To hear low frequencies clearly in a mix, they must have a high amplitude and convey a lot of energy. A balanced mix generally requires greater amplitude (loudness) as you move down in the frequency range. Working with the frequency spectrum can be challenging when the low frequencies in your mix are loud. This is because you leave very little headroom for the other elements. By bearing this in mind, I will show you how to take control of your sub-frequencies in the following tutorial.
As usual, I have prepared a short sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW, which contains most instruments of the entire mix, including the bass sound. Let us listen to it in the context of the whole mix and then solo.
~Bassline – Solo (Unprocessed)
Use a Dynamic EQ to Take Control of the Sub Frequencies of Your Bass
As you can hear in the audio examples below, the bassline is one of the most dominant sounds in the frequency spectrum of the mix, preventing other elements from becoming prominent. I will tame the bassline’s sub-frequencies since balance is critical to any good mix. You can accomplish this in various ways, but for the sake of this article, I will utilize a dynamic EQ. A dynamic EQ is a mixing tool that lets you adjust the frequency and dynamics of a sound, channel, or whole mix. A dynamic EQ combines standard EQ processing with the dynamic control of a compressor.
TDR Nova by Tokyo Dawn is the plugin I’ll use for this task. It is a free version of a four-band parametric EQ with a dynamic EQ option. Let’s add a new instance of it on the bassline channel.
The main interface shows a display with four independent bands that can be processed in standard or dynamic mode. Below are some standard EQ controls, such as Q, Frequency, Gain, and Filter Shape buttons. I disabled the dynamic option by default, but you enabled it by selecting the “Threshold” button from the standard EQ parameters I mentioned.
Use Quick Attack and Release Settings for the Dynamic EQ
I want to apply dynamic EQ processing to this bassline sound because, if you listen closely, some notes have a more obvious punch/attack than others. As a result, the sub-frequencies energy of these notes is also increased, resulting in an overly dramatic sub-level increase for my taste. As you can see in the image below, I reduced the threshold level quite a bit, the ratio is near all the way up, and the attack and release settings are pretty short. The reason for these settings is that the bassline sequence contains fast tones, and I want compression to happen as quickly as possible. In addition, I used an additional high-pass filter because I didn’t need any sub-information below 20 Hz. Let’s listen to our processed bassline solo and then in the context of the whole mix.
~Bassline – Solo (Processed With Dynamic EQ)
~Full Mix – Bassline (Processed With Dynamic EQ)
Dynamic EQ is a versatile tool that can and should be used on various audio materials. It works well on both instruments and rhythm section elements.
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