The 3 Bass Zones, quickly bring your low end to life

Cover/ Thumbnail Photo Credit : Drew Ressler /Rukes www.rukes.com 

The hardest part I feel for producers is getting the low end SOLID. You listen to your favorite tracks, which just sound so clean so full...beautiful ( if your a production nerd like me, this can be the case) .  You want to get your low end to sound the same, you want it to PUNCH through the mix and have power. More often then not, your left with a rumbling mess of 50hz noise that doesn't sound punchy or powerful. It just sounds like a wall of shit. I had this problem for years, I'd think " ( pro's ) bass range sounds SO simple, so clean....the funny part was, the answer was in my question the entire time.

Pro tracks bass ranges sound sick and clean because they ARE simple. They do things like aggressive EQing of elements, have elements in the correct spot to begin with ( like having a kick drum peak at 50hz, and making sure the bass line doesn't peak there as well )  These are all small things, but in the bass/sub range SPACE IS LIMITED. 

The Key to a clean low end, is realizing space is LIMITED , the difference between 50hz and 150hz seems small " on paper" but is MASSIVE in terms of what texture you will out put.  

I am going to call these ranges " Bass Zones " The 3 Main Bass Zones are

Power 

Punch

Smack/Hardify.

Now these terms by themselves, are useless , but when you start to add frequency ranges to them a new world can open.


1. Power 30hz-50hz

Now first things first, please note these ranges all over lap a bit so don't be stuck on a certain number. This range is what makes club music club music, this is what you feel on the dance floor and what helps make the club shake. Ever notice that a LOT of keys of songs on Beatport are the same? This is because certain keys, just sound better in this power range. Going in or out of the range can lead to either being to low or to high . Just check out the tight spacing of the notes below ! 


 Note                                                 Frequency (Hz)

C1                                                       32.70

 C#1/Db1                                             34.65

D1                                                       36.71

 D#1/Eb1                                             38.89

E1                                                        41.20

F1                                                        43.65

 F#1/Gb1                                              46.25 

G1                                                        49.00

 G#1/Ab1                                              51.91

A1                                                        55.00

 A#1/Bb1                                              58.27

B1                                                        61.74


So this may be old news to some of you, but for me since I wasn't trained in theory I didn't pay much attention to what was going on. 

3 Things that can help you in this range

1. Be VERY mindful of your sustain/release/decay or in easy terms, watch how long the note in this range is playing, esp note how long the power range on the drum is lasting. To add power, you need to have some level of sustain , but having a drum/ synth linger on to long will just cause mud, this is easily caused when you start over lapping drums and synths and not EQing properly.

2. Compression is great, BUT be mindful of what its doing to the " bulk " its adding, if you have the above problem, compression is going to make it worse.

3. Aggressive, heavy eqing , remember its the SUM of the parts , it may sound worse solo, but when added together you can get gold.


Punch 50hz- 125hz

 ( Remember, I am just ball parking these ranges) This is the make or break range. Without a solid element here ( IE Kick Drum of Glory ) your track can loss all impact and sound like a muddy mess. This is the range, that makes the power range sound hard hitting, the power range alone just sounds boomy.  I feel this range is often over looked as producers feel they need the track to HIT HARD, so they boost other ranges and don't focus on this one. If your track is lacking punch, check what you have in this range, make it solid , punchy and go from there. This range can often times make the track have a better groove as well, as it blends the sub elements and the higher bass elements together like glue.

 

3 Things that can help you in this range

1.  Be careful with whats overlapping in this range, if you don't EQ out the part of the sounds you don't want, this range can end up being a catch all.

2. If your using kick samples, listen carefully to the kick sample, REALLY listen to the kick. Sometimes when I am mastering peoples tracks they want to know why the kick doesn't sound like XYZ artist, but when I check the track they are talking about the sample is WAY different. Your better off finding the perfect sample ( or making your own ) then trying to make the wrong style of drum work.

3. As Always, aggressive EQing I can't stress this enough.


Smack/Hardify 125-300+hz

This range can have a lot of stuff in it. Snares, tonal bass , part of the kick drum ETC. All of these ranges are important , but this one can seriously muck up your groove if you don't get the elements spot on. This range also is the start of a lot of ear buds, laptop speakers and cell phones ability to even hear the tune ( your cell phone doesn't care about you " power range " ) . With that being said, like the above ranges this one needs to be super solid for everyone not listening on studio/ club gear.  

3 Things that can help you in this range

1. Notch out your drums. If your kick drum is hitting heavily in the same spot your snare is, notch out the kick in that area so the snare can come through . A bad snare drum added to the mix can destroy any chance the track had to groove.

2. This could be said about any of the above ranges as well, but sidechain compression is your friend. Google/ Youtube it if unaware.

3. Like Always ....EQ out what you don't need. Seriously, EQing is the new compression ;)


The goal of this article, was not so much to give a " do this do that " but just give a solid mind set to approach mixing and working in the low end.

If you have any questions drop me a comment or email nyonyxx@live.com

with love

_nyon

Posted on August 14, 2014 and filed under Music Production.