Have you ever wondered how professionally mixed songs get that nice and clean low end? Today I show you how to do it!
Before we get started I want to mention that for most "cheap" speakers or headphones it is hard to playback those low frequencies. Besides that, you need a good environment for mixing low end (your monitor positioning should be right for example). If you don't have the right equipment check everything on good monitors in a good environment later on!
Table of Contents
1 - Basics
The first thing you should always do is balance the levels. This is basically just matching levels. No tips, just listen closely and use your ears! Another basic thing to mention is removing unnecessary low end from all other elements. You just want to have the bass and kick filling up the space beneath 100Hz. Make sure you remove this space from all other elements if it's not needed. Sidechain is another fundamental you should be aware of.
2 - Compression
Low-end compression is a bit different than compressing vocals for example. On the low frequencies, you can go way harder because we want it to sound tight and consistent.
If you use kicks from sample packs you usually don't need to do any extra processing. But sometimes you want to add some extra punch. When compressing the kick, make sure the attack time is set right. A too fast attack time: you will lose the hit. Too slow attack time: the compressor won't catch the hit. I recommend you to try this yourself to hear the difference. Going for a medium attack time is the way to go here but make sure you adjust it to your sound!
Kick & Bass
Since we're talking about the low end here I want to show you how to compress kick and bass together. Again, this is super simple. Just send your kick and bass to a group bus and add a compressor. When tweaking the parameters make sure you don't over-tweak. The results can sound unnatural and overcompressed fast. Remember you just want to add some glue here. 1-2dB gain reduction should be fine.
3 - Sidechain Compression
Another thing I need to mention is sidechain compression. This will help your kick to get more room to breathe. Firstly, send your kick to the bass track. Then add a compressor. Now add gain reduction every time the kick hits. You will notice that your kick and bass will sound more clear in combination.
4 - Multiband Compression
If you want to add some final tightness, you can use a multiband compressor. Load up the multiband compressor on your master and just use one band. Since we only want to compress the low end, make sure you just compress the frequencies below 90Hz, for example. What you want to do is basically tighten up the lows. And then bring it up a bit.
As you can see, mixing low end is a lot about compression. If you want to learn more about compression in general you can check out the blog over here.
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