Why to scoop the mids on mordern bass?

Discussion in 'Recording Studio' started by jvms, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. jvms

    jvms SS.org Regular

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    Hello guys, I have a question regarding mixing modern distorted bass. I've been noticing that most modern metalcore, deathcore, prog, etc... metal bands have been scooping the mids their basses. I always thought mids were necessary for guitars and basses to cut through and make it more defined, and that's why Geddy Lee, Chris Squire and Cliff Burton, for example, always boosted the crap out of their mids. Why has this changed? Is it something to do with modern guitarrists boosting their mids nowadays? I really can't figure out why anyone would do it...
     
  2. shnizzle

    shnizzle johnny

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    well, the mids is a rather wide range. what area specifically do you mean? something like 200-600Hz can have quite some mud and boxiness in it, so cutting it will make sure things stay clean. with 800-2k, yeah, there´s a lot of guitar and vocals in that general area in modern metal. so cutting that on the bass a bit can help to avoid getting a total cluttery mess in that area. i think nowadays people think of the bass as mostly a low end filler, which i´m personally also not a fan of. i enjoy a nice barking growly bass tone poking out now and then. bottom line there are no set rules. if you like having some more mids in your bass, go for it. just make sure it doesn´t clash too much with other stuff.
     
  3. Guitarmiester

    Guitarmiester Awesome-O

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    There's really nothing wrong with dialing back some mids. You'll have a more defined low end and a more clangy high end that'll trick the ear into believing the mids aren't scooped. When I say scooped I don't mean the mid knob rolled all the way back. Similar to what shnizzle said, the mid range is more often than not over crowded by vocals and guitars as it is. If everyone is boosting mids, you're going to be left with a nasally wall of undefined sound.

    Moderation and an ear for the big picture may sound basic but can easily clean up a mix.
     
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  4. Ji Sung

    Ji Sung SS.org Regular

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    Personally, I tend to wind up with suuuuuuuuuuuuuuper midrangey, almost obnoxiously barky guitar tones. Any bass that would try to compete would just get covered up, and the whole mix would sound messy.
     
  5. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    I tend to agree with this dude.

     
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  6. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    I really like the clanky tone of a heavily mid-scooped bass.
    Rattling and rumbling.

    In other words: I like it when you can't hear the bass as an instrument on its own.
    I like it beeing the low-end of a guitar.

    In metal music context of course.
     
  7. Masoo2

    Masoo2 SS.org Regular

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    I find that cutting the mids extremely can often make the bass mesh into the mix better (ie: ERRA's bass tone on Augment), but even tones with a good amount of mids (Code Orange, Periphery, Converge) can fit right in between the guitars creating a huge wall of sound.

    It's just a matter of what works for the mix and style of song.

    Rattling and rumbling (as Lindmann said) vs punchy and forward.

    vs
     
  8. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    He started talking about how they add ‘white noise’ and the Insult to injury of the harshness of digital and I just switched it off.

    It’s contextual and its what’s best for the mix and what’s best for the instrument used and what’s best for the final product.
     
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  9. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    ie, "I don't like what he has to say, TURN IT OFF! TURN IT OFF!" I prefer the bass that he pinpointed as sounding better versus what Ola and the rest of them do.
     
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  10. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    Na, it wasn't that I didn't "like" what he had to say... It's that objectively his statements were from a place of ignorance.

    About 3:56 he says "You can kinda hear it because it's more of a white noise type of effect, and what that does is broadens the spectrum that you're listening to and gives it impact, right? Now in Modern that impact has become fatiguing, when you're listening to this horrible distortion that's kinda subliminal it kinda turns you off modern music, it adds insult to injury when it comes to everything being digital because you don't get the, bloom and the mellower dynamics that you get from tape. So the metal bass is so overlooked, everybody (filler) has the sansamp. They use the sansamp, or they use, you know, direct and then they use that distortion technique... and... when was the last time you sat through an entire modern metal album and really immersed yourself in it."

    There are a heap of things in my head by this point of the video, but I want to list the key ones.

    1. White noise? Distortion is not white noise. Distortion does the opposite of give things impact, it smoothes transients, so it actually has less impact. The whole point of Distortion on bass is to help it gel with the guitars. In "Modern Metal" production (which is actually really just modern pop production re-branded), where a lot of the time the bass pretty much follows the guitars, getting your bass to sit and just make your guitars bigger is really the end goal.

    2. "Modern Music", "Insult to injury when it comes to everything being digital", "bloom and mellower dynamics that you get from tape".

    What. The. Actual. Fuck? What has digital got to do with anything? Cleaner, purer signals that you can then warm up, or add as much harmonic saturation/distortion as you want, pass it back through analog gear... and has this guy ever tracked with Tape? Bloom and mellower dynamics? The only real difference in dynamics on Tape is that you had to record hotter to get over the goddam fucking noise floor, and because of that you'd get natural tape compression as you ran the voltage higher and higher. Which sounded great on transient heavy instruments like drums, but terrible on anything you wanted to clean and clear.

    3. "The Metal bass is so overlooked". Honestly tell me one modern metal producer who "overlooks" the bass. Ermz' Systematic Mixing Guide spent I think an equal amount of time on Bass and Drums, and like 4 times as much time on guitars. Nolly sure as shit doesn't overlook Bass. Neither do guys like Will Putney. YouTubers (especially the smorgasbord of guitar YouTube channels, because it's such a common instrument with such a plethora of gear) aren't what the professionals are doing.

    4. As much as I love albums, they aren't really a viable solution for musicians, so bands have to make an auditory impact. And I say this about to release an album of material. Further on this, at the end of the video description he says "When was the last time you tuned into the radio?"... I like millions of people all over the world, listen to the radio in the car to and from work a lot. I've also worked laboring and install jobs, where a radio was what entertained us during the day. The internet has certainly curbed active radio listening, but passive radio listening is still huge, and so singles and punch and being heard are important.

    5. In the video description: "Modern bass guitar is another victim of modern metal production. Obsessing over guitar tones have seen a lopsided amount of time and effort gone into to recording bass. "Oh we'll just do some DI tracks for bass"? How about no. Real amps. Real mics. Real sounds. Just say no to copying bass tracks and adding nasty distortion. It's just part of the volume wars and that stems from radio play. When was the last time you tuned into the radio?"

    How about shut the hell up and get over yourself? How about use ALL the tools at your disposal, and use the best tool for the job at hand. What's better? Using a crappy SM57 in a crappy room with an ok amp and having to treat the shit out of it to get a useable tone, or using a DI and distortion plugin to get a useable tone. Some people would love to do it old school and get that real Dynamic "real air" feel to their album. I know I do, and did for the album I'm personally about to release, but I work with clients all the time who can't afford that, or it doesn't suit their aesthetic.

    Serve the song, serve the style, serve the music. Work within your limitations and your budget.
    Don't serve your ego, or nostalgia, or possible outcomes.
     
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  11. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    Also then he goes on and on about the singer getting 3 tracks and bassist 2 tracks.

    What crazy world is this?
     
  12. Spaced Out Ace

    Spaced Out Ace 0 0 1 0 0 6 5 0 3\

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    "From a place of ignorance." Right.
     
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  13. marcwormjim

    marcwormjim SS.org Regular

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    Likely a conspiracy.
     
  14. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    well if you would have actually watched the video lol....

    Just saying. That "Distortion" that Glen and Ola dialed in is definitely white noise.

    You are right about something but it still contradicts what you are saying. "Contextual" Sure, I think one point the video uploader is saying is you should not buy into these methods as a standard.

    Another point is that you can play your instrument (bass) accurately vs compressing the shit out of it. An amazing bass player will have even levels throughout a track.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017 at 9:50 AM
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  15. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    ...which means he/she would have to pick very lightly.
    And that's not giving you the kind of tone you're (probably) after.

    Compressors ain't evil. No need to avoid them.
    (if that is what the video proposed...didn't watch it though)
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017 at 10:34 AM
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  16. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    Or they can play at a constant force to give desired tone?

    I think the video proposed to not listen to youtube guys when they say just go ahead and "compress the shit out of everything" as if it is a standard rule. And he compares how a non compressed to shit bass would sound like.
     
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  17. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    While I agree with him in philosophy - "if you're doing exactly what everyone else is doing, it's hard to sound unique, so don't be afraid to try non-consensus approaches" - I think in practice it doesn't change the fact that while Ola goes a little more extreme than I do and I don't want QUITE that much distortion, I definitely prefer the results Ola is getting to the results this guy is getting. So, yeah, experiment away... But I can't say I actually like his bass tone here. And, KA raises some valid points about some of the arguments he's making are just not really accurate.

    Biamping is a very effective problem solving approach for bass guitar to tackle one of the biggest problems bass presents ("how do you get the bass to sound even and "glued" in the mix, while still having presence and attack?") - it gives you an even, consistent deep low end while still preserving picking/plucking attack and dynamics in your performance. It isn't the ONLY answer, I'm sure (right off the bat, the same basic approach can be effective with a clean/only slightly gritty bass tone), but any solution for getting the bass to sit in the mix without sounding lifeless has to at least address those two challenges (unless, of course, a bass that DOESN'T sit in the mix, or one with little to no attack or dynamics, is for whatever reason the right artistic choice, in which case that's on you to make it work).

    Idunno. Experiment, sure, but nothing's sacred. I actually only haven't tried doing something similar to a guitar mostly due to lack of time to just spend a day fucking around in the studio to try shit out, with no other objective.
     
  18. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I have yet to meet a bassist (or a bass/amp, considering a lot of this stuff is frequency dependent resonant swings - think of the problems that guitar chugs pose in a mix, as well) that can actually pull that off.
     
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  19. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    But it is super common for one to play "lightly" even across the board with no arguments whatsoever lol. but impossible to do it with force?

    Anyway who cares. Do what you guys want to do tbh. I just think automatically squashing the shit out of bass as a general rule is dumb. That is what the actual argument is about.

    Sure, things will need compression. Probably bass over all else. I am no expert here but just auto squashing as a golden rule seems like a bad idea and I would rather see an engineer take a more delicate approach to mixing.
     
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  20. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    ^ I agree with you insofar as I'm not a big fan of mixing via big general rules (squash the bass with x amount of compression, cut guitars at y frequency) as opposed to just working with what a mix needs.

    That being said, the reality is that bass is an incredibly dynamic instrument that will not likely behave in a mix without a significant amount of compression, no matter how good your bassist is. It's less about "your bassist sucks" and more about keeping the low end of everything under control.
     

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