Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

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Check1-2
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Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Check1-2 » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:25 pm

I've created this beat, something outside my usual realm. Nothing special, just messed around with sampling an old tune and creating more of a old school-ish hip hop beat. It's got potential considering how little time I've spent so far but one thing I can't seem to fix up is the bass.

It's just an Operator based bass sound I created, but in order to get the tone I wanted, I used the filter. Now it's got the roundness that I want but it's just sounding too muddy, and not cutting through like the basses that I hear from producers I like, Afta-1 in particular.

I've got the Operator filter on, some EQ, a little Saturator to give just a little dirt and some more power, as well as some Compression (which admittedly, I am not very effective at using). No matter how I try to tweak, it stays muddy sounding, I believe because of the filter setting. But the problem is, that's where I get the tone I want, I just need a way to clean it up, and push it to the front of the mix a bit more.

Do you guys have any tips on how to do this? What I am going to try now, that I stupidly did not try, is going back to all of the other aspects in the tune and making sure that nothing is clashing in the lower frequency range where the bass is. Going to scoop those low frequencies off everywhere else that they aren't needed. I don't have much faith that's going to do the trick though.

This bass is giving me problems. Any ideas?

EDIT: There were two spots that the low end was clashing with the bass a bit, that did help a bit with the sound, however it's still hasn't resloved my problem.

Vocane
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Vocane » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:39 pm

Hi this is a problem every producer faces one in a while.
While there are certain tricks, like slight sidechaining to other bass-heavy leads, kicks etc, the major problemsolver for this comes from music theory. Making sure your root notes of your melodies, leads, even percussive sounds are in key with your main bass makes up a huge difference regarding 'muddiness'.

If this doesnt work try changing a few semitones of the main oscillators in operator. Lowpass filtering is OK, but will not solve your problem because from what I understand from your story the 'muddiness' is primarily in the lower frequency range. Also use the search button, this topic has been covered a lot during the years.

Tarekith
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Tarekith » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:54 pm

Try taking the compressor off, likely you really don't need it and it's just making things worse.

Muzik 4 Machines
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Muzik 4 Machines » Sun Feb 26, 2012 10:48 pm

you can also try to re add some harmonics you removed by filtering either with some exciter or light clipping/distortion

also make sure the notes are ok with the rest of the song and even with the kick

Check1-2
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Check1-2 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:42 am

Thanks for these suggestions. I have yet to ever use an exciter and really am not entirely sure what it is yet but I've got a youtube tutorial set up to get the low down on how to begin. That sounds like a great approach, as is all the other suggestions. Hoping I get this squared away shortly! Thanks.

Muzik 4 Machines
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Muzik 4 Machines » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:51 am

if you want it squared, just use a waveshaper or distort/clip it to death :lol:

sorry, it was too easy

Vios
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Vios » Mon Feb 27, 2012 4:27 pm

I agree with the music theory idea. That can happen a lot. What's they 'key' of your kick? Is it a note that's in the particular key of your track?

Are you using sidechain compression?

Finally, something that happens to me a lot is if something isn't fitting right in a mix it's often not the instrument I'm trying to get to 'pop' that's the problem. Look at what your other instruments in the same frequency range are doing. In this case esp. look at your kick, but you could have other parts interfering here - snare, synths, etc.

Also look at your envelopes. Adjust the release times on your bass and kick. Too long on release times can result in a lot of mud.

What's happening in the 200-500Hz area? Lots of content in this range often results in mud. Mastering engineers cut in this range to get rid of muddiness.

Check1-2
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Check1-2 » Mon Feb 27, 2012 8:06 pm

I haven't done any side chain compression or anything like that on this track. Honestly, it was made very quickly as more of an experiment after talking to a friend who does a lot of sampling to make HipHop-esque stuff, something I've never really tried yet. It's pretty bare-bones. I just sat down to mess around for a few minutes before I got ready to get picked up to hit the bars with some friends and ended up kinda digging the general vibe.

This is a link to the track I'm talking about, so you can hear what I mean. It's the same thing over and over, per my friend's request because he liked it and wanted to use it to freestyle/write some rhymes to.

Anyway, it's just a quick "outline" of the main idea, the arrangement is not intended to be impressive by any means.

http://soundcloud.com/user9316075/newideaextended

I have since tried EQ'ing out the kick drums bass frequencies and it really doesn't make much difference.

I think the issue is not so much how the bass is sitting in the mix, but more the bass tone itself. I like the roundness, etc but after achieving that, it lost all ability to cut through. I'm going to try the exciter, as was suggested above. I have some hope that they may be what I am after, or may help at least. Just thought I would post a link so you can hear what I mean, as that should give more information than anything I can say would do.

Appreciate the feedback and the help, this is a problem that I face with my bass sounds quite a lot after using the filter to get the sounds I want or after filtering for use with an LFO for dubsteppy sorts of bass oscillations.

k-toh
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by k-toh » Wed Feb 29, 2012 3:41 pm

Here's another trick - move your bass midi up two octaves and then see how it sits in the mix - once you're happy the way everything sits together you can drop it back to where it was and make a few tweaks to sit it back into the mix nicley. This method just brings the notes out and work out the stuff Vocane has mentioned above :)

You could also just take the bass line, duplicate it, sit it an octave higher but lower volume to add a little 'excitement' to it - don't be afraid to experiment with layers.

marra
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by marra » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:11 pm

Check1-2 wrote:I've created this beat, something outside my usual realm. Nothing special, just messed around with sampling an old tune and creating more of a old school-ish hip hop beat. It's got potential considering how little time I've spent so far but one thing I can't seem to fix up is the bass.

It's just an Operator based bass sound I created, but in order to get the tone I wanted, I used the filter. Now it's got the roundness that I want but it's just sounding too muddy, and not cutting through like the basses that I hear from producers I like, Afta-1 in particular.

I've got the Operator filter on, some EQ, a little Saturator to give just a little dirt and some more power, as well as some Compression (which admittedly, I am not very effective at using). No matter how I try to tweak, it stays muddy sounding, I believe because of the filter setting. But the problem is, that's where I get the tone I want, I just need a way to clean it up, and push it to the front of the mix a bit more.

Do you guys have any tips on how to do this? What I am going to try now, that I stupidly did not try, is going back to all of the other aspects in the tune and making sure that nothing is clashing in the lower frequency range where the bass is. Going to scoop those low frequencies off everywhere else that they aren't needed. I don't have much faith that's going to do the trick though.

This bass is giving me problems. Any ideas?

EDIT: There were two spots that the low end was clashing with the bass a bit, that did help a bit with the sound, however it's still hasn't resloved my problem.
Can we hear?
Tarekith wrote:Try taking the compressor off, likely you really don't need it and it's just making things worse.
Too true!!

Mage2k
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Mage2k » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:24 am

I typically will high-pass my main, non-sub bass lines with the cutoff anywhere between 80hz-150hz, depending on where it's really hitting (i.e. just lower) specifically to remove mud. Do the same with the other percussion and instruments with the cutoff a bit higher, 100-250hz. While you don't hear it when listening to the other instruments alone they do often have lower harmonics and partials that all add up and result in mud.

Check1-2
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Check1-2 » Fri Mar 02, 2012 3:38 pm

k-toh wrote:Here's another trick - move your bass midi up two octaves and then see how it sits in the mix - once you're happy the way everything sits together you can drop it back to where it was and make a few tweaks to sit it back into the mix nicley. This method just brings the notes out and work out the stuff Vocane has mentioned above :)

You could also just take the bass line, duplicate it, sit it an octave higher but lower volume to add a little 'excitement' to it - don't be afraid to experiment with layers.
Nice tip, the layering of the original and an octave up with some highpass/lowpass tweaking has helped me move toward where I'm trying to get. Nice one!

Mage2k wrote:I typically will high-pass my main, non-sub bass lines with the cutoff anywhere between 80hz-150hz, depending on where it's really hitting (i.e. just lower) specifically to remove mud. Do the same with the other percussion and instruments with the cutoff a bit higher, 100-250hz. While you don't hear it when listening to the other instruments alone they do often have lower harmonics and partials that all add up and result in mud.
I haven't done this yet, but you are certainly right about some of the other percussion containing some unnecessary, low frequencies that are cluttering up my frequency spectrum. I'm in the process of getting it sorted out.

Appreciate all the help. And Marra, I posted a link to it in my post shortly before the one you made. It's barebones and repetitive right now, just working on sorting this bass out before I proceed further because it was driving me nuts! :D

Vios
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Vios » Mon Mar 05, 2012 8:16 pm

I hear two main things in your loop that stick out.

Listening to your sample, your kick sounds like someone tried to "fatten" it too much. It feels like it's overcompress/saturdated, and it's got too much midbass. Hard to know without pulling out my spectrum analyzer. It sounds like you used a recorded kick drum? They often have harmonics that are good to put cuts on. So your kick's fundamental might be at 50Hz, but you have bumps at 100 and 200. It often sounds good to boost very slightly at 50 and cut slightly at 100 and 200. EQing is always a case by case basis however.

Your bass doesn't have much low at all. It's got all kinds of high frequency content, and the high frequency stuff doesn't sound clean at all. I might work on making it (a bit) more clean sounding.

One idea is first to add a sin wave to your bass. So insert an instrument rack and then put your current bassline instrument and a new operator in it. Leave the operator on it's default setting and transpose up or down an octave until it's hitting the low note you want. Then adjust attack/release/sustain/decay to sound good and adjust the volume to match your existing bassline.

Another thing that may help is some analog effects. In an ideal world we'd all have $2000 pre amps sitting around, but I'd suggest trying dynamic tube with mild settings and Modern Analoger (Free VST. There's a link on my webpage to Antress Modern Plugins here). You can also try the exciter that's included with the Modern plugins. It could help as well.

Your bassline will probably sound good if you shoot for something warm and midbassy in your production. There's definitely a lot of EQ work that needs to be done to get it to fit right. There's some high end there that on club speakers would not be pleasant to listen to.
Last edited by Vios on Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Check1-2
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by Check1-2 » Wed Mar 07, 2012 8:16 pm

Thanks man. I am going to try everything you've mentioned. I've been super busy so I'm really looking forward to this weekend when I get a chance to experiment with all of these different suggestions and see which one(s) get me where I need to be.

Thanks for listening and giving your feedback.

marra
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Re: Cleaning Up A Muddy Bass?

Post by marra » Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:25 pm

Check1-2 wrote:Thanks man. I am going to try everything you've mentioned. I've been super busy so I'm really looking forward to this weekend when I get a chance to experiment with all of these different suggestions and see which one(s) get me where I need to be.

Thanks for listening and giving your feedback.
cant u show us what the darn thing sounds like? :lol:

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