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Guys, is it possible to get bass right without a subwoofer?
Old 7th January 2011
  #1
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Guys, is it possible to get bass right without a subwoofer?

Alright, now I know this may be a heated topic because my room is not sound treated, in fact, not even close to it. I move in between my room at home and in college so It's not really an option to do something like that yet. However, I have put my speakers and desk away from the wall and in a good location in my room.

My question is, how do you guys get the bass right without a subwoofer? I'm using Yamaha HS80m's, and I really don't know how to detect with my ears the correct levels for bass. Often times, I'll use something real loud because I can't really even hear it normally, or I can't detect any tonal quality in it. Then when I take it to my car to my JL 12w6v2, It's clear that there's wayy too much bass and it's not even clean.

A lot of what I'm referring to is the "feel" aspect of bass, and the varying styles such as punchiness, crispness, brevity, sustainability, etc. I use Sony 7506's too and I'm honestly confused with how to monitor this stuff without a subwoofer. I'm looking into getting the matching HS10 for my monitors, but I just wanted some advice from you guys first.

I understand a lot of this is due to my untrained ear. I'm probably just not listening for the right things, or I have a certain expectation with how something should sound. I've yet to have any real studio time, although I hope this changes in the next year with an internship maybe.
Perfect example: I'll go through my 808's sample folder and honestly a lot of the sounds either sound the same, or is not what I imagine an 808 sounding like. Everything is just flat and really difficult for me to discern any difference between, probably because of the HS80's flat, "lackluster" response.

Considering that real room treatment is not an immediate option, and considering how important bass is to hip hop/rap/my own production style, should I pull the trigger and get a subwoofer for my setup?
Old 7th January 2011
  #2
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quadrafunk's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
If room treatment is not an option (like you said) then you've got to make the most out of your headphones.

I just switched from the 7506's to the ATH-M50's and I'm loving it. I see now how the 7506's were too splitting in the highs and over-hyped in the lows. I'm doing a lot of reference listening on the M50's and I'm better understanding how to mix the kick and bass with cans on.

I do have a well treated room and nice monitors but can't use them at night (I have a 2 year old). I do a lot of mixing after the kids go to bed.

...and before slutz start flaming on the M50's, I know there are probably better headphones for mixing. Read reviews, ask around, and listen to several brands at the music store.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #3
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by quadrafunk ➑️
If room treatment is not an option (like you said) then you've got to make the most out of your headphones.

I just switched from the 7506's to the ATH-M50's and I'm loving it. I see now how the 7506's were too splitting in the highs and over-hyped in the lows. I'm doing a lot of reference listening on the M50's and I'm better understanding how to mix the kick and bass with cans on.

I do have a well treated room and nice monitors but can't use them at night (I have a 2 year old). I do a lot of mixing after the kids go to bed.

...and before slutz start flaming on the M50's, I know there are probably better headphones for mixing. Read reviews, ask around, and listen to several brands at the music store.
I switched to the M50's from the 7506 as well. I can see how the 50's would be good for seeing what's going on in the bass department, but how are people finding them with mixing everything else? I find the mids, highs, and especially vocals to be kind of "odd" in those cans.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #4
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viewing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
get some big speakers. not an expert but of the opinion that near field monitors will never be able to provide the bass information and all of the nuances that big speakers can because they don't move the same volume of air no matter how advanced the design(sorry if i quoted this verbatim from another gs member!). single subs are tricky to get right and require calculations for room placement, and even then i wouldn't trust them since i like all of the sound to come from a stereo location. i grew up on some old realistic mach 2 speakers which have 15" woofers, and having used small speakers and finally switched back, i wish i never left them. you could crank the near fields and still not be able to FEEL the bass in your bones(chakras maybe?), whereas big speakers at moderate volume will still let you do this. basically, IMO, a pair of big speakers + HS80M > HS80M + sub
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #5
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Jonathawkes's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Invest in a couple bass traps that you can just stack in the corners of your room. Try using a frequency analyzer so you can see which frequencies are popping out and also to see what's happening in the 50hz and below area if you can't hear it on your monitors. Also try to reference music that you know very well as much as possible while you're mixing. And lastly, use a high pass filter that starts cutting out below 40hz and curves down to 20hz so that you know any sub harmonic crap wont be interfering with your headroom.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #6
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Gdupproductions's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Just learn how to use your speakers....and feel when things are right. When! i hear that my bass sounds a bit louder then everything else by anymeans constantly noticeable over everything then i just take down the volume a bit until it sounds softer then your kick but not too quiet.....

I also have problems with bass tough at times i barely hear subs but 808,s do bang.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Yes, just know your monitors and room..
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #8
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steveschizoid's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I don't understand people who advise summarily HPF'ing a mix - especially if you can't really hear the impact.

The Hs80m's are not bad, but a sub woofer wouldn't hurt (those monitors go down to nearly 40 Hz, but 30-40 Hz is pretty important) My experience with this led me to install about 20 bass traps and get a sub woofer to go with my S3a's. The big issue in my room was between 65 and 95 Hz.

If you have low end issues in your room, it does not matter what speakers you put in there, you still will not hear what you need to hear.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #9
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
The overhyped lows of 7506s can actually be a useful tool when used in combination with other monitors.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #10
mp3
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
I agree you need to learn your rooms and your monitors.

The fastest way to do it is listen to a LOT of commercial music (it helps if its the genre/style you're going for) to get a feel for how competently mixed lowend comes across in your space and on your HS80s. Compare/contrast with your own mixes.

(I have no problem judging bass on my Event 20/20s but I have had them for a decade and I know them like the back of my hand.)

Also you can build/buy portable sound treatment. I have some 2x4 auralex foam wedges that I glued to a wooden frame. I can hang them on the wall like picture frames or move them around to suit temporary needs like when I have to record vocals or my homeboy brings his bass and amp over.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #11
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Nahuel's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
yes you need room treatment and a sub woofer, if it's not possible headphones like the ultrasone pro900 will help you, you'll notice an improvement but it's not like a treated room + sub.
Old 7th January 2011 | Show parent
  #12
Gear Addict
 
Jonathawkes's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid ➑️
I don't understand people who advise summarily HPF'ing a mix - especially if you can't really hear the impact.
.
YOU (or the person doing the mixing) might not hear the impact but that's no reason not to use a specific technique. There are many reasons to use a high pass filter but mainly; the low end on multiple audio tracks can really start to build up and cause a smearing in the bass and low mids of your mix (and we're talking sub bass that you might not initially notice) So a good way to remedy this is by adding a high pass filter to either individual or (in extreme cases) the over all mix. And a bonus reason to use a high pass filter would be to bring up the apparent volume of your mix. If you've ever wondered why your songs sound quieter than professional mixes, it might be because there's too much energy in the lows taking up valuable headroom. You might be hitting close to 0db but the mix sounds quiet . There's some good reading on the subject and Google is your friend. I don't mean to "summarily" advise, but I would expect anyone interested in learning to do the majority of their research themselves.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Subwoofer vs. no subwoofer in an untreated room.... who cares? You can't judge the bass on either so what's the point?

But seriously, don't buy a subwoofer because it's not going to help in an untreated room. Right now all your low end is f*cked up. If you get a subwoofer than you'll just have deeper and more f*cked up low end. The reason you can't judge the bass has nothing to do with subwoofer and everything to do with your room. So until you get your room treated properly, or get a new room altogether, you are stuck burning discs and checking them on a ton of different playback systems and averaging everything altogether.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #14
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quadrafunk's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by excLOUsiv ➑️
I switched to the M50's from the 7506 as well. I can see how the 50's would be good for seeing what's going on in the bass department, but how are people finding them with mixing everything else? I find the mids, highs, and especially vocals to be kind of "odd" in those cans.
Yeah, odd is a good description of the M50's when you first listen to them. My first impression was, "WTF?" "This is muffled."

I put in a commercial cd to see what the deal was. My ear adjusted after a few listens and that's when the depth and detail came into focus. It also showed how bright and brittle the 7506's were.

That's why I suggested a good set of cans to the OP. Bouncing between home and school, the phones will travel with him.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Head
 
🎧 10 years
Thx for the advice guys. I think i'm still in the mode that a lot of young, amateur guys are like. You just wanna hear **** bang like you know it should, but naturally you aren't supposed to hear real exaggerated stuff on monitors. I don't use my headphones enough solely because I got these Yamaha HS80's and feel like I gotta put them to use, but it probably doesn't help as much as it should if the room ain't ready for them. It's probably a fundamental issue that I'm still struggling with in terms of the mixing of all the elements of a song. I guess the biggest problem is, I listen to a lot of tracks on my speakers/headphones for reference, but I'm unable to replicate or recreate the same kind of sound.

How do I get past the confusion of hearing something that sounds relatively tame on my monitors, but actually is way too heavy/distorted/nasty in my car/another system?It's like a mixing fundamental and matter of training my ear that I've desperately tried to achieve but have been struggling with since the beginning.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #16
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steveschizoid's Avatar
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryz0n ➑️
How do I get past the confusion of hearing something that sounds relatively tame on my monitors, but actually is way too heavy/distorted/nasty in my car/another system?.
What Chris said a couple of posts up...also, keep a volume matched reference within one mouse click or keystroke while mixing.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #17
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Boschen's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ryz0n ➑️
SNIP...
How do I get past the confusion of hearing something that sounds relatively tame on my monitors, but actually is way too heavy/distorted/nasty in my car/another system?It's like a mixing fundamental and matter of training my ear that I've desperately tried to achieve but have been struggling with since the beginning.
Calibrate your monitors to a reference level, like that in Bob Katz' K-system. This will help avoid issues caused by level problems.

Know your monitors' character, what is hyped or cut. Same for your phones. Use reference discs and frequency analysis to be sure.

Don't bother with a sub in an untreated room. You will only substitute one misleading audio environment for another. Use a frequency analyzer to see what is going on in your room, with modes, odd reflections, etc. Then at least you'll know where the issues lie, and what you may have to correct.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #18
Motown legend
 
Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Subs can be very misleading for mixing. I tried to use one and then a pair for over ten years. Switching to full range speakers was a revelation.

My mentor in the film sound business told me they had the same problem trying to mix with subs back in the late '70s. Good for editing, good for making sure nothing's wrong down there, not good for mixing without bad news when it gets played in a different room.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #19
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XKAudio's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
without sound treatment, the bigger your speaker is the more phase issues you will get... save yourself years of headacke and get sound treatment. you can learn sort of where your speakers peak and dip, but "you cant balance something thats not there" -Mixerman which will be your case for a lot of low frequencies.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #20
Gear Nut
 
🎧 10 years
If u really want the base right.. go test it on a whole bunch of speakers or save ur self time by getting ur room treated.
Old 8th January 2011 | Show parent
  #21
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris carter ➑️
So until you get your room treated properly, or get a new room altogether, you are stuck burning discs and checking them on a ton of different playback systems and averaging everything altogether.
at least usb based devices should cut down on the amount of coasters, especially if you have a usb socket in the car,
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson ➑️
Subs can be very misleading for mixing. I tried to use one and then a pair for over ten years. Switching to full range speakers was a revelation.

My mentor in the film sound business told me they had the same problem trying to mix with subs back in the late '70s. Good for editing, good for making sure nothing's wrong down there, not good for mixing without bad news when it gets played in a different room.
What full range speakers would you recommend?
Old 9th January 2011 | Show parent
  #23
Nev
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Nev's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid ➑️
What Chris said a couple of posts up...also, keep a volume matched reference within one mouse click or keystroke while mixing.
Can't stress this enough, the man is right on point.

Every producer I know that purchased a sub for mixing "down there" ended up with light bass mixes and a whole new set of problems. Adding subs or treating your room isn't going to fix a bad mixing skills.

Once you KNOW your speakers and how commercial releases sound in them, you can sculpt your sound to better fit the mold. Some of the best engineers I know can mix on nothing but a pair of hs50. Why? Because they know the speakers, they know what to expect and they use the tool available to them, such as spectrum analyzers.

We all still run around in our car, friend's houses, and as many places as possible to hear what our mixes sound like on different speakers, and treating your room or adding a sub isn't going to change that.

Also understand that the 808 you hear on commercial releases is not going to be the stock untreated 808 that comes in most sample packages. They have been eq'd, compressed, re-eq'd then limited, etc etc you get the point.
Old 10th January 2011 | Show parent
  #24
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atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
use a spectrum analyzer. look at how professional mixes of similar material show up on the FFT display in the sub region. that will give you an idea of what your sub bass levels should be. i usually set the analyzer to have a 5 to 4.5db per octave rolloff curve, which to me is "flat" for hip-hop. 3db per octave is considered truly reference flat, but it's actually painfully bright, particularly for high spl music like hip-hop. check out voxengo span.
Old 10th January 2011 | Show parent
  #25
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TRANQUILO's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
spinning your wheels

I beleive you can get the bass right, but at this point you are simply spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. If you dont have a somewhat treated room and proper monitoring you are wasting your time 2nd guessing everything you mix. Do it right, it doesnt have to be expensive if you can be resourceful and handy...
Old 11th January 2011 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Maniac
 
Phizal's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
This is the poor man's trick, but it may give you some reference. Try standing 8-10 ft away from the edge of your monitors on the tweeter side. Crouch down and you'll hear plenty of sub bass. Mostly when I am using deep toned kicks. I do it sometimes to simulate a club atmosphere for reference. You will hear the bass flabbing, then you can keeping on adjusting to tighten through eq or compression if you want.
Old 11th January 2011 | Show parent
  #27
DAH
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DAH's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
1. Treat the room. In my unteated room peaks and dips due to modes are as high as 15 db - no ****. I have a 15 dB peak in the bath room @ 35 Hz.
2. Find a mixing spot (this may include moving speakers as well) where the bass is most even (say +-5 db is cool)
3. Yammies go as low as 40 Hz in a real room.
Old 12th January 2011 | Show parent
  #28
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3rd Degree's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I am going to say the same as everyone else, reference as much as you can and learn your speakers. Treating your room is good as well.

I have a sub and never use it mix, I rarely use it at all really. I used to try to reference with it but it only caused issues.

You can also walk around your room and find a place where the bass builds up. I have a corner in my room I can't treat and I have found that this corner gives me almost exactly what I would hear in my car with subs. I just go over their as another reference.

Honestly, at the end of the day, it's like everything else. It takes time and experience. No matter how good the playback is, you still have to learn, it just makes it easier.
Old 12th January 2011 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Maniac
 
Anthony Duran's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Starting out, when I couldn't afford alot of "good gear"..(still saving for things..lol) I smaarted* my room (and "set" a 31 band EQ between my out and monitors) to be as flat as possible at THAT listening point (placed mic where my ears normally were)

Although I had no sub, it helped a great deal to hear what was "really" happening down to around 70hz. NOT a complete solution, but one way to move forward in your mix's.

I will also agree with everyone saying to "keep at it". Mixing skills come with much "experience".

Message me if you would like more info on Smaart*

Good luck!
Old 12th January 2011 | Show parent
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
Anthony Duran's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Oh yeah, I also use Ultrasone 550's
Excellent!
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