Balancing Low End in a Mix


#1

I was a student of mixing foundations last year, and I have a question regarding low end that has really been stressing me out lately. I’ll try to make this as simple as possible and quick. So basically my main issue is deciding how much low end is needed, and figuring out when it is too much. To start off, I will say I am prone to enjoy more sub and bass in my mixes and in the music I listen to, and am drawn to mixes that have that aspect…which leads my mixes to inherently have more (and even too much) bass/low-end.

When comparing professional mixes, the range of low end is so wide. I’m talking mostly electronic style here. The good example of the range I am talking about is songs like “Rasberry” – by Saje (very apparent low end, and deep and noticeable kick…more ambient) and “Closer” – by Elephante (much more ‘dancy’… less bass, more high frequencies cutting through…less ‘boomy’ kick…seems less ambient). Both sound GREAT to me, but where do you draw the line between what you WANT the bass to sound like and what it SHOULD sound like…and what technically sounds good? Would more low end in “Closer” take away from the other aspects…ya know, why did he choose to have less than say the amount of low end Saje decided to put in their song?

Another things is for example, if I cut my kick at 40Hz and bass at 100Hz or something, sometimes the low end is still way too much (after the channel strip)…even though “technically” I have gotten rid of the mud below 40Hz. For example, I was working on this song yesterday and I was cutting the kick at 75Hz and the thing was still punching straight through and was very deep…lots of low end…but I’m having a hard time finding whether it sounds better cut at say 50Hz rather than 75Hz. My trouble is figuring out how much more muddy my mix would be if it were to cut at 50Hz versus 75Hz…and I’m afraid to lose warmth from those low frequencies…but also afraid to take away from other elements in the higher frequency range.

I have been referencing, and I know that’s one of the best ways to know if your song has too much or too little bass, but I feel like it also depends on the reference track itself and what you are trying to recreate. I could listen to one reference track and say comparatively my mix has way too much bass, but then I’ll listen to another track that has WAY more low end and resembles my mix much more closely.
If anyone could shed any light on this I would appreciate it greatly!!

Thanks so much!


#3

Remember, with a reference track, you have chosen the track due to the sonics that this individual track has and you want to match. Don’t worry about multiple reference tracks. Much like dynamics, if every song had literally the same frequency make up, it would be dull. So, go for a track that you want to emulate the sonics of and just match to that one reference. Same goes for width. It’s why you use a reference track. Finally, as long as it ‘works’ (doesn’t disappear, distort, change completely) on a range of playback devices (car, Phone ear buds, computer speakers), then go for taste (your taste) over trying to match all the full range of tracks out there. This is your personal creativity and we want to hear that, not just a copy and paste of the rest.


#4

Thank you so much both of you. Really good info and I agree completely…really just needed to hear it from some other people.

Elton, really good points there regarding reference tracks…really helped out!


#5

Totally agree with @Elton . The aesthetic is your choice, and the best way to know what’s appropriate is a reference…

I’m also curious about the following… What are you listening on mostly? Headphones or speakers?
The reason I ask is that low end is generally the star of the show in electronic music… And well produced tracks in each genre tend to have sub levels that are similar and consistent. It’s a genre intended to push huge amounts of air in a club after all… Although there some differences between genres there’s generally a sweet spot, and most certainly a point where it’s overkill…

So when you say “when comparing professional mixes, the range of low end is so wide” the first hunch is you’re listening on speakers and experiencing room issues. (Or whatever your listening on can’t reproduce low end below a certain frequency…)

Back in the days of working in an untreated room certain keys had more bass than others… That’s the classic room interference scenario… Something as simple two tracks being a whole step apart from one another would sound like one track had nice low end, the other had too little…


#6

Hey Justin,

Sorry for such a late response, just got back on the forum.
So I do have a moderately treated room, and I currently use Focal CMS 65’s which are amazing…I don’t see room issues as a problem. As far as the “wide low end” comment, the songs I mentioned in the post are two songs that have a different low-end profile to me. Maybe the style is too different to compare, but even if I compare any electronic song to say a song produced by Tchami there seems to be a large difference. Tchami’s kicks are like insanely bassy and HUGE…def a musical choice, and I love it, but I know there are plenty of other songs in similar genre that don’t come close to that type of low end. For example, “Promesses” by Tchami, or the kick in “World to me”, also by Tchami…

Room treatment may not be enough, but like I said I think it is separate from that…I know my monitors and room really well.

Thanks for your thoughts, I really appreciate that!