Mixing Kick and Bass Without EQ

 When we think of how to mix our kick and bass, the first thing that usually comes to mind is…

how are we going to treat the extreme low-end sub frequencies?  

Although it is important to get the low-end right, I believe that that is just the tip of the iceberg for the kick and bass to live together.  We need to delve a little deeper so we can truly have a good relationship between the two.

General Problems With Kick and Bass Sounds

A lot of times inexperienced producers will end up defaulting to a kick or bass line that doesn’t have much harmonic content.  But without that harmonic content, the human brain won’t be able to pinpoint the location of the kick in a dense mix or even on smaller speakers.

So what can be done?

Sample Selection

The first thing we need to discuss is the samples that you use.

Nothing will make your kick and bass shine through more than great samples.  AMAZING Samples are the cornerstone of a healthy relationship between your kick and bass.

Let me just say that since you have already gotten your hands on my Trap Drums HQ FREE demo pack, you are already in a good position to have a good solid relationship between the kick and bass.

That said, every top producer and engineer knows the importance of high-quality samples and the importance of building your sample library.  This is why it’s not uncommon for professional engineers to replace samples (when they are mixing) with higher quality sounds.  It happens more than you would think.

Even with the FREE demo kit of Trap Drums HQ, it’s still not enough to get a REALLY good bottom end.  You have to be able to hear how the kick and bass talk to one another.

But of course having quality samples is a great starting point and will automatically give you a huge advantage.

Transients (kick)

A transient is a high amplitude, short-duration sound at the beginning of waveform.  Transients are important because they truly give a perception of how apparent a sound is.

For more 808 style kicks, they have a lot of meat built into them but more often than not they lack a “click” to them in the mid range.  That click helps your ear identify the kick in the mix.  Not only that, it helps to shape the kick and give it a little more punch.

This is the very reason why a lot of producers like to layer 808′s so they can achieve the bottom end but also have a distinct mid range as well.  So if your kick drum is mostly sub, try and take a transient shaper plugin and play with the attack and release settings.  The goal is to try and increase the transient on the kick to make it pull through the mix.

Harmonic Distortion

Now this doesn’t just need to apply to your kick and bass, but it can apply to just about anything in your mix.  That said, I find myself using this much more on the bass than the kick, but it still does occur on the kick from time to time.

With the kicks, I would rather layer samples and use transients to get the right texture.  So with the bass, I would just grab my favourite harmonic distortion/tape/saturation plugin (at this moment is the FerricTDS) and start driving it.  There is no secret technique to this; your goal is to mangle it, so it adds harmonics to the mid range.  Once I felt like I had enough mid range coming through and it didn’t take too much away from the bottom end, I would call it a day.

There are times when you give up some bass for some mid range.  If that’s the case, you could try using an EQ or sub-harmonic generator to bring back some of the low end.  If that doesn’t work then, you could try running the saturation plugin in parallel, so the original sound stays the same and the parallel sound gets mangled.  Now mix to taste!

Go and Try it Out!

What I’m trying to emphasize is that there is not only a relationship between the kick and bass but also the entire mix.  Your job is to listen and decide how to make those sounds not only work together individually but also work in the grand scheme of things.

So try the techniques I’ve described and see what works for you and your taste.  Let your ears guide you and try to trust yourself.

YouTube Video Source: How to mix KICK and BASS (+ FREE Plugin)

  • Setpro Terri

    How do you get the free plugin?

  • Cool bro,bout to watch the video and get home and have fun!

  • PCMagee

    This is great, What snare sample are you using? Is there anything out there that does a similar Job as the Ferris for Logic X users?

    • Justin Smith

      It’s been so long, I don’t remember the samples. You can use any tape plugins to get similar effects.

  • like

  • magickz

    I just found your video via YouTube. It gives me some useful insights… Thanks for that – and also for the information on your website. For this page it would be more convenient to watch the video without this slideshow module that replaces it against a photo from time to time 😉

    Now I have got to go on exploring some of your other articles. Best regards. M.

    • Justin Smith

      Awesome! Thanks for the feedback

  • Dannyboland

    i need link for plugin plz thnks.

    • Justin Smith

      Hey. There is a hyperlink in the article with the words “FerricTDS”

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