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why is it that soundmen feel the need to compress the bass sound for a recording?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by clanner, Oct 31, 2005.

  1. clanner

    clanner Token Black Guy.

    Apr 27, 2005
    ummmmm, marietta GA
    my band just recieved our demo and i'm kind of dissapointed in all but one song. our sponsors recorded it for free (3 songs)

    the bass being equal with the guitar in volume id essentil to our sound and it didn;t get mixed very loudly on the recordings. the only way I have found to actually increase the bass volume is to get a sub attached to the computer, in which case it doesn't really help for trying to promote on the road or at school with a boom box, even if it has bass boost.

    why is it that they decided to suck out my low-end?
  2. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Actually, compression may not be your problem. It may be related to what kind of studio monitors they used for the mixdown. If they used speakers that reproduce bass really well, they may have turned it down for a balance in those monitors. Then, when you go to play the demo through your 2-inch computer speakers, they don't have the oomph to produce the bass at the same level, necessitating the computer's subwoofer. Try playing the demo through a good home stereo system, or even in your car.

    On the other hand, compression and peak stops can be used during digital recording to keep you out of the red. Once you go even a skosh above 0 dB in digital recording, you're screwed, and there is no resurrection. So compression can be used to keep you in a recordable dynamic range.

    Those are my stories, and I'm sticking with one of them. Your choice.
  3. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    One of two things happened: they mixed the tracks on a bass heavy monitoring setup, which caused them to drop the volume of the bass track because they thought it was too loud. Or they decided to make your band sound like every other band in existence and mix the bass to nearly 0.

    Moral of the story, never, ever let someone else mix your tracks for you. Other moral of the story - you get what you pay for.
  4. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    That's not the moral.

    The real moral is don't judge the sound by how it sounds in your computer of boom box. Try a good stereo.
  5. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    When recording, compression is a bass player's best friend. It won't take you down in the mix, it enables you to be brought up and can give you more presence . . . if used correctly, of course.
  6. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    I agree with Munji's reply. Ideally, a professional studio should have speakers that give the flattest possible response as monitors for mixing. In my experience, mixing in the studio isn't about how "cool" the song sounds, but how "balanced" is the mix. Having bass-heavy speakers as monitors in a recording studio is a big mistake IMO.

    Anyway, what I do after having a work supposedly well mixed in the studio is burning a copy of the mix onto CD and try to play it in the widest variety of sources I can: Home stereo, car, discman... and if I feel unhappy I return to the studio and tell the engineer about that for him/her to fix it.

    Also, as Eric said, compression is supposed to be the bassist's best friend at the recording studio, since engineers are very pricky with the "clipping" red led and try to avoid at all costs that it starts blinking (not even once and for a brief time). The purpose of compression in the studio is give you the maximum volume in the mix without clipping, aside from evening your playing's dynamic range.
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    The converse can also happen. If the studio monitors have poor bass response, it may lead someone to crank the bass during mixdown so it sounds good. Then, when the CD is put into something with respectable bass response, the bass overpowers.