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Author Topic: Taming the wild bass drum  (Read 1152 times)

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Offline heathen

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Taming the wild bass drum
« on: July 25, 2018, 06:57:57 PM »
I recorded a show last night at a small club/bar, and the bass drum was really heavy in the mix...to the point that it almost distracts from everything else.  One school of thought would be to just capture the show as it sounded and not mess with it.  Putting that aside for the sake of discussion, is there a way to de-emphasize that bass drum in post?  My first thought was trying to EQ it down, but that seems like it would "cannibalize" the bass guitar when it's in the same frequency range (and ironically, the bass guitar was relatively low in the mix so I don't think I can afford to take anything away from it).  So then I thought maybe compression could be used to bring the other sounds up closer to the level of the bass drum, somewhat offsetting how loud the bass drum is.  I have basically zero experience with compression, though, so I don't even know if that's feasible.

FWIW, this is just a two-channel recording (DPA 4061s).  Any ideas/thoughts appreciated.
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Offline Gordon

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2018, 07:03:12 PM »
Does it sound like a "pop"? If so declick may help.  I've found this happening a lot on sbd recordings lately.
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Offline rigpimp

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2018, 07:11:37 PM »
I would EQ it. 

https://www.fabfilter.com/download/#download-pro-q-2-equalizer-plug-in

I would recommend to get the demo of Pro Q 2.  It is one of the most versatile EQ plugins around.

Remember that less is more.  Try a little bit and walk away before giving it a re-listen.

With Pro Q 2 you can roll off, notch it out, or anything in between.  Give it a try!
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Offline heathen

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2018, 07:38:10 PM »
Does it sound like a "pop"? If so declick may help.  I've found this happening a lot on sbd recordings lately.

Doesn't sound like a pop.  More like a typical bass drum "thud"...just really loud.
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Offline heathen

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2018, 07:39:36 PM »
I would EQ it. 

https://www.fabfilter.com/download/#download-pro-q-2-equalizer-plug-in

I would recommend to get the demo of Pro Q 2.  It is one of the most versatile EQ plugins around.

Remember that less is more.  Try a little bit and walk away before giving it a re-listen.

With Pro Q 2 you can roll off, notch it out, or anything in between.  Give it a try!

I will give that a try.  Thanks man!
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2018, 10:57:38 AM »
You might try a dynamic-EQ.

Which is basically a compressor/EQ hybrid, often with a graphic EQ interface. You approach it like an EQ, locating the extent of the overly wild bass drum thud frequency range and pulling that down to get things sounding reasonable when the drum is hitting.  Difference is the filter gain is modulated dynamically by program level within that frequency range, so the depth of cut you specify is actively dialed in only when levels exceed the threshold in that range.  When levels in that frequency range remain below the threshold, no gain reduction is made - so when the oppressive kick-drum is not hitting you won't reduce the lower-level bass guitar content which resides in the same frequency range.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2018, 11:11:59 AM »
Conceptually, dynamic-EQ is similar to multiband compression.  Both provide control over dynamics by frequency-range.  Difference is that typically a dynamic-EQ can be more specifically targeted in a way similar to how an EQs are used, rather than splitting the frequency range into more generalized regions with cross-over points between them.
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Offline ilduclo

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2018, 12:40:48 PM »
I'd try to listen to it using decent audio equipment, sometimes what sounds poor with headphones thru a computer sounds better thru an amp and good speakers.  If you have a graphic equalizer you can dynamically play with various settings while listening. 

Offline goodcooker

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2018, 12:53:35 PM »

The thump of the kick drum (the resonance of the shell) is mostly between 30 and 125hz depending on many factors.

Unfortunately for EQing the bass guitar is ~40hz on the low open E and ~100hz on the open G string. There is definitely some overlap.

The clapper sound (the mallet striking the head) is more like ~350hz. Sometimes you can make a low in the mix kick drum stand out by upping this frequency but it doesn't work in reverse.

Unfortunately if you reduce the bass drum you also reduce the bass guitar....
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Offline heathen

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2018, 12:58:28 PM »
Unfortunately if you reduce the bass drum you also reduce the bass guitar....
Experimenting with various EQ settings last night that's what I heard in this recording.

I haven't tried dynamic EQ yet, though, so I'll have to mess with that.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2018, 01:07:27 PM »
Not much you will be able do to bring up the level of the bass guitar when both it and the kick are hitting simultaneously. The dynamic EQ approach I mention is intended to leave the bass guitar at its current level in between dynamically reduced kick hits. 

In essence, it automatically moves the graphic EQ slider down as the kick hits and back up again between kick hits.
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Offline nulldogmas

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2018, 01:12:58 PM »

In essence, it automatically moves the graphic EQ slider down as the kick hits and back up again between kick hits.

Now I want to record a too-loud kick drum just to try this out, because it sounds like magic. (And yeah, I get how it works, but magic is still magic when you understand the trick.)

Offline heathen

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2018, 01:20:53 PM »

In essence, it automatically moves the graphic EQ slider down as the kick hits and back up again between kick hits.

Now I want to record a too-loud kick drum just to try this out, because it sounds like magic.

I can send you a sample of the recording I'm working with if you want.  PM me if so.
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Offline TheMetalist

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2018, 02:48:59 PM »
I have used a hard limiter on recordings like this with a nice result.
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Offline Gutbucket

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Re: Taming the wild bass drum
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2018, 03:09:02 PM »
I've used dynamic-EQ's, but don't own a plugin and don't currently have a computer setup for editing.  I'll look into them again once I do to figure out which I'll end up using, as I've found them useful for this type of thing.

Here's an on-line piece on them and their use I just found via a quick web search- https://sonicscoop.com/2018/03/15/dynamic-eq-tips-from-the-pros-what-it-is-and-how-4-top-mixers-use-it/

A related tool I suspect may also work here, yet has a rather unusual interface and takes some figuring out, is the Voxengo Sonifier which I like and ended up purchasing.  It's sort of an extremely-multibanded compressor consisting of a seemingly ridiculously large number of individual bands.  Instead of adjusting sliders or knobs, you instead draw and modify the parameters via curves overlaying the full frequency spectrum, making it easy to vary parameters smoothly across a wide number of frequency bands.  Alternately you can draw in a something like a high-Q peaked curve to target a specific frequency region rather than a broad curve which changes parameters gradually with frequency.  It can pose a challenge to wrap your head around initially, but once you do its very powerful and musical.  For this application, ignore the additional panning and stereo width parameters it includes.

https://www.voxengo.com/product/soniformer/
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