by The Blackbird Academy

The electric bass in the example below was recorded live during a rehearsal at our live venue at The Blackbird Academy in Nashville. After the rehearsal, the song was mixed and used as a demo track for the band. The bass was recorded from a direct box and the tone was less than optimal. More specifically it was tubby and dull sounding – very one-dimensional. I used four Plugin Alliance processors to fix these tonal imperfections.

First, I used a bx_dynEQ plugin to reduce the level at 180Hz. The offending frequency only happened in certain passages so the bx_dynEQ was a good choice as it only reduced the level of those frequencies during those few moments in the performance. A dynamic EQ, like a de-esser, is a frequency dependent compressor that works to reduce a set frequency when it crosses its threshold. A de-esser would reduce sibilance whereas in this case, the bx_dynEQ acted to remove 180Hz.

Next, I instanced an elysia museq and boosted 70Hz for fatness, and cut 300Hz to remove the muddy low mid frequencies. Then I set the museq’s HF shelf at 5kHz and boosted the gain to open up the top end of the bass. I like the top end of the elysia museq which is very sweet sounding and perfect for adding high end without sounding harsh.

Third in line on the bass inserts I used a Millennia TCL-2 opto compressor/limiter plugin to smooth the overall dynamics of the track. By its nature, an optical compressor exhibits a relaxed, musical approach to gain reduction. By working with the attack, release, and threshold, I was able to get perfect dynamic control that tamed the bass down in the mix without sounding overly compressed. 

Lastly, I sent the bass out of an aux bus to an SPL Mo-Verb plugin to help add dimension. The Mo-Verb is very simple in concept using the same processing technique as the original SPL Transient Designer. I was able to raise the ambience and room tone of the bass track by turning up the enhancement knob to taste.

All these great Plugin Alliance plugins helped me to take a dull and lifeless bass and turn it into a more usable and impressive track in the final mix.


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