any tips for recording bass into reaper and mixing it?

markmann

Member
Messages
922
Getting a good bass track for me was more about getting all of the other tracks EQ'd correctly. It's easy to get low and low/mid buildup that clouds the bass and it's also important to get the bass and drums working together.
 

Jim Roseberry

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
1,245
seems like I can never get bass to sound right.. and compression is a mystery when I use it.. any tips? thanks
Passive Fender style basses tend to sound anemic/weak thru a typical cheap DI.
A quality DI channel helps.
ie: It's a lot easier to get a nice DI bass recording using a Neve channel-strip vs. a typical DI on an inexpensive audio interface.

A bass amp will naturally smooth out performance dynamics.
Same with a guitar amp (for guitar).
Going DI with bass or guitar, the signal has more sharp peaks.
A nice dynamics processor (1176 for more aggressive compression or LA-2A for more gentile compression) can help even out the performance.
Yes, you can apply plugins after the fact... but it's nice to smooth out the dynamics a bit... before the signal hits the A/D converters.

A-Designs makes the REDDI Box.
It's a popular tube DI for recording electric bass.
Some describe it as an Ampeg B15 in-a-box.
Bass>REDDI>1176 will produce a nice classic rock bass tone.

SansAmp DI boxes (RBI, RPM, etc) are popular and relatively inexpensive.
If you like the tone, it's an easy/inexpensive solution.
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,883
I've struggled alot with this too. I'll pass on some info I just learned from a Bobby Owsinski workshop, I *highly* recommend checking out his Mixing Engineer's Handbook and video courses. This is just my own take on what I learned....I've started doing this on some of my mixes and it helps. Of course some of this depends on style, I'm thinking of rock, blues, etc. not R&B or hip hop, that's a different approach.

EQ - The bass "speaks" best between 125-300hz, so it's higher than you might think. Generally speaking the kick will live at 80-100 and the bass will live between 125-250. This keeps the bass out of the way of the kick and makes it easier to hear on smaller speakers. Below 100hz mostly gives you weight or girth which you don't need too much of, too much sounds "pillowy" and eats up all the headroom in your track. Don't be afraid to roll off some of the extreme low end or even high pass the bass at 40hz with an 18db/octave slope. Most systems can't reproduce these frequencies anyway. If you do this you'll start to hear everything better and when you take it out to listen in your car it won't sound like ****!

Use a HPF with a 12db slope to clean up unnecessary low end from all your other tracks which gives the bass room to be heard. You can HPF most tracks up as high as 100-200hz or even higher and not hear a big difference but it gets rid of the low frequency mud and rumble. Use your ear, HPF up until the track thins out then back it off a little.

Use subtractive EQ to get rid of mud around 200-400hz on your other tracks like vocals, guitars, etc. Again this opens up room for the bass to be heard. Use a narrow Q, boost 6-10 db and sweep the frequencies until you find the muddiest one(s) on each instrument and then cut those a few db. Keep in mind that a track that sounds full and warm soloed could be muddy in the mix with the other instruments, and a track that fits in the mix perfectly might sound thin or bad when soloed.

You can also boost 700-800k on the bass a few db to help it be heard better, apparently this is a bad frequency to boost on just about everything except the bass.

Compression - the main goal of compressing the bass is to control the dynamic fluctuations in volume and keep it more steady at one level in the mix. Using a 10:1 ratio gives you more control, lower ratios give you more punch but less control. You want the fastest attack you can get that doesn't squash the attack of the note. Then set the release time to "breathe" with the track so that the compressed note recovers just in time for the next downbeat

Good luck!
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,883
Here's something else that might be helpful. Pick a few examples that you like and try to match the sound. Also if you can get hold of some multi-track recordings and isolate the bass you can learn alot. I've noticed that alot of what I consider classic bass sounds don't have tons of extreme low end.


As far as the recording aspect of it, I think a good DI with a transformer in it is important. I just bought the RNDI which people seem to love for bass. I plan to split the signal and also mic a Hartke amp into a Peavy 4x10 with an SM7. It's not a great rig but hopefully the blend of the two will work. I've used the IK Amplitube SVX modellers on a direct signal only and was never quite happy with it, probably user error though. And more recently I've been using just the mic'd amp which is better but I think the DI will help, maybe saturate it and blend in a little of it for some definition or something.

I wouldn't compress on the way in unless you know what you're doing. You could get a great take and have it ruined by bad comp settings. Bass has huge dynamic range so just make sure to leave plenty of headroom so you don't clip and then compress it later.
 
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1,318
As far as the recording aspect of it, I think a good DI with a transformer in it is important. I just bought the RNDI which people seem to love for bass. I plan to split the signal and also mic a Hartke amp into a Peavy 4x10 with an SM7. It's not a great rig but hopefully the blend of the two will work. I've used the IK Amplitube SVX modellers on a direct signal only and was never quite happy with it, probably user error though. And more recently I've been using just the mic'd amp which is better but I think the DI will help, maybe saturate it and blend in a little of it for some definition or something.
I agree on the transformer DI thing. I'm open to having my mind changed, but I haven't yet heard a DI built into an interface that sounded great. I could certainly use it, but a good DI box with a Jensen or similar is cheap enough it's worth having at least one for this purpose.

You may know this already, but one thing to be aware of is that your DI signal will hit the DAW a handful samples ahead of the miked signal, depending on your mic placement. So you'll want to use a time adjuster on your DI track in the DAW so that it's in phase with any miked tracks. Interestingly, when I split between DI and a Sansamp, they aren't in phase either... the Sansamp is about 17 samples behind. It's always worth checking when you've multiple tracks for a source.
 

pipelineaudio

Member
Messages
860
Doesn't REAPER come with a JS version of Bass professor? I wish it was zero latency, but it can really fix things up later on.
 

Rockinrob86

Member
Messages
3,690
seems like I can never get bass to sound right.. and compression is a mystery when I use it.. any tips? thanks
I had trouble with bass for awhile, and then it suddenly seemed like it got easy. what changed? I started playing bass evenly, writing good parts, got a good bass, got an ampeg V4 and a 2x15 cab, good mics, built a bo hansen DI, got tube mic preamps with DI inputs, blah blah. I think the biggest thing is playing with an even, controlled sound. The thing is, there isn't one good sound. You can get a million different bass sounds that work great in a mix, except for the playing the part well and having a good part to begin with - that is the real key to a great bass sound.

If I had to break it down to the simplest gear, as pretty much everyone is saying. Pbass + active transformer DI is pretty much it. Depending on the music, flats and the tone knob down can also be the ticket, but heavier/80's/slap stuff you need some of the brightness back in. If you told me you were in a punk band or a blues/r&B band, I would just say get a V4 and a bass cab!

Compression - there is a box with a little guy in it. His job is to turn down the volume. here are his instructions -

Threshold - "When do I turn down the volume?"
Ratio - "How much do I turn this down?"
Attack - "ok, but how fast do you want me to get there?"
Release - "How fast do I turn it back up after I get it all the way down?"
knee - "ok, but I mean do you just want to "Wham! start turning it down if it crosses the threshold, or should I ease into things a bit?"


One tip, the plugins that emulate classic pieces of gear can make it easier to figure out, or if you buy something like a klark teknik 1176 or KA2A, it is way easier (something about hands on knobs!). The classic pieces of gear don't have a million settings, and do have a general character. the general "Compression" plug ins can be hard to figure out because they can do too much in some ways.
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,883
I agree on the transformer DI thing. I'm open to having my mind changed, but I haven't yet heard a DI built into an interface that sounded great. I could certainly use it, but a good DI box with a Jensen or similar is cheap enough it's worth having at least one for this purpose.

You may know this already, but one thing to be aware of is that your DI signal will hit the DAW a handful samples ahead of the miked signal, depending on your mic placement. So you'll want to use a time adjuster on your DI track in the DAW so that it's in phase with any miked tracks. Interestingly, when I split between DI and a Sansamp, they aren't in phase either... the Sansamp is about 17 samples behind. It's always worth checking when you've multiple tracks for a source.
Yeah thanks, I try to zoom in and line up the waveforms by eye, but there's probably a more precise way to do it. I'm almost always close micing so it's usually a very small adjustment. I've noticed that even a slight out of phase can have a big impact on the bass.

I think the transformer DI adds some saturation which brings out more harmonics maybe. I just ordered the RNDI yesterday, looking forward to checking it out.
 

stevesherbert

Member
Messages
77
A Sansamp BDDI is all you need. I run my guitars through this too, and they sound great direct! I don't use the parallel out, but you can use that to get separate wet / dry tracks. I barely use any EQ or compression after recording bass tracks. Just make sure to go easy on the bass knob, as it can get real bassy real fast.
 

meterman

Member
Messages
7,883
A Sansamp BDDI is all you need. I run my guitars through this too, and they sound great direct! I don't use the parallel out, but you can use that to get separate wet / dry tracks. I barely use any EQ or compression after recording bass tracks. Just make sure to go easy on the bass knob, as it can get real bassy real fast.
Thanks for reminding me, I have an original SansAmp Classic I should try. Maybe take a clean DI track and a SA track with some dirt, and then reamp out to the head/cab if needed. This sounds pretty good on its own though

 

Endr_rpm

Member
Messages
3,149
a tangent- how are you monitoring/listening to your tracks? Could be your speakers/room as well. I have Equator D5s that are a little light in the bass end, so I check that with headphones (AT MH50 series). Sometimes the sound is drastically different between the two.
 

oldhousescott

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,661
a tangent- how are you monitoring/listening to your tracks? Could be your speakers/room as well. I have Equator D5s that are a little light in the bass end, so I check that with headphones (AT MH50 series). Sometimes the sound is drastically different between the two.
A further tangent (a normal? an eigenvector?), I'll toss in my usual rec for Sonarworks Ref 4 to remove the transducers and (at least part of) the room from the equation.
 




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