The perfect low end (Boomy bass)

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

MY PROBLEM
I'm mixing or mastering a song until it sounds pretty good on the Dynaudio
BM6a's and Sennheiser HD 600's in the studio, but when I hear the mix on
multimedia speakers or televisions the song all of a sudden turns out to
have a boomy low even the most bassy commercial releases don't. No amount of
equalisation, compression or spectrum analysis have helped me get a good
grip on how to deal with this. Let's say I'm working on a rap song. I put a
spectrum analyzer on the master strip or at the end of my mastering chain,
do peak and average measurements of, say Eminem which sounds OK pretty much
anywhere, then I try to compare that with my own song. Even if my song is in
the same key as the reference song, "copying" the peak and avg frequency
response of my ref can still leave me with the same problems in the low end!

MY EXAMPLE
http://boomjinx.com/music/example.mp3
Although this particular mixdown is not the worst examples I've had on this
song, I'm still not happy how the bass sounds.

MY FINDINGS
It seems to me like the unpleasant boomy area can be found somewhere between
120 and 180Hz, while things can get quite muddy if too much is going on
around 250Hz. Dropping 3-6dB at 135Hz and 3-6dB at 250Hz on the entire mix
pretty much always solve these problems for me, but that takes out too much
from the low end and lower mids. After applying this less than ideal
"quickfix" to my mix, the analyzer also shows a big drop at 120-140Hz and
250Hz when comparing to my reference songs. Considering I usually roll-off
below 115-150Hz on everything but kicks and basses, those are the only two
ingredients that seem to cause these problems in my mixes.

HELP
I am very interested in hearing your experiences dealing with or avoiding
this in the mixing and mastering process.

-BJ
15 answers Last reply
More about perfect boomy bass
  1. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    hi bj -

    i know another producer that's had problems mixing the bottom end with
    the BM6a's. so first off, i don't think those little speakers are
    telling you the whole story. (neither will the headphones.)

    sounds like you've tried referencing other stuff that you know sounds
    good on your system and tried matching it (eminem is nice for bottom -
    there are some killer erika badu tracks i reference for r&b and hiphop
    sometimes). referencing is key.

    what spectrum analyser are you using? if you're using the one from
    Waves, i think that's another problem. that thing is pretty hard to
    use for the bottom end. i have an analyser on my console that works
    fine for me. others say it's useless. i've watched so many mixes on
    it, i definitely recognize certain patterns. particularly for low
    end.

    several suggestions:

    1) sounds like you have some speakers that demonstrate the boomyness
    better than your dynaudios. i'd recommend hooking them up to your
    system as another refernce point. i mix with tannoys, ns-10's, and a
    pair of super shitty computer speakers in my mix room. (hardly use
    the soffit mounted double 15"ers.)

    2) consider getting a sub for the dynaudios. the other producer i
    know seems to have better luck since he got his. i used to mix on
    BM15A's and i always had a hard time knowing what to do with the lower
    mids on those speakers. i don't know if the BM6A's are the same. but
    having moved over to the 10" Tannoy Elipse speakers, i'm much happier.

    3) i think that a lot of the "boominess" in very small speakers shows
    up in the lower mids (280Hz - 450Hz). you might want to try cutting
    this area a little more on the big bass parts. it's easy to overwhelm
    small speakers with this range.

    4) to get more apparent bass, try mixing in some 500Hz - 600Hz.
    that's the part of the bass that can poke out the most and get heard
    across virtually all speakers systems. if you study the Eminem stuff
    you'll see that there's a good bit of upper bass that links your ear
    to the sub parts. and on the spectrum analyser you should see that
    the lowest bass is actually pretty controlled and probably doesn't hit
    above -18dB. it'll look more subdued than say a U2 rock mix. but
    it'll sound huge because of the arrangement and the way they use the
    different frequency ranges in their bass -- for example think of each
    of these in the mix: 40Hz-60Hz, 80Hz-120Hz, 280Hz - 340Hz, and 500Hz -
    600Hz. obviously, you'll need to do very different things to mix bass
    guitar than with synth stuff (synth is WAAAAAAY easier).

    i don't have much time to read the group anymore, if you have any
    questions feel free to send me an email.

    Tony Espinoza
    SF SOUNDWORKS
    www.sfsoundworks.com
    ---------------------------------------------
    Featuring the only SSL 9000 in San Francisco


    "BJ" <contact@boomjinx.com> wrote in message news:<413e310d@news.broadpark.no>...
    > MY PROBLEM
    > I'm mixing or mastering a song until it sounds pretty good on the Dynaudio
    > BM6a's and Sennheiser HD 600's in the studio, but when I hear the mix on
    > multimedia speakers or televisions the song all of a sudden turns out to
    > have a boomy low even the most bassy commercial releases don't. No amount of
    > equalisation, compression or spectrum analysis have helped me get a good
    > grip on how to deal with this. Let's say I'm working on a rap song. I put a
    > spectrum analyzer on the master strip or at the end of my mastering chain,
    > do peak and average measurements of, say Eminem which sounds OK pretty much
    > anywhere, then I try to compare that with my own song. Even if my song is in
    > the same key as the reference song, "copying" the peak and avg frequency
    > response of my ref can still leave me with the same problems in the low end!
    >
    > MY EXAMPLE
    > http://boomjinx.com/music/example.mp3
    > Although this particular mixdown is not the worst examples I've had on this
    > song, I'm still not happy how the bass sounds.
    >
    > MY FINDINGS
    > It seems to me like the unpleasant boomy area can be found somewhere between
    > 120 and 180Hz, while things can get quite muddy if too much is going on
    > around 250Hz. Dropping 3-6dB at 135Hz and 3-6dB at 250Hz on the entire mix
    > pretty much always solve these problems for me, but that takes out too much
    > from the low end and lower mids. After applying this less than ideal
    > "quickfix" to my mix, the analyzer also shows a big drop at 120-140Hz and
    > 250Hz when comparing to my reference songs. Considering I usually roll-off
    > below 115-150Hz on everything but kicks and basses, those are the only two
    > ingredients that seem to cause these problems in my mixes.
    >
    > HELP
    > I am very interested in hearing your experiences dealing with or avoiding
    > this in the mixing and mastering process.
    >
    > -BJ
  2. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    BJ wrote:

    > while things can get quite muddy if too much is going on around
    > 250Hz. Dropping 3-6dB at 135Hz and 3-6dB at 250Hz on the entire mix
    > pretty much always solve these problems for me, but that takes out
    > too much from the low end and lower mids.

    This took a fair amount of time to investigate, thank you for including
    an example with the question.

    The low midrange, i.e. around 250 Hz, is the loudness perception area,
    which means that lowering it will lead to the perception that the bass
    as well as the upper midrange is elevated.

    Try using a small membrane omni on the kickdrum, the small Behringer
    measurement mic may or may not do just fine, and a pair of those could
    come in handy for you anyway.

    > I am very interested in hearing your experiences dealing with or avoiding
    > this in the mixing and mastering process.

    Having loudspeakers with a useful response down to 30 Hz helps, you
    might want to look into adding stereo subwoofers and verify the actual
    system response in the listening position.

    > -BJ


    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen

    --
    *******************************************
    * My site is at: http://www.muyiovatki.dk *
    *******************************************
  3. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    In article <413e310d@news.broadpark.no> contact@boomjinx.com writes:

    > I'm mixing or mastering a song until it sounds pretty good on the Dynaudio
    > BM6a's and Sennheiser HD 600's in the studio, but when I hear the mix on
    > multimedia speakers or televisions the song all of a sudden turns out to
    > have a boomy low even the most bassy commercial releases don't.

    Go to your room! (and fix the dip in the low end response there) And then
    get lots and lots of listening experience and mix your project again.

    Both well made commercial recordings and your own recordings sound good
    in your room, but, when taken out of that environment, the commercial
    recording still sounds good, yet yours has a problem (at least you're
    able to identify the nature of that problem. This is a good illustration of
    how a contemporary mastering engineer justifies his fee. One of the goals
    of mastering today is to make a recording that may have been mixed in
    an inaccurate monitoring environment sound good anywhere.

    A mastering environment is extremely accurate, where your room has a
    fair amount of ambiguity - there's some room for slop where you can turn
    a control one way or the other and, while you may be able to hear the
    effect of turning that control, it's kind a judgement call on your part as to
    just what's right. In the mastering environment (and with a skilled
    engineer at the controls) there really is only one right setting, and he
    finds it. Actually there are a bunch of things that go together to give a
    recording the quality that makes it sound, while not identical, at least
    well balanced under any reasonable listening conditoins. That's what
    your project is lacking.


    --
    I'm really Mike Rivers (mrivers@d-and-d.com)
    However, until the spam goes away or Hell freezes over,
    lots of IP addresses are blocked from this system. If
    you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring
    and reach me here: double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo
  4. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    tony espinoza wrote:

    > 3) i think that a lot of the "boominess" in very small speakers
    > shows up in the lower mids (280Hz - 450Hz). you might want to
    > try cutting this area a little more on the big bass parts.

    He has cut it 6 dB too much already.

    > it's easy to overwhelm small speakers with this range.

    It is more likely that the problem is that it is not easy to overwhelm
    those small Dynaudio boxes with anything, they just do it, except that
    they don't reproduce the 65 Hz hump of his mix in his room OR just
    reproduce it without agony while what other small stuff he listens on
    reproduces it with agony.

    > 4) to get more apparent bass, try mixing in some 500Hz - 600Hz.

    Classic 2" midrange horns start getting usable at 500 Hz. Would you like
    to revise your statement or do you want it flak'ed as it is .... O;-)

    > that's the part of the bass that can poke out the most and get heard
    > across virtually all speakers systems.

    His mix already has too much 65 Hz, that is why it sounds boomy on a
    wide range system.

    What we appear to agree unreservedly on is that he needs a subwoofer for
    each loudspeaker.


    > Tony Espinoza


    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen

    --
    *******************************************
    * My site is at: http://www.muyiovatki.dk *
    *******************************************
  5. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    BJ,

    > It seems to me like the unpleasant boomy area can be found somewhere
    between 120 and 180Hz, while things can get quite muddy if too much is going
    on around 250Hz. Dropping 3-6dB at 135Hz and 3-6dB at 250Hz ... <

    Aside from problems specific to those speakers, your room is surely the main
    offender.

    All small rooms have numerous peaks and deep nulls that riddle the entire
    bass range, and their frequency varies depending on where you are in the
    room while mixing. You didn't say anything about your room, but it's obvious
    your mix position is in a deep null. You need bass traps to solve this.
    Otherwise, you're doomed forever to guess what's really going on in the bass
    range.

    --Ethan
  6. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    BJ wrote:
    > MY EXAMPLE
    > http://boomjinx.com/music/example.mp3
    > Although this particular mixdown is not the worst examples I've had on this
    > song, I'm still not happy how the bass sounds.

    I think the sample sounds very good, but I agree there is a bit too much
    around 200-300 Hz. I took out 2 dB around 200 Hz and added 1.5 dB at
    around 5000 Hz to make it sound a bit brighter. Sounded better :)

    Johann
    --
    Begebe dich zu einen Spiegel, ich weiss das du zu einen Nachbarn gehen
    musst, weil du Spiegel nicht magst. Schaue einmal kurz rein (bitte nicht
    erschrecken) und du wirst erkennen, was "introvertiert" ist. (*Tönnes in
    <3E96A12F.1090603@uni.de>)
  7. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    First of all, let me say thank you _all_ for your replies.

    > It is more likely that the problem is that it is not easy to overwhelm
    > those small Dynaudio boxes with anything, they just do it,

    I've been thinking the exact same thing. Although BM6a's and HD 600's are
    pretty accurate, their accuracy and abillity to reproduce sound well also
    makes it harder to identify the problems multimedia speakers and televisions
    reveal.

    > His mix already has too much 65 Hz, that is why it sounds boomy on a
    > wide range system.

    This is where I get just a little bit confused. 60Hz is, in my experience,
    one of the few "safe areas" in the low end. When I play a song with Windows
    MediaPlayer and adjust the simple graphic EQ while listening on TV at home,
    I rarely get more or less problems with the low end when increasing or
    decreasing 60Hz. 125 and 250Hz is a completely different story. Is 65Hz a
    particular area to watch if a mix has a low end?

    > What we appear to agree unreservedly on is that he needs a subwoofer for
    > each loudspeaker.

    Unfortunately this year's budget is spent, but I will put a sub on my
    wishlist for next year.

    Today's session left me with a mix that sounds reasonably well "everywhere",
    in the studio as well as at home, but composing, producing, mixing and
    mastering everything on your own leaves you kind of deaf to your own music.

    http://boomjinx.com/music/dark-0.mp3

    If you hear room for improvement... I'm all ears!

    -BJ
  8. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    << This is where I get just a little bit confused. 60Hz is, in my experience,
    one of the few "safe areas" in the low end. When I play a song with Windows
    MediaPlayer and adjust the simple graphic EQ while listening on TV at home,
    I rarely get more or less problems with the low end when increasing or
    decreasing 60Hz. >>

    That's because you can't hear what you're doing to the 60Hz on your TV. It's
    just not being reproduced, but you can certainly screw things up by adding 60Hz
    since its effect is going unnoticed on your TV speakers. There are no "safe"
    frequencies. You have to be aware of, & able to monitor all frequencies.


    Scott Fraser
  9. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    "ScotFraser" <scotfraser@aol.com> wrote in message
    > That's because you can't hear what you're doing to the 60Hz on your TV.
    It's
    > just not being reproduced, but you can certainly screw things up by adding
    60Hz
    > since its effect is going unnoticed on your TV speakers. There are no
    "safe"
    > frequencies. You have to be aware of, & able to monitor all frequencies.

    I see your point, but that's not what I mean. Even though multimedia
    speakers and televisions don't reproduce 60Hz in any reliable form, these
    are after all the systems that reveal the problems I bring home from the
    systems that do. Boosting 60Hz on a mix in the studio, both monitors and
    headphones will deal with that pretty well and fool me into thinking I'm
    having lots of sweet sub bass going on in my mix. I have to take one step
    back and keep multimedia speakers and televisions in mind, or obessively
    read analyzers not to overdo it. So... When I boost 60Hz playing a mix at
    home I don't seem to create these problems, but I definately get a bigger,
    non-boomy bass.

    Also, I've heard some really good mixes with enormous amounts of activity in
    the 50-60Hz area that don't suffer from any kind of boominess. BT's Tao of
    the Machine featuring The Roots is a perfect example of that, and this mix
    sounds rockin' on any system I've played it on. This is one of the reasons I
    believe the problem area is somewhere between 125 and 250Hz.

    -BJ
  10. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    In article <413f5625@news.broadpark.no>, BJ <contact@boomjinx.com> wrote:
    >
    >I see your point, but that's not what I mean. Even though multimedia
    >speakers and televisions don't reproduce 60Hz in any reliable form, these
    >are after all the systems that reveal the problems I bring home from the
    >systems that do. Boosting 60Hz on a mix in the studio, both monitors and
    >headphones will deal with that pretty well and fool me into thinking I'm
    >having lots of sweet sub bass going on in my mix. I have to take one step
    >back and keep multimedia speakers and televisions in mind, or obessively
    >read analyzers not to overdo it. So... When I boost 60Hz playing a mix at
    >home I don't seem to create these problems, but I definately get a bigger,
    >non-boomy bass.

    You are boosting a huge range when you use that filter. It's centered on
    60 Hz, but it's very wide so there are many effects two or three octaves
    above.

    >Also, I've heard some really good mixes with enormous amounts of activity in
    >the 50-60Hz area that don't suffer from any kind of boominess. BT's Tao of
    >the Machine featuring The Roots is a perfect example of that, and this mix
    >sounds rockin' on any system I've played it on. This is one of the reasons I
    >believe the problem area is somewhere between 125 and 250Hz.

    If you are having trouble in that area, I would start looking for problems
    both in your tracking room and in your monitoring room.
    --scott
    --
    "C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  11. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    "Scott Dorsey" <kludge@panix.com> wrote in message
    news:chnl5p$di6$1@panix2.panix.com...
    > In article <413f5625@news.broadpark.no>, BJ <contact@boomjinx.com> wrote:
    > >
    > >I see your point, but that's not what I mean. Even though multimedia
    > >speakers and televisions don't reproduce 60Hz in any reliable form, these
    > >are after all the systems that reveal the problems I bring home from the
    > >systems that do. Boosting 60Hz on a mix in the studio, both monitors and
    > >headphones will deal with that pretty well and fool me into thinking I'm
    > >having lots of sweet sub bass going on in my mix. I have to take one step
    > >back and keep multimedia speakers and televisions in mind, or obessively
    > >read analyzers not to overdo it. So... When I boost 60Hz playing a mix at
    > >home I don't seem to create these problems, but I definately get a
    bigger,
    > >non-boomy bass.
    >
    > You are boosting a huge range when you use that filter. It's centered on
    > 60 Hz, but it's very wide so there are many effects two or three octaves
    > above.

    Maybe you're right, but it doesn't sound that way. Maybe I should run some
    A/B analysis on that by recording what I play internally, then try to
    reproduce the range and effect with a quality parametric EQ in the mastering
    process.
  12. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    In article <413f5c3c@news.broadpark.no>, BJ <contact@boomjinx.com> wrote:
    >"Scott Dorsey" <kludge@panix.com> wrote in message
    >news:chnl5p$di6$1@panix2.panix.com...
    >> In article <413f5625@news.broadpark.no>, BJ <contact@boomjinx.com> wrote:
    >> >
    >> >I see your point, but that's not what I mean. Even though multimedia
    >> >speakers and televisions don't reproduce 60Hz in any reliable form, these
    >> >are after all the systems that reveal the problems I bring home from the
    >> >systems that do. Boosting 60Hz on a mix in the studio, both monitors and
    >> >headphones will deal with that pretty well and fool me into thinking I'm
    >> >having lots of sweet sub bass going on in my mix. I have to take one step
    >> >back and keep multimedia speakers and televisions in mind, or obessively
    >> >read analyzers not to overdo it. So... When I boost 60Hz playing a mix at
    >> >home I don't seem to create these problems, but I definately get a
    >bigger,
    >> >non-boomy bass.
    >>
    >> You are boosting a huge range when you use that filter. It's centered on
    >> 60 Hz, but it's very wide so there are many effects two or three octaves
    >> above.
    >
    >Maybe you're right, but it doesn't sound that way. Maybe I should run some
    >A/B analysis on that by recording what I play internally, then try to
    >reproduce the range and effect with a quality parametric EQ in the mastering
    >process.

    Try playing with a parametric EQ and seeing how things sound when you make
    the filter wider and narrower. Typical console EQ is wide enough to drive
    a truck through, which is why having a parametric module in the console is
    such a nice thing.
    --scott
    --
    "C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  13. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    BJ wrote:

    > I believe the problem area is somewhere between 125 and 250Hz.

    I stand by what I posted. I know it is correct because I investigated
    what it would take to fix your mix and make it work on a system with
    good response to 30 Hz by doing just that.

    A single sub can not reproduce out of phase LF and thus not tell you
    whether out of phase LF is a problem with some recording some day and it
    will sound unnaturally dry on recordings with a real stereo image in the
    bass range.

    > -BJ


    Kind regards

    Peter Larsen

    --
    *******************************************
    * My site is at: http://www.muyiovatki.dk *
    *******************************************
  14. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    << Also, I've heard some really good mixes with enormous amounts of activity in
    the 50-60Hz area that don't suffer from any kind of boominess. >>

    Yes, & it's usually by clearing out some space in the next octave above.

    <<BT's Tao of
    the Machine featuring The Roots is a perfect example of that, and this mix
    sounds rockin' on any system I've played it on. This is one of the reasons I
    believe the problem area is somewhere between 125 and 250Hz.>>

    Yes, although 125 to 250 is a fairly big region. I find much of what muddies a
    mix in the presence of true low bass to be in the 140 to 180 range, sometimes
    up into 200 to 225. All depends on the harmonic structure of your bass
    instruments.

    Scott Fraser
  15. Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

    BJ wrote:
    > I am very interested in hearing your experiences dealing with or avoiding
    > this in the mixing and mastering process.

    I didn't manage to download the song, but here's my experience:

    1. If the song is poorly arranged or the bass sounds are not good,
    the end result will be no good, no matter what.

    1. If the song is poorly arranged or the bass sounds are not good,
    the end result will be no good, no matter what.

    2. I find EVERYTHING between 20 Hz and 8000 Hz matters.

    3. Addendum to 2: ANYTHING with low frequency content (<500 Hz)
    affects bass, this includes kick, bass, keyboards, (male) vocals,
    double bass, celli, low-tuned guitars, etc.

    4. Cut low end (sub 80 - 120 Hz) from tracks that do not really need
    lots of bass. This will help the rest of them to cut through.

    5. It's very easy to cut way too much around 200 - 300 Hz. (This is
    what I find many mastering engineers are often guilty of.) You'll
    end up with a harsh overall sound.

    6. It's stupidly easy to boost too much at 50 - 70 Hz. Especially
    if you don't have speakers that extend to way below it. But there
    NEEDS to be enough of it if you're dealing with hip hop or electro
    or whatever.

    7. I often find some added 80 Hz is nice on bass if it's going
    to be played in clubs, but you may have to cut at 50 - 70 or
    100 - 250 to compensate.

    8. Often, rule 7 is partially or completely wrong. Ears come in
    handy here.

    9. Make sure you don't have similar "EQ curves" on both kick and bass.

    10. Sometimes boosting as high as around 2 - 6 kHz may result
    in more defined bass (it's weird how our ears & brains work
    with harmonics).

    Sometimes I buss both kick and bass to a compressor (typically
    a Manley VoxBox) and set it to kill and mix that signal with
    the uncompressed one.

    Plus everything everyone else said about monitors and room.
    If you can't hear the bass, you can't mix it. If you are
    mixing for "big listening", you'll need propear speakers
    and preferably also a sub.

    Timo
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