Side-Chaining the Bass Frequencies (Using Frequency Cross-Overs)

Well, its been a long time since I’ve last posted an audio article. But, I recently ran into a situation where I was mixing a track for a client and I was having problems getting the kick and bass to work together. So, I had to dive into my bag of mixing techniques till I found the solution that I was looking for. I’ve known this approach for a while, but I didn’t need to use it too often, until now…duh duhhh DUHHHHHHH. Keep in mind, there are many techniques you can use to getting a specific result, but each one has its own special place and time. Here’s a little intro into the situation.

I had mixed the kick group together and I was level matching it with the bass. Once, I got the levels right, I noticed that there was a lot of masking happening in the low frequency area. So, I pulled out the ol’ EQ and tried to carve out space for each instrument to sit in. I was eventually able to achieve a decent result. But still, it wasn’t good enough. So then I decided to side-chain the bass so that it ducks every time the kick plays. But, I didn’t like that the bass rifts kept getting covered up (due to the side-chain). So here’s the technique that I used to fix this problem.

First, I duplicated the bass 3 times, keeping them at the same volume. I then inserted an EQ on each one. At that point, I then created frequency crossover points between the 3 tracks. The first bass track had a low pass filter (6 dB slope) placed at around 250 Hz. The second bass contained a band pass filter, which I created using a combination of a LPF and HPF, starting at 250 Hz and ending at 950 Hz (also with a 6 dB slope). Finally, for the last bass track, I put a high pass filter (you guessed it…6 dB slope) placed at 950 Hz. Now, each of these bass tracks have their own frequency ranges to which you can manipulate individually.

From that point, I only side-chained the low frequency bass track so that it ducked every time the kick hits. Meanwhile, the bass’ mids stayed intact and continued to cut through the mix.

PROBLEM SOLVED!

However, you might be wondering why I split it into 3 crossover points instead of 2, if I only side-chained the low frequency bass track. Good question!

I wanted to get some crispy high end out of the bass, so I put some saturation on the high frequency bass track. In addition, I also used a mid/side stereo enhancer, to which I experimented by taking out the mid band and enhancing the side band. The kick seemed to punch through a little better, but I didn’t like how it sounded for this specific genre. The point is, you have much more space for experimentation to give you what you’re looking for. Feel free to experiment and try new things which each band and remember….you’re not only limited to side-chaining.

If you’re interested to see some more, feel free to check out these links that I provided underneath.

Happy Mixing!