This can help the bass cut through a mix, and it’s often a good approach for parts that are highly rhythmic. In my own mixing workflow, I prefer compressors that offer continuous, variable control over attack, release, ratio, and knee. A medium setting is good—fast enough to be ready for a quiet note, not so fast that it boosts noise that occurs between notes. They’re often dynamically consistent enough as-is. If you can't hear it, you can't make precise decisions. You’ll get much better results by dialing in your bass compression in context with the rest the tracks in your mix playing. Try a higher ratio if the bass signal is extremely uneven, but the higher the ratio, the more it will “squash” signals above the threshold. Your typical clean up plus equalization always comes before compression since it reacts to the volumes that you're feeding it. You can mute the kick drum if needed for now. This will keep the bass from "breathing" too much and keeps the gain reduction in a "musical" time frame. Send each of your synth bass channels to an aux input and insert a colorful compressor with fast attack and release times like the CLA-76 or dbx 160.Use a high ratio to apply plenty of compression; don’t be afraid to peg the needle if it sounds good! It makes a huge difference in clarity, intelligibility, and punchiness. Parallel compression is great for making synth basses sound thicker and beefier with subtle color and texture. No worries. I'll walk you through it and show you what's too much and what's just right... Compressing bass is a fundamental part of any mix, and getting it right means having a great foundation to a song with well-balanced energy and an intelligible groove. Allowing it to survive helps our ears grab onto a sound and aids in making it intelligible and clear. If you can't get that much with a very low threshold, then you should raise the threshold back up and increase your ratio up to 8:1 or even 10:1. We want minimal dynamics because we want to provide a consistent experience to our listener's ears and to their speakers while using a predictable amount of headroom while mixing. Even when we compress heavily we can still make it sound subtle to the listeners. If the part was played well, its dynamics will likely be fairly consistent to begin with. If your attack is too fast, you'll have a smoother and softer bass since you're squashing the note's attack down. On the other hand, softer styles like jazz and folk typically need less. You want to be hearing it in the context of the full mix. Try to keep the volumes fairly similar so you get a correct in-the-mix perspective on what you're doing. Remember—you’re trying to make the bass fit with everything else, so you need to listen to everything together in order to make the right decisions! We want to level off and reduce dynamic range, so a heavier ratio and a moderately deep threshold is better than the opposite. Many people will solo the track they're working on. Jared has surpassed his 20th year in the music industry. In most cases, a slower attack time is a better choice. These are the things you need to know and do before you move on to compression. Listen closely for negative side effects of overcompression, like pumping, breathing, and distortion. Your track won't sound alive; it will sound weak and impotent. The settings work the same! I almost always recommend setting it to a soft knee and leaving it there, even on aggressive songs. Unlike other instruments, we want very little volume range in our bass tracks. Programmed bass parts may not need any compression. Fast settings let the natural sustain of a note ring out, while a slower attack will continue compressing that decay tail, which will change the original envelope of the note and performance. Philosophical musings aside, you’ve gotta learn this method before you can learn how to compress like the pros. Finally, you want to turn your attention to the knee setting. Remember—the goal of mixing is to try to make all the tracks in your mix fit together. Depending on the genre, you'll want differing amounts of compression. Now load up your DAW and get to work! If certain notes are getting lost in the mix, while others are too loud, this is also a clue that some compression might be needed. It can also alter the tone and intelligibility of the recording by shaping the initial attack of each musical note. you dont need to compress it you just need a limiter, have your sub bass playing on its own then wack a spectral anylizer on it and you will notice that some notes are quieter than others. He has also mixed, mastered, & recorded for countless independent artists. It is basically the amount of time the compressor waits until engaging once the threshold has been exceeded. This is not only wrong but it's not needed due to the separation between bass and sub-bass frequencies and the mid range and high-end. This will make the bass sound flat and lifeless. There are some other things that can be interfering with your progress that I'd like to point out. This is an old trick for making the kick and bass sound tighter and more unified. You can also apply an additional equalizer and any effects you may use. Be on the lookout for some of the negative side effects of compression, such as the pumping and breathing that might occur when the compressor grabs onto and pulls back from a note. Bass is often felt as much as it's heard and can place a great load on speakers and headphones. This will help you hear them clearly while still having context. This means you should hear the attack of your bass notes come through. What you can do though, if you're struggling or haven't mixed the rest of the track, is to route everything but the bass and kick to a bus and add a high pass filter to it. If you don't have a subwoofer, you're going to have a hard time even hearing the sub-bass frequencies or the upper bass registry that well. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid when compressing the bass: Too much compression can suck the life out of the bass, making it sound flat and one-dimensional. The reason is, if you dip your threshold too low with a lower ratio, you'll still end up with dynamic range variances, which defeats the purpose. Want to learn more about bass compression? This can be particularly problematic in softer, mellower styles of music, where some degree of dynamic range may be desirable. Home » Columns » Mixing & Mastering » Here. There are no hard-and-fast rules here—use as much as you need to achieve the sound you’re looking for. But the main benefit is adding another round of slight compression to provide glue and make the two instruments behave as one (to a degree). If not, you may be using your best compressor pedal or racked hardware. Compared to the 1176, this compressor has a warmer, smoother sound that works well on downtempo tracks. Some compressors will offer independent control over the knee. If the compression sounds too aggressive, turn down the ratio. If the notes are long and sustained, you don’t want a fast release time – this will cause noticeable pumping. As well as ensure that bands aren’t mixing the sound, thus giving an individual sound level of the bass. Remember, it's all of the things you do before you add a compressor that helps steer you into success here. This will bloom out the quiet parts while keeping the dynamic range of the louder parts, particularly the attack. In this article we'll show you how to get punchy bass without sacrificing the low end. Right now you have it set as fast as possible. This may mean that you need to work on other parts of your mix first and come back. These will often serve as indications that you’ve gone too far. Enjoy! Any small room, even those with plenty of acoustic treatment, will still have problems with bass. There are really only two choices for this control: You can use your compressor’s gain reduction meter as an aid to help set the release time.
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