Sub Bass Enhancements
Although it needs to be stressed that getting your low frequency sounds right at source is vital, what happens when you’re working on a whole mix or master and you need more sub? Or you’re using a live bass sample, that just isn’t pushing enough air for your needs? Then it might be worth turning to a bass enhancer plug in, most of these work by intelligently generating lower end harmonics from existing notes. Logic Pro even includes one in the form of SubBass, generating low-end harmonics you can then mix into the original signal to taste, PSP’s Mixbass2 and Waves’ LoAir are also great tools for the task but have a search around as there are many good quality bass enhancer plugins available.
If you have decent speakers but you aren’t hearing much sub in your room, try playing back some tracks and move round the studio. If you’re hearing peaks and troughs in the low end, it’s possible comb filtering is occurring. Whatever your mixing or monitoring set up, try and ensure you have an equilateral triangle between your listening position and each speaker, this will give you the best chance of hearing a truer representation of the audio, which will subsequently lead to less guess work when mixing low end.
Leading on from our previous tip, one way to control sub in your room is to use a bass trap. If the sub is bouncing off the walls, you’ll be hearing more sub in some parts of the room and less in others – depending on where you’re sitting. You can buy acoustic panels to take care of this, with a bass trap sitting on the wall behind your listening position. However, if you’re a dab hand at DIY it’s not impossible to make one of these yourself – there are some decent videos available talking you through the process, and with the right tools and materials, it is possible to make your own effective bass traps. Failing that, having a sofa in the studio can help acoustics, with the theory the sofa absorbs the sub and reduces reflections.
One way of referencing the low-frequency balance on a mix is to apply a low pass filter to your master channel. Sweeping down to around 200Hz, you’re then isolating the low end of your mix. Cross-referencing with other tracks here isn’t a bad idea if you’re unsure, but also you’ll be able to pick out any clashing or imbalance that’s occurring much easier than when you have all the mid and high-frequency elements present.
If you feel your native EQ isn’t adding the desired weight to your sub or low-frequency elements, it might be worth trying a third party plug in. EQ’s can have a very different sound and flavour from one to the next, depending on whether they’re modeling a particular analog hardware unit or not, some being more focused on sound and some more on workflow. It’s worth experimenting with a few of these to see the different ways in which they impart low end, some of our personal favourites include the Eiosis Air EQ, Waves PuigTec EQP-1A, Sound Performance Labs SPL / Analogue Code EQ Rangers Vol. 1 and Maag EQ4, all of these plugins include demo versions you can trial before buying.