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How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

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How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby ulrichburke » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:03 am

Dear Anyone.

OK, before I ask this I'm going to put my hands up and say nope, I'm not using glorious stereo sounds on Kontakt (or similar!) I'm using freebies from the Web cos I'm currently skint! But this is a prob. I've always had anyway.

So I've got my band - say violin, flute, guitar (cheap, so not much depth in the twang, sorry) drums/bass. I've got them all panned right. You can hear every instrument clearly. But it's like watery soup. There's no richness-fullness, it's like tiny dots on a vast canvas.

Now in the days I DID have posh sounds - long story, lost the computer - I tended to have this problem but the good sounds masked it. I'm not highpassing ANYTHING I've got ATM because there's no low-end there much anyway. The sound levels all seem right to me and I've chucked reverb on them but that makes them sound more distant, not fuller.

Anyone know any tricks to making skinny sounds sound fuller? Please, because I'm bad at this or I wouldn't be asking, if you say anything like (for example) 'use layering' can you add a few words of explanation as to HOW? Doesn't have to be a massive screed, just a bit so I don't get the wrong end of the stick? I've tried doing 2 copies of the piece, one an octave lower than the other, then putting them together but that somehow don't work right unless I'm just doing it wrong? I dunno.

Over to you guys! Remember one of the probs. is the sounds I've got sound like they've been highpassed to bits in the first place (exaggerating slightly!)

Yours hopefully

Chris. All answers will be tried, there's gotta be a 'go-to' way to do this.
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Zukan » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:15 am

Chris, it would help us, and you, if you could throw up a link to the mix so we can gauge how to best respond. Otherwise you will get general and not focused advice.
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Wonks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 9:26 am

Well, the best answer is to use sounds that do have proper bass and depth to them.

What instruments are real and miked up, and what instruments are samples?

Unless you've got instruments with a lot of bass-end in them e.g. cello rather than violin, then your low-end is really going to come from the bass and kick drum, with the bass being the most important instrument for filling in the sound.

So what's your bass instrument of choice?
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Mixedup » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:00 am

Yeah, you change the instrument, add instruments/sub parts to double a melody lower down, or change the music! I mean, you can simulate low end with various mix-trickery techniques, but really you have to be starting from the right place if you want the results to sound good. If you don't want to change things, then in a mix context, mostly it's about contrast — things sound fuller and lower and wider if they're fuller and lower and wider than the other things.

FWIW, there are plenty of full-sounding free software instruments around. Eg Amplesound's freebie bass guitar might help, depending on the track in question. And there are more bass synths than I can count...

Can you post a link so we can do a better job of pinpointing the issues?
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby CS70 » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:16 am

Low end is, mostly, kick and bass. Of course there’s trombones and double basses etc but I guess you’re not in a classical ensemble.

Kick is easy: listen to the track on headphone, tap with one finger and record the tapping. The find a free kick sample set, make a track under the tapping one and place your kick where the taps are. You have trigger plugins that can do automatically but they cost money I guess.

Then EQ, compress, send to reverb and otherwise glue.

Bass is a little harder, as you need to play the notes: still, there’s a gazillion free software synths out there that can get you good bass sounds for each note you need. Same as above, tap your bass line rhythm and the use the tap as a guide to where place notes.

Glue the same way.

It’s obviously all far more complicated than record properly in the first place, but you’ve got what you’ve got and it’s really down to the time you put.
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Wonks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:23 am

There are alternatives, like adding a subtle pad played in a bass register. Just loud enough to be heard, but not to stand out.
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Sep 17, 2019 10:47 am

Could be all sorts of things... as Zuke says we need an example really.

But stating the obvious... if there weren't any sultanas in the mixing bowl, don't be surprised if you can't find any in the cake! :lol:
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby The Elf » Tue Sep 17, 2019 11:24 am

As the others have said - we need an example. There are many possibilities, from 'we don't hear a problem' to 'you've got it all wrong'! :)
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby TNGator » Tue Sep 17, 2019 8:39 pm

Hi Ulrich. Did i read correctly that you have everything panned right? Id start with panning left and right and putting the bass perhaps right down the middle along with maybe the kick? It could be that all the instruments are crammed into one side of the stage. Or when you said "right" did you mean "correctly" as in "Im doing it right". Sorry...just trying to clarify. :roll:
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Sep 18, 2019 10:13 am

Mike Stranks wrote:But stating the obvious... if there weren't any sultanas in the mixing bowl, don't be surprised if you can't find any in the cake! :lol:

Now that's sage advice Mike - at first it does sound flippant, but within a few seconds it makes perfect sense in this context.

I suspect many of us have over the years found ourselves occasionally fighting a particular sound with a chain of plug-in effects to get the bass end sitting better, only to find that replacing the sound with a more suitable one is a far better (and mostly quicker) solution :headbang:

I know I have! ;)


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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby blinddrew » Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:41 pm

In the same vein, taking a part, detuning it an octave, then mixing it back in at a very low level can sometimes provide a bit of that which was lacking.
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Wonks » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:08 pm

blinddrew wrote:In the same vein, taking a part, detuning it an octave, then mixing it back in at a very low level can sometimes provide a bit of that which was lacking.

ulrichburke wrote: I've tried doing 2 copies of the piece, one an octave lower than the other, then putting them together but that somehow don't work right unless I'm just doing it wrong? I dunno.

Just sayin' loike,
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby MOF » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:38 pm

blinddrew wrote:
In the same vein, taking a part, detuning it an octave, then mixing it back in at a very low level can sometimes provide a bit of that which was lacking.

ulrichburke wrote:
I've tried doing 2 copies of the piece, one an octave lower than the other, then putting them together but that somehow don't work right unless I'm just doing it wrong? I dunno.

Just sayin' loike,

Maybe the lower part needs some low pass filter first.
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Dr Huge Longjohns » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:22 pm

Always worth giving some saturation a try. A freebie like Softube Saturation Knob can turn a bland, thin sound into something much more meaty and interesting. They simply add harmonics into the sound but can be transformatory (if that's a word?).
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby blinddrew » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:44 pm

Wonks wrote:
blinddrew wrote:In the same vein, taking a part, detuning it an octave, then mixing it back in at a very low level can sometimes provide a bit of that which was lacking.

ulrichburke wrote: I've tried doing 2 copies of the piece, one an octave lower than the other, then putting them together but that somehow don't work right unless I'm just doing it wrong? I dunno.

Just sayin' loike,
Once again, Doh! :headbang:
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Re: How to add richness/fullness to mixes with no low end??

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:53 pm

MOF wrote:
blinddrew wrote:
In the same vein, taking a part, detuning it an octave, then mixing it back in at a very low level can sometimes provide a bit of that which was lacking.

ulrichburke wrote:
I've tried doing 2 copies of the piece, one an octave lower than the other, then putting them together but that somehow don't work right unless I'm just doing it wrong? I dunno.

Just sayin' loike,

Maybe the lower part needs some low pass filter first.

This is a handy technique (we used it just yesterday, but played both parts separately an octave apart and then mixed in the lower one at a significantly lower level (and yes, I know this didn't suit the original poster)

However, there's another way to do this, and that's to turn to dedicated subharmonic plug-ins that automatically add a sub-octave contribution to your original single part. As it happens, I was looking through my selection only the other day, and found several in my plug-in collection that were very usable.

Examples include:

LF Max Punch from Voxengo (very versatile!)

BassKit and DubSub from Airwindows (free downloads!)

bx_subsynth from Plugin Alliance

There are also other related plug-ins that reinforce the low end in different ways, such as the Thump percussive harmonic synth from Metric Halo. I got this some time ago as a freebie special offer, but haven't used it in anger yet.


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