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electronic MUSICIAN



Dec 22

Written by: masterblogger
12/22/2010 8:52 AM  RssIcon

AskEQ.jpgUniversal Audio’s CS-1 channel strip plug-in is adding a midrange boost for definition, a lower boost for fullness, and about 6dB of
gain reduction.


The band is pretty happy with my mixes, except for bass. We do hard rock, and the bass sounds kind of buried—it just doesn’t have the presence and fullness that basses have on commercial recordings. I take the bass both direct and miked but that doesn’t seem to help. Any suggestions?
Pete Federici
Philadelphia, PA
via email

EQ: First, if your bassist is playing with fingers, try a pick (preferably a heavy one) for a more percussive attack that helps the bass stand out.

Next, you mentioned using amp and direct signals. The mic signal will be delayed about 1ms for every foot between the mic and speaker, so combining the two could cause cancellations. In your DAW, nudge the mic signal forward in time to line up with the direct sound. This can make a huge difference.

EQ is crucial. The E string goes down to 41Hz, where consumer-level speakers have iffy response. It may seem counter-intuitive, but try boosting the mids around 1.5–2kHz; emphasizing pick sounds and transients makes the bass notes more defined, so it’s easier for your ears to lock in to the lower bass frequencies. A little low-end EQ boost can help too, but be conservative— only a dB or two. Simply boosting the low end is seldom the answer to fixing mix issues with bass.

Finally, although we usually recommend against lots of compression, bass is an exception. Dead spots on the neck, amp frequency response anomalies, and room acoustics issues when miking amps can cause some notes to be softer than others. Try adding about 4–10dB of gain reduction with a 4:1 ratio to smooth out the overall response. Multiband compression is also excellent for bass, as you can compress the low end but leave the percussive pick transients unmodified.

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