The key to building a great mix is having a solid bass and kick-drum mix. If the bass and kick doesn’t work well together, the mix will fall apart. So here are a few tips to getting that bass and kick to work for a good mix
Tip 1: Edit and tighten
The first tip is specifically for live acoustic bass and kick.
The main problem I found with live recording is timing, which can cause phase issues and a thin sound bass and kick if not sorted. So the first thing you want to do when you get live recording to mix is to editing the timing. Make sure bass and kick are in phase (in time).
If you are the one recording get the drummer and the bass player to rehearse as much as possible before recording them. This way you will get a close to perfect recording and you won’t have do a lot of editing, which can be a tedious task.
When editing the kick and bass, if you recorded good takes, chances are all you have to do is line the waveforms up with each other.
Other times you may have to do more serious editing, you may have to cut and paste or use time stretching tools like ‘Logic Pro X Flex Mode’ to do the job. This can be time consuming but it will worth it when you get the kick drum and bass to playing better together in the mix.
Tip 2: High pass filter
Another tip direct at live recording. When tracking low hum and rumble are introduce in the recording in a numbers of way and this can muddy up the mix and prevent clarity. Most of time you can not prevent this getting into the recording so you will have to filter it out with a low pass filter.
Since we can’t hear much below 30Hz, filtering out everything below this frequency from the kick and bass won’t affect the tonality but will add more clarity to the mix.
Tip 3: Give them their own space
This is the most important tip and one every mixer must know.
The low frequency ranges from 60Hz-200Hz. The bass and kick must sit within this range at there own distinct fundamental frequencies for them be audible in the mix and not clashing with each other.
So how is it done? Using an EQ, find the frequencies that defines each instruments and boost those frequencies while cutting it those same frequencies in the other instrument. For example, say 70-Hz accent the kick drum when boost, you would cut 70-80Hz from the bass. When plays together the 70-80Hz in the bass won’t clash with the 70-80Hz you want to hear from the kick.
Do the same with the bass, find the frequencies that accent the bass then cut those same frequencies from the kick drum.
Keep in mind though, too much boost bass region can muddy up the mix so it better to cut in the area than to boost.
In most case this little tip will prevent the kick drum and the bass from clashing and create more clarity in the low end. But there time when this won’t be enough and other create ways are needed to create clarity in the low end, which bring us to the next tips.
Tip 4. Sidechain the kick and bass
Sidechain compression is a technique use to get kick drum to cut through the mix when the bass or other instruments masked it or then it is too low and you don’t have no more head room to turn the kick up.
The bass can masked this kick when they play at the same time in the mix or they have the similar fundamental and harmonic frequencies. Using sidechain compression whenever the kick play the compressor will briefly lower to volume of the bass so that the kick is audible.
The time is so short that it won’t be obvious that the bass is lower.
Using one are these technique and you should be on your way to getting a better low end mix.
Image by: Philip Rood