Bass Harmonics and Missing Fundamentals and Clarity AND ...

Recording Techniques, People Skills, Gear, Recording Spaces, Computers, and DIY

Moderators: drumsound, tomb

jellotree
audio school graduate
Posts: 15
Joined: Sun Jun 20, 2010 7:40 pm

Bass Harmonics and Missing Fundamentals and Clarity AND ...

Post by jellotree » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:48 pm

In my kitchen, I have an old FM Walkman hooked up to a pair of crappy computer speakers - probably first generation comp speakers... go ahead and laugh. Nobody sees them - they are tucked behind a jar in the corner. It's on sometimes when I'm in that area.

I was listening this afternoon for a couple of hours to the radio, and it dawned on me that I could hear the bass pretty clearly on every song - not FEEL it, but more or less make it out quite well. This was a classic rock station that played from the 60s to now. The two little speakers do not have a very good freq range.

Since the radio station played 50 years worth of stuff, are they the ones manipulating somehow so that it translates properly in a bunch of midrange systems?

Or have the engineering pros been doing this for a long time now?

Does some happen in the mastering stage?

From what I understand , you can saturate the bass guitar in order to bring up the level of the harmonics.

Are there standard methods for this? One channel has the dry bass guitar - another has the harmonics - level between the two?

Could someone share their experiences in how they enhance the harmonics of the bass guitar so they have clarity on a midrangy system?

Thanks.

MoreSpaceEcho
zen recordist
Posts: 6437
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:15 am

Re: Bass Harmonics and Missing Fundamentals and Clarity AND

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Thu Jan 06, 2011 9:13 pm

jellotree wrote:Since the radio station played 50 years worth of stuff, are they the ones manipulating somehow so that it translates properly in a bunch of midrange systems?
they are manipulating it for sure, but i doubt anything they're doing could be considered good.
Or have the engineering pros been doing this for a long time now?
them and the bass players.
Does some happen in the mastering stage?
maaaayyyyyybe. not really.
From what I understand , you can saturate the bass guitar in order to bring up the level of the harmonics.
that's pretty much what you do.
One channel has the dry bass guitar - another has the harmonics - level between the two?
that'll work.
Could someone share their experiences in how they enhance the harmonics of the bass guitar so they have clarity on a midrangy system?
i usually find having an amp track helps a lot, vs just having a di. i generally get a lot more midrange and presence out of the amp, and tend to lean more on that than the di in the mix.

sometimes you just need to roll off the low end of the bass and turn it up.

sometimes copying the track, distorting the hell out of it, and blending that in with the dry track works. you might wanna roll a bunch of lows off the distorted track, and i'd do that pre-distortion.

compression is usually your friend.

just go ahead and mute the guitars entirely. you can then hear the bass much, much better.

Wlouch
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:11 pm
Location: South UK

Post by Wlouch » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:04 am

I usually tackle guitars and bass from 4 directions.

1. DI

2. A dark mic that loves low notes and has a nice round character, such as a ribbon.

3. Then I have a small diaphragm condenser (or brighter mic) the same distance away as the ribbon or darker mic. Usually placed in a naturally brighter part of the cab, or if the option is there a brighter cone.

4. A room mic, this is placed for taste, and usually only a little is used, sometimes just subliminally but if you were toi take it away from under the balance of the other sources you will miss it.

As mentioned above, other techniques help too. Experiment with them all and work out what works best for you and the situation you are in.

User avatar
Recycled_Brains
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2090
Joined: Tue Nov 22, 2005 6:58 pm
Location: Albany, NY
Contact:

Post by Recycled_Brains » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:24 am

The saturation thing REALLY helps in my experience. I still haven't gotten what your after either, but it's a step in the right direction.

I'd honestly like to fig. out the best way to saturate just the upper mids/highs, and leave the low end clean. I've tried doubling the tracks and using HPF/LPF as a sort of crossover, but it never sounds right.
Ryan Slowey
Albany, NY

http://maggotbrainny.bandcamp.com

User avatar
Nick Sevilla
on a wing and a prayer
Posts: 5004
Joined: Mon Mar 03, 2008 1:34 pm
Location: Lake Arrowhead California USA
Contact:

Post by Nick Sevilla » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:37 am

In order :

A Great Bass Player
A Great Bass Instrument
A Great Signal Chain

And when all else fails :

Bass SansAmp
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

Wlouch
gimme a little kick & snare
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Oct 17, 2010 2:11 pm
Location: South UK

Post by Wlouch » Fri Jan 07, 2011 7:48 am

Recycled_Brains wrote: I'd honestly like to fig. out the best way to saturate just the upper mids/highs, and leave the low end clean. I've tried doubling the tracks and using HPF/LPF as a sort of crossover, but it never sounds right.
Multiple sources on the bass cab.

Get one mic for the lows and one for the highs, or at least harmonics. In the mix roll off the real lows you don't need on the "harmonic" mic and then saturate that to taste and blend with the low mic. Or, duplicate the harmonic mic, one for clean and one for saturated harmonics. Done.

ashcat_lt
tinnitus
Posts: 1082
Joined: Thu Jan 04, 2007 1:54 pm
Location: Duluth, MN
Contact:

Post by ashcat_lt » Fri Jan 07, 2011 9:45 am

Obviously, it's best to get it right at the source. Sometimes this can't or won't or just doesn't happen.

It doesn't make much sense to me to high-pass before the distortion. What happens then? You end up with harmonics of harmonics. Many of those harmonics - especially the higher ones which come from pick attack and string noise - are not particulary musical. It ends up changing the character of the sound and really just comes across as a distorted bass. Sometimes that can be cool, but what if it already sounds just fine on a full range system, but gets lost on small speakers?

What I want in this case is to enhance the first octave or two above the fundamentals without messing up the rest of the thing. Now I've never mixed anything you're likely to hear on the radio, but I've had some success recently.

What I do is copy the track and then low pass so that it's pretty much only the fundamentals. Distort that. Then "bookend" the thing with an HPF to get rid of the fundamentals and an LPF to knock down some of the fizz. Mix that in very low under the other.

In the mix, this is almost inaudible on full-range systems. It makes a huge difference in bass presence when heard through bass deficient systems, though. I have a set of cheap consumer headphones I use to check this stuff.

dsw
tinnitus
Posts: 1247
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:23 pm
Location: Portland Oregon

Post by dsw » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:26 am

new strings have always helped in my situations. not saying its right for all styles of music, but it seems that so much gets masked with bass that if you start out with the biggest clearest sound you can get going in, then it survives in the mix much better. I like new strings anyway, but its easy to forget this simple thing.
"Analog smells like thrift stores. Digital smells like tiny hands from far away." - O-it-hz

musicians are fuckers, but even worse are people who like musicians, they're total fuckers.

TheRealRoach
ass engineer
Posts: 47
Joined: Sat Jun 12, 2010 6:39 pm
Location: Toronto
Contact:

Post by TheRealRoach » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:38 am

Before you even set up mics you should be spending a good amount of time testing combinations of basses and amps. If you aren't happy with the sound in the room then you aren't going to be happy with the playback. Rent gear if you need to.

If you're doing rock electric bass get ahold of an Ampeg B-15N, and a very good sounding Fender P-Bass and most of your problems will disappear. Delicious overtones galore.

Find a nice spot in the room and put a mic there.

Now take that and record it to tape, 7.5ips or 15ips and even more sweet sounding harmonics/overtones.

You'd have to try pretty hard to make that set up sound bad.
---------
Mike Rocha
http://www.mikerocha.ca

User avatar
vvv
zen recordist
Posts: 9052
Joined: Tue May 13, 2003 8:08 am
Location: Chi
Contact:

Post by vvv » Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:41 am

Recycled_Brains wrote:The saturation thing REALLY helps in my experience. I still haven't gotten what your after either, but it's a step in the right direction.

I'd honestly like to fig. out the best way to saturate just the upper mids/highs, and leave the low end clean. I've tried doubling the tracks and using HPF/LPF as a sort of crossover, but it never sounds right.
What worked best for me onna quick basis is to clone the track, distort it, then use a HPF on the clone and bring it up in parallel to augment the original.

Alternatively, distort the clone and LPF the original and bring it up in parallel to augment the distorted.

The idear is to use the pass-filter to create the parallel track for what you are adding to your, eh, base-line bass-line. :twisted:
bandcamp; vlayman;
THD; Geronimo Cowboys;
blog.
I mix with olive juice.

KennyLusk
dead but not forgotten
Posts: 2037
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 10:22 am
Location: Ramah, New Mexico

Post by KennyLusk » Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:42 am

Nick Sevilla wrote:In order :

A Great Bass Player
A Great Bass Instrument
A Great Signal Chain

And when all else fails :

Bass SansAmp
True that.

Just listen to Rush "Moving Pictures" in it's entirety. It all starts with Geddy Lee and flows out down the line from there.
"The mushroom states its own position very clearly. It says, "I require the nervous system of a mammal. Do you have one handy?" Terrence McKenna

User avatar
darjama
tinnitus
Posts: 1000
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2004 2:11 pm
Location: East SF Bay

Post by darjama » Fri Jan 07, 2011 12:35 pm

I find bassists who play finger-style (yes I know most bassists use their fingers, I mean versus using a pick) often have this problem. I've use multiband compression to address it.

Also, I think that rolling off some sub-bass helps. Talking about classic albums, wouldn't it be true that things recorded to tape and mastered for vinyl just didn't have dense low end that we can achieve today?

MoreSpaceEcho
zen recordist
Posts: 6437
Joined: Wed May 07, 2003 11:15 am

Post by MoreSpaceEcho » Fri Jan 07, 2011 1:55 pm

darjama wrote:I find bassists who play finger-style (yes I know most bassists use their fingers, I mean versus using a pick) often have this problem.
well, certainly there's more attack and midrange 'clang' with a pick, but if you have a really good bass player, fingerstyle is definitely not a problem. i've been fortunate to do a lot of work with a truly world class bassist, and it really is all in the fingers. i don't think i've ever even used any compression on him. it just sits right.
Also, I think that rolling off some sub-bass helps.
i often find that just shelving the low end (from say 150 or so) down a few db and turning the bass track up works wonders.
Talking about classic albums, wouldn't it be true that things recorded to tape and mastered for vinyl just didn't have dense low end that we can achieve today?
probably true, but i think it's more to do with the above-mentioned p bass/B15 combo. a good bassist playing through that combo is pretty much The Sound. you really can't go wrong.

lionaudio
steve albini likes it
Posts: 327
Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 12:33 pm
Location: kentucky
Contact:

Post by lionaudio » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:02 am

Something else that can help is to play the bass part again, exactly the same but with a guitar. Pan it center with the bass, and send it to the same compressor as the bass. As long as they are matched correctly it gives the illusion that it is still the bass guitar take and you can then leave your bass alone.

User avatar
Bill @ Irie Lab
suffering 'studio suck'
Posts: 401
Joined: Wed Dec 03, 2003 10:53 am
Location: Boston, USA
Contact:

Post by Bill @ Irie Lab » Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:46 am

Another factor is that psycho-acoustically the brain fills in the missing fundamental; of course you're missing the visceral element that fills the dance floor.

Bill
I&TC - Intonation and Technology Company
Irie Lab Sound Studios

***** Sound Science & Soul *****

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Dok, MoreSpaceEcho, mwerden and 39 guests