useful compression settings for the bass?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by regotheamigo, Jul 30, 2006.


  1. regotheamigo

    regotheamigo Member

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    I just wanted to start recording bass for a song that I am working on, and wanted to know of some good sounding settings for the compressor. I just got a R.N.C and plan on running it direct. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Also are there any other kind of effects that can make the bass sound good, like reverb, chorus, etc?
     
  2. LSchefman

    LSchefman Supporting Member

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    I don't compress bass while recording, just when mixing, and then, only if necessary. You didn't mention whether recording your bass direct is overloading the inputs of your system.

    Basses can sound good with a bit of chorus, but usually time-based effects like reverb screw things up. You might consider fuzz, another classic bass effect.
     
  3. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Similar to what Les wrote above, I generally don't compress bass while tracking unless the signal at peaks is overloading a part of the chain.

    When I do compress during tracking, I use an RNC. The only advice I have is to be careful with the attack setting. I set it no faster than 30ms, otherwise the dynamics are lost. Be very careful where you set the threshold, go for no more than 4dbs of gain reduction. Most importantly, experiment with your own ears.
     
  4. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Can't offer any general settings because player/style/instruments vary too much to generalize. But "in general" just make it sound right to your ears - don't compress so much that notes get louder as they sustain, or that the attacks of each note get sucked up and lost, or that the bass starts to distort. If the player is able to keep relatively constant levels you won't need much compression, if any. Easy on the threshold, easy on the
    ratio (probably not more than 4:1) and really listen to the attack setting so that the attacks of each note are making it through. Too fast and they're gone. And if you using a lot of compression with a fast release setting you're likely introducing distortion, and not the good kind.

    There's a reason why you don't see a lot of bass presets. "Pop snare" is one thing, but bass has too many options.
     
  5. flatfinger

    flatfinger Member

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    Setting a compressor is not as easy as some folk like to think. Most "cookie cutter" suggestions are just that; a generalization.

    One thing to do on bass is don't get to fast on the attack and release times. ( bass freqs have long periods and you will get less than transparent results with fast attack and release times.(unless you want pumping which some folks use as an effect)).

    So 2 down and two to go!, Your ratio and threshold settings offer allot of possibilities!
    Some times if you just want a sort of limiting thing you just set the thresold to activate(there should be some sort of indicator that shows when the process is occuring) just on the hot peaks.Then adjust ratio to taste.
    If you want more of a over all smushing(a word?) of the average vs. the peaks, find out the RMS value for the signal (meters?) and set the threshold there. Again , adjust the ratio to taste.

    Those are the Quick and dirty tips.. I would suggest that you read as many articles as you can on compression, because it is a b buster when your first starting out. Better to err on the lesser side on your settings until you gain more confidence.

    I also don't suggest printing your tracks w/ anything as your painting yourself into a corner there!
    Lastly, you might want to get this http://audacity.sourceforge.net/


    Look at your wave forms before and after applying processes , you will see when you've gone to far and mangled a good .WAV !!!One good exercize is to take somthing that has a few big spikes and see what settings it takes to just remove those and leave the rest untouched.


    good luck!:rolleyes:
     
  6. tonefreak

    tonefreak Member

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    First, understand the parameters of compression like ratio, release, attack, etc.

    Then use your ears.
     
  7. elambo

    elambo Member

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    So to that affect should I be picking the color of my socks based on the sound they make? And is that why they call Hawaiian shirts "loud?"
     
  8. elambo

    elambo Member

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    THERE you go!!! :AOK
     
  9. flatfinger

    flatfinger Member

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    So what your saying is don't bother with any of the technical aspects then??
    No need to be at all analytical about whats happening after you twist those knobs?
    What exactly is wrong w/ using a graphic view of the waveform to evaluate further.

    Of course your ears are the final judge. Every thought that you might find some supreme ear candy if you explored and tried to use all the methods available??++

    Do you also argue that if you play guitar, just use your ears , don't bother with that pesky theory or learn any of those technical scaley thingys ...Right???
    Think before you approach the keyboard:nono
     
  10. elambo

    elambo Member

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    No, my point is what I said previously, NOT what you embellished. Don't put words in my mouth. :nono

    I don't see the relationship of learning guitar theory to mixing with a frequency analyzer. You might need to think before you approach the keyboard. :nono

    However, I did learn to play guitar and piano without learning theory of any kind and it's given me certain advantages over educated players. No doubt I have many more disadvantages because of this, but I'm not locked into ANY kind of learned guidelines and that can be refreshing.

    I didn't mean to get your neck hairs up, but I think, given the fact that the author of this topic is an admitted beginner, visual audio cues (there's an oxymoron of sorts) won't help him get a good bass tone.
     
  11. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    It's everything elambo said, really. I would only add that another factor is the tempo and feel of the bass line. The release time should be fast enough that the compressor is not overlapping from one note to the next. It depends on so many things , not the least of which being the sonic characteristics of the compressor itself, and sometimes it just sounds so good naked that I leave it that way and fµ©k with it later or not at all. Then again, I recorded a ballad once with huge, slow compression on bass (EDIT: fretless, a whole different animal anyway) that sounded great. It was through either a TubeTech or Daking, I forget which, but one or the other.
     
  12. elambo

    elambo Member

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    That's yet another good application of extreme compression - the consistent and forceful wall of bass. I love a bass that trails off gracefully from note to note, but there are times when a very steady tone is what you need.
     
  13. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    As in...the almighty dub and many other reggae styles (check out Shakespeare's beautifully dark, throbbing tone on Black Uhuru's 'Chill Out' disk - a personal touchstone).

    Letting attack transients through is usually crucial. With some units (like 1176s or their UAD counterparts) a fast release time (as in dimed or nearly - these Attack/Release knobs are "backwards") will actually give you a nice bit of crunch/distortion. Great for classic SVT-like grind and certain pumping rock styles.
     
  14. elambo

    elambo Member

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    Not dub exactly, at least not for me. For dub I like to create a very strong attack and emphasize it, then let the sustain ring steady. So I guess, in a sense, that's what I'm talking about, but not if we're referring to the attack specifically.

    What I was really referring to was a tone where even the attack is at the same level as the sustain. Very little decay. Ballad stuff.
    level up full... sustain... drop off... Like a long-form square wave of sorts.
     
  15. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    What we had was a very fast attack, deep compression (I believe low threshold more than high ratio) and (as I recall) a slow release. The waveform has a very quick, barely percussive front end. It fades just ever so slightly.

    It's a minor key song and the bass is slinky, velvety and slightly menacing. Like a pimp across the street as you walk by his woman. :D
     
  16. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    That could be the hippest tone description ever.

    Well done, my friend.
     

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