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KFD
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:19 pm
Posts: 1064
Location: France
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:37 am 
 

Bass guitar is probably the most difficult instrument to mix. I tend to mix it raw (unequalized, sometimes with a light reverb), just with a lower volume (approximatively 8 db less than the main guitar tracks).

I always feel like it's either too loud or not loud enough. I mix tracks with a Sony MDR V300 headset. Would buying some studio monitors help me to mix the bass more precisely?

Besides, I'd like to know which frequency ranges are to be increased or decreased, in order to avoid gnawing the guitars.
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Rasc
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:19 am
Posts: 198
Location: Brazil
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:44 am 
 

That's not of great help, but I personally think the bass has a limit where it can't be heard as a separate instrument, but "felt" instead. To do so, I usually let the bass in a certain volume and keep checking how it works with and without the bass (muting and un-muting the bass lines). It works fine to me like that at least.

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KFD
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:19 pm
Posts: 1064
Location: France
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 12:57 am 
 

Yes, on the current project I am mixing I want the bass to be over this limit, thus to be clearly audible (I mean every bass note that I played) without covering the guitars.

I'm not interested in following the "felt but not heard" bass - so common in metal - scheme.
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Rasc
Metal newbie

Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2010 9:19 am
Posts: 198
Location: Brazil
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 3:33 am 
 

In black metal? Hm, sounds interesting. But well, answering to your previous question, unless you've got a lot of money stored, I wouldn't buy any better monitors. I highly doubt they'd solve such a subtle question.

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Syntek
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:14 pm
Posts: 620
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 6:48 am 
 

If you want the bass to be heard, then you'll have to decrease some of the mid/low EQ frequencies in the guitars, as well as making them slightly quieter, and then increasing the high/high-mid frequencies of the bass, as well as the volume, a little. It's a bit of an onerous process to get perfect, but it should work. It is also important to make sure the drums are considered in the equation when mixing this as well, as they could likely get swallowed or lose their punch in the mix.

And if you have a good hi-fi system, make sure to play what you've made over that, as well as with the headphones, to make sure what you've made sounds pleasing on both.
And although it may not make a substantial difference with black metal, the headphones you're using likely would make it difficult to hear all frequencies equally. Invest in a pair of Ultrasone, Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro, or maybe some Audio-Technica ATM-M50, for some durable, renowned (and around the $99 mark) headphones. If it's too expensive, you could always look into each's cheaper models.

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kingnuuuur
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:35 pm
Posts: 2145
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:08 am 
 

Syntek wrote:
And if you have a good hi-fi system, make sure to play what you've made over that, as well as with the headphones, to make sure what you've made sounds pleasing on both.

This is very good advice for when the monitors and/or room acoustics are severely lacking. Do a mix, then go check it out on other systems, like your car (most common example, but the more places the better). And, the more you do it, the more you'll become aware of the limitations of your speakers, and therefore be able to mentally compensate for their shortcomings when you mix.

Bass frequencies are the most difficult to work with, and the most straightforward solution for accurate monitoring is room treatment. If that's not available, then doing the above should at least get you decent results.

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Iron1
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:04 am
Posts: 73
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:35 am 
 

Never mix with just headphones, no matter how good they are. And, remember, a bass wave takes 21' to fully develop and sounds louder in the mix the louder the music/farther from the source a listener is. A good technique is to get it where you think it sounds good with your 'phones, then burn a disc and listen to it in your car at full blast, and on another source, like a good stereo at full blast, then note the differences in the way the bass sounds and re-mix accordingly.
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Goran
Metal newbie

Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2003 8:32 pm
Posts: 140
Location: Belgium
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 7:48 am 
 

Lower the frequencies below 100 Hz if you don't want the sub-bass feel. It will also let your kick dominate that region.

To get more attack from the bass guitar, try increasing around 1.5kHz, 3kHz, 5kHz. Look for the frequency that really addresses the 'pluck'.

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Rocka_Rollas
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:08 am
Posts: 815
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 10:39 am 
 

Iron1 wrote:
Never mix with just headphones, no matter how good they are. And, remember, a bass wave takes 21' to fully develop and sounds louder in the mix the louder the music/farther from the source a listener is. A good technique is to get it where you think it sounds good with your 'phones, then burn a disc and listen to it in your car at full blast, and on another source, like a good stereo at full blast, then note the differences in the way the bass sounds and re-mix accordingly.


I am fucking tired of that car stereo shit!!! It's so stereotypical to say I nearly shit my pants!
Most cars have fucking shitty sound anyway, and you never really LISTEN to music in a car anyway!
Most people I know would listen on their actual home stereo.

Also, I always mix with headphones. So I disagree with "never mix with just headphones".
Actually I have access to decent monitors but I don't use it. However I always do a check on a stereo after mixing a while. I guess that's what you was trying to say, but I probably got all upset with that car stereo shit. Hahahaha

But this is each to their own: mix with headphones if you want, or monitors. I guess monitors ARE best for most people tho, I can't argue with that. Headphones however requires two different listens, but so do regular monitor stereo mixing anyway in many cases.

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kingnuuuur
Metalhead

Joined: Thu Apr 24, 2008 3:35 pm
Posts: 2145
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 11:21 am 
 

Rocka_Rollas wrote:
Most cars have fucking shitty sound anyway, and you never really LISTEN to music in a car anyway!

I guess that's why it also works for most people who do it. On your home stereo you sometimes focus too much on something while listening, like you listen to see if the highs are harsh, then listen to see if the bass is too muddy, then you forget how the highs sounded, then you listen to them again, etc... and then after overanalyzing the shit out everything, you get tired and you're still not sure what your mix needs. Whereas in a car, you're not really paying that much attention because you're driving, so you're not telling your ears to emphasize a certain frequency range. By the time you're done, you can tell if it sounded nice or not, and what general aspect of it that pissed you off.

Really, it's not like the car thing is a trend or something. There are engineers who have used it to good effect.

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infinitenexus
Metalhead

Joined: Tue Jan 22, 2008 2:35 am
Posts: 1939
PostPosted: Sat Dec 15, 2012 8:57 pm 
 

I dunno, my car has a great stereo. Personally, I think you should definitely use monitors. Headphones simply don't accurately represent bass guitar frequencies, no matter which set of headphones you get. You need a good set of monitors. Or even if you can toss your song on a thumbdrive and play it on someone else's car stereo or regular stereo with some good sized speakers, that'll help. But monitors are designed to play the music accurately, without any color or boosts in any frequencies. That's really important for mixing and mastering.

Also, cut bass freqs from your guitar below 100Hz or so, more if you detune. That'll make room for the bass and kick drum.
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KFD
Metalhead

Joined: Sun Oct 08, 2006 8:19 pm
Posts: 1064
Location: France
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 2:02 am 
 

Thank you all for your answers.
The question about buying studio monitors instead of using a home stereo is still debated.


Syntek wrote:
If you want the bass to be heard, then you'll have to decrease some of the mid/low EQ frequencies in the guitars, as well as making them slightly quieter, and then increasing the high/high-mid frequencies of the bass, as well as the volume, a little.


I tend to increase the low and mid frequencies of the bass guitar, but not the high frequencies, because often it just emphasizes the distortion's blow.

Besides, I consider that decreasing an instrument in a certain frequency range leaves room for the other instruments in that same range.
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Iron1
Metal newbie

Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2012 8:04 am
Posts: 73
Location: United States
PostPosted: Sun Dec 16, 2012 9:12 am 
 

Quote:
I am fucking tired of that car stereo shit!!! It's so stereotypical to say I nearly shit my pants!.


It's not stereotypical, it's good advice. You have no idea who is going to listen to your mix on what, so you want to have a mix that sounds awesome on the best reproduction set-up (stereo monitors in a studio) and the worst (a cheap car stereo sitting two feet from an engine producing 95db of white noise interference) and then make sure your songs kill it on both ends. Then, no matter how someone listens to your stuff (iPod, laptop, home stereo, dock station, nightclub PA system, whatever) you can rest assured it's gonna sound incredible.

And, like someone else said, headphones can't accurately reproduce bass. A bass wave takes 21 feet to develop, so unless you have one seriously ginormous head, you're never gonna get the full bass sound thru headphones and mixing to 'phones will mean the bass is lacking in a good stereo or club PA.
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beholdthesharktopus
Mallcore Kid

Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2012 7:49 pm
Posts: 11
Location: United States
PostPosted: Wed Dec 19, 2012 7:40 pm 
 

The key for me, as a bassist in a death metal band, is to properly utilize the graphic EQ. I remember reading a Kerry King quote about how a scooped EQ looks like a smiley face, and we don't want smiley faces in this type of music. Boost the mids around 400-800 Hz, put a mild overdrive on it, and use a compressor. Leaving everything raw isn't the way to go even for black metal production. In my opinion black metal is probably the easiest style to make the bass cut through in because it's so focused on high frequencies any lows or low mids will easily stand out. When I say overdrive I don't even mean distorting the signal. Just adding a little bit of grit to fatten up and saturate the signal is a great way to fill out the sound, I feel naked without a tiny bit of dirt on my sound. A good example of what I'd go for is Krallice, the bass is definitely there but not adding too much thump or taking away from the cold atmosphere. A lot of it has to do with technique and how the bass is set up, too. If you want a gritty Alex Webster type sound you gotta lower your action, get lighter strings, and hit the strings hard or use a heavy pick. If you just want lows and that's it raise the action, put some heavier strings on it, and gently caress them.
Hope some of my rambling helps, I'm sorta passionate about this subject lol.

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Nightwisher1990
Metalhead

Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:26 pm
Posts: 480
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 6:00 am 
 

Actually, I am using a very cheap pair of headphones (planning to buy better soon) I always cut everything lower than 50 since I have no control over those, I generally cut bass rather than boosting and it works really fine when checking stuff on big speakers (I usually restore some of the sub bass with mastering stage - not too much though).
As for bass guitar, I recommend using distortion/Heavy Compression along with EQing it with Kick and snare properly, since every bass set would sound different there's no rule in that, just try to experiment with Distortion/Amp modelling then compress it, try to get rid of boomy frequencies try cutting around 200 to 800 apply the actual cut where it feels more relaxing to ear, I usually boost bass on 1500 - 3000 and 7000 (yeah it sound weird but it works with me).
I've experimented on sending the treble frequencies of bass into a light reverb, and it sounded pretty fine to me.
On completely different direction, bass player totally affects bass presence in the mix, If you play with a pick or fingered, hard of soft, for metal playing pretty hard with punch would cause your bass to have presence especially when distortion and rest of stuff I talked about are used.

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Awblaster
Metalhead

Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 6:07 pm
Posts: 474
Location: United Kingdom
PostPosted: Fri Dec 21, 2012 1:22 pm 
 

My standard bass processing consists of three duplicated tracks.

The first one is the "clean" tone. So that's usually the DI signal run through a nice amp sim. I don't do anything too crazy on this, but on the amp settings I'll cut a bit of bass, boost the mids, and boost a little bit of treble. I won't use any distortion on this track, as this is where most of the note definition comes from. I usually put a bit of compression on this one, but not so much that dynamics or accents get adversely affected, but enough to control peaks and to smooth it out.

The second track is the subs. So here, I duplicate the clean tone, and then go to town on the EQ. Everything above 150Hz or so (sometimes lower) is cut out as much as possible, and the low end is boosted a bit. Again, no distortion. On this track, I'll compress and limit the shit out of it. It should be a constant wall of low-end noise. This track adds in some heaviness and some real power.

The third track is where distortion comes in. The clean tone is duplicated, but then I'll stick a huge amount of distortion on it. Usually just a distortion pedal sim or something, it doesn't really matter too much. And I really hammer it here, this should sound absolutely foul. I compress this one quite a bit as well, but not as much as the subs track. This brings in grit and punch.

And then I blend the three. Usually the clean track is the highest in the mix, with the distortion blended in to add some grit (this one is dependent on the style of song, really), and the subs usually get raised in the mix until I can hear them making a difference, then I'll drop them a bit.

I used this technique on this track, and I had some nice comments on the bass tone when the reviews for that songwriting challenge came in.

So if any parts of my technique sound interesting, try them out and see what works for you! Although it's also all helped a lot by having a good bass, fairly new strings (still clanking is good), and good playing.

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