How to get the right amount of bass in your mix

Just a quickie today…

Getting the right amount of bass in a mix seems to be a common problem that a lot of inexperienced mix engineers have. People often have too much or too little bass in their mix and don’t actually realise it until they get an outside perspective. If this is you, try to do these three things:

1) Listen to references. As I’ve spoken about in the past, you need to know your monitoring environment.

2) Resist the urge for more bass. More bass sounds cool and can get you excited and inspired… just remember that you might be overhyping your mix. Don’t be disappointed if it comes back from mastering sounding thinner than you’re used to.

3) Adjust your monitors. If your mixes regularly have too much bass, try turning the bass up in your monitors. Likewise, if your mixes are regularly weak in the bass, try turning the bass down in your monitors. Don’t be dramatic here – even 3dB can make a big difference to your perception.

-Kim.

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    • Danilo
    • May 9th, 2011

    Hi Kim,
    my monitors have a ‘Low frequency’ and a ‘High frequency’ knob. For low frequency there are 4 positions: 50, 65, 80 and 100 Hz. And 4 positions for high frequency: -2, -1, 0, and +1 dB. I use intuition to configure them. Any tips regarding how to configure them correctly are welcome.
    Congratulations for your blog.
    Danilo.

  1. @Danilo
    For the low frequency control, generally you should keep it at the lowest position (50Hz) unless:
    1) You’re using your monitors with a subwoofer;
    2) Your monitors are against a wall (or worse – in a corner) and they’re too boomy as a result; or
    3) Your mixes consistently end up with too little subbass.

    For the high frequency control, generally you should keep it at the neutral position (0dB) unless:
    1) Your mixes consistently end up dull (lacking HF) – in which case you should should turn down the HF control; or
    2) Your mixes consistently end up bright (too much HF) – in which case you should turn up the HF control.

    Hope that helps!

    -Kim.

    • Danilo
    • May 10th, 2011

    Thank you very much, Kim. Will try it!

    @Kim Lajoie

  2. As you’ve mentioned, referencing is very important. I find bass difficult to get right when mixing on headphones. I do most of my mixing on headphones, but always throw the mix out through the speakers and stand in a particular spot in my studio where I know the bass should hit me nicely in the chest.

    Frequency analyzers can be helpful as well. I know the ballpark of where the bass region should be sitting for my style, so analysis will quickly tell me if it’s too quiet or loud.

  3. @Fabian Aldersey
    Sounds like you’ve got it figured out. As I often say, it’s often useful to have a variety of playback systems (such as speakers and headphones).

    Just be careful with frequency analysers. They can be useful if you understand their limitations: https://kimlajoie.wordpress.com/2010/05/24/frequency-analysers-and-mastering/

    -Kim.

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