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I am having some Bass Problems

permalink   Sat, May 1, 2010 @ 4:52 PM
OK: Here is the scenario

When creating my mixes, I usually get most of the melody done first, then some drums, some effects, and I usually leave the bass for last.

Now the bass is giving me some problems, or at least when I turn it up loud enough. When i do this, especially when it is layered with a kick, it creates a distortion on some of my other instruments (Sine leads, Square Leads, Synths etc.) Is any way that I can keep the bass very loud and outstanding without creating a distortion with the other instruments? (I know there is, I just don’t know it)

Also, sidechaining a compressor or limiter hasn’t worked for me yet… If you have any ideas, Please please please reply to this! If you want to hear an example of what I’m talking about, listen to my song “Blood is thicker than water” (It occurs sometimes throughout the song)

Thanks much!
permalink   Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 7:20 AM
I’ll give a couple of generic pointers - but keep in mind it’s just one guy’s opinion.

These days I do the initial mix without all mastering devices turned off. This helps to get the balance of all the instruments right before applying master EQ/compression etc.

I also try to mix at a fairly low volume. It’s almost always true that a mix that sounds good at a low volume will sound good played loud - but not often the other way around. At a loud volume the ear’s natural compression kicks in and can hide issues. Bad speakers can do the same.

What else? If you know that there’s a specific part that causes clipping then try to identify why (for instance, if it’s the audio file spiking then go in and either manually fix the spike, or use automation on the mixer to compensate for that specific spike.

Once that’s all done, then go ahead and turn on whatever mastering suite/effects you have in your DAW and start the whole cycle over again. :)
permalink   Blake Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 12:40 PM
alright im gonna try the volume thing. I’m gonna lower the master volume and see how that works out… thanks much!
permalink   spinmeister Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 1:42 PM
Depending on your DAW software, there is a chance that the distortion is somewhere earlier in the signal chain, not just at the end.

Depending on the internal audio routing of your project, clipping is possible in many places that the signal passes through. Some of the better DAW software has eliminated that problem by making all internal audio processing and routing fully 32bit (you may want to check your DAW documentation or ask the question in the support forums for your DAW), but if your software doesn’t do it that way, you may have to backtrack through the entire (virtual) audio chain in your project, including submixes, insert and send FX to find where the distortion is coming from.
permalink   Blake Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 1:50 PM
well i’m using FL 7… and i believe the generic ASIO4ALL v2 that comes with the program is what up my audio output is set up with.
permalink   spinmeister Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 6:20 PM
From what I could find, it appears that FL 7 has 32 bit internal mixing, so that should keep clipping out of your internal signal chain and it’s more likely an input or output volume issue. If it’s just occasional clipping in a couple of places in your mix, you may be able to control that with inserting a limiter (or compressor) plugin at the final master output stage.
permalink   Blake Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 6:22 PM
alright thanks. Should i sidechain the limiter to anything in specific (such as the bass)??? Or just in a master output?
permalink   spinmeister Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 6:52 PM
at the master output, try not to sidechain - just let it limit the output to somewhere between -0.1 dB and 0.0 dB

Sidechaining is a bit more tricky to do well, and more typically done at the individual instrument / track level or possibly at submix level.

e.g. have the output of the kick provide sidechain input to a compressor insert in the bass synth channel. Of course that only makes sense, if the bass synth part has a quite a few notes notes that are playing when the kick is not playing. i.e. those notes would NOT be compressed (as much), and the notes that overlap with the kick would be compressed (more). There are quite a few articles that explain sidechain compression, if you’re interested in getting into that a bit more.
permalink   Blake Tue, May 4, 2010 @ 12:14 PM
Yea i’ve got the sidechaining down, but sometimes when i mix in the compressor and play it back it freezes up on me? Maybe my sound card is at its limit? Or is it something I’m doing wrong??
permalink   spinmeister Tue, May 4, 2010 @ 1:35 PM
if it freezes, that sounds like a software bug. Could it be that your CPU is overtaxed? Your soundcard should only come into play converting the final stereo output from digital to analog. And that’s not very taxing on an average soundcard.

But your CPU is taxed for every plugin - from software instruments to FX and EQ and for the process of mixing (and submixing).

Most of the time when the CPU is overtaxed, you’ll hear clicks and dropouts of the sound while playing back. You can fix some of that by increasing the latency in your ASIO settings.
permalink   Blake Tue, May 4, 2010 @ 3:23 PM
Yea occasionally I will have the clicking problem, but to make sure it wasn’t my computer, I downloaded the demo version of FL 9 and the limiter/compression sidechaining worked fine? So i’m exactly sure what went on
permalink   Kamihamiha Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 9:52 PM
Quote: colab
I also try to mix at a fairly low volume. It’s almost always true that a mix that sounds good at a low volume will sound good played loud - but not often the other way around. At a loud volume the ear’s natural compression kicks in and can hide issues. Bad speakers can do the same.

Bass also has a greater perceived loudness to the human ear. If you mix too low, you run just as many risks as mixing too high. I find it good practice to mix in between (Which may be where colab is mixing anyway) then listen louder and quieter to see if it still gives the desired effect.

The “through a door” test always works for me too. Turn your mix up (not too loud though) and listen from out of the room with the door closed. If the bass sounds too loud then, you know it’s definately too loud!
permalink   Kamihamiha Mon, May 3, 2010 @ 9:55 PM
Also, with previous (although minimal) experience with FL, I found that over working the CPU often led to glitches in the playback. Make sure none of your tracks are clipping, and then try muting a few tracks and playing back again. I may be way off the mark with this one, but i’ve seen a few people caught out with it.
permalink   Mon, Sep 13, 2010 @ 2:53 AM
Try to observe the FL Studio CPU meter when you freeze up.

If you take a config snapshot of the FL Studio and send it to Image-Line with a descriptoin of the hang, they are very good about responding, if you are not using third party plugins when it freezes up and haven’t run out of CPU.

I have discovered some bugs and they have sent me e-fixes in a timely manner.

Do you create songs and mix at lower resolution ppq? Do you use a large ASIO buffer when you are not recording … like 300ms?

What is your computer config?

As much as you mix, Blake, you should be using FL Studio 9 and planning for 9.5 when it comes out.

If you are registered users and bought on-line, you get a life time of free upgrades.

FL 8 and 9 does use more CPU than 7.
permalink   Blake Mon, Sep 13, 2010 @ 12:32 PM
Thanks for replying TRF. I have already solved this problem by upgrading to FL 9 and can’t wait for the new 9.5. Everything works as planned. Thanks!