Kick & Bass Mixing Checklist!!??

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philippe123
KVRer
Topic Starter
5 posts since 15 Nov, 2015

Post Tue Jan 18, 2022 3:35 am

It’s my hope this thread can create a useful and productive source of information for all users!

What is your thought process & workflow when starting to mix the low end, in particular, nailing the relationship between the kick and bass?

I know there are a ton of tutorials out there on youtube - but I am trying to assemble a solid, repeatable set of steps for getting the kick and bass to sound great together every time - kind of like a check list of moves to go through right off the bat.

I mainly use Kick 2 to create my kicks so my sub frequencies are easy to establish - most typically I’ll use a sine wave around 46hz and then a second instance of Kick 2 to create the click and body.

My bass sounds are usually long and sustained notes coming from my Moog - very little attack - I almost always want the punch and body and sub oomph to come from my kicks.

The first thing I will do is highpass the bass with a fairly steep slope (48 dB) right above the kick’s sub frequency - for this example, 46Hz.

I then will experiment with cutting the bass with a parametric EQ on or close to the where the highpass is, also at 46Hz.

Then I will try boosting the first harmonic of the kick’s sub, in this case 92Hz - I will also experiment with cutting this frequency on the bass by as much as I boost on the kick.

I will then use LFO TOOLS to duck the bass but only about 10ms or so to let the kick’s transient pop though - I don’t really like when the bass disappears altogether - yeah it makes more space for the kick but it somehow robs too much energy from my tracks.

Unless really necessary for volume discrepancies or as an effect, I don’t find it necessary to compress synth bass most of the time.

I was thinking of maybe implementing a dynamic eq to duck only the bass’s sub frequencies when the kick hits - I wld time the dynamic eq’s attack and release so that it really only clamps down on the bass for the body and sub/tail of the kick.

Can anyone add anything to this checklist of sorts? Are there any other considerations I should be making with my approach? How do you do it?

Wld be grateful if we can keep replies constructive!

Thanks to all for reading and chiming in!

legendCNCD
KVRian
1289 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Thu Jan 20, 2022 3:49 am

All the hz & ms amounts really depends on the project. For me the first question is: does it sound good? Is there something needed to be done for it to sound good if it doesnt?
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

philippe123
KVRer
Topic Starter
5 posts since 15 Nov, 2015

Post Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:35 pm

I have a very well treated and constructed room with a great monitoring chain but almost always the kick ends up being too overpowering - when I turn it down it sounds weak...which is why I am really struggling with this balance between a nice and warm bass sound and a punchy and full (with sub) kick sound.

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DJ Warmonger
KVRAF
4474 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 2:47 am

I follow the readings of Izotope plugins. Every time I try to master a track, iZotope EQ shows that there is not enough low end and too much power in 200-250 Hz range compared to reference track. So I get back to project and pull kick, low and mid bass accordingly to readings Tonal Balance Control.
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Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

legendCNCD
KVRian
1289 posts since 23 Sep, 2004 from Kocmoc

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:28 am

philippe123 wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 2:35 pm I have a very well treated and constructed room with a great monitoring chain but almost always the kick ends up being too overpowering - when I turn it down it sounds weak...which is why I am really struggling with this balance between a nice and warm bass sound and a punchy and full (with sub) kick sound.
In this case I'd do the usual: round of listening on different equipment with something similar to your track to A/B with. Car audio is quite relealing if you can access such one and know how the references should sound.

I still use with VSX's too, the method of listening to bassdrum vs. bass relationship on as low volume as possible - when they interact there properly, you are usually near the sweet spot in my experience.
Soft Knees - Demoscene - Live 10 - Diva - Omnisphere - Slate Digital VSX - TDR - Kush Audio - Fabfilter - PA - Valhalla - Fuse - Pulsar - NI - OekSound etc...

chagzuki
KVRAF
2588 posts since 26 Mar, 2002 from london

Post Fri Jan 21, 2022 3:35 am

Very interesting. I think for the sort of music I make I can't be this surgical, as the roles of kick and bass vary a lot within the same track, so I tend to just sidechain-duck the sub-100Hz of the bass as the kick hits. I guess despite making electronic music the role the instruments are playing are more in line with non-electronic music. My experiments with surgical eqing kick and bass often result in a deadening of the expression of both/either.

I also often have ambivalence about how much of the higher frequencies the bass takes up, as it's a trade-off for power of the bass vs clarity of other instruments, but that's a separate issue.
Every day takes figuring out all over again how to f#ckin’ live.

philippe123
KVRer
Topic Starter
5 posts since 15 Nov, 2015

Post Sun Jan 23, 2022 3:12 pm

DJ Warmonger wrote: Fri Jan 21, 2022 2:47 am I follow the readings of Izotope plugins. Every time I try to master a track, iZotope EQ shows that there is not enough low end and too much power in 200-250 Hz range compared to reference track. So I get back to project and pull kick, low and mid bass accordingly to readings Tonal Balance Control.
Interesting! What plugin exactly are you using that shows you this?

highkoo
KVRAF
4292 posts since 26 Jun, 2004

Post Sun Jan 23, 2022 3:28 pm

philippe123 wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 3:12 pm What plugin exactly are you using that shows you this?
izotope makes a few very helpful mixing tools.
He might be talking about Neutron;
https://www.izotope.com/en/products/neutron.html

I have used this;
https://www.izotope.com/en/products/ton ... rol-2.html
Imo, its really a 'ballpark' kind of thing, and ears are much more precise, once you are in the ballpark.

@topic, I dont do a lot as a standard, except pay attention to sidechain and the stereo placement of each..
Later in a track when Im thinking of the mix I will remind myself to treat the kick with the drums first, and then mix the bass with it as an instrument.
ImageImageImageImage

Kinh
Banned
1785 posts since 26 Aug, 2012

Post Mon Jan 31, 2022 11:36 pm

Wha-da-hell you ramblin' on about?

kritikon
KVRAF
6278 posts since 24 May, 2002 from Tutukaka, New Zealand

Post Wed Feb 09, 2022 2:07 pm

I used to be obsessional about bass and kicks etc, but nowadays way more laissez faire, and mostly my mixes are actually better for it. Start dicking around too much with the bass end and you very easily ruin it.

I still do a few stock processes though.

1. Cut the low end of everything outside kick/bass. Certainly any synth with a LPF somewhere in the chain is likely to be putting out some bass even if it's small. I pretty well cut at 100Hz whatever I'm doing. Sometimes lower than that if I'm playing the octave one above the bass.

2. I almost always find out where the main peak of the kick is then cut at least 3dB off the bass at that frequency - 1 octave seems to work but sometimes tighter than that, then usually I can get the bassline level just a little bit higher. There will always need to be some Eqing done to fine tune it and IMO just cutting is the way to go. Boosting can be dangerous and home monitoring is generally not ideal so best not to go there.

3. I just don't dick around sub 50Hz - my monitors only go down to there so experience tells me I'm just making it up if I try. Yeah, I'll check on the big speaker upstairs, but y'know - most of my mixes sound better if I just leave it alone down there. Only put bass sounds in that need to be there and generally the sub will take care of itself. For sure some specific genres need a little more attention, but mostly...nah. And I do some dubby stuff too. So you'd assume loads of care on the bassline is needed. Well - some, but there's only one bassline so pick a good sound to start with. The kick doesn't need to thump.

4. Sidechaining - yeah, nah. I find a lot of crap on the interwebz to be woo and so many just do shit like that because some other people told them to, and those people do it because some people before told them to do it. A fad. Yes, it can help, but it no way essential for a good mix. Just because a big name DJ does it...(many DJs I used to know through the 80s/90s/2000s were f**king eejits that I wouldn't let near my desk or mix or anything expensive they could break - they certainly weren't bright enough to know how sidechaining works properly)

5. Choose your sounds. An old saw, but still very very true. If you have to fiddle around to make your bassline or kick fit the other one, you've picked the wrong sound. I literally will just throw it away if I find myself dicking around with bass like that. Just because a kick sounds like the gates of doom closing in hell on their own - doesn't mean it will work with anything else. Same with the bassline. If it doesn't work change the sound. Actually some very effective basslines aren't that heavy - the octave above can often be what makes them stand out in a track.

6. Layering sounds. Bullshit. I just don't go there. See No 5. Again it's interwebz woo. Layering 3 kicks - oh f**k off. layering basslines - just f**k right off. Basslines are generally at 70Hz or so with 10-15 Hz around that. Some people don't pay enough attention to checking other mixes in a spectrum - If you need to layer just for a range of 15Hz you're doing something dreadfully wrong IMO. Almost every psytrance track I've ever bothered to d/l and check have their basslines at 70Hz and it's rigid in that genre. Yet psytrance music wannabes are the worst culprits for obsessing about bassline woo. One bassline, boinging around 70Hz - couldn't be easier. You could actually roll off below 60 and the bassline doesn't get affected much.
I used to go to all the raves and the acid house stuff way back, and some thundering tunes were pounded out using only an 808 or 909 with one single kick. That's all that's needed, and some of those tunes were far more powerful than some over-complicate trance tracks recently that are "supposedly" layered and fine-tuned and ponced around with.

7. Tuning up/down. Actually this works. I don't buy into the woo about tuning exactly to the track and all that shite, but tuning the kick up or down certainly can help. I do it by ear only if I do it. If the ear thinks it works then it does and I don't care what frequency the kick sits at. And it makes far more sense to tune the kick around the bassline, not the other way.

8. Mastering/dynamics. TBH you can do too much at the mixing stage, because overall the bass/kick etc will often be pulled up to the kind of level/sound fit that you want after you've done the compression/maximizing, even Eqing at the end. A mix is generally always going to be a bit weak somewhere until it's squashed a bit. Yeah, make the mix as good as you can, but the mastering is what makes it all sit together properly in the end. We used to send some (what I thought) were pretty dodgy mixes, yet the label sent them back sounding pro and releasable just with some judicious mastering. It really brought it home to me that actually I was spending way too much time with mixing obsessionally. You just can't get that result without some decent mastering. I hear it said "a good mix needs no mastering". Sorry I call bullshit on that one. A flat mix with no dynamics fixing on it will always sound flat. There is good and bad mixing but IMO they all need mastering. Today I feel the two have been conflated simply because we all do it all ourselves with plugins.

9. Dynamic Eqs - they maybe work wonders, I dunno. I haven't actually tried them and TBH have no interest in using them - I do the above and if I have a need to use dynamic Eq then I haven't listened properly to my own head and I should pick new sounds etc. I suspect they're abused a lot though. If you need dynamic Eq, question yourself whether you are trying to force sounds together that just don't fit. :?

I'm sure I'll think of more that I do, but those are the basics. I found over 40 years now that the less I dick around with mixing/sound sculpture the better my mixes have become. If it doesn't work, try something that does instead. Saves time in the long run.

mementus
KVRist
480 posts since 10 Apr, 2011

Post Wed Feb 09, 2022 2:25 pm

I do the follow:

start from kick - I find the fundamental freq by ears with a steep eq bell boost. Once found, I boost it say 4db, then I cut the same freq on bass. Then I find the fundamental on bass and cut it on the kick.

Done
:roll:

camsr
KVRAF
7170 posts since 17 Feb, 2005

Post Wed Feb 09, 2022 11:11 pm

Timing of bass and kick is important. There is a phase relationship between the two.

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