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Top 10 Low End Tips

A**ttenuate Low’s Side Image*** Soothe 2 on Bass

  • How 250Hz. Affects Vocal Clarity
  • Use Varying Harmonics on Kick and Bass
  • Amplify 300-400Hz on Side Image
  • Amplify Mid Image to Create Depth
  • Boost Root Note on Kick
  • Try Simple Side-chain Compression
  • Try Complex Side-chain Compression
  • Is it Worth Cutting 20Hz?

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Attenuate Low’s Side Image

The chapters in this video are in no particular order.

This first tip is a bit simple but really helpful nonetheless, all you need to do is use a mid-side EQ on the stereo output, and on the side image, use a high-pass filter to make the lows mono. The higher the filter, the more mono the lows.

I used to say to place this around 130Hz, but that’s a bit too high, so around 80 to 100Hz is a good center for the filter.

Let’s take a listen.

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Soothe 2 on Bass

If you have the plugin soothe 2 or another similar dynamic EQ plugin, you can insert it on your bass and side-chain the kick. This way whenever the kick hits the bass is attenuated using the frequencies that the kick occupies - this is especially helpful for 808s.

Alternatively, if your kick stays the same frequency constantly, you could simply attenuate that frequency on the bass using any EQ.

Let’s listen to soothe 2 being used for this.

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How 250Hz. Affects Vocal Clarity

Low frequencies have a huge impact on higher ones due to masking - to ensure your vocal isn’t being covered up, consider how much of 200 - 300Hz is present. If your bass, synth, or other instrument has a lot of 250Hz, the vocal will be harder to hear.

Let’s amplify 250Hz on the low-end instruments, then pull it back to demonstrate how it affects the vocal’s clarity.

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Use Varying Harmonics on Kick and Bass

If your kick and bass are overlapping too much, and are hard to distinguish, use saturation on both, but with different emulation types. The more varied the harmonics formations, the more distinct each instrument will sound - to know the harmonic formation of a setting, run a sine wave through it.

Then observe the output with an analyzer - this will help you find the most variation possible.

Let’s take a listen to this technique.

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Amplify 300-400Hz on Side Image

Although 300-400Hz is considered low-mids, let’s still cover it in a chapter - in short, amplifying this range on the side image, especially on synths or guitars, has a really pleasant effect. It adds a dimension to the sound that’s hard to describe unless you hear it.

That said, let’s just take a listen to these frequencies being amplified.

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Amplify Mid Image to Create Depth

With a mid-side EQ, we can alter the mid image to create a perception of depth - by amplifying the mid image around the lows to low mids. If used too aggressively the effect will sound strange, but if used subtly on the stereo output, it works really well.

Let’s take a listen to how amplifying the lows on the mid-image creates this perception.

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Boost Root Note on Kick

Unfortunately, the kick drum’s fundamental is often out of key - granted, we don’t always notice this as a listener, but an in-key kick definitely has a more musical feel. To help remedy this, know the key of the song you’re mixing, and boost the root note on the kick.

That said, the best fix for this would be to use an in-key sample instead, so let’s listen to a mix with an out-of-key kick, and then an in-key one and see if we notice a difference.

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Try Simple Side-chain Compression

Like the first chapter, this is a well-known tip but helpful nonetheless - simply place a compressor on your bass or bass synth and key the kick as the external side-chain. Then compress with an attack of 10ms, release of 50ms, and a little lookahead if it’s available.

The kick will attenuate the bass whenever it’s present, creating more room in the lows. Let’s take a listen to this familiar technique being used.

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Try Complex Side-chain Compression

If you like simple side-chain compression, the next thing to try would be side-chain compression with a multi-band dynamics processor. The idea is the same, you place it on the bass, and side-chain the kick, but then center the compression over the lows.

For the best results, center the compression band over the kick’s fundamental frequency.

Let’s take a listen.

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Is it Worth Cutting 20Hz?

Something I’ve recommended in the past was using a high-pass filter up to about 20-25Hz on the stereo output. The idea is, that by attenuating frequencies we can’t hear, we achieve more headroom for subsequent processing - but there are some pros and cons to consider.

First up are the phase changes that this type of filter causes - which will alter the amplitude of your low frequencies. With a frequency analyzer, we can take a look at how drastically our phase is affected.

If we want to keep the phase of the low frequencies the same, we can use a linear phase setting - however, doing so causes a delay to the signal, which our DAW compensates for, which in the process attenuates our transients.

That said, whether or not this type of filter is worth it is up to what you’re prioritizing.

Let’s take a listen to the filter introduced with and without linear phase to understand how it affects the sound.

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