Low End Issues

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by Hohomaru, Aug 11, 2018.

  1. Hohomaru

    Hohomaru SS.org Regular

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    Hey all, I recently just got back into mixing and i've ran back into my biggest enemy.. Low End.

    At my disposal I have a pair of ATH-M50x's and a set of M-Audio Bx5's.

    I understand that you can't really do much with 5 inch monitors when it comes to low end. I'm also aware that mixing on headphones is frowned upon.

    My room isn't treated and the ceilings in my room are quite high (not ideal).

    I was wondering if any of you have a tried and true method of tackling low end with a subpar setup.

    Heres a small clip of something i've been working on recently and I can't tell whats going on down there at all.

    https://www.dropbox.com/s/trfufq64oh7lh5l/Test 2.wav?dl=0

    Any help/suggestions are totally welcome as I am stumped!

    Thanks!
     
  2. shnizzle

    shnizzle johnny

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    budget home studios will always have a messy low end. in that situation DO use headphones and don´t listen to people hating on them. those are usually the guys with very good monitors and room treatment, who don´t really understand the needs of the home hobby producer. that´s my opinion anyways.

    there is a bit of mud and mess going on in your low end. but there is so much you could discuss on that. first and foremost you need to get the EQ balance right between the kick, the bass and the guitars. sounds like your kick could use a bit more low end. it also sounds like your bass is a bit muddy. i copy my bass track, so i have it twice. one gets low passed at 200Hz and then heavily compressed. the other gets a bit distorted and then high passed at 200Hz. in this way you have a clean low end on the bass. those are some starters you could check out.
     
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  3. Crimsonghost

    Crimsonghost SS.org Regular

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    Do a lot of A/Bing. Use your car and home stereo. Once you get one mix down and understand how your setup works it’s easy.

    I use rocket 8s in an untreated room in and un ideal conditions but still get good results. It doesn’t matter what your gear is, just learn how to use it.
     
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  4. Seybsnilksz

    Seybsnilksz SS.org Regular

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    You could try a Subpac. You need to get used to it (as with any speakers or headphones), but then it's a great tool for referencing low end.
     
  5. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Maybe frowned upon by people who can afford expensive monitors in properly treated rooms, but use whatever you've got and don't worry about it. Instead, focus on listening on everything you've got access to. Use your headphones, your monitors, your car, your TV surround, earbuds, your phone, go visit people and see what their listening environment is like, etc. Every listening environment gives you another piece of the puzzle and more perspective.

    Eventually you get used to how to predict what your mixes will sound like elsewhere just out of familiarity with whatever you use. I also have the m50x, and some Rokit 8s, and they do a good enough job that they aren't going to be the problem most of the time. Make it a point to consider a mix "good" only if it passes a series of tests: First it's gatta sound good on the monitors. Then the headphones. Then the hifi. Then the car. Then earbuds/phones/etc. If you can pass all those benchmarks, THEN you're good. If something sounds wrong at any step- go back, fix it, start over from the beginning of that list. Repeat until happy.
     
  6. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    Check out sonarworks
     
  7. oneblackened

    oneblackened CROAKIES! CROAKIES!

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    So what I'm hearing is the bass and the guitars are fighting. Here's what I'd do in your case....
    1. Use the headphones for low end balance because you almost definitely won't be hearing something accurate on BX5s in an untreated room.
    2. This particular mix, you have a lot of low end in the guitars. High pass guitars to 80-100hz at 12dB/octave. There's also a big 200-300hz hump that you'll need to deal with with EQ, though you could also deal with this using a single band of a multiband compressor if you don't want to thin out your guitars too much. With the bass, figure out if you want it or the kick drum sitting lower. There's also almost always some first overtone going in the 100-200 range that is really loud, so pull out some there on the bass. Other than that, paybe bring the drums up a little bit or the bass/guitars down a little bit.
     
  8. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Even then, it's mostly because they can obscure phase issues, and less because they're not a good monitoring chain for critical listening. Frankly, I trust my DT770s over my mains for surgical EQ adjustments.

    This. The main argument for a really good monitoring chain is because really accurate, transparent monitoring makes how your mixes will translate on different systems predictable. With a bad listening environment, you're way more likely to have large frequency issues, especially in the low end, that you're just not able to hear due to phase cancellation, inadequate low end reproduction, etc. So, what you do is you listen on as many OTHER systems as you can, all in their own bad listening environments, with the hope that some of the issues you can't hear in your OWN environment will be ones that you CAN in others. Then, you go back, adjust based on what you've learned, and repeat. Eventually, with practice and patience, you'll get to a point where you have a mix that sounds at least pretty decent on all the systems you can listen to it on.

    I've honestly mixed down projects to CD-R and tossed them in my car stereo and just went for a drive with no real pressing errands to run, simply because I've listened to a LOT of music on those speakers over the years, so I have a pretty good idea how things are supposed to sound in there. :lol:
     
  9. Hohomaru

    Hohomaru SS.org Regular

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    Thanks for all the replies guys!

    There's a lot of great information that you guys have provided and some of this information I already use when I mix.

    I actually have the guitars High Passed at 100hz, I usually always highpass them up to there depending on the tuning. I also have a good chunk of 200-250hz scooped a bit to fight that wonky low end that my line6 POD HD always creates. It could be that on my guitar bus the multipressor is doing something that I didn't intend as I was trying to fight the frequencies palm muting creates.

    I try to A/B as much as I can between my monitors, car, and headphones but I end up making it favor one over the other and can never seem to find a happy median. That could just be an ear thing that i'll develop over time.

    I'm actually using a plugin bass and have been for a while now even though it seems to yield very mixed results. I use "Massive Metal Bass" because the bass I currently own (Sterling Sub Bass5) just sounds terrible. I've tried the split method with midi bass numerous times and I find that i'm unable to achieve the tone i'm after. Also, i've been your videos on youtube for a while now. You're a fountain of knowledge for the at home recording artist! :D

    I appreciate all the replies and i'll try implementing all the things you guys have mentioned!

    Thanks!
     
  10. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    These were my initial thoughts, too. Guitar and bass sound great but at the cost of making drums sound like they're high passed. The kick either has no meat in the low end or it's buried under the guitar/bass combo dominating the mix.

    I'd work on levels before reaching for EQ. While setting levels you'll quickly figure out which instruments are clashing. This will make the subtractive EQ process easier. Pushing up the bass volume fader and notice the kick lose it's thud? There's your cue to focus on filters or shelving. Pushing up the guitars volume fader and notice the kick disappear yet again? Another cue to carve out some room from the guitars low end.

    Like others have mentioned, your biggest hurdle is making the best of your gear and listening to your mixes on various sources. I like to randomly pop in earbuds, unplug the interface to hear things through my laptop's speakers, run the mix through my cars speakers or even on some cheap-o speaker/sub set to uncover things that may or may not be present through monitors. It's pretty surprising how much you'll catch just by listening to your mixes through crappy speakers or common means that most people will be using when listening to music. You can also check your mix in mono once in a while. That's a fun way to really dig into avoidable mix issues.
     
  11. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    This prompts a couple questions.

    1) Why are you high passing at 100hz, when you still think the resulting tone has "wonky low end" that needs to be dealt with somehow else?
    2) Why are you using a multiband compressor?

    I could just be obnoxious and leave it at that and wait for your answers - maybe not "obnoxious," but kind of frustrating, I guess... But I might as well run through the thought process.

    You're high-passing guitars to deal with low end issues. Then, you're using a band cut to deal with low end issues. And, reading between the lines, you're also most likely using the multiband compressor to deal with low end issues that occur with palm mutes. To me, it sounds like you're using three distinct approaches to solve one problem, and that the combination of the three is still falling short. And, as you point out, it's very possible that (because you're mixing compression and EQ) one of the approaches is actually working well enough, but it's being undone by the other two.

    Full disclosure, I haven't even listened to your recording here, but try the following.

    1) Shut off the multiband compressor. I get the appeal for mastering, but in my experience there's almost never a mixing situation where a multiband really does something that a broadband and/or EQ couldn't do just as well, with the very possible exception of de-essing. And, if you're playing with high gain, you probably don't desperately need to add any more compression to your signal anyway - never say never, but it probably wouldn't be the first thing I'd try.

    2) If that doesn't magically clear up your low end (it could, but I doubt it), bypass your notch in the 200-250hz range, and start sliding your high pass up from 100 to 120-140, maybe as high as 170-180. Maybe bring the bass up a touch to compensate. Pause for a few, listen to a mix you like, then come back and listen. Does it sound better? If so, great. If not, then slide the high pass back down to 80-120 or so, and increase the Q to make the band a bit more gradual, so it's reducing the low end above the high pass and cutting it below, and slide it up and down while experimenting with Q settings until you get something that seems to work. Reset your ears in the same manner, then come back. Does it sound better? If so, great. If not,

    3) Drop the Q back to where it was, then re-engage the band at 250 or so, but change it from a band to a low shelf, and then slide it around between 200-250 or so while adjusting the cut from maybe 2-6db or so. See if you can find a combination that works.

    My preferred move here would be a reasonably aggressive high pass coupled with a Q wide enough to also get you some low end attenuation leading up to that high pass, simply because that gets you to the desired outcome in the fewest moves, but I'd need to try it to figure out what combination of band and Q would balance right to clear up without decimating the low end and lower mids.

    But, any time you're throwing three distinct fixes at a problem and you're not fixing it, you should be questioning your approach. Things like "high pass the guitars at 100hz" and "use a multiband compressor to control palm muting" are the sort of little sound bite things you run in on internet forums a ton, but there's a lot of questionable advice out there, and even the best advice isn't all that helpful when presented as an aphorism like that, unless there's also some context as to when and WHY it might be a good idea.
     
  12. Hohomaru

    Hohomaru SS.org Regular

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    That was an oopsie on my part, I meant to say Low Mids. I've noticed lots of people when mixing, like to throw a multiband compressor on their guitar bus to combat palm mutes without having to resort to cutting out all the frequencies in that area. I don't usually have one on my guitar bus, but I figured I would give it a shot. I'm using a 7 string in drop A, so I don't necessarily want to kill all the low mids on the guitar.

    This could be because I have both my kick and bass sidechained and when leveling, favored the bass over the kick. My ATH M50's seem to lack low end, so when mixing with them I tend to overdo the bass.
     
  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Did it work? From what you're saying, it sounds like maybe not. A simple low shelf, IMO, would probably be more effective than a cut, at combating frequency dependent dynamic swings like that. I just feel like MBCs get used as band-aids a lot, and there's usually a better way to address the problems they're getting slapped on.
     
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  14. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    I'm no pro by any means but I'll +1 this all day. There's a time and a place for compression but only once you know why you're using it. HP/LP filters are the bee's knees on forums with high/low shelves being the underdog. Don't underestimate your high and low shelves. Shelving a little low end on one instrument to make room for another will do wonders for a mix compared to a botched compress or even worse a botched multi-comp all because Stone Cold said so on forum XYZ.
     
  15. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    King Aenarion's top 10 tips for mixing low end.

    1) Know what the difference between a low shelf and low cut is and when to use them.

    2) Remember that a HPF will affect the phase of your track, this is both problematic or advantageous depending on your circumstances

    3) PHASE IS YOUR FRIEND! Remember to check that things are in phase! Check your multi-tracked guitars are in phase! If you're using different cabinet impulses the distances of the impulses may be varied, and thus the phase of the signal coming back from reamping will be different. CHECK YOUR PHASE AT EVERY STAGE!

    4) Get your low end right at the source, if you're using a microphone remember that the proximity effect is a thing.

    5) Headphones may give you more low end information, but they also distort your low end to be louder. Remember this. Your speakers would be more balanced if they were calibrated correctly and your room was treated correctly.

    6) A master Low Pass filter is your friend. Use it. Listen to your low end in isolation, work out what is clouding it. If your guitars and bass are conflicting, carve some out of either, if your kick and bass and fighting, carve away.

    7) Remember that compressors will act on things you can't hear. Use a spectrum analyzer before any bus compressors. Check all that stuff below 30Hz you can't hear that builds up.

    8) Use the High Pass control in your compressors, it's a god send. Have the compressor act on transients, not on rumble or woomph.

    9) Your life will be easier if you've mixed with pink noise from the start. SO much easier when it comes to low end.

    10) The mute button is more your friend than the solo button. By that I mean, removing unnecessary things from a mix is often a great way to tidy it up. The Solo button is dangerous because it will distort your idea of what something that works in a mix should sound like vs what it should sound like in isolation, and this becomes more relevant in bigger mixes. Good rhythm guitars are often quite thin in the low end because the bass is doing the work.
     
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  16. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    First, great post, as always.

    6) Huh. It actually never occurred to me to try that, that's kind of a cool idea. I've just sort of mentally tuned out the rest of the mix, but I'll give that a shot.

    9) Mixed with pink noise?

    10) Agreed. Though, I'm a fan of Reaper's "solo in front" feature - if I do want to solo something for whatever reason I'll use that, so it doesn't mute the rest of the mix, it just attenuates it by like 8-12db.
     
  17. axxessdenied

    axxessdenied :: 2077 ::

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    I don't like the pink noise method. Some do. I'd suggest putting all faders to zero and bringing in each track to balance. I much prefer doing it that way. Listening to pink noise just gets tiring and I don't find it to be any faster and really takes away the creative part of balancing elements I find.

    Another good tip that I find really helps is to EQ in mono so every element is sitting on top of each other fighting for space.

    Proper gain staging and good balance can make all the difference though.
     
  18. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    Great addition to the thread. I've been using this trick for a while. It's a really easy way to isolate and manage the low end without all of the mids and highs clouding your ears. I'll usually go heavy on the LP right down to 200 Hz.
     

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