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BASS (47) COMPRESSION (32) DRUMS (41) EFFECTS (47) EQUALIZATION (27) GUITAR (100) HOME RECORDING (81) IMPULSES (21) INTERVIEWS (19) KARAOKE (1) LIVE (10) MASTERING (56) MIDI (18) MIXING (163) REVIEWS (131) SAMPLES (56) SONGWRITING (18) VOCALS (29)

Saturday, January 12, 2019

How to mix a song with free plugins part 2/5: Bass!



Hello and welcome to this week's article!
After we have our drums track ready and with a tone that we like (anyway we will need to adjust everything when the whole mix is more or less stable obviously, but we need to follow a certain order if we don't want to start building our house from the roof), it's time to further expand our rhytmic part of the song by taking care of the bass.

The bass sound, and in general the low end of a mix, is what often makes the difference between an amateur recording and a professional one, and this is caused by two factors:

1) the monitoring system (click here for a dedicated article): if we don't have a good one, it's almost impossible to have a realistic representation of what we are doing, basically we are mixing blindly, because we don't have a clear idea of how the mix will translate in the various platforms.

2) we need to mix keeping in mind the changes that happens during mastering: we need always to keep in mind that with the mastering the overall perceived loudness (and the low end) will be much more prominent, so we need to put in our mix neither too much low end nor too little (and if the mastering makes it unbalanced we need to reopen the mix and adjust).

After this fundamental introduction we need to mix our bass track by having always clear the mix separation (click here for a dedicated article): it's important that we assign to all instruments a specific place in the mix and that we avoid frequency masking, if we don't want them to disappear one behind the other.
The various instruments must pop out together and be always easily recognizable at all times, the mix must be clear and easy to listen if we want people to enjoy it.
In order to give every instrument its part in the spectrum we must also decide which one will be dominant between the kick and the bass: if we want the bass to be dominant (or "above the kick", like for example in Iron Maiden) we need to carve room in the eq of the kick leaving it more into the low end area and leaving more mids to the bass, or the other way around: if we want the kick to really poke through the mix (like in the band Fear Factory) we need to carve a bit of the mid range frequences out of the bass tone and use a kick sound with a lot of presence.

There are several ways to mix a bass, but the two most popular ones are described here: how to mix a good rock/metal bass (free vst plugins included).

Once we have a good bass tone, we need to balance it properly with the drum sound and a good rule is to use the Low End Mix Trick: we need put in solo the kick and bass tracks, then we zero out the bass volume and take notice of where the kick peaks (for example -15db), then we slowly rise the bass track volume until the sum of the 2 in the master bus is 3db louder than the kick alone (in our example so it should peak at -12db).
This is a good rule of thumb for building the low end of our mix, and starting from the kick-bass interaction we can develop the whole project on solid fundations.


CLICK HERE FOR PART 1: DRUMS!

CLICK HERE FOR PART 3: GUITARS!

CLICK HERE FOR PART 4: VOCALS!

CLICK HERE FOR PART 5: KEYBOARDS AND EXTRA ARRANGEMENTS!


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