How to find a good starting point for the bass volume

How to find a good starting point for the bass volume

One of the most important parts of mixing is setting up a really good rough / static mix right at the beginning. But sometimes it’s not that easy to find the right balances. Especially the bass volume can be hard to place right.

Here is a simple method to find a good starting point for the bass. The trick is so et up the kick and the bass in a way that they add up together about 3db.

And here is how to to it:

Do the drums first

Start with the drums and do a quick rough mix just for the drums. Set up a dedicated drums mix bus and keep in mind to not exceed -14 db on the drums mix bus to leave enough head room for the actual mixing.

Double the bass

The next step is to double the bass track and set up another mix bus for both bass tracks. One of the bass tracks is just for the low end so you need to set up low pass / high cut filter at the frequency that is about the double frequency of the fundamental root note. Let’s say your fundamental root note is at about 49 hz, you need to set up the low pass / high cut filter at about 100 hz. You need to do the opposite thing at the other bass track for the high end.

Set up a low cut / high pass filter for the high bass track at 100 hz too. Choose steep flanks for both filters, something about 24db/octave.

splitting the bass onto to tracks. One for the low end and one for the high frequencies.
Use high pass / low cut and low pass / high cut filters to just let through the frequencies you need for each channel.

PreOut Channel

Set up another group bus for the drums mix and the bass mix together. On this PreOut mix bus you need a VU meter. In best cases a VU meter with an input volume knob.

Setting the bass volume

Now solo the kick drum and set up the VU meter on the preout bus that the kick is peaking at about -3db. After that bring in the bass, but with the fader on the bass mix bus all the way down. Now bring up the fader to a point that the VU meter where kick and bass together peak at about 0db.

After that remove the VU meter plugin from the preout bus so that you are at it’s original volume again.

Now you have a good starting point for your bass volume to move on

Now you’re bass should be at a good starting point to move on with the mixing process. It might not be the final level and for sure there are a couple steps more to go through, but now your bass is at a level where you can make good decisions for the rest of the mix.

Plugins I’ve used in the video

As VU Meter Plugin I have used the “CLA Mixdown” Plugin from waves. This Plugin has an input control. But any other VU meter plugin should also work for this. Even when it has no input control. In that case you can increase the pregain of the channel in cubase or use another gain plugin for other DAW’s.

In the video I’ve also used the MV2 compressor plugin from waves for the low end channel of the bass to get it more consistent.

You can find both plugins here (click here)

Other Gear from the video

DAW Controller

Cubase 12 Pro

Yamaha AG06


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