RBass, MaxxBass, Low frequencies

Well, there’s another current thread on low frequencies, but it went a little off-topic and got a little too intense for me, so I hope no one will mind if I post my question in a new thread. :slight_smile:

Still playing around and trying to get to know more of the plugins from my Good Friday Gold Bundle. So much stuff in there.

I’ve been experimenting with the RBass and MaxxBass plugs, to try to learn what I can learn about polishing up my low end. I’ve only been using it on my bass track.

I’m curious how much people use these. As I understand it, the bigger part of what they do seems to be about adding harmonics to create the illusion of hearing the fundamental frequencies on systems that can’t play the fundamental (i.e., they just don’t go that low. Think earbuds or stock car stereo systems).

From what I’ve read, people seem to see MaxxBass as the better of the two for “transferability” across systems. I’m thinking, to my ears, both do bring out the bass much better on my earbuds and in the car especially, but MaxxBass doesn’t seem to be as subtle as RBass. I’m sure I just need to get better at tweaking it, but RBass seems to not need as much tweaking.

Wondering how much or whether you guys use tools like this. Or is this just a cheap quick-fix for people like me who don’t know what they’re doing? :slight_smile:

I certainly can’t speak for most people, but I’ve definitely used both (as well as bx_subsynth)… mostly on toms, sometimes on synth-y stuff and very occasionally on kick and bass gtr. When they’re dialed in right and used sparingly they can be really cool tools, but it’s soooooo easy to over-do it. Like I would need to have a very specific usage case or effect I’m trying to achieve, otherwise I’ll just use a regular ol’ EQ.

I went through a big “low end” phase a couple of years ago trying to get a grip on things. As far as my particular Waves plugins, I own the Drum and Bass bundle (very rarely use them), LoAir and MaxBass. Of them all, I get some use out of MaxBass. (If I recall, Andrew (@ColdRoomStudio ) really likes MaxBass, so that’s one I’d put a LOT of effort into getting to know! :wink: ) So I’m not much use on your Waves part of the question.

For the 3rd part of your thread title: “Low Frequencies”, I’ve kind of settled into a 4 step process:

  1. Get the EQ right. Determine the “sweet spot” for each instrument and figure out which instrument should occupy which part of the spectrum. If there’s a conflict, either use some complimentary EQ moves and/or use a side-chain to duck one of the instruments when the other is playing. (i.e. duck the bass when the kick hits)
  2. Saturate/distort/clip to add harmonics and get even and consistent levels. The saturation adds harmonics, the distortion helps it cut through the mix and the clipping evens out the levels.
  3. Compress the snot out of 'em to get them to even more consistent levels
  4. Mono-ize the low frequencies

Three of my go-tos:

Some other saturation/distortion favs: (LOTS of flavors!)

SoundToys - Little Radiator and EchoBoy (Sometimes just the Saturation part of the plugin!)
Klanghelm: https://klanghelm.com/contents/products/SDRR/SDRR.php
Melda: MSaturatorMB, MDistortionMB and Melda’s got a saturation knob on most plugins to-boot.

LOTS of options and so much fun! :grin:


To add to my comment… what @miked said above ^^^^^ is where I would start before using the bass harmonic plugs. I would also add to his #3… sometimes multiband compression is cool too… you definitely want to pin that low end, but for something like bass guitar, if I’ve got a nice growl-y upper mid, I like it to move a bit more. Everyone’s mileage may vary!

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Yes, this too! ^^^^^ (I was trying to keep it short. :grin: ) I happen to like a little bit of chorus on those upper frequencies of the bass too to round it out and give some movement…

It’s always a little different depending on the source, but this post demonstrates my approach:

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I don’t believe in cheap quick fixes. If it makes it better, then great. But with low end, you always have to be careful not to overdo it. It’s the kind of thing that’s easy to go overboard with, and on top of that, if your monitoring isn’t giving you accurate low end (which is 99% of home studios) you can really mess things up

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This is nice, Mike. I like the simplicity and practicality of what you’re describing.

So, two questions for you:

First, when you talk finding the sweet spot for each instrument, may i assume you’re talking boosting that frequency? I typically do subtractive EQ primarily, but I’m learning that for my guitars and vocals, for example, sometimes boosts in certain areas of the midrange seems to be kind of the heart of where my guitars are, together with something in that 4-6K range seems to be more about the definition of the sound. I’m thinking higher than that is probably mostly harmonics. So when you’re talking sweet spot, where are you thinking (well, I know that’s an almost stupidly broad question, but … you know what I mean).

Second question is that I’m working hard at trying to find a way to get my bass to be present on earbuds/car stereos (systems without low end), in such a way that it doesn’t sound overwhelming and boomy and muddy on my monitors or a decent system. So, that’s where I’m thinking the RBass/MaxxBass might help me. So, are you able to accomplish that without, well, I guess manipulating the harmonics? Can that be done with EQ alone?

Sorry. I feel like such a newb asking questions like this. Hope I’m not embarrassing myself too much. :slight_smile:

Nice. I’ll give this a listen later this evening

Yes, net boost, I suppose - essentially. Whether you get there by low/high passing everything but a frequency band, carving out a few nasties, giving a generous bump or a nice smiley curve, or all (or none) of the above. Whatever gets you there. Vague, I know. :slightly_smiling_face:

In all honesty, I haven’t even been checking my mixes on ear buds simply because I hate listening to music that way. Besides my monitors, I check my mixes on old crummy mid-rangey speakers, my PC speakers, and my car. So I guess the PC and mid-rangey speakers kind of cover the ear buds. (?) Dunno. Another big help is referencing with other mixes.

For checking the actual bass frequencies, I use headphones and added a sub-woofer after a discussion in a thread last year and some good advice from @Danny_Danzi and lots of others. I’m amazed by the super helpful people on this forum.

Also, I’m glad Andrew weighed in and pointed out his write-up from a couple of years ago. I’ve been meaning to go back and re-read and study it again to see if I’ve actually learned anything the last couple of years. Something I noted reading it again: In the course of his “3 pronged ‘multiband’ bass processing” he gets gets “a full, beefy tone” (EQ), uses an 1176 to smash it by 10dB (compresses hard), runs through an Amp sim (saturation), and then goes “for some real gritty midrange distortion”. Then adds MaxBass when they are mixed together. (Whether consciously or not, I think the “seed” for my list came from his write-up.)

I’ve had a few “Ah ha!” moments too. One recently was when @AaronNarace here won a Mix With The Masters mixing contest. He did a write-up on his process here:

But @Jonathan summed it up perfectly:

So the trick was saturate, saturate, saturate.

All of this is a verrry long-winded way to say, I think saturation and that “gritty mid-range distortion” (if the tracks calls for it!) will go a long way to getting you to your goal. Maybe try out Andrew’s 3-pronged approach, especially since he used MaxBass and see if it works for you? I think the song you’re working on now in the Bash section would be a good candidate to try it out too. Enjoy! :beerbanger:

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Wow. This is good stuff. I went over to that Ear fatigue thread and read about four or five posts. I’m gonna spend some time there. Thanks.

So, could someone explain to me why a decent sub is so helpful in nailing down the bass? My apologies if the answer to that question is already in that thread. If so, I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

I know a good sub is important, but I don’t understand why: Most (hah! Virtually all!) of the listening environments and systems where your song will be playing won’t have the benefit of the sub, so one would think it would actually throw things off. I’d think the amount of bass that works with the sub would be woefully inadequate in a system without a sub. Wouldn’t you want to be mixing in an environment that is ecologically fairly similar to what you’ll be listening in?

If you can’t hear it, you can’t mix it. :wink:

You’re not after the amount of bass so much as you’re after the balance of the bass. The balance of the bass remains intact in the recording weather the speakers can hear it or not. You want to check to see how it translates with a sub, and without a sub. A good mix works either way. I mix with both my L and R subwoofer on. I keep them on and only disengage them temporarily at the very end to make sure the mix doesn’t break.

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Makes sense. After reading some of the Ear fatigue thread, I’m thinking adding a sub should be my next move.

I have KRK monitors. Is there an advantage to then going with KRK subs, like the Rokit 10s. Reading around on this forum I see rx’s for the Yamaha HS10 or JBL10 is spoken highly of as well. JBL10S at Guitar Center for $350? I would think staying with the same brand as my monitors would have some advantage as I assume they spec them out to play nicely with each other? Maybe it doesn’t matter.

So, what I’m saying is, “what should I get?” :slight_smile: (Lol, I can only imagine how much y’all hate it when people ask stupid questions like that!). Seriously, any direction you could give me in purchasing would be awesome.

If you have KRK rocket 10’s, go with the KRK sub because it’ll lessen the guess work out of how to tune it with the other speakers.

Here’s the deal. It won’t hurt you to have it and to start using it. But the effectiveness and accuracy of it is somewhat dependent on the bass trapping and the size of your room. A $120K JBL reference monitoring array in a junk room is like buying a 3 year old my $9000 mac pro for a birthday present. So at a certain point, the room will begin to limit the potential of your speakers.

If you get a subwoofer, it takes a little bit of time to learn how to mix with it. But understanding where you’re at on the mixing learning curve, and knowing what tools you have, I would say get the sub.

KRK’s take a lot of flak on the internet. I think they’re better speakers than people give them credit for. Don’t pay any attention to that stuff for now.

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Hey Tesgin, we aren’t all (semi) professionals on this site :sunglasses:. In fact I guess more than 90% just record their own music (or the band they play in) for friends, family and whoever is prepared to listen. I asked exactly the same questions about a year ago, and thanks to the replies I now own exactly what you have in mind: a KRK sub. I got mine second hand for only 150 euros (that would be about 170 American dollars) and it really improves what I’m hearing. My smallish room is well treated though, maybe a bit more than strictly necessary. I made frames for 22 full sized rockwool 10 cm slabs (about 4 inch) and hung them in all corners, back and front wall and reflection points. It’s a pretty dead sound, but hey, what else are ambience plugins for. I haven’t tested the frequency response of my sub yet (having continual trouble with Windows 10 in combination with my PC, so I haven’t done any recording for months…). I’m curious to see if the response is as good as I think it is.

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Ugh. I wish I had the 10’s. Mine are actually KRK VXT4’s. So, my tweeter goes up to 22kHz (with a 15W amplifier), but the low end only goes down to 56Hz (with a 30W amp). I’m thinking this has sub written all over it.

The other thing is that the room isn’t that big; I’m gonna “guesstimate” probably 16x16. But the walls are totally untreated. I’m embarrassed again, but hey – gotta start somewhere. I’ve been messing with this for a while, but it’s only more recently I’m getting more serious about it. Reminder, this is not a career for me. It’s an avocation that’s becoming an obsession (maybe an addiction – but I’m not as bad as some you guys with the Waves addiction!). :slight_smile: But maybe I’m not too far behind! :frowning: I think y’all are a bad influence on me. :wink:

Enough with emoticons. You get the idea. Point is, I’m lovin’ this and trying to figure out next steps. From what I’m reading, many say that with a smaller room and a musical style that’s not real bass intensive (I’m not doing hip-hop or dance, etc.), that maybe the first priority should be room treatment. That with crappy room acoustics a sub ain’t gonna help much (or make things worse). However, with the low-end of my monitors, maybe the sub should be my next step anyway. Thoughts?

Hey, I’ve been dry for a few hours now. BUT Toontrack IS having their 20 year anniversary sale so there that. :gift:

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