Why to scoop the mids on mordern bass?

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

  1. Spaced Out Ace

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

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    This. He said basically "You are the compressor." Being your own "compressor" allows you to play softer for certain parts and harder/louder for other parts.
     
  2. Spaced Out Ace

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

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    We're on the opposite sides yet again. I agree this guy's bass tone to Ola's. I think Ola's tones are kind of overrated. And not bass related, but I've seen basically something to the effect of, "Oh, Ola's tone sounds like shit, it must be a junk product."
     
  3. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    Quite an argument going on here...

    Look, the idea that you have to use X Y Z and cut frequency A on track B, or whatever cookbook nonsense to get a good mix is stupid. Everything about the mix is art, and making that art good is about consistency with an artistic vision. Sometimes over-the-top is appropriate; usually it's not. Everything in the mix takes up a certain space, and mixing has a lot to do with blending those spaces such that each thing stands out on it's own enough to tell what it is, but everything fits together still. Anybody saying that you shouldn't even hear the bass as anything more than a bottom-end reinforcement for guitar is just speaking narrowly, obviously. Sometimes you want to hear the bass, sometimes not, just like everything to do with mixing, it depends.
     
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  4. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Shocker, eh? :lol:

    I agree with the guy's basic thought process, at least - getting dogmatic about any one solution is sort of dangerous because you DO run the risk of sounding like everyone else doing the same thing. I just don't care for the way he tried to solve it.

    End of the day, the challenge with bass guitar is the low end frequencies and "sustain" of the bass are all over the map and tend to vary widely note by note, not due to uneven performance of the musician (sorry Jacksonlover) but due to characteristics of the instrument and the amp, while the attack and treble frequencies are often very peak-y and weak in amplitude relative to the low end/sustain, and you need to get the former in control without destroying the latter. This guy's solution is "play as evenly as you can, and use a real amp," evidently, while Ola is biamp/steady state limited bass and a midrange distortion track. Personally, I tend to do some sort of a hybrid where I DO absolutely crush a low-end track, but I tend to low-pass a bit higher than Ola, and I don't use nearly as much distortion and tend to leave a fair amount more of the high end in. I'm probably going for more Tool territory, maybe with a hair more grit, than full on metal, so that makes sense.

    Mixing, though, is simply the art of figuring out what your problems are, and then finding ways to solve them. Whatever you do, recognizing that the high end and low end of a bass performance really pose separate problems is a pretty useful starting point.
     
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  5. Jacksonluvr636

    Jacksonluvr636 SS.org Regular

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    This is pretty much the point I was trying to make.

    I am not saying Ola's mixes suck. They are quite amazing imo but I am with the OP video guy as in, no i don't want to just go ahead and squash the shit out of every single mix as a standard rule.

    Yeah, i know nobody is going to play an instrument perfect and youll have peaks but what I'm saying is..A good bassist with control could allow for a mix where you only need a little compression vs the standard, lets just squash it.

    Off topic but this almost contradicts another video I saw of Glen where he used a very similar (and opposite from his own stance on compression) when it comes to mastering.

    He was complaining how everyone wants it louder and louder and how he does not like to just squash and limit everything to no end where you lose dynamics. He said turn the effing stereo up lol. Which I agree with. But I feel it is close to being the same difference with the compression thing.

    Anyway, my mixes suck as it is and my studio gear is WEAK so who am I to have an opinion on it I guess.
     
  6. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

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    Sounding like everyone else, AND not really knowing why you do the things you do. I think this is the downside of youtube as a source of learning... you have barely established musicians/engineers who spend 90% of their time shooting and editing videos rather than mixing, and legions of kids trusting these youtubers' tutorials instead of learning by listening and experimenting. Before you know it you have homogenized tones and people repeating viral bs like "mids are needed to cut through". No-one who spent any decent amount of time mixing will make sweeping statements about "the midrange" as if it was one frequency band. So finally you get people who are terribly confused when actual music mixed by actual professionals contradicts what they learned from a youtuber and heated forum discussions ensue :)
     
  7. schwiz

    schwiz Lefty

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    Truth Bomb. ^
     
  8. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    ...though, the only thing I really want to get across that I don't think I really am is that some of this has nothing to do with the player or the performance, but instead is related to note frequency. Depending on how the particular instrument resonates, how it's tuned, what the amp tends to respond best to, etc, some notes on the bass are just going to resonate and sustain with a lot "bigger" of a response than others. Again, consider it as akin to the example of a guitar palm-muting, where you can get these big frequency-dependent swings in amplitude that aren't a product of poor technique or uneven performance control, but are simply a product of the way the instrument responds to the player. That Slipperman piece at the top of this forum goes a lot more into depth here, and is definitely worth a read.

    Even in situations where the bass sounds relatively even in the mix, if there are certain notes that are being broadcast with more energy than others, you're eating up headroom and your overall mix is clipping earlier than it might otherwise do, which actually ironically DOES dovetail into his volume wars rant because it impacts the amount of limiting you can throw at a mix before it begins to fall apart and the effect stops being transparent.

    So, I don't know... I may be explaining this poorly, but I guess what I'm trying to say is while I think it's true you shouldn't get hung up at any one particular solution... the answer isn't to also just pretend that what it's trying to solve isn't a problem, either, and if this guy is saying "just play more evenly" is a substitution for heavy compression on the low end track of a bi-amped bass performance, then it seems like he doesn't really understand what the compression is intended to do, in that application.
     
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  9. mongey

    mongey SS.org Regular

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    lots of well thought out answers here and I agree with pretty much everything to some degree.blanket rules are bad, but there are rules that are rules because they apply every time.and the internet is an easy way to learn those rules when you are starting out. and before you know it everyone is doing the same hing

    I will say on the bass tone you don't need mids to stand to if you are playing generic metal "I follow the guitar "bass style . I'm not trying to diss that bass playing style cause it does work well for certain styles . but the point is to meld into the guitar and add girth , not stand out and add a bunch of honky mids

    scooped is also a point of view as a term . to me scooped is all mids gone . I like my mids dialed back a bit in my tones , but I wouldn't consider that I like scooped mids

    these days everything is pretty much mixed for a crappy compressed audio file for a pair of ear buds inserted right in your ears .I think its a big factor how things are mixed. personally I don't want a bunch of mids blasting away in my ear canal .and if mixing I need to take that into account
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
  10. Lindmann

    Lindmann SS.org Rectangular

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    The problem with the bass is not the consistency of the player (It can be of couse, but that's not the point here).
    No matter how great the bass player is...the signal will inevitably be quite dynamic when played with force.

    The attack phase in the moment the player hits a string is way louder than the decay/stustain phase.
    So unless the bass is playing constant 16th notes, the bass will poke through right after being picked and then disappear in the mix until it is picked again.
    And that's where a compressor comes into play.

    I actually agree on your opinion that the heavy compression of the bass should not be a general rule. Sometimes a quick but gentle compressor should do it. Just to tame the initial attack.
     
  11. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    White Noise. Noun, noise containing many frequencies with equal intensities.

    Nope. It has some characteristics of white noise, but chicken has some characteristics of beef, and also has some characteristics of Pork... and yet is neither. Distortion definitely doesn't contain frequencies of equal intensity, otherwise the note would be as loud as the rattle and as loud as the hiss.

    Ok so here's the problem. To get interesting timbre/tone on a bass guitar, especially in heavier styles, you have to play with varying articulations. (think of Nolly as an example). Also just good phrasing and dynamics in the actual take provide interest and give the music both movement and energy. You want this. You don't want your bassist to play aiming to constantly hit an even sustained note at -18dBFS. That's boring as shit tonally.

    However, despite the fact you want that from a performance, you sure as shit don't want that in a busy mix. The moment you start adding layers and whatnot, you're having to give everything a more exacting, more tightly controlled job and space in the mix. If you want your mix to have any sort of volume and feel consistent in any way, you HAVE you have your low end under control, and the best way to do that is to have your bass taking care of most low end duties, your kick punching through that, and the bass very even and consistent.

    In simpler mixes it's less of a problem, the bassist can play interestingly and well, and then you can leave room for it to just do that... but not in big busy pop/metal mixes.

    So boring to listen to when they do. Think how stale a Software Instrument like Trillian would be if all the velocities were the same.

    ^ This. 100%. I've worked with some actual freak bassists and even then, the low end still needs a lot of control in the mix.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2017
  12. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    The one that gets me is people who always start with a low pass at a certain frequency without listening, because someone told them once to roll that instrument off to that frequency.

    YouTube is fucked like that. In some way forums have the same effect when things become memetic in nature. I remember a time when I first started posting on this forum, where a large number of people were using Cubase 5, Waves plugins, and Superior Drummer. And you just knew that it was because there were torrents for all of them. Like people thought those were the tools you needed, and that's what Bulb used, so that's what they used. But YouTube is far worse, because dude will have a whole bunch of gear, sit in front of it and talk like he knows his stuff and people lap it up. Just look at all the dudes who make money off selling mixing tutorial type stuff. The way they title articles in that clickbait style, it's all about getting hits and getting you to use their techniques, rather than teaching basic fundamentals like how to hear EQ, how to approach the aesthetics of a mix, or how to use your ears and not your eyes for compression.
     
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  13. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Or conversely, think how long I spend on drum articulation while programming drums to make sure all velocities are NOT the same, in a way that makes musical sense. :lol:
     
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  14. Descent

    Descent SS.org Regular

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    Getting a bassist to mic his amp is usually a recipe for disaster. For the most part in metal, I've noticed that the bassist is usually the most deficient in skills or knowledge of instruments and acoustics so for the most part if you just mic it up you'll end up with garbage. You need a multi-faceted approach for bass and there are enough analog emulations nowadays to just stay in the box if that;s what you feel is needed.

    Lately I've been doing layered multi parallel compression on bass and distortion with tube emulation. After reading about this technique for vocal I decided to test on bass and see how I like it and it seems to bring everything out.

    It is basically say you have recorded 1 bass DI, you create 5 buses (or copy paste track 5 times or less, sometimes 3 work) then send all these to one common master bus for bass.
    So basically the original track stays the way it is. Each track gets different compression treatment and a different brand of compressor. It is a trial and error, but the general idea is to get the whole track to even out and bring out different flavors and different character with the compression. Then mix it in to taste. Instead of distorted bass I usually apply tube compression emulation or eq emulation that has a tube overdrive option. Camel Phat (RIP Camel Audio) gets a lot of use in this process. One of the compressed/overdriven channels usually gets an Amplitube Ampeq bass amp treatment followed by touch of tube compressor plugin in Amplitube. Then master bass bus gets a limiter plugin to just glue the whole thing a bit, usually very light limiting. You can ride faders at different spots in the song highlighting different "tones". Fun approach to see how opto compression works as opposed as your standard DAW compressor, etc.
     
  15. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    That's complicated for me. I just plug the bass into a DI, throw a modeler onto one track, and, if I want distortion, clone the track and use a different modeler to blend in some distortion, and then bass is done. Actually, very rarely, I'll clone another track just for parts where I need to beef things up when the bass needs to stand out more than others, but I only do that out of necessity, not as a matter of general practice.
     
  16. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

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    Funny how different people's experiences result in different methods. I've so far never had to deal with a bass player who couldn't hold up their end (knock on wood), thus I've always considered bass the quickest part of the mix. Set the faders, compress and EQ to taste and done. The only 2-3 bass players I've recorded regularly over the last couple of years have shown me that a good, well maintained Spector or Warwick in competent hands will pop into a mix like lego. Sure, I've mixed my own shitty bass playing enough to totally see the need for a convoluted process like yours sometimes, which just proves the point that a good bass in good hands solves nearly everything. If the song is well arranged too and the instruments aren't piling on top of each other, you can take another few hours off your mixing time.

    I had a session today with acoustic, telecaster, bass, drums and vocals, and the musicianship was so high and the song was so well arranged, each instrument was high-end, fresh strings and the drums were tuned to perfection, and it sounded so good straight in that I, as the mixing engineer, almost feel bad for charging them because I already know I'll barely have to touch it. Mixing that glorious J-bass is gonna take me minutes.
     
  17. KingAenarion

    KingAenarion Resident Studio Nerd

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    Those are my favourite sessions. I had a funk band recently that was so happy with the sound I pulled 'to tape' they almost decided to just use it as their mix. Really exceptional players with great instruments into high end gear makes our lives so easy.
     
  18. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoils = tr00

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    Indeed, it's pretty great! I know now that most of a great mix starts in the rehearsal space. With great mic choices and positioning on top of that, the work is mostly done already from a mixing standpoint. I think there's a terrible attitude in metal these days that anything can be fixed in a mix and it shows live, it's rare these days to hear a metal band go onstage and actually get a clean, punchy live sound because the songs were arranged like crap from the beginning, took months to mix the record, so it sounds just as muddy and harsh on stage as it did "to tape" all over again. Maybe that's why I just don't listen to a lot of modern metal anymore, I get sick of all the instruments fighting each other for space and the drums and bass are carved out to sound really unnatural just to shoehorn it all together. It doesn't translate well to the stage, and somehow everyone blames the sound engineer :lol: All of it is an arrangement issue for me, that was carelessly left to be "fixed in the mix".
     
  19. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    I'm currently working on a project with my dad and uncle, and while my dad has a fair amount of home recording experience, my uncle does NOT. The amount of corrective editing, comping, and more esoteric things like using spectrum editors to edit out as much as I can from the sound of my uncle breathing while recording a too-quiet acoustic performance makes me insanely jealous of that experience. :lol:

    Oh, man. SO true. This is like the #2 or 3 biggest realizations I've made recording, probably only following "You need to have a song worth recording in the first place," and "no amount of mixing is going to save a poorly-recorded, poorly-executed performance." If the arrangement doesn't sensibly respect the limitations to only be able to fit so much stuff in a given space and doesn't ultimately support the song, then you're never going to be happy with the mix. The silver lining with the project I mentioned above is that I've been able to drill home the concept that we're hanging the arrangement around one rhythmic instrument, so if there's a busy acoustic guitar part the piano needs to be sparse and in a different register, and if the song is piano-driven, then the acoustic needs to take a back seat and support the piano - say as sort of percussive strumming, functioning more like a hi-hat or hand percussion - rather than try to carve out some of the same space. It's amazing how much easier it got to be to get songs to start coming together once I was able to get everyone in agreement about which instrument we were going to hang the rest of the accompaniment around was. :lol:
     
  20. tedtan

    tedtan SS.org Regular

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    Very true.

    A while back I wrote a response to someone on a different site regarding the difference in roles between a tracking engineer and a mixing engineer wherein I addressed the roles of the various people involved in the old school production process. Reading this thread made me think of it because it flows top down and the better you address the things at the top of the list, the easier (and with better results) each successive step becomes. Here is the relevant part:

    __________________________

    Below are the basic roles involved in recorded music. Today there is a lot of overlap between them with many/most performing more than one role, but generally the following roles are still played by someone involved in the recording. As for needing to be able to play an instrument, I think that only truly holds for the performers, but everyone else in the process will benefit from the musical knowledge gained from playing an instrument as well.

    Songwriter - Writes the song.

    Arranger - Arranges the song (often this is the songwriter, band leader, band member or producer playing this role, but it is sometimes a separate individual as well (moreso in the past than today)).

    Performer/Band - sing and/or perform the music.

    Producer* (traditional) - Works with the performers to ensure the proper song, arrangement and performance. Oversees the recording budget and the recording process.

    Tracking engineer - tracks the performers. A lot of tracking engineers are also involved in editing the recorded tracks, but a lot of the time they have interns and or assistants to do the editing, especially at higher levels.

    Mixing engineer - Mixes the recorded tracks into a stereo master track. Sometimes adds sound effects and, by omitting, muting part of, or emphasizing certain tracks is involved in the final arrangement we hear in the recorded tracks.

    Mastering engineer - listens for issues that need to be corrected in the final mix sent in by the mixing engineer. These can be pops and clicks or other noises that need to be removed, EQ problems, dynamic problems, and so forth. Arranges the tracks for the album layout in the case of an album project (as opposed to a single). Dithers the files and provides various file types for distribution purposes (24 bit WAV, 16 bit WAV, FLAC, MP3, etc. depending upon the client's requirements).
     
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