For a mix to sound really powerful, the bass has to stay at a steady level. Most basses inherently have notes that are louder or softer than others, depending upon where they are played on the neck of the instrument. This is especially noticeable on a bass played with a pick instead of fingers. In this video I am going to show you how to keep the level virtually the same throughout the song by using a compressor or limiter. First of all, let's listen to the bass by itself. (music playing) Now in this case we can hear some distortion coming from the amplifier because that's all we have; we don't have a direct channel, but that's okay.
We won't hear that too much in the mix, so it won't matter at all. Not only do we hear distortion, but there are a few notes that are lower or louder in the mix. So what we want to do is even that out so they're all about the same. Let's insert the limiter. (music playing) Now just like we did with the drums, we would with this limiter to make the bass breathe with the track. So what we are going to do is we are going to take the attack as slow as it can go and the release as fast as it can go, and we will work at it from there.
(music playing) Now once again the idea here is, bring the attack back until the transient begins to get cut off and then stop right there. Now let's listen to it when the attack is too fast. (music playing) Obviously, that's not a good sound, so let's come back to where it should just about work.
(music playing) Pretty good. Now let's bring the release back, so it makes the feel as if the bass is breathing with the track. (music playing) Now there is an awful lot of compression-- that's about 12 dB--so we are going to back that off, so we just have a few.
(music playing) Now usually that's enough to just make everything sound a little more consistent, but what we want is to make it sound rock solid. So one of the ways we do that is we raise the compression ratio. Right now it's about 3 to 1, which is fairly timid. Let's bring this up to about 10 to 1 or so. (music playing) And one of the things that happens is, as soon as we go past 10 to 1, this now becomes a limiter. The only difference between a compressor and a limiter is the ratio.
Anything above 10 to 1 considered a limiter. Other than that, they are basically the same plug-in. They are the same device. So now let's bring the threshhold down. (music playing) Now the idea right here is we want to have plenty of compression, and the only reason why we want that is we want the level to be the same.
Now what we are going to do is we are going to raise the gain so it's the same as without the compressor. If we bypass it, here is what it sounds like. (music playing) It's quite a bit louder. (music playing) There we go. Now let's listen to it with the drums, because that's where you can really hear the difference.
(music playing) So to sum it up, the more even the bass is in the mix the more powerful the entire mix will sound. This is accomplished with the compressor--sometimes set up as a limiter--at the ratio of 10 to 1 or more.
Remember, the more wild the peaks are, the higher the Ratio control needs to be to keep the bass steady in the mix. (music playing)
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