How to get a deep chest-vibrating bass AND a deep boom kick drum together in a mix

mano 1

Staff member
The title says it all

All the Tim20, TheBlue1, Thy, and other awesome people out there please help!

One of the things I want in my music (any genre) is preseve the chest-rumbling bass up AND also have a deep kick (not the thin "rock" kick you can barely feel).

How do I go to do this right? All the EQ and mix manuals I find are kind of biased toward rolling off most of the low-freqs on the kick to give room for the bass, and the result is: thin kick (almost like a snare)

Actually the kicks I want to make are more the hip-hop kind where the low-freqs are boosted in the first place (more like a boom than a Tack) which doesn't help with mixing.

Do you use low and high cuts on each instrument to make sure they don't live in the same space at all - and if so, how can they both rumble in your chest.

The bass I record come from things like the Virus B or the Creamware MINIMAX (superbly modelled minimoog) and the drums from either KONTAKT or my XV-3080 sound module.

Thank you!


New member
Try having the bass notes higher pitched than the main low resonant tone of the kick. Your basslines are more likely to have higher-harmonics that will be precieved as bass clarity, aka tightness. But your basslines are still going to be around 75-100 Hz I would think. You might also try adding a highpass on the bassline at about 55-70Hz. Then for the kick, just make sure it's nice and low, around 55-65 Hz should shake the room nicely, but also make sure to add at least a little punch around 130 Hz ish... depending. So people will at least hear it on systems with little low bass reproduction.

Also, for deep deep chest pounding bass, try to get a low "crest" (the difference between the peak & rms, in db), about 10db down to 2-3db depending on what you're trying to do, and what the higher-frequencies are doing. The lower crest you have on the bass, the harder it is to properly eq and master the song without getting IMD (inter-modulated distortions)

In fact, keeping about 10db crest maximum can help the mastering engineer (if you're using one) make your track slam even harder, because of thier superior gear and expertise.

Hope that helps....
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mano 1

Staff member
Hey thanks for this first reply to my question - great info indeed, very practical. I will try it tonight

Hey and WELCOME to FP! You are family now

I can't wait to read more suggestions and advice from the rest of the family :)

Thanks again

Dj Thy

Quartzlocked Weirdo
Defining a "frequency space" for every sound/instrument is an excellent idea, as this will make everything sound tighter.

But a very powerful tool is layering. You're not forced to use only 1 kick or 1 bassline. Layer, layer, layer.

If you want a fat kick, with still a big punch (or crack), it's a common thing to do to take one very snappy kick, and one big muddy one, tailor them to your needs (try to get rid of the ringing of the snappy one, and get rid of the crack of the muddy one) and slap them together. Sometimes delaying one a little bit can make it better.
It might need some compression to give it a coherent feel. Don't limit yourself to the easy stuff. I've seen people combining 5 kicks to form one huge stomper. Different kicks have an emphasis in different frequency ranges, nothing forbids you to combine them.
Another trick I've seen some people do is to layer a sine wave at a low frequency, like 100 Hz (nothing above 250 Hz I'd say, stay low for that fat bottom end, go higher if your kick to sound rounder and punchier). In sync with the kick. It can give that extra oomph.
Of course, lots of people compress the **** out of everything. I'm generally someone that tries to reach for the compressor as late as I can (people that produce for quite some time now : try making a track for once without compression, and see if you can still manage it. It can be a humbling experience. Sometimes you rely too much on compression). But for hiphop style beats, compression can help. Attack time will be the most important one. Very short attack time will tame the crack of the kick also, so you can use it to bring the ringing (the boomy part) up more. If you still want the snappy feel, increase the attack time just to let the actual kick pass, but let the compressor do it's work on the boomy part.

Same goes with the bassline. You don't necessarily need one. Layer as much as you can. It's done pretty much to layer a very very low bassline (the ones you hardly hear, but feel more) underneath all the rest. But be aware with those. Too much, and you'll get a too muddy sound. The problem is, you generally won't hear those low basslines on small speakers (even some nearfields), but once you play them in a club on those big subs, they have enough power to blow away half of the crowd. So always make sure you can listen to your trial and errors on big speakers too.

Be aware you have to make compromises too. Boosting your bass around 800 Hz can make it sound heavier for little boombox speakers, but too much, and you'll run out crying when you hear it on big ones.

mano 1

Staff member
Hey guys I am experiemtning with the tips right now :) It is definitely soudning better already.

Keep the tips coming :) Loving them.
Thanks again



New member
Off the top of my head, I'd suggest using a parametric EQ (or plug-in) and sweep the kick (and bass) by hand until you find a combination that delivers the kind of sonic power you're looking for. But don't be fooled into being afraid to roll off the very bottom of both. Too much subsonics will suck up all the power in the mix and leave it competitively unloud... roll out the very lowest (maybe starting in the 35-40-45 Hz range and dropping pretty steeply from there so that there's virtually nothing below 20 Hz). (You may want to use a multi-band eq so that you can boost and cut in various ranges.)

That will have the ancillary benefit of tightening up and helping to define both bass instruments. But if you don't roll much above 35-45 you'll still have plenty of meat in your beat (sorry).

You'll probably do yourself a favor (as others have suggested) by scooping a little out of the bass to make room for the kick. The range above 125-150 Hz helps give bass tone and warmth so you can often roll the very lowest bass off a bit (maybe under 90-100 Hz... but it really depends on the key of the track where and how much you want to cut. And, in fact, you might want to scoop the bass, rather than roll it off, depending on what you're doing and the style of music. Sometimes you really do want the bass voice to shake the walls. Just watch out for those pesky subsonics (so, actually, I guess we might be talking about scooping and then rolling... sounds sort of like baking.)
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mano 1

Staff member
Awesome. Thanks for posting the tips you sent in your PM. They fit well here.

... BOOKMARK! ...

Im off to rebooting ... GRRR Im still on Cubase SX 1.06 and i just had one of those "poofs" (cubase disappears but its process is still running and only a cold reboot will make it go away).

I did save my work though :)

To apply these tips, I am using very nice plug-ins that run on a Creamware Pulsar 2 DSP system... VINCO (emulation of a 1176 vintage compressor) on each channel (most of them soft), and an EQ insert.

The EQ insert is multiband (6 or 8 bands I think, but I mostly use 2 at max) so I can try what you guys described without problem.

The style of the piece is what you may call Electro-Funk or Electro-Beat, the kind of music break-dancers dance to :) It's kind of a hiphop thing but has sweeping synth glides and bleeps.

The piece was made while writing the review of a superb synthesizer for the Creamware DSP systems, the SEQUENTIAL PRO ONE, which should come out with the new site (early '04). All the sounds come from this one synth (makes sense, for the review) apart from the drums.

Anyways :) I thought I'd give you guys some idea of the project.

mano 1

Staff member
OK I sent this to Tim20 but I thought it'd be good in this thread :)


I did layer 2 kicks last night, it worked great. I had a very low hoompf one living in 30>60 Hz, and another one with all the low-ends rolled off (just the crack realy). It did the effect I wanted. In fact the second one didnt need to be cranked up that much to be heard as "part" of the low one (so if I turn down the monitoring almost to none, i can still hear that there is a kick going, where in fact the real hoompf one can't be heard

My bass is the next one I will layer to get the same kind of effect going. Right now I have the chest vibrating one - granted it doesnt hit my chest as much as when it was living down to 20Hz, but its still very nice. I rolled off practically everything below 100Hz and most of the highs and I can still hear almost the same tone and aspect to it - while leaving a ton of space for the rest to go.

Thoughg I realized that even if it had its own space, I had to turn down the bass (-10dB or even lower) otherwise it would mud the rest pretty bad. Is this related to what LonnyLord mentioned in his post (the crest)?

Is this normal? Or should each part be cranked to 0dB and be ok because in theory they are all rolled into their own world... From trying various things I observed the tracks to "add" to eachother and that even if they were all metered at around -10 the output of the mixer displayed peaks at -0.5


New member
The crest is the number of db between the RMS and PEAK of the sound.

What I meant earlier was that you dont want to go less than 10db for overall crest for ALL frequencies, the entire mix - especially if it's going to be mastered.

The addition of all the frequencies combined... n such. That is the subtle art of dance called mixing. ;-) It's really just simple addition when you think about it. Add more things, and the total goes up.



Secret of the lost Beat
try using a resonant high pass or band pass filters in your kick using a fast envelope sweep, it will sound hella phat

be careful though, if you overdo it your woofers may end up flying across the room...


FP Psychoanalyst
everybody - great thread going on here. tons of information that i'm trying to soak in. thanks guys, you're helping me out a lot here. glad mano started this thread - glad i came into it!


New member

I found the Kick you use has an effect to.. I tried the Roll off at 50-70hz, and Boosting around 125hz on the bass and depending on the kick it works or it doesnt


New member

In elektro/house songs people use the same ttricks all over again. me as well.

They are basically as followed:

- reduce 20 hz downwards (cut it like a knife, no steep here please, a cuttoff of 90 degrees), unless you own super bass booming speakers at home.

- 30-45 (scoop it for both bass and kick, but scoop more **** out of the bass.

- 45-65...this is the kicks area...scoop the bass. Depending on the note of the bass..if it is high, then scoop less. Listen.

- 65-90...scoop bass and increase kick for the BOOM...chakalaka...BOOOOOMMMM..WEAHHHHHAAAHHHH

95-115...kick time!

115-130..bass time....scoop teh kick to decrease the thumping/ cardcboard sound.

400 hz....icrease bass to get it heard..reduce KIck for more claruty.

5000 hz....I use low cutoff here. For both...depending on the bass...real bass shoeldn't be cutt off here.

go dluck

mano 1

Staff member
Great posts guys, thanks again

I got my mixing to a point where the kick and the bass are both low and are distinct from eachother

This is an improvement already

I still have some trouble getting both UP close to 0dB though, so I need to experiment a bit there. Right now bass peaks at -9 and low kick peaks at -5.

I'll also try inverting the order of EQ and compression on the channels from EQ > Compressor to Compressor > EQ (something I read in the Mixing Engineers Handbook)

Another thing is that since the kick+bass were kind of low in level, I mixed the other channels (some high blips, some High Hats, a Snare) too low as well (to match). On the other hand I have a melody track (a sweeping synth sound) that is cranked WAY up - although it should be there, it appears loud compared to the "too low" channels next ot it.

I am making progress, and am enjoying all your great input. It is a great feeling to get the thing to feel better and better after each session.

Anyways... That's for the update to my initial post :)
Take care



New member
This thread is awesome !! I have no time to check everything out right now, but after New Year I definitely will...

mano 1

Staff member
It is indeed! We have some quality people here on FP :)

I was too busy with... working on the new FP site las tnight (yayyy) but I plan to get back to my mix sometime soon.

Gotta love "total recalls" and the digital age, getting back to a mix in a minute is quite handy sometimes...

Although I remember loving the Mackie I had in 99 too ... in fact I think the best mixes I did were back then when I really didnt care much - no compressor or anything... just the Mackie 1604's EQ / channels trips... Isn't this weird? ... Maybe having all the options in the world pushes you to make mistake? Not sure...

Dj Thy

Quartzlocked Weirdo
That's with everything in the music/audio business.

Sometimes I see kids that have all the latest softsynths/effects (wether or not they got it legally we won't discuss here), and try to use most of them in their productions. And it always sounds cluttered. People who have some experience will tell you that they usually have 3 or 4 trusted instruments, and that's all they use (except the occasional experimentation of course). More is generally not better.

What I also hear is, a lot of people tend to say if something is missing in their projects : "oh, I'll add another layer here, another synth there, little effects to fill everything up, ...". In the end, it's again always the same result. It sounds cluttered. There is too much going on, everything is fighting to find it's space in the mix.
They should think that what they already have could be made more interesting (more variations in a melody for example), instead of always adding new things. The fewer stuff you have, the easier it will be to place everything, and your music will be able to breathe, and have some real dynamics.

Don't be tempted to always buy the latest of the latest. Build up a good base, and then get everything you can out of it. It will be rewarding for you, because you'll continue to progress, and your music will certainly come out better too. And admit it, it's rewarding when you can look back and say : yup, I made that, and I'm damn proud of it too!