recording bass (help!!)

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by paulfon, Jul 20, 2008.

  1. paulfon


    Jan 12, 2007
    feeling like the biggest idiot in the world right now. but i have to ask this question:

    when you record a bass, does it have to be almost entirely inaudiable?

    seriously. i have a fender pbass, mxr di box, alesis 8 chan mixer running into either cubase or cakewalk, and i am still unable to record anything halfway decent. when i try to turn up loud enough to get a good sound it peaks and sounds distored as hell. its solid in the yellow on my mixer input and if i turn up to where its just before red its already distorting. tried compression, no luck.

    if i record and stay below the red, you can just barely, barely make out the bass. recording guitars was a breeze and the sound quality is great, but the bass is so bad i cant even put the two together.

    is this something to be solved with mastering? like keep your levels low till then? surely there is some anwser that involes me being an idiot.

    thanks for your time, any suggestions greatly appreciated.
  2. sounds like your clipping the input on your mixer or your interface try setting all your levels flat on the d.i. and adjusting your volume accordingly, your bass knob may be turned up too high on the mxr also check to make sure the color button is off if you have the m80 bass di+ that button gives you a preset eq that the bass leval might be too high.
  3. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Set your input gain so that clip lights flash when you smack a really loud note out. Anything more than that and you're liable to get distortion when you get into it.

    Don't worry about it being quiet on the way in. What you're going to do is comp it judiciously afterwards, once it's in the box. If it ever hits 0dB coming into the box, stop the take, reset your gain levels a bit lower and do it over. Control your attack, make sure it's consistent.

    Once you've got a decent take that doesn't distort (but it will be rather quiet), you're going to want to compress. For most direct bass tracks, I like to use around 6:1 to 10:1, depending on the player, with a soft knee, threshold set so that the comp doesn't touch soft notes, but brings everything else down. Attack less than 5ms, release wherever it sounds natural. This will allow you to bring up the level a TON while maintaining most of the dynamic range because of the soft knee. If your compressor plugins don't have soft knee options, go for a more conservative ratio - say, 2:1 or 3:1.
  4. sasebastian


    May 18, 2008
    New York
    You have active pickups? Sounds like you might have a dead battery in the bass.
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