Low End Recap Sheet
Low End Recap Sheet
Tracks with a lot of muddy low end won’t sound powerful, and will be just as bad as tracks that lack low end. Let’s recap all the things to do/watch out for in order to maximize your bass potential.
1. Check the frequency response in the low end of the track. Make sure there is enough quantity of bass compared to the mids and highs and that there aren’t any big dips and inconsistencies between frequencies. Make sure that your low end isn’t just all 40hz sub or it won’t feel thick and won’t translate well on smaller speakers too. You also need 100hz.
2. EQ out the low rumble from instruments that don’t actually have any lows (like violins) or instruments which don’t need to go that low, for example, a synth bass which has its lowest fundamental harmonic at 80hz but there’s somehow 30-40hz inharmonic rumble which isn’t part of the actual sound. Feel free to EQ that noise out. Leaving useless low end from many instruments can just muddy up the whole mix without you really noticing. The rumble can add up.
3. Balance sub and punch on the drums (check the sub and punch document).
4. Keep low end clarity with good drum layering. Watch out for the low-end envelope of your drums as well. If you’re going to layer, pick a punchy low layer that has some dynamics. “Sub boom style” low end isn’t going to work for the main drums of a climax, Especially If they’re quite driving. It’s too flat and not punchy enough.
5. Create more low-end punch with compression/transient enhancement if necessary. Have the attack long enough so that you’re not just catching the highs when creating more transient.
6. Prevent low end sustain instruments from being wobbly with multiband compression in the bass (phasing between the players on low ensemble instruments / potentially wobbly polyphonic synth basses).
7. Balance the drum dynamics with the orchestra. You want to feel a low-end punch, however if the drums are too loud it won’t be good. Try to listen to your track so that the sustain elements are pretty loud but still comfortable. At this point, if the drums start hurting your ears, they’re probably too loud compared to the rest. If they feel too loud it could be coming from the low end, but also the high frequency transient too, or both.
8. Sidechain drums with the low end sustain elements of your track (at least) to carve some space in a transparent way. That will add quality and impact to the low end, without you having to overly crank up the drums to really feel that impact.
If you follow all these steps, you should have a high-quality low end which will translate well everywhere. If you have good definition and clarity in the low end, you will have more options in terms of how much of it you want. You can play around with how bass heavy you want your track to be, and it will still sound clear and punchy, even if your track isn’t particularly bass heavy. Still keep the bass level under control though! There are limits.