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Posted on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 07:23 am:   

Something that happens to me with with many songs that I produce is that when I play it on a sound system for the first time I realize that the bassline is not sounding right.

I know that it is important to mix the bass kick and the bass line in different frequency ranges - otherwise they distort each other. So you can either have a bass line that goes down to an earthshaking 40Hz and then put the bass kick above it with a lot of "click". Or you mix the kick with a huge low end and equalize the bass line to be in the upper bass to lower mid range. I just tried the second on my last tune. I even saturated the bassline to create some extra mid frequencies which helped a lot to get a better definition on my studio monitors. However when I took the track to the club all that could be heard was the murderous kick. The bassline was not identifyable at all! Pure booming, no bassline!
I guess i must set the bass line apart more clearly from the kick. I just feel it's upsetting that I didn't get it right the first time around. After all I know about the problem and really thought this time I took care of it early on.. I could put the blame on the strange sound system of this particular club (Provitreff/Zürich for those who live in the area) but I had to realize that the next jamaican 7-Inch the selector played sounded perfectly right! ("By his Deeds" by V.C.)

Do you guys have any techniques / tricks to get this right from the start?

I just had the idea to record an impulse response at the club (capturing the characteristics of the sound system and the room together). This would make it possible to simulate the effect of the sound system at home while mixing. It would be fun to collect such impulse responses from different sound systems around the world - then compare JA's Stone Love Sound to UK's Jah Shaka..

Mike Zee
Posted on Sunday, May 29, 2005 - 10:55 am:   

Daniel, I recall we had few discussions on that subject in the past... on some other boards?? ...
I'd try to sum-it up this way: it takes three "componrnts" to achieve the goal:
1. General production strategy (or call it technical-philosophy ...:) )
2. right tools - especially monitors
3. Experience (meaning mixing in studio and then actually playing/testing your mixes on soundsystem(s)

You may want to try contacting dubcreator: ... we used to chat with him about issues like this one, and he has some good experience in the field.

So, for 'general strategy' you 've got some good ideas there. I would describe it in different way thou. You simply can look at bass-line and bass-drum as "one instrument"... so, from that perspective, it would just make sence not play/record/ond mix them so they "fight for space and distort each other etc...
Now, also there must be some specifics on how to record bass (and drums) and mix the whole thing so it sounds 'right' on soundsystem. The problem is, as I can tell, that mix, which is 'perfect' for soundsystem', may be not so-great for common home stereo, not to mention cheap boomboxes, radio and plastic in-ear headphones... see what I mean. Commonly, producer is trying to make mix, so it pleases all these consumer stereo products, that's why YamahaNS10 monitors made it big in industry, :)... if it sounds good on NS10 , then it'll sound at least OK on every cheap boombox in the world... 'cos in reality NOTHING sounds good on NS10 - everything sux ...LOL
So, mixing in studio for soundsystem is a problem. I guess you need to have monitors, which can give you enough "information" about how your mix is doing and how it may sound on soundsystem. And , of course, it will take from you collecting some experience (or call it ear training for this specific job)
I see DC uses Genelec 1030A
Bi-Amplified monitors
, these are about 1000bucks ...owch!
but, I think you can do the work with what ever so-so good monitoring system, as long as you develope experience, or simply say: get used to them... so you know how your mix "IS" when it sound as "such" on your monitors.
Again, maybe you can try to contact DC, and ask him how he currently is dealing with the whole thing. I wish I had any experience in this field :(

/later, man
/Mike Zee aka DR ZEE

Posted on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 12:59 am:   

thanks for summing it up mike. i listened to the mix back home again on the day after and realize that the tune has a bassline with very low notes. so i think now that it was a mistake to reserve the lowest frequencies to the bass drum. i'll try it the other way round now and then check again at the club..
i'm quite sure what i am missing is rather the experience and not decent monitors as my dynaudios should be ok.

Mike Zee
Posted on Monday, May 30, 2005 - 05:12 am:   

You also shoud try some sort of experiment, maby creating a sort of test track with sections of some "common lines" and try completely cutting off some lowest end.... start from everything below 60 or even 80.... and, write notes for yourself (what you did in the specific section/cut.../boost...), then play the test track in the club, make notes again, come back to studio listen to the test track... compare what you hear, recall what it was in the club, read your notes :) You also may be very surprized by the result, especially when experimenting with cutting off the lowest end (so called beef'n'punch of the bass and beat ..heh heh), which may act against you when playing on power-system with its own boost, resulting simply as overloading the amps while failing to produce and fill the room/hall with any pleasant massive sound.

speaking of decent monitors, I guess that many not so expansive monitors can do the work... but it is nearly imposable to be 100% which monitors would do the best.... allot of subjectivity involved into process, also depending on the task. Like I've mentioned Yamaha NS, which are great for producing radio-pop hits for the masses :), but they may be nearly useless for producing club-tracks... so
The best mid-way to go, I'd say simply pick some monitors based on reviews and advice from producers in the field and amount of cash you can spend, and then just stick with them for some time , building up experience.... you have to know your monitors to be able to mix 'right', generally speking

Daniel, if you discover something, post up here...

/Mike Zee aka DR ZEE

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