How to Mix Hip Hop With Bass

by Matt Gerrard
Heavy bass is a must if you want your song played in the clubs.

Heavy bass is a must if you want your song played in the clubs.

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When creating the final mix of a song, ensure all the components across the frequency range are properly represented. With Hip-Hop and dance music in particular, bass is a vital part of that mix. It's important the low end is prominent to give the song weight and presence. However, piling on the bass frequencies can quickly turn your mix into a woolly mess. Following a few principles should help keep your mixes powerful yet balanced.

Step 1

Place an equalizer on an auxiliary mixer channel and boost the bass frequencies between 80 and 250 Hz. Create a send bus and direct the bass sound and kick drum to the EQ device. Focus around 100Hz but avoid adding too much extra gain. Listen to your mix, switching the solo channel on and off to hear the sound both on its own and as part of a complete mix.

Step 2

Compress the kick drum and bass sound. Compression is a vital mixing tool that performs a number of important tasks across the frequency band. In this context, its primary role is to maximize the volume and impact of the sounds by leveling out the amount of variation in the waveform. By removing some of the dynamics, its possible to push the volume higher.

Step 3

Place a limiter and a multiband compressor on the master output of the track before you bounce it down for mastering. The limiter will ensure that nothing is tipping over into the red; overlimit distortion subtracts a great deal of the "weight" of a bass sound. The multiband compressor is four compressors in a single unit, with each one targeted at a different area of the frequency band. This will allow you to finely balance the weight of the bass against the other areas of the track.

About the Author

Matt Gerrard began writing in 2002, initially contributing articles about college student culture to "The Gateway" magazine, many of which were republished on the now-defunct Plinth blog. Since then, Gerrard has worked as a technician for musicians, educators, chemists and engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in music technology from DeMontfort University.

Photo Credits

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