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Mixing Drums and Bass

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22.06.2022

Mixing drums and bass

As you know drums are the primary instruments that give groove, rhythm and serves as an essential foundation for a song. Lots of contemporary music styles are built mostly based on drums. Choosing a right drum kit for a track can bring it to the next level.

Along with the importance of percussion instruments choice, it is also very important how they are mixed with other parts of the composition in final. When complete drum kit covers full spectrum of frequencies with multiply drums, hi hats and cymbals, particular percussion instrument may interfere with another particular instrument section of a song, as a result can observe cancelation in sound of both is particular frequency range. In modern music trends this interference may often happen betwee Drum kick and Bass or Sub bass section. In current article we are going to look at the fundamentals of mixing a Drum kick and Bass line of a track explaining what may cause such issues, and giving some tips on how to avoid interference between them, and make both parts sound clean and great together.

Sidechain compression

Making a low end in your track sounding well is one of the difficult tasks of mixing. But there is a tool and technique of sidechain that allow nicely separate drum kick audio and bassline, create a smooth transition between these music parts. But in this case, speaking of separation, we mean conditional separation, which means that each element must be well listened to and at the same time must flow smooth from one to another. Drum kick and Bass are great partners, first one is a punch , that hits you in the chest when you hear it, the second one is actually a sustain of that punch Sidechain is a type of compression in which the effect level on one instrument is controlled by the volume level of another instrument. Using a sidechain compression we are giving a space for our drum kick audio to hit when it comes in and duck the bass out of the way at this moment, otherwise we will loose the transient from the kick. More detailed about sidechaining, principles, which cases it is better to use it you can find in this article dedicated specially to sidechain compression. Applying some EQ manipulations to kick and bass also can help to reach the desired resulting sound

Phase and Polarity matter when mixing Kick Drum and Bass

Principles of mixing audio are based on physics of sound, waveforms, frequencies. Discovering how to well mix Kick drums and Basslines let’s look at the wave properties of both. When Bass is a low frequency wave, Drum kick wave in close review presents as bunched high frequencies and more harmonics in the beginning and then drops in pitch to lows, that human ear perceive as mid-range in sum. Sound wave also obtain such parameter as Phase. Let’s see what role a phase of sounds plays and how two or more soundwaves work together in the mix.

After applying compression, setting sidechain parameters, and maybe adjusting an ADSR parameters of the Bass there still something to work on. This technique is more individual, use it or not depends on preferences of the author, but it gives some creative space to try and experiment, often helps to boost your Kick and Bass combination even more.

If we have a close look at Drum Kick wave, as any wave it has phase, and if we compare it with phase of Bass sample in some frequency range the phases of those waves can be opposite in relation to each other. This may cause a cancelation in resulting sound. Some interesting, fat, punchy moment can be lost. And if you want to avoid it, experiment with phase change or apply a 100% phase invert to any of mixed sounds Kick Drums or Bassline, and listen how it effect the resulting audio. Remember to invert a phase of just one of them, otherwise it won’t give any effect, just the polarity of waveforms will be changed, leaving the sound as it is.

Techniques and trick producers use for their low end mixing depends on their preferences and music style they are working on.

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