mixing 808 kicks for crappy computer speakers

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Tragabigzanda
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mixing 808 kicks for crappy computer speakers

Post by Tragabigzanda » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:05 pm

Hey y'all. Working on a couple tracks that are very sub-heavy. Everything sounds great when listening on Genelics, HKs, even NS 10s. Predictably, all that sub stuff is non-existent when listening on a laptop's speakers. No surprise there, but just curious how some people have approached this in the past. Do you supplement the 808s with a bass track? Kicks from a 909? What?

Also, any examples of a song where an 808 is clearly audible through tiny speakers?
Alex C. McKenzie

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eeldip
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Post by eeldip » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:29 pm

saturation gets you there. creates overtones that can be heard on shitty systems. lots of compressors will do that for you. i'll generally do a medium attack fast release kinda compressor on there to add some attack. and that compressor usually adds some overtones.

but there are like millions of examples of miami bass type music that simply cant be heard on smaller systems. so i wouldn't obsess over it.

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Post by Tragabigzanda » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:42 pm

Hmm, thanks for the tip; it makes sense to try and create overtones. I'll mess around with some saturation tomorrow (I'm thinking of the Decapitator). What comps do you like specifically for this task?
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Post by eeldip » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:29 pm

i've actually been digging the logic built in compressor for that task lately. in "platinum" curve, it has a very, uh, digital fakey kinda curve that makes a nice sounding punch for the attack.

but barring that, an 1176 type is something that i usually would use, like the stillwell rocket.

for saturation control, i really love chebychev+
http://www.soundhack.com/freeware.php
you can dial in the harmonics very specifically. put voxengo span after it and watch it do its magic with a 60hz tone.

also, you can start with an 808 sample with built in saturation.
http://rekkerd.org/goldbaby-releases-the-cassette-808/

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Post by Tragabigzanda » Wed Mar 02, 2011 5:59 am

Awesome, thank you! I'll follow up tomorrow after I've had a chance to play with.
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Post by drumsound » Wed Mar 02, 2011 7:47 pm

Little speakers just won't produce those super lows. What you should also do, is check on small speakers to make sure you're not adding a bunch of distortion to systems like that.

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Post by Galen Ulrich Elfert » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:52 pm

Distortion will be more audible on small speakers, but a distorted 808 kick is a different sound.
Reference some other 808 heavy songs on small speakers and hear how it is that they still rock. Make sure you're not sacrificing the overall sound just for the benefit of crappy playback systems.
I would focus more on making sure the other elements of the track are interesting enough to sustain it even in the absence of bass. Make sure there are other parts that will keep driving the rhythm. Is it a rap song? Make sure the vocal is still cooking even over small speakers.

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Post by kingtoad » Thu Mar 03, 2011 3:33 am

Some things that have helped for me:

1) Bass exciters, eg maxxbass etc. These things have a pretty bad rep and they can be terrible if used wrongly but this is one area where they can be quite useful. Creates harmonics at higher frequencies to give the impression of low end. You have to tweak it a fair bit to find the sweet spot for the kick and make sure you don't over use it, or use it on the 2 bus!

2) A sine wave or other synth tuned to the key of the song and triggered with the kick can help it cut through (we are talking a higher octave than a "feel" ultra low sine wave). Depending on the song it can be cool to have the note of the sine/synth move with the bass line or stay on the root. This works better with some keys than others: sometimes the pitch of the fundamental is too high in one octave and too low in the next octave down so it depends on the key/arrangement.

3) Layer kicks. A lot of those big hip hop records, especially more modern ones, actually use many kick samples which layer for a bigger whole. Maybe all you need to do is layer a brighter, more clicky sample on top of your 808.

4) High pass. This might seem counter intuitive but you can save a lot of headroom by filtering out the very very lowest frequencies of the 808. If you sweep a high pass filter around 20-50hz you will possibly find a spot where it seems like there is more bass as you are not pushing your 2bus as hard (if you are purely itb this only really applies if you are using 2bus processing but you can still get more apparent bass by filtering out the stuff you really don't need). Make sure you do this on your bassist speakers though so you can be sure you are not losing anything important.

5) Space. Those big 808 kicks absolutely need space in the mix. You can't have a shit load of bass on your 808 if everything else is going at 100mph at the same time. Again, listen to big hip hop records and the arrangements are usually pretty sparse. This gives space for everything to breathe.


Sorry for the massive rant and I hope some of this helps. I had a client earlier this year who kept asking for "more sub on the kick" the whole time and I had to find many ways to get around this particular problem so it's one close to my heart.

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Post by jgimbel » Thu Mar 03, 2011 6:07 am

Yeah with small speakers like laptop speakers, they're just not going to have that low end of the original 808. Overtones will make it so you can still hear that there's an 808 there, which I think should really be the goal since you just can't make the bass really heavy without having it be over the top when people are listening on good speakers.
kingtoad wrote:Maybe all you need to do is layer a brighter, more clicky sample on top of your 808.
To me I feel like that would take away from what makes it sound like an 808, but it would definitely make the kick stick out more on small speakers. I just recorded a metal band two weeks ago, and they wanted to use 808 samples in certain spots in the song (which I thought was a pretty cool idea, I know they're not the ones to originally come up with it but I haven't listened to metal in a while so I had never heard that before, sounds really cool). It worked really well and has great separation, and I think the main reason that it works is because the kick sound is a pretty typical kick sound, very very clicky (originally I made it sound more natural but they really wanted to go for the standard kind of sound), sounds a lot like it's a sample, but it's the real deal! But the click sound of the normal kick lets it stand out even as the sustain of the 80 sound is going. You can clearly hear the normal kick on small speakers of course, but the 808 is still definitely there on small speakers, just obviously not sub-low sounding.
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Re: mixing 808 kicks for crappy computer speakers

Post by Nick Sevilla » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:14 am

Tragibigzanda wrote:Hey y'all. Working on a couple tracks that are very sub-heavy. Everything sounds great when listening on Genelics, HKs, even NS 10s. Predictably, all that sub stuff is non-existent when listening on a laptop's speakers. No surprise there, but just curious how some people have approached this in the past. Do you supplement the 808s with a bass track? Kicks from a 909? What?

Also, any examples of a song where an 808 is clearly audible through tiny speakers?
Hi,

What you want is not possible, because of the physical limitations of the tiny speakers.
What you want is akin to squeezing an elephant through a doorway... meant for people.
The trick is to learn how to make the "illusion" of a big 808 sound through a tiny speaker possible... and no, it is not at all having to do with distorting the kick at all.
"Magic"...
You should listen to Kanye Wests "808s and Heartbreaks" for reference to a modern recording, and notice what that sounds like in your speakers.

Cheers
Howling at the neighbors. Hoping they have more mic cables.

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Post by eeldip » Thu Mar 03, 2011 7:27 pm

distortion IS magic. it creates overtones that can be heard on smaller speakers. if you use something like +chebyshev you can pick which harmonic to amplify without getting extreme like running it thru a rat pedal.

MAGIC....

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Post by Tragabigzanda » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:05 pm

Thanks everyone for the advice. Yea, I've done plenty of drum layering stuff before; the problem here is that the song suffers from the addition of another kick track. "808s and Heartbreak" is a real good call, and I just found some stuff by The Game that's also not-half-bad on imac speakers. I've been having a little luck with the SPL transient designer plug, too. I'll be back on it tomorrow...
Alex C. McKenzie

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Post by eeldip » Thu Mar 03, 2011 8:11 pm

oh, and related to distortion, 808's and heartbreak is SLATHERED in decapitator.

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Post by jgimbel » Fri Mar 04, 2011 1:26 am

Not to derail the thread, but I don't find myself listening to much in the hip hop/rap world (I don't hate it, just not what I generally listen to). But I LOVE 808s and Heartbreak. I often have a hard time connecting with not-real drums, but that album has great production and really amazing songwriting and arrangement decisions.

*resume thread*
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Post by Tragabigzanda » Fri Mar 04, 2011 12:28 pm

eeldip wrote:for saturation control, i really love chebychev+
http://www.soundhack.com/freeware.php
you can dial in the harmonics very specifically.
Thanks for the help everyone. chebychev+ turned out to be exactly what I needed. Will probably become a go-to tool from now on...
Alex C. McKenzie

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