Here’s some thoughts and some questions that I’m gonna be digging into over the next month or so.
As a quick reply, translating to smaller speakers like a laptop was never difficult for me. Its going the other way around where I’ve completely bullshitted my way through mixes.
To get the bass to cut through small speakers, try boosting at 700 and scooping at 800 while also heavily saturating and making extreme boosts around 2-3k to add string rattle and pickup noise. The bulk and roundness of the strings seems live in the 125-200 range, but you have to maneuver and duck some frequencies around the kick drum. Then when you’re kick is hitting around -3db vu soloed, you when you solo the kick + bass, you generally want the bass to add 3db so your needle will ride pretty close to 0 dbvu. If it doesn’t ride pretty close to that zero point, that immediately implies some dynamics management is needed with the kick, bass, and any sub synths that are present in the mix.
On a deeper level, I think I understand what makes a bass guitar audible and defined. What I’m struggling with is largely the LF aspect. 1) how to determine when the ratio of all sources contributing to the sub (underneath 120 hz) range are dynamically balanced and 2) what sources are primarily responsible for that content and 3) what they should be doing to achieve that proportional balance in terms of EQ.
Here’s an example: if the kick drum is tuned to thump at 64 and has an acceptable resonance spike at 120, do we push lets say…90hz on the bass? Or is the distinction between 64, 90, and 120 so low that its a wash to the human ear? Or if the hi-pass is not engaged on the kick and we’re hearing a good amount of 40 and 50, do we have it share some of that register with the bass? This is a lot harder than saying just use your ear. Because my problem isn’t shaping the tone into something I think sounds pleasant. My problem is preemptively accounting for translation issues in a room that I don’t think can be improved much more than it already is. The study (for me) extends a bit beyond music though. There’s a lot of stuff I need to understand better to be able to up my quality grade for mixing film and games. LF is LF regardless of what creates it. Get the music stuff under control, and I think it will teach me a thing or two about controlling LF in Foley and SFX.
But back to music, other stuff I need to learn is gear related. I don’t think its all that hard to tune a single bass track in a mix. Where the management of the low end image gets really complex (for me) is when you start blending multiple amp sims with the DI signal. There is a question of what roll each of the bass amps takes, and this is completely new territory for me because I know next to nothing about bass guitar gear. I’m also confused as to why some people are using SM57’s on bass cabs which seem like a totally not logical mic choice. The other one that surprised me is the frequent use of U47’s on cabs. I understand the reasoning behind the Royer 121 and the MD421. And an Sm81?? That’s the last thing I’d ever put on an 8x10 Ampeg if I was micing it in a live room? All new territory here