Is it possible to MIX high level electronic music without a sub?

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by TruBlood, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. TruBlood

    TruBlood Kapellmeister

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    As I get more experienced I find myself stuck with an issue. I have jbl 305s and when I do the final mix test in my car which has a fairly good sound system (mercedez benz harmon kardon with sub/amp/8speakers) I find that my low end and sub/kick is really having a few issues and stuff I could not hear at all on just the JBL 305s is very apparent in my car sound system. So have any of you had success mixing without a sub? I really am leaning toward buying the jbl sub to pair with the 305s to correct this issue. Do all you high end mix engineers use subs?
     
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  3. mercurysoto

    mercurysoto Rock Star

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    From my experience, I can tell you that a subwoofer will only work your way if you have a trustworthy room, with proper acoustics. I used to have Yamaha's HS50Ms qith an HS10 sub. I thought I had the low end under check but then I listened to a tuned room in a proper studio and I heard the difference. When the room is untretated, you hear the subs but the sound is somehow smeared, not tight and focused. In a good room, a sub sounds like a well tuned, high quality bass guitar. In a bad room, it sounds like a cheap Squier. At the end, you hear a lot more bass content but you are still unable to pinpoint exactly what sounds right or wrong, which defeats the purpose of having a sub in the first place. I sold my Yamaha system and bought just a pair of 4" speakers that now work the same as before for me (double and triple checking bass content): The subwoofer was useless in my room. If your room is untreated, you can spend the sub money on acoustics and have better sound altogether. If you can't spend on a large mixing space or acoustics treatment, hold on to learning the flaws of your speakers and compensate for that in your mixes. You might wanna use the old trusted VMR from Focusrite, which might cost pennies by now, and a decent (great even better) pair of cans.

    EDIT: Your JBLs are a great pair of speakers.
     
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  4. fraifikmushi

    fraifikmushi Audiosexual

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    What is "high level electronic music"?
     
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  5. artwerkski

    artwerkski Rock Star

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    Nothing beats the club or the PA to audit your mix for bassworthy music.
    But a sub's worth it if you have the room to drive it. But a little theory and a good scope can get
    you there too. So, no. A sub's not a requirement for some good electronic music.


    She works mostly on cans off her Macbook. Just one that I know who sprung to mind.
     
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  6. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    Sort of the same experience in my room, @mercurysoto. I've got the KRK 8" with the 10" powered sub. The sub has a bypass foot switch, and I find myself not using it to mix because when I started comparing on other systems, and did a sanity check in a friend's studio that has a pair of Focal monitors, the bass was out of whack (too much bottom end in my mixes, kicks were way too dominant). I chock that up to my room being pretty small. I still need some bass traps in there too. One thing that helped define the low end (other than just disabling the sub) was putting a set of the Auralux pads under my monitors. The bass got way more defined and punchy afterwards.
    I agree with your advice, though. Worry about room treatment before trying to add a sub in to it. If your room is cancelling or smearing the low end with your current setup, pushing more air won't fix that issue.
    Also got a set of Samson SR-850's which I found are really good at revealing problem areas in both the low and top end. These cans aren't expensive at all (~$25 or so) and the pads are also pretty cheap (also ~$25) so it's a good low cost way to have some improvement in your monitoring environment.
     
  7. mercurysoto

    mercurysoto Rock Star

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    Yeah, I get it. I thought that by getting the subs I was magically fixing the low end. It took a contrast to a better system to learn that I was hearing a wobble of sound. I realized that it really took me as long to sit a mix without subwoofer. Now I'm happy with my monitors and I've been learning them for some time now, though I still need to adjust something 'cause people are complaining that my mixes are bass weak. I guess I went the other way around from whacky bass to poor bass. The irony is that I'm a bass player who's bass shy when mixing. :rofl:
     
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  8. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    Yep, that's an irony right there!
    I really, really like a pronounced bottom end, especially down in the 45-55 Hz area. Referencing commercial material against mine over those headphones has really been the saving grace for me to not continue adding too much. It really tends to muddy the mix as well. I listen to the reference material for definition down there, then try to recreate that definition. It helps a lot if you can find reference material which is very similar to the track you're working on.
    Then I ask my drummer to give it a listen in his hearse which has a huge stereo setup with a 15" sub in it. If it runs him out of the car, it's back to the drawing board for me!
     
  9. Backtired

    Backtired Platinum Record

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    People say a magic trick is to cut a little bit of the sub from the bass, so it doesn't overpower you, and let the kick do all the work.
    But I think the real deal is to test that by yourself. You can analyze and watch graphs but when listening (and feeling mostly here) it could be a lot different
     
  10. Von_Steyr

    Von_Steyr Audiosexual

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    Also known as Peek A Boo in Pennsylvania.
    [​IMG]
     
  11. beatmagnus

    beatmagnus Ultrasonic

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    This (sorry Von Steyr had to keep it going):
     
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  12. 23322332

    23322332 Producer

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    It's better to cut all the lows from the kick in some styles (reggae, funk, fast rock, anything with complicated drum patterns) and let the bass do its thing.
     
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  13. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    That's been a good magic trick for me too. I really thought doing a cut on the bass around 80Hz was going to absolutely kill the low end tone. It did to a small degree, but in a mix, the information you're really hearing from the bass isn't down there anyhow, so hearing the kick punch through down there kind of distracts your attention from it. That one cut alone really helped reducing the low end mud and clarifying everything in the mix. And it's the kick and the bass working together that provide that low end groove in my material. Rock/Heavy type material.

    I might try doing that on a track I'm working with that has some fancy double foot work in it. Maybe it'll provide a little more definition for the kick that way.

    And back to the OP. All of this I can clearly hear on the headphones, and now I know what it "should" sound like in my room. Can't stress enough the importance of referencing if you don't trust your room or are getting bad translation when listening in different environments. Can't stress enough the need to listen on different systems also.

    Just my experiences so far.
     
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  14. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    I think anything that looks like a sausage on the waveform display... :rofl:

    upload_2017-6-14_15-8-9.png
     
  15. saltwater

    saltwater Producer

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    he may have a point here:
     
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  16. subGENRE

    subGENRE Audiosexual

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    You cant mix what you cant hear, unless........

    You know what youre doing and have used your gear so long that you know how it will translate onto other systems. I do have a sub, but in the beginning, I had a crappy all concrete apt and it created more problems that it solved. I have a better room now but not the greatest and not calibrated. But Ive been using these same monitors since 2010. And know them really well. They're decent but not the greatest. (Truths B2031A's with the matched sub) The sub isnt on all the time, I just use it to check subbass sounds here and there, and for the last passes. I do most of my mixing without it. I also have really good cans with offset drivers (Ultrasone Proline 2500 / 8-35,000hz) and have had them just as long and know them well too.

    But when I goto someone elses studio that has adams or focals and listen to my mixes I hear a light sizzly sheen on the very top that I cant hear on my setup.

    After youve been at it a while you start to know what to look for on the meters and spectrums, its this combined with all I that I mentioned above that make me able to do so.

    So your answer is yes and no, but its only something that comes with training your ear and experience. But also your familiarity with your gear and knowing your freqs
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2017
  17. subGENRE

    subGENRE Audiosexual

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    And very cool too. I had no idea about jamaica and their studios. Alborosie? Cool stuff there..
     
  18. subGENRE

    subGENRE Audiosexual

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    Also wanted to say, @TruBlood if you and @foster911 are really working on a track together, I think thats awesome. If you get too fustrated and want to let me take a pass at it, just ask man. Ill need something raw out of the naked 2 bus (no compression or limiting) in 32 bit. I have a chain Ive dubbed the turd polisher (no offense intended). It can make proper sausages out of anything once you tweak it right. lol
     
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  19. SOKRVT

    SOKRVT Ultrasonic

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    Keep Sub and bass at these levels and kick drum at around -6db on average And you should be fine. Don't over compress your bass, it shouldn't be a sausage.

    Note; both screenshots have sub + bass as you can see lower and higher octave notes but they are processed differently and heavily distorted but not so much in the lower range.
     

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  20. mozee

    mozee Platinum Record

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    If you can invest in room treatment over anything else. Chances are you ears and you gear are working as intended but physics is messing with your head.
     
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  21. RedThresh

    RedThresh Producer

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    Very overlooked issue I believe. It's simple as that : If you're producing for some time now (years) and you're still rarely happy with your mixes, with known speakers, god level on your DAW, in a un-treated room : that's it. We really overlook sound waves physics and how they mess up the whole monitoring, the whole ear calibration, and the whole translate process...
     
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