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Old 10-07-2004, 12:12 PM
crs117 crs117 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: deland, fl (outside of orlando)
Posts: 1,537
Default The Magical Bass Frequencies

I have been trying to finish up a CD for the past couple of weeks, and i am having a heck of a time fitting the bass in the mix the way it needs to fit. My first problem (I know i know) is that i am mixing with headphones. Everything else sounds nailed except the bass and its heard to hear how it sounds on real speakers in the headphones.

Many CD's and bands only use bass to add low end pressence, so it is felt more then it is heard, because their bass players are not that great. Other bands feature the bass with an almost rubber band style sound (think seinfeld), but there is too much in the mix to place him there, and its not quite a funk sound.

Finally some CD's place the bass in the mix so that it is felt, but you can clearly point out the entire bass line in the song without it dominating, or even intruding on the rest of the mix. That is what i am shooting for. The bass player is incredible and i want the listeners to be able to hear it, even if subtly. I have low shelved the low end of the bass (130 hz and lower) in order to be able to bring the bass up in the mix without farting up the speakers too much. But i feel like there is some magical frequency in the 300-500 hz range that will define the bass without it interfearing with everything else.

Anybody happen to have a set of magical bass frequencies that they use? I am trying to finish up the mix by this weekend.


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Old 10-07-2004, 12:16 PM
Stiff Stiff is offline
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Lund, Sweden
Posts: 4,101
Default Re: The Magical Bass Frequencies

This might not be to any help, but before I got my monitors I mixed bass on my homestereo speakers. I had some good headphones and used them on pretty much everything else but if I tried to mix bass with headphones it would just turnout as s**t. I haven't really tried mixing bass with headphones since that so I don't know if it can be done in a good way or not, but as I said, I got much better results with regular speakers.

One thing to keep in mind, bass is not heard only with your ears, but with your body too.
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Old 10-07-2004, 12:49 PM
QuikDraw QuikDraw is offline
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Yucaipa, California, USA
Posts: 2,099
Default Re: The Magical Bass Frequencies

Hi Christian,

I'm a bass player, and I've always been a riff-oriented rather than a hold-down-the-bottom-end kind of player. I want every note I play to be heard, or I wouldn't bother playing them! I have found over the years that, for my style, a bit of a boost right around 600Hz brings out my clarity, while slightly cutting around 180 and 320 or so helps to get rid of some muddyness.

The 600Hz boost really bothers some people. I remember setting up for a live gig a couple of years ago, and the sound guy was asking me about my sound. I told him that I usually run pretty flat, definitely no bottom end boost, and if anything I'd like about 4dB boost at around 600Hz. He said to me, "That'll sound like a big fart in here." I told him, "Good, then you know the sound I'm after!" Of course, the guy ended up boosting my bass, and cutting my mids, so I never got "my sound" that night!

Just so you know what I'm talking about when I say "my sound..." My favorite bass tone is Gene Simmons on the 3rd KISS album "Dressed to Kill." Not quite as harsh and nasaly as Geddy Lee of Rush, but with more clarity than John Paul Jones generally got in Led Zeppelin.

But I digress...

In your situation it sounds like it might be a conflicting frequencies issue. Try just putting the bass in the mix the way you would want it to sound, and then listen to what other instruments suffered for it. There's your conflict. You're going to have to compromise both instruments in order to get both to sound good together. You might pull down the guitar by a dB or two at 600Hz while boosting the same frequency on the bass by about the same amount. Or any other freq that seems to do the trick. The point is that when you're trying to fit one more instrument into an otherwise perfect mix, you can't always do it by just messing with the additional instrument. You have to mess with some, if not all, of the other sounds in the mix to "cut a hole" in the mix into which to fit the new instrument.

The problem comes if there is a solo spot somewhere in the arrangement. Often I'll get my bass to fit perfect in the mix and then there's a two bar bass solo riff or something like that. In the solo spot the bass sounds sick because of what I did to it to fit it in the mix! In those situations I either use automation or a separate track for the solo part, and give it different settings that work alone but would kill the mix.

It's all fun! Good luck with it.

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Old 10-07-2004, 03:15 PM
crs117 crs117 is offline
Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: deland, fl (outside of orlando)
Posts: 1,537
Default Re: The Magical Bass Frequencies


Thanks for the advice. It is exactly as you say. I had a really great sounding mix, and the bass was filling in the holes in the bottom end...but my bass player is way too good to miss out on what he is throwing around.

There are places where i jack him up in the mix so that he can be heard when he does some insane licks. My main problem is getting that farty sound that you dont get in headphones. I have tried pulling out some of the lows because it really farts out the speakers, but it is hard to tell what is changed from the headphones. Stiff is right, and it is something i have always struggled with, but headphones cannot convey bass. They do fine for the kick as it is a totally different beast, but for a constant bass, it is so hard to nail it.

I am going to do a boost in the 600hz range and see if that is what i am looking for. Geez, i wish i had spent some of the money i spend on other equipment on moniters. That is going to be one of my next purchases for sure (i keep neglecting them).

Any other tips???

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Old 10-07-2004, 03:22 PM
Bastiaan Bastiaan is offline
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Nederland
Posts: 6,914
Default Re: The Magical Bass Frequencies

A bit of it you say for yourself. You mix with headphones and that certainly does something with your mix. You should mix with proper monitors, but yu probably donr have them, otherwise you would use them on the mix. So...how the heck can you be able to mix when you cannot hear what you're mixing. Keep that in mind. Then mix the best you can on the headphones and burn to cd and then try the cd in your car/work/street/home/etc.
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