how to compress bass
Send each of your synth bass channels to an aux input and insert a colorful compressor with fast attack and release times like the CLA-76 or dbx 160.Use a high ratio to apply plenty of compression; don’t be afraid to peg the needle if it sounds good! Here I'm assuming you know how to use your DAW's multitrack and how to apply plugins to the correct tracks. This is an old trick for making the kick and bass sound tighter and more unified. This can push the bass back in the soundstage, and make it sit more evenly in the mix. This means it will need less compression. And your bass will sound horrible and unnatural, too. A lighter amount will be sufficient for genres like jazz, folk, bluegrass, and similar singer-songwriter performances. Want to learn more about bass compression? This can make the sound thinner. Your track won't sound alive; it will sound weak and impotent. The benefit here is that, once you've balanced their relative volumes, you can control them as a group on one fader. I'm not against this trick, but it's one I don't use. Another trick is to output your bass and kick drum to an auxiliary bus meant for those two instruments. The reason is, if you dip your threshold too low with a lower ratio, you'll still end up with dynamic range variances, which defeats the purpose. Parallel compression is great for making synth basses sound thicker and beefier with subtle color and texture. Either way this will all apply but I'll be sharing images from plugins. Consider this article your step-by-step guide to conquering bass compression, once and for all. This will often lead you to decisions that sound great in solo, but don’t hold up in the rest of the mix. Try a higher ratio if the bass signal is extremely uneven, but the higher the ratio, the more it will “squash” signals above the threshold. You can also end up with unpleasant distortion, versus the kind that produces harmonics that you want to accentuate. Then you can place a second compressor right after the first and go for another 3 dB of reduction. A hard knee makes for a more obvious transition point when the compression kicks in. This can help the bass cut through a mix, and it’s often a good approach for parts that are highly rhythmic. One of the most popular choices is an 1176-style emulation like Waves’ CLA-76. We almost want to squash it down to an on-and-off pulse and then design the shape using the compressor's attack and release settings. This sounds more "musical" and less processed, which is always the goal in most genres. You want to hear each instrument in the context of the full mix as you make decisions. This means you should hear the attack of your bass notes come through. The Oxford Dynamics plugin is one of my favorites for this reason. If the notes are long and sustained, you don’t want a fast release time – this will cause noticeable pumping. For more pitfalls to avoid, check out this article on compression mistakes. The goal is to let the attack shine through and then immediately begin compressing. Aim for about 5 dB of gain reduction and then add that amount back in with the makeup gain. There are really only two choices for this control: You can use your compressor’s gain reduction meter as an aid to help set the release time. Most of the time you want a punchy bass that has a sense of percussion to the attack, but not always. Remember—the goal of mixing is to try to make all the tracks in your mix fit together. You may decide that you want to drop the threshold more and get up to around 10 dB of gain reduction. On the other hand, softer styles like jazz and folk typically need less. What I'm being forced to assume in this article is that you know how to clean up your track by silencing regions that are meant to be muted, that you've applied bass guitar EQ properly, and that you understand what a compressor is and how the options work. We want to flatten the peaks of the waveform quite a bit without brick-wall limiting and introducing audio clipping. This will help you achieve a bass that sounds consistent and even—so you can craft mixes that compete with the pros. He has released 4 independent albums and merchandise to global sales. You can also apply an additional equalizer and any effects you may use. A soft knee makes this point in time more transparent, meaning it is invisible to the listener's ears. To start off, set your ratio between 3:1 – 4:1. When you're ready to get going, put the Threshold of the compressor at zero decibels, meaning it won't engage at all. But the main benefit is adding another round of slight compression to provide glue and make the two instruments behave as one (to a degree). This can sound weird and unnatural just as much as too fast of a setting can (though the knee can smooth things out). Now load up your DAW and get to work! Tip 2 – Compress the Kick and Bass Together. The attack should let the bass' attack through and then clamp down immediately, while the release should be timed with the tempo. This applies ducking to the bass, lowering its volume momentarily just long enough for the kick drum's attack and body to come through, then the volume returns during the decay tail of the kick. Repeat as much as needed until you hit the desired level. Depending on the creative goal or artistic vision, the bass may be made more prominent in the mix or it may be eased back into more of a ‘support’ role. Fast settings let the natural sustain of a note ring out, while a slower attack will continue compressing that decay tail, which will change the original envelope of the note and performance. If you add a sinewave generator beneath the kick or bass, send it over as well. If the compression sounds too obtrusive, a softer knee can help make the transition between no-compression and compression more subtle. Allowing it to survive helps our ears grab onto a sound and aids in making it intelligible and clear. Repeat as much as needed until you hit the desired level. Screw it up, on the other hand, and you’ll be on the fast track to a boomy, muddy mix. In my own mixing workflow, I prefer compressors that offer continuous, variable control over attack, release, ratio, and knee.
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