REFERENCE YOUR RHYTHMS
To ensure your composite bass sound works in the context of your entire track, you should constantly monitor the interaction between your midrange bass layers and drums, as this relationship defines your overall groove. Solo each track with your bass to see where things lie, making sure that low frequencies and other rhythms don’t block the groove’s ‘conversation’, or clash with your sub elements in the mix.
Speaking of frequency conflicts, apply EQ or filters with one eye on a spectrum analyser, so you can inspect your low-end interactions. When producing bass-heavy genres such as drum ’n’ bass, I like to keep the kick, breaks and percussive elements away from the sub bass range at all times, by removing anything uneccesary below 100Hz. This ensures a smooth, clutter-free mix.
KEEP IT ROLLING
Switching up synth tones and modulation amounts on the separate layers can shape things in a variety of ways. You can do this by dialling in different rates of modulation for each layer, ensuring different notes have different rates of modulation, and altering volume from one note to another. All this can be done by automating instrument parameters, or by calling up new effects. As an example, try varying your bass after the second drop by introducing a new oscillator into your sub or mid splits, while modulating a tremolo effect at a faster or slower rate; at the same time, try subtly adding more reverb and chorus to the top splits. The possibilities are endless here, and will give your bass evolution and movement. Apply this approach throughout the course of a track – mix up timbre shifts and automation sweeps at key sections for next-level variation.