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How to fit kick and bass together

Hi Daniel! This question is the biggest problem for me when producing psytrance music, how do I make my kick and bass fit together? I have a decent bassline but it really seems to go along the kick, I have used an entire kick sample pack and no one make sense together with the bass, is it the EQ, comp? The initial attack freq? This frustrates me a lot, hope u can help me :D

Alberto

First things first, make sure to use a proper kick sound in the first place whether it’s taken from a sample pack or you making your own sound from scratch. Psytrance sub-genres has very strict sub-standards on that matter, you can’t make a Progressive-Psy using a Goa Trance kick, neither make a Darkpsy using Full-on kick: they all have different transient, pitch, body, length, and overall character.

3 ways to make a kick drum

Compare these kicks, for example:

Another crucial thing is the mixdown, or simply the volume balance of kick and bass relative to each other. Although bassline plays a very important role in any Psytrance track, kick drum is actually the loudest element. To be more specific, I would suggest setting your kick drum level at 2-3 dB higher than the bassline.

At last but not least, the EQ. Usually I gently cut the kick at the frequencies of the key bassline harmonics. Let’s say, we have a bassline in A, which means its harmonics would be at 55 Hz, 110 Hz, and 220 Hz (in 440-tunning). In this case, I would slightly cut these frequencies from the kick to give bassline a little bit more space in the mix, just –1-2 dB with a narrow bell-filter.

Psytrance bassline equalization

Sometimes I also use Ableton’s built-in Glue Compressor on the kick and bass group to slightly “glue” them together, but compressor is a tricky device that can easily ruin your sound, so I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you know what exactly want to achieve with it.

That’s pretty much it. You can hear the outcome in my productions.

Fellow producers, how do you fit kick and bass together? Post your routine in the comments box below.

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This post is a part of the “Advice” series. I’m happy to advise on such topics as music production, sound design, performance, management, marketing, and career advice in the music industry and beyond. Send me your questions, too.



4 comments
drew

My kick+bass have hugely benefited from adjusting phase (generally edging the bassline phase back or forth a bit). This isn’t something a beginner should focus on, but for intermediate producers it is worth spending the time learning some tools to adjust phase and closely listening to the result.

<3

Daniel Lesden

@drew Yep, adjusting the phase can help as well, thanks for your input! I’ve written about here too: http://daniellesden.com/blog/all/how-to-make-punchy-bassline :-)

Zahaan Khan

i am just posting my approach to the kick and bass or maybe a few things i keep in mind :

  • making sure the kick and bass are in the same key ,made a lot of difference when i tried how both communicate with each other
    -Eq using frequency chart not boosting and cutting too much
    i use the eq from dmg audio and which has the option of putting two low cuts on around 30 hz,sometimes i do it twice to see the result and how it sounds fab filter pro is also a good option
  • transx multi from waves designed specifically for detecting and shaping the transient attacks
    of audio signals. This is useful for adding or reducing the punch or pluck of a
    certain instrument boosting the key specific frequecy in the last two bands and puting off the first two bands
  • in case of compression, the best way i find is to tweak it and find the right spot making sure that you arent affecting the signal too much
    -last but not the least keeping the signal as neat as possible i.e using minimum plugins and making sure the audio or the sample sure is a qualtiy sound to work on , the cleaner the signal from the source the better it is
  • Lfo tool from xfer ,which is actually a fx unit plugin and gives a side chaining effect using a lfo which can be shaped to achieve the desired outcome
    -bounce the midi file of the bass and zoom in to check where the note actually is placed ...as each plugin causes some audio latency i use PHA-979 by VOXENGO which allows you to apply an arbitrary phase shift to sound material. What is meant by the phase shift here is simultaneous shifting of all frequencies across the active frequency range of the signal by the given value in degrees.
  • always referencing with the artists i like to hear how their kick and bass sounds
    -sometimes overdoing ruins the entire process ,i spend days to achieve the desired result and since the kick and bass is the main thing on which everything rests it is important to make sure its tight clean and communicating well
  • check the signal path of your plugins ,the placement order of each plugin makes a lot of difference to the sound
    -Taking breaks to avoid ear fatigue and sometimes even moving around in the room in different sections to hear the bass and kick together
    -Aucostic treatment is a game changer in terms of how we hear our sound ,before u invest in some plugin i would suggest get some aucostic treatment

P.S these points are not in order ,just my way of how i work around the kick and bass section in my productions and the things that i keep in mind and what has helped me to push my sound to another level ...hope it helps ...cheers!!

Daniel Lesden

@Zahaan Awesome, thanks for sharing :-)

Alberto

Awesome advice dude, thx a lot for taking your time helping me, also Zahaan Khan you did a great job sharing that tips, i apply the majority of them, i think the game changer will be using some compresor in the kick+bass group and making some room for that basslien over the kick, cheers!!!

Bourian Boubbov

Hi all,

Thanks for all the infos! Great stuff!

I use a lot of parallel treatment on most things. Drums. Bass(es). Sequences. Leads. However, I use as much compression as I use distortion.
Plugins like FabFilter Saturn, (Plugin Alliance) Vertigo Sound VSM-3, in particular are incredible for glueing bass and bd, emphasizing the clickiness of the kbbb, adding punch and weight to a bassdrum/bass or just some noise/fuzz on top!

Logics Overdrive and Distortion are also amazing. Any sort of bit crusher is great for adding fizzy character to kicks and basses, which, if used on a buss also adds “glue”. Parallel is the rule though, more often than not. iZotope Trash is great too and so is RC-20 but you beed to know exactly what you want, or else you might get lost in all the options... ;) Been there...

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