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57Gregy

Clearing up muddy bass

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Is there some magic formula or EQ preset that will get me started?
Due to some hearing loss, just about everything sounds bassy to me, so I'm not sure I could hear the difference if I applied some EQ or otherwise processed a track.
I recorded the song in SHS 6 XL then imported the .wav into CbB for mp3 mixdown, but I don't know if I have the proper turd-polishing gear.
Advice, links appreciated. I know the topic of equalization has been discussed ad infinitum on these forums, but because of the aforementioned bad hearing, I've pretty much skimmed the posts, thinking I can't do anything about it.
Thanks!

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This may sound counter-intuitive, but I find putting a high pass filter on the bass can help tremendously, especially if it's competing with the kick drum.

In saying that, it might actually be a bass build up on other tracks. Try high passing every other track: move the roll-off frequency up until you can just hear a difference, then back it off.

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put the mixed version in a track and use the quad core eq and look for the offenders (I would look to cut in the 30-90 area and raise the 200-500 range for mud on an isolated bass track

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too many variables to a good bass sound, to put a 'preset' mentality to it....

 

in my case, i go for different bass tones on every song, so i'm always chasing this issue.

 

as others have said, starting with a high pass filter (low end cutoff) is a good place to start.

i like to use an EQ that allows for a sharp rolloff, 48 is my starting point for the Q

 

take the freq control, and while the bass line is playing WITH THE MUSIC (don't ever do this with the bass solo'd), roll the HPF up until you actually hear the bass start to drop off....

then roll it back down until the bass thickens back up.

this is your starting point.

then, look at an eq that shows active freq range, and find the one freq that always sticks up way above the rest of the freqs, and drop this freq down the same amount as it sticks up (4db, 5db, 6db, etc). use a Q on this freq that starts around 2, then spread it out or sharpen it til you get what you want.

 

a lot of times, dropping these freqs makes the bass sound weaker at first.

just bring up the fader!  using a nice compressor to help with balancing overall levels is pretty typical as well.

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Great suggestions here.  A few things I'm sure you probably already though of. No sends from bass to another buss that has other tracks going to it. Bass almost always in mono. 

No two basses are ever the same in a mix. I second the comments made by Batsbrew here.  Mud can be caused by several things. One is simply too much of a certain frequency that needs to be notched back. If you have a graphic representation it helps to see where the highest peaks are on the bass track and drop them  3-5db usually.  Sliding the frequency around on the EQ while listening helps to hear it in a mix. Lots of people think that bass needs to have a lot of low end when in reality you are likely hearing the "bump" from the bass more in the 200-300 range usually in a narrow Q  . Sometimes you get the mud from something else and it seems like the bass when it isn't. What it really is, is several tracks all pumping in that same range, so the other tracks need to be EQ'd to stay out of that sweet spot which will be different each time.

 

A few toys that help are dynamic EQ and side chaining to an offending track. Gain staging can also play a part. If tracks are much over -6db after you load up on plugins and push the master things can get mushy.

Lastly, mp3's just plain suck, especially low rez mp3.  If you can hear the mp3 before you mixdown on something like the features offered in Ozone using  mp3 monitoring you can hear how badly the compression is going to toy with your mix and try to compensate. On SC upload on wav. Yeah it's still an mp3 in the end but it only went through one conversion. If you have the choice upload at least 256mps mp3.

128 is the worst thing since briars and rabid dogs.

 

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3 hours ago, 57Gregy said:

Is there some magic formula or EQ preset that will get me started?
Due to some hearing loss, just about everything sounds bassy to me, so I'm not sure I could hear the difference if I applied some EQ or otherwise processed a track.
I recorded the song in SHS 6 XL then imported the .wav into CbB for mp3 mixdown, but I don't know if I have the proper turd-polishing gear.
Advice, links appreciated. I know the topic of equalization has been discussed ad infinitum on these forums, but because of the aforementioned bad hearing, I've pretty much skimmed the posts, thinking I can't do anything about it.
Thanks!

People have given you some good suggestions but I have one that others have maybe not mentioned. Have someone else mix your music or at least listen to it to give you feedback. If you really do have some hearing issues, many of us do, you will need someone else to help you judge any moves you make anyway.

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Thanks, all.
I should have mentioned that this is an EDM piece with no traditional bass, just synth sounds. In the Songs forum. Way out of my usual guitar/bass/keys/drums thing.
A poster wrote that the bass needs unmuddying, so I'm going to attempt to clean it up, as well as bringing the drums up in the mix.
Appreciate your time and advice.

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Another thing to try is to use some reference tracks. 

Rip a similar sounding track from a CD and import it into your project. Have the track routed directly to your audio device output, or it's own bus routed to the audio interface output (i.e. so it's not through the main master bus). Then swap between soloing the reference bus / main bus to the match the volume between the two.

Once you've done that, if you can match the EQ (preferably using your ears rather than a tool) of your own mix to the reference track, this might mitigate some of the effect of hearing loss, or even badly matched monitors/room.

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It's a tool, and not ears, but Newfangled Audio's EQuivocate works well for this. You feed your reference track to its sidechain input, and it'll match the EQ of  the target audio over its 26 Mel Scale bands. I had it, then upgraded to the Elevate bundle, which included EQuivocate. Not cheap ($99; not on sale at the moment), but a good one.

https://www.eventideaudio.com/products/third-party-plug-ins/equalizer/equivocate

EQuivocate_0.jpg

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No magic formula but if you have trouble hearing and don't have someone else to mix... I'd buy iZotope neutro. Elements and run the assistant function.  It should help get rid of some offensive stuff automatically. 

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Dealing with EDM and several soft synths it's important to think over how the sounds match.  Many synth sounds include variable portions of very low frequencies, even though the general sound isn't bassy. If you have several soft synths with bass content, decide which one has the bass "dominance" at any particular point.  It may require cutting the lows of other synths very radically.

Using reference tracks and frequency analyser can be  very important in case of a hearing problem.

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Leaning to use High-Pass filters will do wonders for your mixes.

There's no need for guitars/piano/vocals to be competing with the kick/bass down in the sub-bass frequencies. 

As was mentioned, use a high-pass filter on the bass (roll out the lowest sub-bass frequencies) to create separation from the kick.

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You need to make strategic  frequency boost and cuts with different Q levels to eliminate 2 or more instruments taking up the same frequency field in a mix. Its called 'Complimentary EQ'  and this technique leads to a more clearer mix. Most mixes you hear have had this done in the mixing stage. Its a very common  procedure and very easy to apply.

Below is  how its done and you do this 'Complimentary EQ' technique when you have 2 or more different instruments taking up the same frequency field, like the bass and kick drum or the vocals and piano. 

For this example, I will use the most common scenario, the bass guitar and kick drum. Lets say you boost the bass guitar at 220hZ by 1.9dB with a Q setting of 2.6,  you should not boost the kick drum at the same frequency range. You should actually cut the kick drum at 220hZ with the same Q setting. The amount you cut depends on how it sounds, so just dial it in until you are happy with the sound. This makes the 2 instruments coexist together in harmony in the mix.

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Side chain is useful for dynamic ducking.

Using shelves to cut ranges rather than high pass is also an idea.

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I kept typing this on my phone but realized I needed to be on the computer. This covers a bit more than muddy base, but wanted to make it more complete for folks who may hit this thread later.

Three quick items. First, as mentioned above, there is no magic formula, but references like this (can Google "EQ Cheat Sheet" to find others similar) give a nice overview of how frequency ranges of common instruments affect their character.

Second, mixing is where you will often create issues, so placement of things on the sonic stage and minimizing frequency collisions will keep each instrument more clear. This old Fabfilter Pro-Q walkthrough by Dan Worrall (10:10) is one of the nicest I have seen and worth a gander to see mixing "in action" and why he is doing what he is doing. This is geared more to traditional instruments with defined frequency ranges, which leads into...

Third, this comment I see as a (possibly THE) challenge...

On 4/23/2019 at 2:58 PM, 57Gregy said:

I should have mentioned that this is an EDM piece with no traditional bass, just synth sounds.

... reason... synths (especially presets) are often WIDE, and cover a MASSIVE frequency range... two synths can be challenging, but several can make an absolute frequency collision nightmare. Some quick comments on how to deal with this (these are more than just bass, as synths create their own unique challenges):

  1. Narrow the frequency range of each synth with both a LP and HP filter - solo the track and dig into each end of the synth till you start to lose the main component, then back off a smidge. The only part required for each synth is enough to get the point across.
  2. Consider narrowing the stereo field of each - collapsing them some will allow left/right placement on the sonic stage as well as make mirror EQ (slight EQ cuts in one track with complimentary boosts in a competing track) easier.
  3. For repetitive riffs, consider setting them back in the sonic stage (compress slightly and lower volume 3-6 dB) - once a listener has heard it a couple times they will "get it," and backing them out of the mix a bit will keep them present, but not make them compete with other mix elements.
  4. Be very judicious with time-based effects (delays, reverbs, etc.) - due to the high frequency content of synths, it is easy to "smear" them and mud them up with just the effects used.

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On 4/23/2019 at 12:01 PM, msmcleod said:

if you can match the EQ (preferably using your ears rather than a tool) of your own mix to the reference track, this might mitigate some of the effect of hearing loss, or even badly matched monitors/room.

This. As a veteran of many live stage performances and shows, I definitely have rolloff, and it's never completely quiet, but I keep my ears "tuned" by having close listening sessions with favorite well-produced albums and songs. Later Radiohead is some very well-produced music with deep and wide soundstages, good instrument separation, etc.

What others have said about the bass, can't add much except maybe to say if you have synths that are taking the roles of "bass" and "kick," let the kick take the lower end and carve those frequencies out of the bass track, assuming you still have access to the mix and aren't just mastering in Cakewalk.

I always remember that I listened to top 40 radio through the speaker of a small transistor radio when I was a kid, and I could still hear all of the instruments on that 2" made in Japan driver. David Essex' "Rock On" sounds killer no matter what you play it on, and most of the song is Herbie Flowers' double-tracked bass. So perception of "bass" doesn't necessarily depend on hearing the booooom, although it should be present when played on a full-range system.

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Thanks for all the info. I'll certainly try to apply some of these tips in my next muddied bass project.
I will see what I can do to this current project, too.
As for a reference track, this isn't the kind of music I normally do; I was having some problems completing songs, and when I was watching The Bourne Supremacy and the Russian mob henchman went into the Moscow disco to inform the hit man that he missed his target, there was an EDM thing playing loudly. I thought, "it can't be that hard to make something like that".

It's all hard.

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