September 21, 2023

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Mixing Kick and Bass: The Biggest Mistakes

In almost all genres of electronic music, kick and bass play a big role. In order for your track to work in a club, both elements need to match perfectly. The process of mixing kick and bass on is actually not that complicated. Of course, if you follow a few simple rules while working.

Mistake 1: Kick and bass have the same frequency range

If the kick and bass are too indistinguishable, it is often because both instruments share the same frequency range. Phase cancellations or a muddy low-mid mix quickly occur. First, you must use an analyzer to find out where the two tools interfere with each other.

For example, if the fundamental frequency of both instruments is A-1 (55 Hz), it may be sufficient to move either the kick or the bass an octave up (A2 = 110 Hz) or down. Possible fives. Here you just need to make sure that the rest of the instruments still work with the tonal part of the bass. Another option is to use sidechain compression, where the kick drum “compresses” the bass every time it is turned on.

Mistake 2: Deep bass, not mono

Because low frequency signals can no longer be spatially located above a certain threshold, these frequencies can be reproduced in mono. This not only ensures that the kick and bass are in the middle of the mix, but also that they will play clearly on most devices. So in most cases you can mix the kick and bass in mono.

If you want to give your bass or kick more room, there are plugins available. Above a certain frequency, they output all frequencies above that in stereo and all frequencies below that threshold in mono. Ableton Live has a plugin for this. But you can use affordable and mixing mastering services.

Mistake 3: Too much impact

Essentially, you should leave the kick with no delay or reverb. Since dogma in music has never been good advice, it’s up to taste to decide. And where would many dark techno tracks be without a rolling carpet of driving kick drum reverb?

If you want to add some reverb to the kick, be sure to dose the effect sparingly. First of all, you must not lose sight of the frequency of the effect. Unwanted low frequencies quickly enter the mix through the return path, resulting in a boomy sound. In this case, a low pass filter in the effects loop can help.

Mistake 4: The beat has too much damping

To avoid problems caused by overlap in the mix, be aware of the kick’s decay/release phase. If this is too long, unwanted frequency overlaps with other instruments quickly occur. Consequences – overvoltage up to cancellation of frequencies. To make matters worse, many monitors and loudspeakers do not reproduce this area clearly.

In order to evaluate the decay phase, it is necessary to deactivate all tracks except kick and bass to get an accurate picture. If in doubt, it is better to shorten the blow a little. Visual support such as parser or ms displays for envelopes is helpful. Of course, the opposite is also true: if the bass is still loud in the next kick, the mix is ​​muddy and the kick is left undefined.

Mistake 5: Poorly programmed pattern

Wasn’t it related to mixing? Yes, but many mixing problems can be easily avoided by remembering one simple thing when programming patterns: don’t play kick and bass at the same time. True, this is not always possible and spoils the pleasure of production. However, sometimes shifting the bass note to an eighth can cut the Gordian knot of the mix and save a lot of mixing time.