the sub bass mix recipe [headphones disaster]

I was in recording school one day and our prof. was telling us about making headphone mixes using stereo auxes on the console.

He said a little thing in passing but it turned out to be the most valuable part of the whole lecture.

What he said was,

"when you're putting bass guitar in everybody's headphone mix, keep it way down at first, because bass eats up so much headroom you won't be able to get their vocals loud enough."

Nobody else in class reacted but this hit me like a bolt of lightning straight to the brains.

I had already spent two or three years making half-crap headphones mixes of beats on my MPC and always having them come out totally wack.

I blurted out, "YOU NEVER TOLD US THAT!"

He looked at me like, what?

I said,

"You never told us that bass eats up all the headroom, that explains EVERYTHING!"

He played it off legit and just said,

"Yup, gotta think about this stuff."

Don't worry about the physics of why bass is like that -- this is the secret to everything you need to know about mixing your low end.

When you keep your bass sounds lower in the mix, and when you carve out space for them to sit together without fighting against each other, your music becomes open and spacious, with low end power that drops RIDICULOUS bass pressure through the speakers.

And that's what everybody wants when they play electronic music. They don't want to know why, it's just, "GIVE IT TO ME!"

ANALOGY
Think of partner-dancing.  Tango.  On a small dance floor with 40 couples trying to move, all cramped and annoyed, lots of bumping into each other, stepping on each other's toes, etc.

That's like having no headroom left in your mix.

But with fewer couples on a larger dance floor, everyone has space to move around, spin, twirl, look great, and dance with total expression unlimited.

You might not be into dancing but when it comes to the headroom in your mix bus, I KNOW you want to get more space for your bass to drop and absolutely CRUSH the subwoofer sound pressure levels.

Fork spam,
Steve

Steve Knots

mixitecture, Pittsburgh, PA

seriously, as soon as I find out how to delete this author bio from the blog, it's gonna be gone.  mixitecture is not about me, it's about YOU and how you get the sound you want from Ableton.  Thanks for your visit.