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I have some mixing issues with my leads and was wondering if you could give some advice. I'm producing a big room house track and have a melody composed of different lead layers - when the drop comes in and the bass starts playing seems like the bass is eating the high end of the synths, hence I perceive the leads sounding flattened and at lower volume compared to when they play in the breakdown without bass.

I've compressed and cut the low end from the leads group and single channels so I was wondering what I could do next to tackle the issue?

Many thanks

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What you describe sounds like Buss/Master/Group Compression gone wrong.

This effect sometimes appears when you have a compressor set to affect both the bass and the lead (via any of the Buss/Master/Group)

When the bass hits the compressor the really lows(which consume a lot of space) instantly bring the threshold down and lower the volume of each other affected track.

The reason you might not be able to hear it, is your monitors. If your monitoring system can't produce the really lows , you feel like you have to boost the bass in order to be able to hear it , but you end up boosting the very low frequencies that you can't hear thus driving the compressor to a dive.

Some times this effect is wanted by many producers as an asphyxiation effect.Like when the bass hits it's so loud everything ducks but it's done on purpose and very carefully.

To see if this is your problem check out your routing carefully , remove all master/group/buss compression/limiters and listen again.


If you don't use group compression this could be a frequency problem. What you can do is:

  1. Find the frequency footprint of your lead synth!
  2. Insert a sidechain multiband compressor in your Bass channel
  3. Compress the synth frequencies out of the bass when the Synth plays.

This will clear out the space for the synth only in the desired frequency range and only when the synth plays!

It's really hard to understand without a sample. I hope this helps :)

P.S. Don't try to follow the 2nd solution if you haven't first ruled out the 1st! or else if the 1st is the problem , the 2nd will not make any (or at least any significant) difference!

  • Thanks a lot for the great feedback. I'm using ableton's multiband compressor on each of the 3 groups that I have (bass, synths, leads) and then on each group I have some saturation, eq and a bit of stereo effect on the leads group. The sidechain for each group is set thorugh the multiband compressor and the signal is coming from a single channel where the kick is constantly playing - furthermore on the bass group I've added an lfo tool with a hard volume envelope to make sure that the kick is coming through. – Dan Dec 17 '16 at 1:00
  • I have removed some extra compression here and there and seems like the problem has disappeared, however now sounds like the bass and the leads are quite separate and don't give a cohesive feeling to track (I have a limiter on the master but it's actually not triggered as I'm keeping volumes low). Here is a sample of the track: www13.zippyshare.com/v/eJBBWhLN/file.html Thanks a lot for your help! – Dan Dec 17 '16 at 1:00
  • hm , well the bass and leads are fine , what you have to do to make them sound concrete is to actually make the pads behind all louder. Also the vocal you have before the kick part sounds like it has a bit of a combing effect (do something with the mids there). If you want to compress you can, but keep in mind buss compression is a technique used carefully. I feel that this steers to be a mixing advice tho and this question has been answered , so if you have further questions why don't you ask again. I'll try to help and i think others will too :) – frcake Dec 17 '16 at 7:22
  • Thanks a lot, will try that! And will open another question :-) – Dan Dec 17 '16 at 19:24
  • As you're describing the issue, it really seems like a master bus compressor/limiter running too hot, so I second this. – Dalv Olan Dec 20 '16 at 16:14
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You might need to filter some of the hi-mids out of your bass...it really depends what kind of bass it is (sub-bass, mid-bass, etc). Also, make sure you're EQ-ing your lead layers. If you have the same lead layered multiple times then those frequencies will likely be clashing with each other too.

You also might try using a multiband compressor on the leads to brighten them up. If you're using ableton, check out the OTT preset on the Multiband Dynamics effect. Xfer Records (maker of Serum) also has a free OTT plug that is a replica of this preset. The settings on this basically bring out highs and hi mids pretty hard. It's used a lot in house production, especially on leads.

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My solution is a sidechain bus for the highs and lows.

split the signals to mid/highs and lows for both channels.

Have sidechain between the channels that push down offending frequencies.

Keeps the low end of your beeeg rewm haus, but doesn't overload the highs in what is already a loud mixdown genre.

Hope that helps.

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might want to try compressing channels individually and outputting the compressed signal to a new track....this way you can play with the envelopes of each channel and bring more audio in when you want to highlight something

hey....i already listened to this earlier today under a different question .....it aint bad

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