Sub Bass Help Needed!

Discussion in 'Production' started by xtal_tower, Feb 10, 2012.

  1. xtal_tower

    xtal_tower New Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    This is my first time actually going to a forum for production help! I'm having trouble with my sub basses, namely, getting them to be more powerful. I've been producing drum and bass influenced tunes for about five years now, and my sound design and mixdowns are getting really close to where I want them to be before I start trying to release music (I wanted to wait until I was at least decent before flooding the internet with more bullshit). Anyway, I do all of my own sound design, make all of my patches, and a lot of my drums, I've got what I feel to be a really interesting sound so far, but I'm running into a problem: How do I get my sub basses to be more prominent in my mixes? I've tried just making them louder, I've tried compressing them, I've tried filtering out the sub frequencies in the other sounds and using bare sine waves eq'd low, I can't get it right. I want a clear drum and bass sub, low, crisp, and fat, like, for example, the one used in this song: (by the way, holy shit @ neosignal and phace in general these days).

    I would like to be able to understand what I am missing/possibly doing wrong, because drum and bass music was my first electronic love, and I want to make sure I'm doing her good justice.

    I've been working on this lately, for an example of what I mean:

    It's a weird broken beat sort of half-time song, I'm trying to blend the appeal of downtempo with the elements of drum and bass I like.

    I think part of the problem is the range of notes I am using, the harmonics in the sub change a lot, so it's hard to get a consolidated low end because it peaks at different points depending on the note. I know there is a way to make it more present, still, I just don't know what it is. I like rolling basslines that are mostly one note, but I don't usually use them, so this is a problem a lot for me.

    Another tune I am having problems with is this:

    I am aware that the kick in this has way too much sub, it has since been fixed.

    I am working with two KRK Rokit 5's, and the corresponding sub-monitor, using mostly Ableton Live. My cans are Beyerdynamics DT770's.
    I am also interested in any suggestions for good compression, distortion, and reverb plugins to use, if anyone has any opinions.
    I don't use any mastering plugins, the only thing I put on the master chain so far is a mild compressor (usually threshold lowered just to a flicker, around 1:1.5, and a soft limiter).

    Thank's so much for any time you're willing to give, I will be extremely grateful if you can help me solve this so I can start releasing music soon!

    Cheers, - Xtal
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  2. T:M

    T:M Dusty Techno Workout VIP Junglist

    Mar 30, 2009
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    St. Louis
    This may or may not be of help to you:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 12, 2015
  3. Equilizyme

    Equilizyme Member

    Jan 23, 2012
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    Xtal - I use ableton too and have experience with subbass. Try this:

    1. take the compression and limiting off the master track if you are using them while producing. there should be nothing on your master track while producing because you want to get the sound as close to perfect as possible w/o using any mastering power, that way when you do use mastering power, it can take you higher.

    2. Click your bass track. press command-shift-T (for mac) to make a new midi track next to it. Drop in Operator. you can use some VST if you want but i swear to you that your productions will improve (by way of better understanding sound synthesis) if you use abletons built in synths. they are more basic, provide relatively good functionality, are not some mysterious black box, and (imo most importantly) your stuff will sound fresher because you will not be using the same presets as everyone else.

    3. Copy your midi clip(s) from your bassline into the new sub bass track. Set operator to have a sine wave in osc. A, turn the other oscillators off. adjust the amp envelope so that the note is quite short. activate the pitch envelope, then shorten the decay of the pitch envelope so you get a mild 'thump' at the beginning of each bass note. experiment with having the subbass one octave below your reg. bass. now turn the volume of the sub bass all the way down. play your track. slowly raise the volume of the sub bass until you are satisfied. then A/B the subbass at -2, 0, +2 dB from where you set it at, listening to all frequencies of you bass while doing this (not just the low freqs). make sure you are satisfied.


    alternatively you can add some parallel compression to your reg. bass. this does wonders actually. I would try this before subbass.
  4. DJWhizzkidd

    DJWhizzkidd Member

    Jan 16, 2012
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    Do you sidechain your kick to the sub? That can help, because you can make the sub a bit louder without it clashing.

    There are other tricks like layering sines at different octaves, then low pass filtering with some resonance until you hit a sweet spot. The resonance brings out the bass.
  5. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun VIP Junglist

    Oct 19, 2011
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    Washington DC
    Sidechaining the kick to the sub is effective. However, I' have found much success taking the dominant frequency from the kick and slightly notch cutting it from the sub and vice versa. Don't be afraid to cut off some of the kick's low end too, so long as you apply a smooth curve (around 12dB). You'll still get the impact of the kick without having the low end clash with the sub. If you need to add more punch back to the kick, apply a slight EQ boost to that dominant frequency. Then apply a very light setting for sidechain compression so that the ducking of the sub from the kick trigger is just barely audible.

    In terms of spicing up you sub bass, hi-cut/low-pass the hell out of it (around 60-80Hz is a good starting point). This will get rid of any "clicking" you may here. If need be, add a very light bit of saturation to add a bit of warmth/punch.

    Also, test your track on a good "real world" reference source such as car stereo with decent bass output. The tendency with sub bass is to overdue it, which ends up dominating the entire track for the worse.

    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
  6. Balthazaar

    Balthazaar Member VIP Junglist

    Jul 14, 2011
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    Yea sub basses can be anoying when you when want them to sit well in mixdown,I am not sure have you ever tried rolling off all freq from sub except in some 30-90hz range roughly speaking depend what you really want.If you want your kick to sit well with sub either try pitching kick a bit and cut some freq from sub where is interfering with kick.Also you could try side chaining with all these elements incorporated,and you should get pretty nice results!!