How do you make your sub bass sound better in your mix? Mixing sub bass isn’t easy. Too much bass boost and your track gets overtaken by dark rumble. Too little, and your track sounds flat and weak.
And with many types of presets and sub bass to choose from, it can be hard knowing which one sounds best in your music production.
The thing is, it’s much easier than you think to mix sub bass. This article will outline three tips on making your sub bass sound much better in your mix.
Let’s dive in.
1. Keep It Simple
As with many other things in music production, keeping things simple can give you better results. Not every sound has to be complex, overprocessed, or innovative. Usually, simple sounds processed or used in new ways is much more effective.
But how do you make a simple sub bass? The best way is going back to basics, using a simple sine wave to highlight the lower frequencies you want.
Sine Wave Sub Bass
A sine waveform in lower octaves is pure sub bass information. Without any extra effects or modulation, you won’t hear any frequencies higher than the low, deep rumble that characterizes a sub bass.
Using a sine wave as your sub bass works well in your favor because you get complete bass control. And when you layer or modulate it in other ways, you can turn it into something completely different – while still retaining the powerful sub bass frequencies you want.
Production Tip: Use "Operator" in Ableton Live to get your sine wave for sub bass.
2. Layer Your Sub Bass
This brings us to our second tip, which is layering your sub bass to get your desired result. While some basses have all the characteristics you want in one sound, others are better off layered.
Layering your bass means using two or three separate basses together, joining different frequency ranges to make a fuller sub bass sound.
In the first of our tips, we shared how using a sine wave works fantastic for sub basses because it’s pure bass information in lower octaves.
Add The Top Bass Layer
Naturally, if we want to layer a sine wave sub bass, we need to target the frequency spectrum's upper range – higher than our sine wave.
This gives us a range from about 100Hz and up to work with. What we do in the upper range of our deep sub gives it its flavor and attitude.
Feel free to go about layering your bass as you wish. But remember to try and keep your two (or three) basses separate for the best result.
But as a tip, try using another high passed bass and add distortion or saturation to it. This will color and add a new range of higher-end frequencies to your bass sound, making it a lot more gnarly.
Production Tip: If you use another sine wave for your higher frequency layered bass, don't forget about your phase!
3. Let Your Kick And Bass Breathe
No sub bass is complete without a kick (unless you’re making bass-heavy ambient music.) But it’s important to remember that both your kick and bass will fight each other. Because both are playing in the same lower frequency range, you need to let one breathe.
And that’s the main thing to keep in mind. When making music with a kick and bass, you must decide which one you want to focus on.
Choose Kick Or Bass
You either make your kick stand out and let your bass take the backseat. Or you make your sub bass more powerful and turn down your kick.
Which route you decide to take is up to you. And sometimes, you may want to try both to see which way suits your track the best.
Follow this guideline when balancing kick and sub bass:
- More powerful bass: shorter or weaker kick
- More powerful kick: shorter notes or weaker bass
When choosing between focusing on kick or bass, make one a bit weaker than the other. This will ensure your kick and bass support each other and don't fight for space in your mix.
Production Tip: Decide if you want a heavy kick or heavy bass and make changes accordingly.
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Thanks for reading, and see you in the next article.
About the author
Pelle Sundin is a Swedish music producer and writer, active with his chillout project PLMTRZ. He also produces psytrance. When he's not producing, he surfs, skates, and chugs coffee.