Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
UstadKhanAli

Too much bass after mastering

Recommended Posts

So my band sent our songs to a mastering engineer. Got the Reference CD back last night, and it's balanced, full-sounding, all that.

 

But the bass - particularly some of the lower notes in the bass guitar - seems accentuated by the compression. Some of the lower notes really ring out like never before.

 

Now, to be fair, some of the bass that we recorded were screwed up and I did the best I could to salvage it, but it is what it is.

 

But regardless, I never had the low notes pop out like that before, and yes, I had even mixed with a gain optimization program (Max DUY) on the Master Fader, taking it off before bouncing to disk.

 

Strange. I'm going out to the desert for a couple of days, starting this afternoon, and what I'll do is drive around and listen to it a few times and gain more perspective.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Lee Knight

Have you taken your room out of the equation yet? Headphones?

 

Speaking of 'rooms'. I have a Ford Focus with a factory stereo voiced for 'urban' music, that is, bass in yo face, boyee!!!!

 

Anyway, with hip hop and rap it just sounds great. You can feel the kick in your chest (when it's cranked) without a loss of clarity (that's with the eq flat). On the other hand when listening to anything else from rock to talk, I have to reduce the bass by a couple notches or I get crazy resonance which makes everything sound like mud.

 

This actually works to my advantage as I have yet to hear a more bass-hyped system (other than club PAs) and if it is somewhat clear in the car, I knwo it's good to go (from a bass perspective anyway).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, I haven't done taken my room out of the question yet I played it once on my boom box in the kitchen, and then another time in my car.

 

But the low notes of the bass didn't leap out before on either of these two things.

 

And neither the car or the boombox oddly accentuate other music like that, so that's why I'm concerned. But as I said, I'm gonna sit on this for a little while so I feel like I can fully evaluate it.

 

This is surprising since I've had stuff mastered before, and if anything, the bottom end was "smoother", the resonances more tamed. So this comes as a bit of a surprise.

 

Maybe somehow all that "squishing" from mastering is somehow accentuating the low notes....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd compare your Mastered Final to other commercial releases with a spectrum analyzer to see if your guy got it wrong. Har Bal is good to use for analyzing as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had even mixed with a gain optimization program (Max DUY) on the Master Fader, taking it off before bouncing to disk

 

I bet your ME loved that.....

NOT!!!!!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well Ken....this is why I'm such a fan of Har-Bal. I'd say 85% of why I use it is to smooth out resonances below 120 Hz or so. It makes a huge difference in low end "transportability" of the mix.

 

You might want to look at the mastered version through a spectrum analyzer and see if the low end has average smooth distribution of energy, or it looks like the Manhattan skyline.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by where02190



I bet your ME loved that.....

NOT!!!!!!!!!

 

Nick, I wrote:

 

"I had even mixed with a gain optimization program (Max DUY) on the Master Fader, taking it off before bouncing to disk."

 

In other words, i sent the mix through the Max DUY just to see what it would sound like heavily "gain-optimized" so I could kinda hear what was happening, and then I took it off before bouncing the mix to disk (mixing down, in other words).

 

I wouldn't submit a mix to an ME that was already "pre-squished".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well... I got tired of hearing about this hairball thing so I bought myself a copy. (After reading this thread.)

 

It's... interesting. :D

 

I'm doing the reading, now.

 

My first pass with the 'intuit EQ' thing (on an old mix I already thought was pretty good) produced unnoticeable changes, which I guess is good so I threw a 'difficult' mix at it, a straght-out-the-outputs General MIDI mix of Harlem Nocturne (a pretty decent Soundfont set, about 90mB, but 16 bit, and all, and, you know, straight out the GM module [well, an old SB Live in my old desktop] with no groovy outboard gear or even plugins.

 

And there, the results were more noticeable, for sure. As someone elsewhere I think said, the 'intuit' function is perhaps more educational that usably corrective. Clearly, the place to fix things is in the mix... or what passed for it. (It was one of those saturday afternoon, idle hands projects, you know. I stumbled on a great MIDI transcription of what sounds like the Viscounts arrangement of Harlem Nocturne and thought, I wonder how good I could make this sound just by putting together a good GM set? Anyhow.)

 

Anyhow, the suggested fix ended up making the guitar sound more like a an electronic harpsichord and wasn't always kind to the sax (these are GM sounds, mind you) ... but it DID clearly illustrate what, er, harmonic balance-wise, was wrong with the mix. I still liked the original mix better because making a nice forest kind of wrecked the trees...

 

But it having the sonic 'preview' was pretty illustrative. And if I was actually working on that track, I would certainly go back to the mix and see if I couldn't get it to work out more like what Har-Bal came up with in its 'remastering.'

 

Very interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>

 

Hey Blue... I'd skip that whole intuit deal. That is new and I think it's not the direction they should be going. Just don't use it.

 

I suggest you rip a tune you like the overall sound of and study the curve. Then play with superimposing that curve against your tune for education. Then try cutting some obvious problem frequencies...

 

...you'll soon get the gist. Intuit is sketchy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It wasn't why I bought it. I would be highly suspect of any product (even with the endorsement of you my trusted friends :D ) the sole intended purpose of which was to in some way 'automatically' fix your mix EQ.

 

But, you can bet, that's gonna be the the very first thing I check out, no question about it. Hey, you know, it's easy to push the button if you're putting off reading the docs. (It doesn't help that whoever wrote the documentation was obviously worried that the world was running out of paragraph breaks and he'd better use them very sparyingly. And if I'm saying that... think about it. :D )

 

Admittedly, I was hoping for something a little sexier in the plotting dept, but what they give you is really pretty useful. (It kills me that someplace along the line I had a sweet little 3D topo map that was very good for spotting troubles. I think it was part of Cool Edit 96 -- but really it's lost in the haze of time.)

 

 

But I do have to say -- the 'intuit' mode gave me something to think about -- even if I didn't like how it turned out. I'll definitely be toying with it more.

 

For me, it takes a while to get a sense of the sound and quality of an EQ. When someone says of an EQ plug or device, "I could tell it was a great EQ right off the top." I think to myself, they think they've got a lot better ears than I know I've got. (Then, my ears have been through a serious lot. Almost everybody's got better hardware than I have.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by UstadKhanAli



Nick, I wrote:


"I had even mixed with a gain optimization program (Max DUY) on the Master Fader,
taking it off
before bouncing to disk."


In other words, i sent the mix through the Max DUY just to see what it would sound like heavily "gain-optimized" so I could kinda hear what was happening, and then I took it off before bouncing the mix to disk (mixing down, in other words).


I wouldn't submit a mix to an ME that was already "pre-squished".

 

Correct you are, my apologies.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

UstadKhanAli, Did you take the original mixes to a reputable ME?

 

Not to be cruel but there are a lot of people with some software based limiters, like MAXIM and MasterX claiming to be MEs because they can make things loud.

 

That said - for the future, make sure you are dealing with low-end in your mixes by using High Pass Filtering on instruments that do not need the lower frequencies.

 

In pop/rock/metal type mixes this would mean putting HPFs on things like the guitars, drum oveheads, high-hat, keys, vocals. You would need to tune the filter to the point that leaves the "essence" of that particular track while cleaning up the mud range and bottom end.

 

I run HPFs on most everything including bass, but you need to have monitoring that reproduces the low frequencies acurately.

 

Hope that helps, Oh and if the ME you used is a friend, this was not meant to be a cut on him/her, its just such a common occurence in the industry today. - Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by BandProfit

UstadKhanAli, Did you take the original mixes to a reputable ME?

...

 

So there's this guy in a big white Cadillac filled with kids in the parking lot outside the Sam Ash when I come out and he says, "Psst, buddy -- you want some mastering done, real cheap? I just got laid off by my studio and I gotta make the rent. I got the mastering tools right here in my trunk.... a little hammering and spraying and that mix will look as good as new..."

 

 

:D;):D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Headbanger



:confused:
What is that ?

 

Har-Bal (Hair-Ball :D) is...well, I'll let them explain it:

 

"This superior method of EQ'ing and harmonic balancing gives Har-Bal it's distinction as the premiere spectrum analyzer for the most important step in the CD mastering process. It truly separates an amateur recording from a professional recording and removes the need to test your CD's on different systems and environments.

 

In addition, unlike a typical digital equalizer, Har-Bal leaves the initial volume level unchanged even after performing spectral correction thanks to its "loudness compensation" technology.

 

Har-Bal allows you to easily tidy up the sound quality of mastered or un-mastered recordings while preserving the original intent of the producer and/or recording engineer. Our newly created algorithm named IntuitQ allows Har-Bal to predict Optimal EQ without using any reference files. It analyzes your track and designs a harbalized filter that is near perfect."

 

http://www.har-bal.com/

 

Craig mentioned this because he uses it and apparently gets great results from it, and also because we all had a discussion about it several years ago when his forum was on Musicplayer.com

 

I'm still waiting for a Mac version, which might be forthcoming:

 

http://www.har-bal.com/mac.php

 

"We are acutely aware that there is a large Mac user base out there that would appreciate our product and we will be addressing this issue. It is simply a matter of time. Since we are a small organization we only have limited resources and this is the main cause for delay.

 

However, we can tell you that we are scheduled to begin work on a Mac port in the 1st quarter of next year.

 

If you are in desperate need of the product now all we can suggest is purchasing a PC version and running it on a second hand PC. It will run fine on a 500MHz machine. It "doesn't" run under PC emulation on a Mac. If you do go down this route you will "NOT" have to purchase another license to run on a Mac when the Mac version becomes available because our licensing policy is that a Har-Bal license is good for all supported platforms.

 

Earle and Paavo

Har-Bal International"

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

To answer Sean, yes, I actually did send this to a reputable ME, Trevor at Mastermind. I just sent him off an email detailing my tweaks for the Reference CD. The guy is super cool, very professional, and has gotten great results on other people's CDs, so I am confident that this will ultimately come out well. He comes very highly recommended from a number of different people.

 

My surprise about the bottom end was because I've never had this happen to me before in mastering.

 

Also, to address Sean's excellent comment about high-pass filters, I actually did add a high-pass filter on everything except the bass and kick drum, and the bass is the problem in question. Everything else sounds great, but the bass just sounds boomy. And it was of course boomiest on the bass tracks that I struggled and struggled with (I also posted about this on Musicplayer.com). If I could have redone these bass tracks, I would have, but could not.

 

No, the primary problem here is the crappy bass tracks that were already boomy, lacking definition, and hard to handle, with me struggling to salvage them as best I could. And then this was greatly compounded by compression/mastering, where the bass frequencies for the bottom end in every song was somehow boosted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ken,....maybe a weird question but ,...is there a way I can get the unmastered songs and have a go at it?

 

Just to see if I can make a difference and for practise?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by blue2blue



So there's this guy in a big white Cadillac filled with kids in the parking lot outside the Sam Ash when I come out and he says, "Psst, buddy -- you want some mastering done, real cheap? I just got laid off by my studio and I gotta make the rent. I got the mastering tools right here in my trunk.... a little hammering and spraying and that mix will look as good as new..."



:D;):D

 

:D

 

And your post comes at a time right after I've finished reading Lynn Fuston's article on Chinese ribbon mics in EQ Magazine, which starts out in a similar manner: "Pssssst...hey, wanna buy a..." Interesting article, btw.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Originally posted by boosh

Ken,....maybe a weird question but ,...is there a way I can get the unmastered songs and have a go at it?


Just to see if I can make a difference and for practise?

 

Yeah, sure, PM or email with your address and I'll send you a DVD.

 

Just to let you know, I did already contact the ME with the tweaks (remember, this was the first Reference CD).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

UstadKhanAli, It sounds like you are handling the other tracks correctly ;) And I'm glad to hear you have found a good ME. They are hard to come by.

 

Bass tracks are some of the most unruly animals to deal with in a high compression environment [modern country/pop/rock/metal].

 

Some of the common ailments are extremely low end causing the compressors on the channel and the master buss to pump "without reason." The frequencies that I am talking about are usually below 40hz. These critters will not be reproducable on most monitoring systems.

 

If the bass is causing the master buss compressor to suck down - this may be the issue.

 

Because of this I always run a High pass on the bass. I now this sounds stupid, but if you listen to most great mixes the bass doesnt go all that low, it is mostly mid and low mid information that fills in the lower range of the guitars, that was chopped off by the HPFs. In my opinion this requires selective use of additive eq to get the growl and tone of the bass to pop through. And if the issue is mud range jumping out of the mix at certain times (120-280hz range resonance, or woofing) then you will probably have to find the offending frequency and notch filter it. Or if it was too poorly recorded, then you are stuck with the dreaded re:record.

 

Another issue is compression. IMHO it takes a great amount of compression to handle a bass effectively. Probably more than one would think. One of my mixing heroes Tom Lord-Alge had a great quote that says "I wish the meters [on the compressors] went all the way around" because he wanted to see how much compression he was really using!

 

He is 100% correct.

 

This amount of compression will leave you with a situation that requires a lot of fader movement.

 

This brings up another issue I have seen way too often which I call "the static fader mix." This is where people get the compression, eq and faders set and think they can forget them.

 

UstadKhanAli, It sounds like you are a knowledgable engineer so don't be offended. I realize that I am probably not telling you anything you dont already know. I thought it was worth stating for the others on the forum who may have had this problem also.

 

- Sean

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...