Sub bass issues

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
iSpiritus
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Sub bass issues

Post by iSpiritus » Tue Dec 08, 2015 5:42 am

I just finished up a dubstep track a while ago and compared it to some commercial tracks (Au5's Blossom, Knife Party's remix of Porter Robinson's unison). I noticed that after comparing them, mine was lacking a serious amount of bass while listening to it in my car with my 10" sub and on my speakers I use for making my music. Both of the comparison tracks had no problem providing a large amount of bass while mine had barely any. I decided to add a sub bass layer beneath the mid range bass in my track to give it some more low end. However, once I did this I have been having trouble trying to get my bass to provide as much power as the comparison tracks and keeping it well mixed. The only way I was able to replicate the power with my sub bass was by adding almost 10 db of gain in the 30-100hz area (I realize this isn't the answer because volume doesn't necessarily equal power). I got the sub to provide the power I need but in many spots of the song it cuts through too much, is too audible and takes away from the musicality of the song. If I turn it down it becomes less noticeable but I lose the power that I need. One thing I noticed on the comparison tracks is that the way the sub bass sits, it's almost inaudible but you know its there because you can feel it. So my question is how does one make the sub bass so powerful but make it sit in the track in such a way that it's not very audible? I've tried multiple synths and techniques to accomplish it (Operator, FM8, Serum). I've used a pure sine wave as well as mixtures of sine/saw, sine/square and very minor distortion to add a small amount of upper harmonics to the sub bass. I've tried rolling of everything above 100-200 hz on the sub and below that range on the mid range bass to mix them together. I've been spending several days researching this and still have not had any luck. I never would have guessed sub bass would be the thing giving me this much trouble. Any tips anyone has or knowledge they would share would be helpful. This was a long ramble, apologies.

Tarekith
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by Tarekith » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:43 am

Most of it in my experience is just carefully balancing of the sub level while listening in the studio. If you're not mixing in a room you're used to or one treated for the low end though, it's always going to be a bit of a guess trying to get that level right. Best you can do is keep referencing it on other playback systems like you're doing now.

Getting good solid low end that doesn't swamp everything else is one of the hardest things to learn in music production I find. So much of it is dependant on how accurate your monitoring is and how well you know that things will translate. Just keep practicing, you'll get there. :)

phaded
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by phaded » Wed Dec 09, 2015 5:33 pm

If you haven't already, try experimenting with the Satruator set to 'soft sine'. Maybe 3-6 db of drive and lower the output to account for the increase in gain. Yum.

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Shift Gorden
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by Shift Gorden » Wed Dec 09, 2015 8:48 pm

Mate - wish I could help you, but the good news is you're thinking along the right lines! Comparing to other tracks, listening of different systems and then trying to figure out the adjustments (like you're doing) is way to go. It it's hard for Tarekith then you know you've got some work ahead of you!

It's a real hard situation. A track is made of energy, but you only have a limited amount of it. Lower frequencies take up more energy than higher ones, so carefully balancing everything is the real trick.

How do other elements of your mix stand up to your reference tracks, mate? Sometimes if your kick is too bassy, that can really be an energy suck because you end up with all the bass sucking the energy out of the mids and highs. What do the reference kicks sound like compared to yours? Sometimes I'm amazed at how un-bassy some kicks are...but they work very nicely in the context of a subby track.

Take everything I say with a pinch of salt - because I can't get that balance right either!

jestermgee
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by jestermgee » Wed Dec 09, 2015 11:50 pm

Probably a good thing to realise is your own limitations too.

Consider all the names of the artists you just listed. Probably all of them have handed the actual work of making their tracks sound big and full to an engineer (or a team) with decades of experience and a lot of tools and training on using those tools. None of them would be guessing as to what is needed where, they would instantly know by hearing what is and is not there and also seeing it on meters and displays. Audio Engineering (different to making music or performing) is a different toolset.

after 18 years i'm still learning and don't consider to have the experience in that area either which is why if I really needed to get the most out of sound I hand it to an engineer.

miekwave
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by miekwave » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:15 am

iSpiritus wrote:I just finished up a dubstep track a while ago and compared it to some commercial tracks (Au5's Blossom, Knife Party's remix of Porter Robinson's unison). I noticed that after comparing them, mine was lacking a serious amount of bass while listening to it in my car with my 10" sub and on my speakers I use for making my music. Both of the comparison tracks had no problem providing a large amount of bass while mine had barely any. I decided to add a sub bass layer beneath the mid range bass in my track to give it some more low end. However, once I did this I have been having trouble trying to get my bass to provide as much power as the comparison tracks and keeping it well mixed. The only way I was able to replicate the power with my sub bass was by adding almost 10 db of gain in the 30-100hz area (I realize this isn't the answer because volume doesn't necessarily equal power). I got the sub to provide the power I need but in many spots of the song it cuts through too much, is too audible and takes away from the musicality of the song. If I turn it down it becomes less noticeable but I lose the power that I need. One thing I noticed on the comparison tracks is that the way the sub bass sits, it's almost inaudible but you know its there because you can feel it. So my question is how does one make the sub bass so powerful but make it sit in the track in such a way that it's not very audible? I've tried multiple synths and techniques to accomplish it (Operator, FM8, Serum). I've used a pure sine wave as well as mixtures of sine/saw, sine/square and very minor distortion to add a small amount of upper harmonics to the sub bass. I've tried rolling of everything above 100-200 hz on the sub and below that range on the mid range bass to mix them together. I've been spending several days researching this and still have not had any luck. I never would have guessed sub bass would be the thing giving me this much trouble. Any tips anyone has or knowledge they would share would be helpful. This was a long ramble, apologies.
Create BOounced Track:
Bounced Track > Effects Rack
SPlit Effects rack into 3 Sections >

Section 1: EQ3 (Highs)
Section 2: EQ3 (Mids)
Section 3: EQ3 (Lows)

On section 3, apply Glue Compression > Amp+Cabenet > Limiter > EQ8

Section 3 Effects
On Glue try -12 to -24 db 1:4 ratio fast attack - enable soft clip
Amp+Cabenet Combo - start with 'Clean > Bass > Blues > Rock' (the more agressive the more harmonics beging generated) > do 10:90 to 20:80 Wet:Dry Ratio - Cabenet use 'Near Condenser' or 'Near Dynamic' to taste 50:50 wet:dry to 70:30 wet:dry ratio. - this will introduce bass harmonics
EQ8 - use EQ8 to shape the bass harmonics and fundamental tones





Mix each section EQ3 to taste.


However this only works effectively best when you apply a 85 to 120Hz HPF to ALL tracks except your main 'bass' driven tracks. Your MIX should have 2 sub 80hZ driven tracks at a time, never more than 4. Use 'HPF ON-OFF' automation to turn HPF on or off tracks, but only 2-4 tracks at a time should have >85Hz at a time for good mix
Check out some of my soundtracks. Also Ableton Live Performance video.

ImageImage

Shift Gorden
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by Shift Gorden » Thu Dec 10, 2015 1:45 am

jestermgee wrote:Probably a good thing to realise is your own limitations too.

Consider all the names of the artists you just listed. Probably all of them have handed the actual work of making their tracks sound big and full to an engineer (or a team) with decades of experience and a lot of tools and training on using those tools. None of them would be guessing as to what is needed where, they would instantly know by hearing what is and is not there and also seeing it on meters and displays. Audio Engineering (different to making music or performing) is a different toolset.

after 18 years i'm still learning and don't consider to have the experience in that area either which is why if I really needed to get the most out of sound I hand it to an engineer.

Yup.

SuburbanThug
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by SuburbanThug » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:26 pm

This is how I got my sub bass up to snuff: turned everything down and turned the bass up. When you mix your stuff in general you want everything quiet. Turn down your mix piece by piece until the master is touching -6 at the loudest peaks. Now turn up your computer volume or main volume wherever it is but not on the Live master because you need to make sure those peaks don't go above -6. Now it's nice and loud again and you've got more room in your mix. Now keep turning everything down except the sub bass and make sure the it's kicking at -6. Then start adding your other elements. Your drums should be the next loudest thing if you are doing dubstep. Sidechain your kicks to your bass and things should be starting to shape up. When you finalize the track put some fairly brute compression on the master and that will start bringing the volume up towards zero. Then normalize when you export. VOILA. If you are going to get it mastered professionally just leave out the master channel compression and don't normalize when you export. This means your mix will be exported at -6 and the engineer will have plenty of headroom left in the mix to work with.

edit: When you're mixing Bass music the sub has got to be close to the front of the mix. It sounds like you're just having trouble finding where the sub is going to sit. I think between quieting down the mix, starting the sub up front and mixing it back, adding saturation and EQing you should be able to find a good spot for it. If not, leave the sub a little quiet and hand it to somebody who mixes bass music.
Last edited by SuburbanThug on Thu Dec 17, 2015 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

drez
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by drez » Sat Dec 12, 2015 3:58 pm

This is a great topic! One I struggle with as well. Great, great suggestions :)
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Tarekith
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by Tarekith » Sat Dec 12, 2015 4:20 pm

jestermgee wrote:Probably a good thing to realise is your own limitations too.

Consider all the names of the artists you just listed. Probably all of them have handed the actual work of making their tracks sound big and full to an engineer (or a team) with decades of experience and a lot of tools and training on using those tools. None of them would be guessing as to what is needed where, they would instantly know by hearing what is and is not there and also seeing it on meters and displays. Audio Engineering (different to making music or performing) is a different toolset.

after 18 years i'm still learning and don't consider to have the experience in that area either which is why if I really needed to get the most out of sound I hand it to an engineer.
I wish more people were realistic like this, it would save everyone so much worry :) Every once in awhile I get clients who come to me for mastering, and they can't understand why their master will never sound like say Dr Dre, or whoever they worship. There's times I wish I could just say "well this is your first song ever, and you're comparing it to something done by someone with 10-20 years of daily experience and team of pros helping them, so they're a lot better than you are". :lol:

sana48
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by sana48 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 5:51 am

Import the song you are comparing yours with into ableton and add an eq 8 to the track. Study the frequencies and see where the differences are between yours and it.

jestermgee
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by jestermgee » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:20 am

sana48 wrote:Import the song you are comparing yours with into ableton and add an eq 8 to the track. Study the frequencies and see where the differences are between yours and it.
That will get you a little way along for sure but then if you find that your frequencies are lacking in certain places there is a Lot more than just chucking an EQ and boosting them. You'll then find it mucks something else up and before you know it every channel is pushing harder than it needs and it still sounds flat.
I wish more people were realistic like this, it would save everyone so much worry :) Every once in awhile I get clients who come to me for mastering, and they can't understand why their master will never sound like say Dr Dre, or whoever they worship. There's times I wish I could just say "well this is your first song ever, and you're comparing it to something done by someone with 10-20 years of daily experience and team of pros helping them, so they're a lot better than you are". :lol:
I'd have to say it's more an experience thing that helps one to figure out that they will never be able to know it all. I started in production when I was 16 after doing "DJ Gigs" from the age of 11 with a home made mixer built from the game paddles of an atari and a heap of old bits (mono mixer into the mic of any stereo I could find with an attenuator plug from an old phono player). I believed I would "know it all" in a few years... Skip forward 18 years and what I do know is without that all important training (not to mention having the correct setup, tools and room treatment) you have to admit defeat somewhere.

The thing that I find funny is the "quality/level" or whatever you call it in todays music is far more advanced than say the 90s. Check out the dance tracks from the early-mid 90s and you probably find many beginners are on-par with that level of sound and quality or better straight out of the tin. I would have KILLED to have my fasttracker music projects sound anywhere that good back in the day. Now without even trying it far surpasses that sound quality. That's 95% of what anyone needs. The last 5% is the hardest to master, takes the longest amount of hours and is suited to about that percent of the producer community. If it sounds pretty good, be happy you could get that far on your little home computer. If you want it to sound "professional", hand it to an actual professional or simply enjoy the next few decades of the learning curve. [/2c]

Tarekith
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by Tarekith » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:40 am

Oh for sure man, I'm still amazed each week at the quality of some of the productions new producers are making. More training online (youtube), better (cheap) monitors, better gear, etc has all made a lot of things I struggled with early on a moot point for sure.

sana48
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by sana48 » Wed Dec 16, 2015 6:47 am

jestermgee wrote: That will get you a little way along for sure but then if you find that your frequencies are lacking in certain places there is a Lot more than just chucking an EQ and boosting them. You'll then find it mucks something else up and before you know it every channel is pushing harder than it needs and it still sounds flat.
Absolutely agree with this..

JCMO132
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Re: Sub bass issues

Post by JCMO132 » Thu Dec 17, 2015 3:10 am

hello i need some serious help!! Just got Ableton live 9 suite edition. Ive been really dedicated to make my own music and never got a studio program for a long time till now! I am currently learning how to use it now and kinda starting to get the hang of it one thing i need to know is, how can i get all my work that i have done, to be put together? im really dorry to say but im really bad at explaining but i'll try. when you get live 9, it first shows you a demo and it shows all the loops and the synths already put into one joined with the chords and drums. Now that ive deleted that, now i want to get to that point. How can i get it like that? if what i said kinda made sense, please tell me, if not, i can try to explain more. Again im like new to the whole Studio program using thing but i really want to make my own stuff so the help would be really much appreciated!

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