How to Use Low End Elements to Reinforce and Compliment Each Other

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http://theproaudiofiles.com // http://mixthru.co // A video on some sidechaining techniques for bass and kick drum to help the low end elements work together in a mix.

Transcript Excerpt:

Hey, folks. Matthew Weiss here — weiss-sound.com, theproaudiofiles.com, and mixthru.co.

Today, we’re going to be talking about movement – specifically in the low end. So, I think that the low end is one of the things that trips people up the most, so I want to kind of break down a few ideas.
First of all, this is going to be a tutorial on side-chaining, but it’s going to be a tutorial on the intention of your side-chaining. A lot of people will say, “Okay, you can make space in the low end by doing something like ducking your bass from your kick,” which means triggering a compressor on your bass every time the kick hits. So kick hits, compressor goes down, and pulls down the level of the bass.

And yeah, that’s a way to create separation, sure, and it can be, a lot of times, smoother than using EQ if you do it over very short intervals and allow just the attack of the kick to poke through.

The problem with that is that it also deprives the low end of the record every time that happens, because you’re losing bass every time the kick hits, and that can be counter-productive, depending on what you’re trying to do.

So, when I determine whether or not I want to use frequency like EQ in terms of separation, or if I want to use some kind of side-chaining in terms of separation, I kind of try and think, “Well, what else can I get from the equation?”If I can make the side-chaining work in a way where I can get the separation and the definition that I want, and also create some kind of movement, that would be really cool, and here’s a case where I actually have two bass parts that play simultaneously, and I use different side-chaining techniques to get them to all work together in a way that generates movement.

So I’m going to play it from where that doesn’t happen in the verse section, and then suddenly a couple of compressors knock on and in the hook section, you’re going to hear a change in movement and depth.

[kick drum + synth bass]

One thing you’re going to notice is there’s a bit of that pumping motion, where there’s sort of this, “mmm-wuh-mmm-wuh” kind of thing going on. The other thing you might notice is that the kick becomes subbier. What’s interesting is that the kick stays the same in both parts of the song. I’ve done no processing on the kick to separate it from the verse and the chorus here, and I’ll show you why it feels like the kick suddenly gets deeper and subbier, and why ducking out a bass is not always the best idea.

First, let’s talk about an easy one. There’s this droning bass part here.

[kick and bass]

I didn’t feel that it really needs too much in the way of separation, but when I bring in this other bass…

[kick and bass]

I can admit that it gets a little cloudy in the low end, so using a compressor – which is triggered from the kick – to do sort of a pumping, EDM kind of thing I think is kind of cool.

[bass and kick drum]

You hear that there’s a clarity to the kick that wasn’t there before. I’ll take it off and play it again.

[bass and kick drum]

I wouldn’t say it’s radically different, I’d just say that the low end of the kick and the kick in general is more present as that ducking is occurring.

Now, the other bass…

[kick and bass]

I kind of want a similar motion. I want the kick to be able to poke through, but if I do it simply using a compressor, it sounds like this.

[kick and bass]

To me, the low end sort of sounds like it’s lacking support.

I’m going to show you what I did with the multi-band compressor. It sounds like this.

[kick drum and bass]

I feel like the kick has a lot more low end support in it, and the reason why that is is because I’m not actually strictly doing compression, I’m doing both.

Every time the kick hits, the sub frequencies are being boosted. It’s working as an expander, but the upper frequencies are ducking.

What happens is the clarity of the kick is preserved – those upper frequencies duck down – and the low end support, that weight, gets reinforced because the low end is boosted up.

A way to think about this is, if you want extra low end in your kick, you can trigger a sine wave. You know, you set out like a 45Hz sine wave or something like that, and you put an expander on it, and you trigger the expander from the kick. So every time the kick hits, the gate opens up, and your low end blooms forward.

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