to check.

Blendton
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Blendton » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:41 am

What's your monitoring gear dude ?

I haven't finished to read you before remembering my similar "WTF" sub mastering issue, and publicly ^^

No matter indeed since I never quit my bunch of Sennheiser HD-25 monitoring earphones, seriously, if you don't have use this tool, try it > you'll buy one, minimum.

It's IMO the best tool for mastering or just do quick comp/lim/etc stuff before having to put the sound correctly in the place, for everyone's pleasure.

Isolation, freq responsiveness is the best, which leads to the only bad with Hd-25s : no color, and the fact they throw you more than the "120dB SPL" as marketed, being more around the 130 range doesn't help : try them for mastering and monitoring during live performances ^^
Antoine, aka Blendton.

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102455
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by 102455 » Sat Jul 13, 2013 12:19 pm

Grabbing the audio from Soundcloud and looking at a spectrum analysis in Audition, that lowest bass note has a spike at 43.73Hz.

I must say though, that on my KRKs (with sub) it certainly doesn't dominate. In fact considering how low it is, it sounds very well balanced.

That club (room) possibly has a resonance at around 40Hz, or maybe the system is EQed with low end boost. The subs in there may be band pass, centred on 40Hz.

Best thing is to not panic. Try it out in some more clubs or studios with large monitors to double check before you take any action.

"if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and all that!

Jrel
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Jrel » Sat Jul 13, 2013 4:06 pm

Citizen wrote:I recently had the opportunity to hear one of my (unmastered) tunes played in a club - and overall I was reasonably surprised with how good it sounded....except...

...the BASS!

God.... the whole room was shaking - and not in a good way. Clearly I had massively underestimated the sub in my tune. If I wanted to do a quick fix to at least make the tune playable in a club - what should I do?

Surely it is not as simply as just rolling off at a certain freq, with a certain slope? How do I know if the problem was that the bass was too low (hz) vs. simply being too loud?

Any tips would be hugely appreciated! Thanks!
I can barely feel the sub in your track, but on a dubstep or sub-heavy song, my sub is kicking me. It sounds like the club you're in can't handle those tones and has those freqs overemphasized. The bass is about 6 dbs higher than the rest of the sounds. For a quick fix, I used 2 bell curves on an EQ8, about 200 Hz, -6db, 1.82 Q, and one at 68.3 Hz, -2.14 db, 0.71 Q. That's over the whole track, but it would be better if you went back into your mix, and slapped these onto your bass and tweak. If you've got proper monitors and a sub at home, play some bass-heavy tracks and compare yours.

Personally, I'd compress the bass to thicken it (try Sausage Fattener even) so that I could feel it more, but hear it less.

Citizen
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Citizen » Sat Jul 13, 2013 11:10 pm

102455 wrote:Grabbing the audio from Soundcloud and looking at a spectrum analysis in Audition, that lowest bass note has a spike at 43.73Hz.

I must say though, that on my KRKs (with sub) it certainly doesn't dominate. In fact considering how low it is, it sounds very well balanced.

Cool - I'm still pretty new to mixing, so that is encouraging.
102455 wrote:That club (room) possibly has a resonance at around 40Hz, or maybe the system is EQed with low end boost. The subs in there may be band pass, centred on 40Hz.

Hmmm.... that is a possible thought. The room was pretty empty at the time it was played, so perhaps you are right? Although the other tunes played that night (it was a producer showcase kinda thing) didn't exhibit the same room-shaking qualities.

jestermgee
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by jestermgee » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:21 am

Great example of where a good mastering engineer can find these issues (even when you cannot hear them on certain systems) and fix em.

ikeaboy
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by ikeaboy » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:06 am

If your sub has a lot of energy at 43hrz (from what people are saying) but sounds balanced elsewhere and on a lot of studio monitors. I'd suggest that what sounds cool in the studio is just too much on larger rigs. Its a mistake I used to make a lot because I love sub bass and it sounds great on my mackie's is that I'd have it where I could clearly hear it on my studio mixes, if anything sub bass when it's nearly subliminal at regular studio volumes will still sound huge when it's played through a club system, so if it's sub 50hrz and sounds upfront in your mix you need to be careful. (hears a great example of a 50 hrz bassline track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r5G7Uh8FSQ)

I agree with Blendton, use full range flat frequency response headphone to place your bass. No matter what your monitor sub set up because, unless you have a room with perfect acoustics, it's hard to get a concrete idea of a tracks sub 50 hrz bass behavior and how it'll react to different rooms without trial and error.

You could always place your subs based on a reference track from a similarly styled track with a proven track record. Good luck.

Blendton
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Blendton » Mon Jul 15, 2013 10:37 am

ikeaboy wrote:If your sub has a lot of energy at 43hrz (from what people are saying) but sounds balanced elsewhere and on a lot of studio monitors. I'd suggest that what sounds cool in the studio is just too much on larger rigs. Its a mistake I used to make a lot because I love sub bass and it sounds great on my mackie's is that I'd have it where I could clearly hear it on my studio mixes, if anything sub bass when it's nearly subliminal at regular studio volumes will still sound huge when it's played through a club system, so if it's sub 50hrz and sounds upfront in your mix you need to be careful. (hears a great example of a 50 hrz bassline track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r5G7Uh8FSQ)

I agree with Blendton, use full range flat frequency response headphone to place your bass. No matter what your monitor sub set up because, unless you have a room with perfect acoustics, it's hard to get a concrete idea of a tracks sub 50 hrz bass behavior and how it'll react to different rooms without trial and error.

You could always place your subs based on a reference track from a similarly styled track with a proven track record. Good luck.
I wish to add to your point the fact that indeed, let's say we're all dancing on... Giorgio by Moroder in a well balanced and homogen place, I choose this because I think my example is the kind of one which is so full of sounds in everysub range of what we consider our human range, not dancing in this situation is not about tastes & colors about "what I like to dance on" : this track is eligible to be "nuiversally enjoyable" on such an ideal case I precise also this is ion fact common, just because sound engineers aboce some "A grade" takent are not some rarity, they are many behind that sscene I try to describe.

Beore that event, you or another had to mix this.

And as many know, tracks being dance-needs provoking aren't - on the dancefloor only factor - universal because of luck or how to explain the "secret" behind is : the bass. That bass behind this growing perfectly produced material IS the secret. Kicks synths and our venerable pioneer talking ; even your "live styff" i.e. a gradual repeater on the word "to click" or any DJing trick will not be THE reason.

I won't be able to master such a quality material after it was mixed withv monitors.

Because the fact that everythhing "raising" fellings of such "having the secret" track, raising being dancing even not liking the style, having an urge or a "declic" to adress a pretty girl, or take a dring, everything relies on this perfect bass.

I don't say monitors are garbage or out-of age here, even don't pretend being such a skilled engiuneer, but I would have to be the one on the mixing critical step : the more neutral and isolated, without a rtefacts like even a reverb you would say as inaudible while it has an effect of how the body reacts, no other solution than my team of HD-25. A team, in case if using just one being maling the processs indeed "not en ough neutral since no double blind critical and carefull about how pure my mix has to be.

Sorry for this semi off-topic since I speal about the bass because I know a sub is here but firstly I didn't live that situation, soeaking on my teaching memories and experience only, despite the "secret" uncounscious sound making the magic can't be the most audible one being not "IMO' here, (the only statement here is that part only indeed ^^)

Tosum up : having be made multi tasking enough I just tell you this for sure : we discuss about some most hard, asymmptotic maybe, kind of work on sound even made.

Really complex, hard, heavy (yess, gears are so heavy ouch, lol)

BUT definitly interesting one I'm happy to have been allowed to be introduced and honored to have these memorues, It's the most painful qwork I ever have to do.
Antoine, aka Blendton.

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fishmonkey
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by fishmonkey » Mon Jul 15, 2013 1:12 pm

unless you have a properly acoustically treated mixing room, then the bass response is most likely a mess, so referencing on good headphones is a must.

if you have never tested the acoustic response of your room, you will probably be surprised at how messed up it actually is. to get a rough idea of the worst of the problem frequencies, try playing sine tones through your system while you walk around your room (a quick way is to use the Test Tone function in the Live audio preferences).

for starters, try the range from 20 to 200 Hz in 10 Hz steps...

jsn
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by jsn » Mon Jul 15, 2013 2:08 pm

Agree with 102455. Sounds about right here. This room is treated and very nice monitoring but that is not the all-important factor in doing a mix like this. It is ALWAYS hard to get a good impression of sub area. Make good use of reference tracks...compare compare compare test test test. Check with the person in charge of sound at the venue and report back here your finding. Could be educating info for others mixing bass-heavy dance tracks. Also check another dance track with a lot of sub that you are quite familiar with. Listen critically at your studio first how it sounds against your own and then in the car on the way and then listen carefully on that club system. This will also tell you if there is some over-compensation in the sound system. Some clubs are just a nightmare and paired with the acoustics... Cheers - PS. Not a bad overall mixing job. Nice use of space. I also like the sounds you use. (in all of your tracks)
Live Suite 9.5 (32-bit), MFL 6.1.3 (416a295), Win7HP

john gordon
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by john gordon » Mon Jul 15, 2013 4:07 pm

Best thread I've on this forum in years.

Blendton
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Re: Tips for rolling off sub-bass?

Post by Blendton » Tue Jul 16, 2013 11:27 am

john gordon wrote:Best thread I've on this forum in years.
up and +1

>>>first "up" or "+1" EVER done in my entire life<<<

Tour sentence will ot serve both roles of the prize of the most relevant in a single sentence ; and the "one who could freeze the thread a little since being doing somes reflexions for eventually answser the next nice post take time - and thios rthread deserves staying azt the top / Page one of a topic for 'Music & audio production' real exchange and meaning to serve as IMO somekind of a knowledge base .......... I mean not a yes/no/neutral emo/ POLLING (the most regression on the intellectually or learning level maybe.

Sorry for that think about my next ; or waiting for the following post if not fast enough.

Warm regards.
Antoine, aka Blendton.

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