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Learn how to avoid common mixing mistakes, such as overemphasizing low frequencies, with expert tips and advice in this comprehensive guide.

How to fix your kick and bass.

Picture of Post by distilled noise

Post by distilled noise

I make house music, I share tips for house music producers on YT and Patreon.

Dear friend,

today I want to talk to you about a mixing error that I’ve found at all levels.

The “Producers Challenge” has confirmed that this error is probably the most common of all and you are probably doing it too.

I’m talking about mixing the kick and bass too high.

Many of the tracks submitted for the contest, although very nice, had this issue to a greater or lesser extent.

By the way, the “Producers Challenge” has recently concluded, and Yokoo and I have chosen 4 winning tracks that I can’t wait to let you hear.

But let’s get back to mixing.

A good mix should be a compromise between all the frequencies and sounds that make up the track.

However, it’s often the case that low frequencies are emphasized over the mid and high frequencies, resulting in a loss of presence and brightness and achieving a mix that is technically termed “muddy”.

But why is this error so common?

Essentially for 4 interconnected reasons:

  1. The room is not adequately treated, and you don’t perceive the low frequencies correctly;
  2. The speakers are not capable of reproducing frequencies below 40-45 Hz, so the bass volume is pushed up;
  3. You’re not used to playing your tracks on club systems, so you don’t have a gauge of what works and what doesn’t;
  4. You don’t use reference tracks, and therefore, you’re affected by the bias that low frequencies never seem to be enough.

In this email, I will give you 5 tips to improve your mixes when it comes to controlling low frequencies.

Ready? Let’s go.

  1. Use reference tracks: when you’re unsure if your bass or kick has the correct volume, compare your mix with that of a track you like and think has a good mix (perhaps one you’ve received feedback on from a club system). Do it by ear or using a spectrum analyzer.
  2. Mix the bass on headphones: if your room or speakers don’t help you, use headphones. Invest in good headphones, perhaps accompanied by calibration software like SoundID Reference, and do A/B tests between the mix on headphones, on speakers, and the reference. Headphones reproduce low frequencies better, but be careful: don’t exaggerate with the listening volume, or you might still make mistakes due to high pressure and vibrations inside the headphones.
  3. Use bass sounds that are rich in harmonics: if you use a sine wave for your bass, it will be harder to perceive its presence in the mix compared to a waveform with many harmonics. Consequently, you’ll tend to raise the volume more than necessary. Try a bass sound with more character (and harmonics). Again, the error is even greater when we rely on speakers rather than headphones.
  4. If it sounds right, lower it! This is a piece of advice I jokingly give to all my students and have often experimented with on my tracks too. When the bass or kick sounds like it has the correct volume, try lowering it by 1 to 3 dB to see if it was indeed correct or if, despite the volume reduction, it still works.
  5. ON/OFF Test: when we listen to the same loop for too long, we become less objective. Besides taking breaks (a piece of advice you’ve heard many times), try occasionally turning off the kick, listening to the loop without the kick for 30 seconds or more, then turn the kick back on. If it’s too loud, you’ll notice it immediately. Then do the same experiment with the bass.

Well, that’s all for today. I hope I’ve given you some tips you didn’t know and that it rekindles your enthusiasm to go back to mixing that track you weren’t satisfied with.

A big hug,

Francesco

If you need help with your tracks, contact me through this form and let’s schedule some coaching sessions 🙂

FROM THE WEB

1 – Advices if you want to go full time with music

If you’ve ever considered the idea of going full in and becoming a full-time musician, I invite you to watch this video and listen to the advice of those who have done it before you.

2 – Digitakt 2 is here!

And whenever a new Elektron device is out, Cuckoo delivers a Mega tutorial. Must watch to decide if it’s time to upgrade.

MUSIC OF THE WEEK

Here I share what I’ve been listening to lately both from the house music world and from every other genre.

I will keep feeding this section of my newsletter, with the hope you enjoy it.

1 – HOUSE/MINIMAL HOUSE MUSIC

I’m kinda jealous of this dig, but whatever 🙂 

SZCH – LLL 01 B – You Tube

2 – OTHER GENRES

Tony Bizarro – Estou Livre – Spotify

Always be curious towards new music, you never know where inspiration comes from.

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FROM THE PATREON COMMUNITY

Creativituy with samples: how I use samples in a creative way taking advantage of Simpler and Sampler powerful features.

Mihai Pol’s Masterclass: learn Mihai Pol’s production secrets in this video tutorial where he walks through one of his latest unreleased productions.

Downloadable Material: every month a new sample pack, MIDI pack and presets.

If you missed past months packs, find them on my webstore.