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In The Studio: Rhythm Section Mix Balance Tips
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4. If you’re having trouble with the mix because it’s sounding cloudy and muddy on the bottom end, turn the kick drum and bass off to determine what else might be in the way in the low end. You might not realize that there are some frequencies in the mix that aren’t musically necessary.

With piano or guitar, you’re mainly looking for the mids and top end to cut through, while any low-end might be just getting in the way of the kick and bass, so it’s best to clear some of that out with a high-pass filter.

When soloed the instrument might sound too thin, but with the rest of the mix the bass will sound so much better, and you won’t really be missing that low end from the other instruments.

Now the mix will sound louder, clearer, and fuller. Be careful not to cut too much low end from the other instruments, as you might loose the warmth of the mix.

5. For dance music, be aware of kick drum to bass melody dissonance. The bass line is very important and needs to work very well with the kick drum when it’s reproduced over the huge sound systems commonly found in today’s clubs.

If your kick has a center frequency of an A note at around 50 or 60 Hz and the bass line is tuned to A#, they’re going to clash. Tune your kick samples to the bass lines (or vice versa) where needed.

6. If you feel that you don’t have enough bass or kick, boost the level, not the EQ. This is a mistake that everyone makes when they’re first getting their mixing chops together.

Most bass drums and bass guitars have plenty of low end and don’t need much more, so be sure that their level together and with the rest of the mix is correct before you go adding EQ. Even then, a little goes a long way.

You might want to check out the Audio Mixing Bootcamp video series from Lynda.com.

Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website and blog.


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