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Bassline compression and hats EQ

Hey Daniel, how are you doing? I’m a great fan of yours, and I think this is a wonderful idea.

When working on basslines would you use compression or not? And also getting your bass to work with the groove of your hats perc can be tricky? Any tips would help? And last question, any tips on getting that percussion hats, snares to stand out in the mix, I’ve noticed the sound has changed a lot and a new benchmark has been set.

If you do have the time could you pls pls give me advice on my debut free track? I’ll understand if you can’t but it would be like Xmas came early :) Thank you Daniel.

Marc Swanepoel

Marc, “to use compression or not” is a bad question because in general, I would say “no” — if you can avoid an extra plugin, then don’t use it. Less is more. However, a compressor is a very powerful device: it can be used for “healing” purposes (as I call it), as well as for creative manipulations.

So rather than think of “should I use this device or not”, think of what you’re want to achieve, and then you’ll get the answer. Like, do you want to make the bassline more punchy? Do you want to make it sounds more dynamic? Do you want the bassline to fit better to your kick? The list of compression usage goes on. And answering your question, do I use compression or not, — it depends. There is no definite answer.

As for the bassline and groove ‘friendship’, yes it can be tricky. Equalization is the main factor here. For instance, take a listen to these hats:

Nothing fancy here, sounds like typical mid-high range hats, right?. However, take a look at its spectrum:

You see, there is a lot of unnecessary low-end frequencies. Even if you did not notice it by hearing, it is still there. It overlapping the bassline’s frequency range and give your bassline less “room to breath”. So cut it off. I would say, you can easily cut it below 500 Hz in this case. Such unnecessary low-ends present in most other samples too (snares, closed hats, rim shots, cymbals, toms etc), so make sure to check frequency range by using a spectrum analyzer or EQ, and then cut off the low-end, if necessary.

The same applies when you want your hats and snares to stand out from the mix. Each element should have enough space in the frequency range. Also, you can try to increase the Attack of your snares by using a layering technique, compressor, or a transient shaper.

Bonus

I have listened to your track, and I have to say it’s fantastic, especially assuming that it is your debut track. I could give advice only on a few very small things because everything else is just great. Even the track tempo and key (140 F#m) were chosen nicely.

It seems you have used the same drum fills at 1:43, 2:38, 3:33, 4:55, 6:45, 7:40, try to focus more on transitions variety. I’m not quite sure, but I guess these drum fills have unnecessary low-ends, exactly what I wrote above — cut it off. Would be nice to add velocity to the Closed hats for extra dynamics, which comes into play at 1:50.

Criteria of professional production. Part 2. Fills and transitions

At 5:02 I thought that something big is coming, but instead, it was another breakdown — that would be pretty annoying for the crowd on the dancefloor. Two breakdowns in a row with only 1 minute of dance part in between is probably not the best idea.

The fills and growing moment at 5:50 is supposed to be the most emotional moment of the track, but I feel it miss something. On this part, people should scream and raise their hands in the air, you know. Try to add here some pitch risers, more effects, and maybe increase drum fills speed to increase energy level.

I hope it helps.

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

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2 comments
Marc Swanepoel 2019

This sort of advice is absolutey priceless !!!! firstly thank you so much for taking the time to go thru these lengths to not only tuition but also illustrate clear and precise do’s and dont’s!!! I will be using this advice from here on in ! It makes complete sense and I have a clearer understanding now ! Thank you Daniel Lesden

Marc Swanepoel aka AudioFire

Richard Nutman 2019

Great post Daniel! Some excellent information on your blog.

Thanks for sharing.

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