Today’s modern music scene highlights the importance of a solid bass and drum section. Making sure your drum and percussive sounds are up-to-date is a must to keep ahead of the ever changing soundscape. Updating your sound bank should be on a weekly to do list.
(Pro Tip: Splice is industry standard for current samples and presets. 2021 updates to their app make the whole search library easily accessible. )
Updating bass presets keeps your sound library current, but a stand out bass comes from a clean low end mix. Here’s an example for a punchy 808 in a pop song.
Tip One: Layer
Layering sounds is not throwing the same bass melody onto a bunch of presets and calling it a day. Taking multiple sources, EQing them differently, and then busing them together creates a clean and controlled low end. Here’s a layer break down:
- Low End: This will be your DI (Direct Input) or 808 bass.
- Main Layer: The amp bass that creates definition.
- Saturation: This layer will add character to your bass
Each layer acts differently, adding its own color to the overall bass. Now, we define their function with EQ.
Tip Two: EQ
Low end processing is simple: Low pass EQ.
ANA 2 has a strong 808 selection, here: Hyper Sub is covering the low end. Cutting high end to about 180Hz – 150Hz guarantees that this layer is low focused.
Main Layer processing: High Pass
High passing your main bass layer prevents phasing in the low end. Frequency phasing cancels out the impact of your bass and creates muddiness in both layers. When EQing this layer, listen alongside the low end. General guideline: Don’t mix in Isolation.
(Have fun with this layer ie; Amps, effects, filters. All these add to the definition of the bass)
Saturation Layer Processing: High Pass
This layer is not necessary but most commonly the source is “absolutely destroyed” and added for character, definitely mix in context and not soloed.
Having different frequency focuses on each layer gives you more control in the mixing processes and provides you with more options
Tip Three: Side-chain
Final step for that punchy bass is getting it to sit right with the kick. Side-chain compression controls those bass transients and ensures that phasing with the kick doesn’t happen. Create a Bus for the bass layers and side chain the bus to your kick.
You can learn more of the ins and outs of Side-Chaining with Shachar Boussani