Stereo bass secrets

It’s of­ten said that bass parts should be left in mono, but this isn’t a hard and fast rule. Let’s try giv­ing our low end some stereo en­hance­ment!

Future Music - - PRODUCER’S GUIDE -

Com­mon pro­duc­tion ad­vice says to keep low-fre­quency el­e­ments in mono. In the­ory, this still rings true – low fre­quen­cies are less di­rec­tional com­pared to high fre­quen­cies, so pan­ning or widen­ing sub-200Hz el­e­ments will only serve to weaken low-end power in a mix. Yet, in spite of this, re­verb-drenched kicks and ul­tra-wide mid-range basses have been a fash­ion­able fea­ture of mod­ern elec­tronic mu­sic for a few years now. With that in mind, here are three things to con­sider when widen­ing bot­tom-heavy sounds in a mix. The se­cret is to pocket the fre­quency con­tent of your width just above the sub bass area, which gives the im­pres­sion of wide ‘bass’, but keeps ac­tual sub fre­quen­cies cen­tred.

Gen­er­ally, if your track features a pow­er­ful sub bass, keep your kick drum short and punchy to min­imise low-fre­quency con­flict in the mix. To make a small kick sound ‘big­ger’, try widen­ing the sound above roughly 150Hz with a stereois­ing plugin, or ap­ply wide re­verb.

In many mod­ern dance tracks, bass el­e­ments are washed in cav­ernous re­verb. When di­alling in bass am­bi­ence like this, high-pass-fil­ter the re­verb sig­nal at about 150-200Hz; but for best re­sults, care­fully ad­just this fil­ter’s fre­quency in the con­text of your mix.

A synth’s uni­son spread fea­ture will pan mul­ti­ple de­tuned voices to cre­ate uber-wide basses. To avoid ob­vi­ous phase can­cel­la­tion when summed to mono, by­pass the uni­son pan, then dial in your own cus­tom width by lay­er­ing a stereo synth layer (or dial in width with plug­ins).

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