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I have problems mixing my bass composed by 4 notes in 4/1 (E3, B2, C#3 and A2 - scale of EMAJ) as the last note sounds much lower than the others. When I try to compress the channel that note won't be effected by the threshold that I set (which is fine for the first 3 notes). On the chain I have only some saturation and some EQing. Do you have any tip on how to tackle this issue?

Many thanks

  • Just for clarification, are you saying that A2 is softer/quieter than the other notes, so it's not being affected by your compressor? – Johannes Dec 29 '16 at 16:24
  • Exactly. I ran the bass through a wave spectrum analyzer and the A2 wave is basically half of the wideness – Dan Dec 29 '16 at 16:39
  • What are you trying to do, make the note softer? I think you mean amplitude, but wideness on a spectrum analyzer is just related to the frequency curve (i.e. ext log, log, mel, linear) and the window, which would be scaled accordingly at higher freqs. – Joel Pinteric Apr 29 '17 at 9:18
  • How was the bass recorded, via microphone from bass cabinet? – Simon Bosley Jun 5 '17 at 11:07
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This is actually a classic mistake most people do. And it really affects the outcome.

Most of the times it's the plugin , the harmonic content added by the plugin OR the beef in that particular Hz area just isnt the same. I found out that a lot of digital software messes this up.

This could happen due to some setting some LFO/cutoff or just by the algorithm.

Most of the time i resort in analog synthesizers to get good bass with the same beef across.

It's really not such a simple thing.

So some ways to solve this issue.

  1. Some times it's just the midi. Check your velocity settings in the midi roll , be sure to have the same setting!
  2. Try to keep the software plugin as simple as possible(waveform , LFO's etc etc) and start building upon that when you get an even result)

If those are ok and you still have the issue you have to mix it! Some of the following settings could need some duplications of the bass channel.

  1. Distortion

This is by far the most powerful technique to mix fat bass with great compression.

  • Add a good distortion plugin (like decapitator)
  • Distort a good amount(if not A LOT)
  • Insert a Low Pass filter to throw the audible distortion artifacts created.

Distortion does 2 things: First it enhances the bass with harmonic content making it phatter & more present across the spectrum , Second it compresses the hell out of it , so it keeps it really steady.

  1. Compression Distortion One of the oldest tricks in the book. You'll need a 1176 style fet compressor plugin.

    • Insert the compressor to your bass channel

    • Compress the hell out of it!

    • Insert a Low Pass filter to throw away the artifacts created in the higher frequencies

A 1176 fet style compressor is FAST , from the analog days even the faster compressors give a click because there's no "lookahead" * , So it can actually read the peaks & valleys of a waveform with low period(Hz). This produces so many clicks (that are modulated by the Waveform) that in the end you end up having a kind of distortion effect. This is a classic method used in many studios to produce a very present & steady bass track.

  1. Leveling Compression. Almost any compressor will do.

    • Insert the compressor to your bass track
    • Lower the threshold to max setting(-60)
    • Set Attack & Release to the fastest settings
    • Use low ratio (1.2 - 2) This is a very powerful compression technique , it will keep any given sound under the level that the ratio dictates. It's a classic studio technique to keep things under control!
  2. Multiband Compression (Crossover style)

    • Insert a multiband compressor to your bass track
    • Bypass all the frequencies except the bass So you don't compress
    • Solo the bass area so you hear only that!
    • roll the frequency until you can't listen to the actual note played but only the bass's energy (somewhere lower than 60 but YMMV).
    • Set medium Attack(30ms) & medium Release (150-250ms) YMMV on these.
    • Compress for at least 6 db (i'd say 8) and give everything back with the makeup. If you do it correctly you'll keep the bass energy stable! This technique can be done after the others or even in the mastering section.

Techniques 1,2,3 are best to be used alone OR parallel with a healthy signal just to beef it up.

Don't be afraid to compress & distort the bass but don't use excessive EQ because sometimes the EQ itself produces the weird amplitude issue especially if the Q is narrow.

*Just to clarify for someone else reading this, There are ways to achieve lookahead in analog.

That covers the most part.

Good luck.

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Here are a couple of options that first come to mind:

  1. Keep the bass track empty of plugins and do some custom volume automation. Basically you will just automate the volume to increase for the A2 note (or decrease for the other notes). Then set the output of that bass track to a new "bass effects" track instead of the stereo out. In your new effects track, you can add your compressor and anything else you want. You can almost think of it as manually compressing your bass track using the volume slider before sending it through your actual compressor.
  2. Alternatively, you could just lower the threshold of the compressor, and change your compression settings so that the volume of your first 3 notes match the volume of A2, but doing that may crush your top notes.

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