This one might spark a little controversy.

But for the few brave souls who will actually TRY it, I think you’ll be quite surprised.

We all know that one of the hardest parts of a mix is getting the low end to sound right, particularly the kick drum and bass. It seems like you’re always walking the fine line between too much bass and not enough bass.

What you may not realize is this: by removing some bass frequencies from your bass instruments, those instruments will actually sound lower and tighter.

It sounds backwards, I know, but I do this all the time.

Just last week I was mixing a song, and the bass guitar sounded absolutely HUGE…too huge. It was a 5-string bass, and he was pounding on that low B string quite a bit. We got great tone out of the bass, but there was just too much bottom end in the mix.

So I rolled off everything below 74 Hz with a high-pass filter.

And? BOOM.

Big, huge bass with none of that sub-bass rumble that was making things sound tubby and indistinct.

Is the mix thin now? Not at all. It’s so much bigger than it was before I did this one little tweak.

Same thing works for kick drum, too.

I know what you’re thinking, “But Joe!! I read in a book somewhere that 60-80 Hz is a crucial frequency range for getting a good mix. There’s no way you can get a good bass mix by rolling off that much low end.”

Here’s my response: It just works.

Rather than getting hung up on the theory of mixing and audio, just TRY stuff. You’ll never know what you’ll discover.

I’ve discovered tons of little “tricks” like this over the years, and I’ve compiled them into my Understanding EQ videos.

If you haven’t seen ’em yet, you can grab yours today at:

www.UnderstandingEQ.com

  • Eric Jean

    I find that clearing out frequencies below 40 Hz (and sometimes higher), even on kick drum and bass, helps to clarify a mix.

    • Yep. I remember we tried that at the Simply Recording Academy and it was pretty noticeable. Granted, Derek has two subwoofers, so you can actually HEAR 40 Hz, which helps. 🙂

  • You’re dead on with this one .Joe. All pros know this trick. The main reason why it works is because it takes a lot ov juice out ov an amplifier to produce those super-low freqs. And it’s proly a waste ov time to do so, because few speakers can produce them efficiently anyway. So by cutting out those bands the amp is free to divert its power slightly higher up the spectrum where the more audible (and punchy) bass lies.

    • Absolutely. Great point about it having so much energy. Our poor little 6″ speakers are trying desperately to reproduce the lows, and it just makes them work less efficiently.

    • polysix

      *of.

      • Xan Angelfvkk

        It’s really up to the person making the original post to re-post any correction to what they have written, if they feel they have made a mistake. Clearly, you are just attempting to troll.

  • Adam

    SO true. I do a lot of live mixing and find that cutting at ~50Hz can sometimes really clear up the bass guitar, allowing you to increase the level without giving everyone a headache!

    • +1. Bass is capable of producing such horrible headaches…it makes me want to only mix ukelele music sometimes.
      Thank God for the high-pass filter.

  • Andrew Bauserman

    No controversy from where I sit. True, a bass can hit 41Hz (4-string) down to 31Hz (5- or 6-string). Even so, in live gigs at chest-thumpin’ concerts it’s normal to see the ultra-lows rolled off (they’re problematic in many rooms). Fortunately our ears/brains can recreate suppressed fundamentals. Plus, roll-offs aren’t infinitely steep — often 6dB/octave with -3dB at the selected frequency. In that case, your example is maybe -11dB at 31 Hz. Audible? Definitely. But it’s not a cliff.

    • Exactly. I think we tend to think of a HPF as being a sharp cut-off, leaving NOTHING below the cutoff frequency. But it’s just a gradual decreasing of volume.

  • dan

    Plus, IME, alot of systems that the music will be played on cant reproduce those freq.

    • Very true. Years ago I did this mix of an a cappella song. I added a sub-harmonic generator to the bass part, and it sounded HUGE. But I didn’t roll off the low end, so when I played the mix on a home theater system with a subwoofer, the bass was humongous and totally took over the mix. Sad times.