Making a bass sound that can be herd on all devices eg. phone speakers, small home theater & laptop Speakers is a very important to many genres of music. Lower bass frequencies are often not reproduced on devices with smaller speakers but we still need to be abel to hear them. We do this by adding distortion to the bass sound to creating upper harmonics, then our brain will fill in the gaps and we can then perceive low end even tho it is not physically there.
Speakers create distortion as they move and the more you push a speaker by increasing the output level, the more distorted the sound. I was driving in my car playing my mixes loud and I noticed that the doors would ratel during heavy bass sections of my tracks. I Really loved how it added this intense, emotional, Aggressive experience to my mixes. So i decided to try and emulate it in the studio.
Below is a frequency map of my bass sound before re-amping . I can see that the bass fundamental is very low (Around 50hz). There is some harmonic content on this bass sound on the initial strike of the bass that would be audible on a laptop speaker but after that initial hit. The bass would be inaudible on smaller systems.
I want my bass to be fat and juicy on every system. I also want to emulate a rattling door sound to re record as almost like a noise layer to put back on top of my bass . This is the process of how i did it.
Re-Amping is a two stage process whereby you first record a dry or clean track (guitar, Piano, etc) and then re-record the track afterwards by sending the clean track back through your amps and effects.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
- Any Microphone (I’m using an sm57)
- Audio Interface of some kind
- Audio Source (I have accesses to a soundproof room with monitors. But with some careful roughing inside your DAW, you could just mic up your control room monitors)
- Mic Stand
- Sticky tape & Paper
Ideally before re-amping, your bass should be complete and edited without clicks or pops. keep in mind this technique is most ideal to use after production is complete. I like to do it to my projects in the mixing stage.
HOW TO RE-AMP
- Solo or Route your bass track though an output of your audio interface and connect it to your audio sauce. Im using a studio re-amping kit because Im using the speakers in the sound proof room next door. This kit allows me to use my microphone lines in the snake as an audio send.
- Set up your microphone on a stand in front of the speaker. Adjusting the position of the mic on & off axis to the speakers is essentially equivalent to an eq, so have a listen and position to taste. I set a sm57 dead down the guts of my studio monitor.
- (Optional) Grab some tape and experiment with positioning of paper. Its a good idea to have the bass on a loop as you set this up. I could increase and decrees the amount of ratel just by moving the piece of paper up and down to taste.
- Hit Record
Below is a frequency map of my bass sound after re-amping. You can see the Rich harmonics created from the speaker distorting.
A short Video of the process.
When creating bass sounds I ask myself what they need to do and try to keep them as Simple, But as interesting as possible. Its the little subtle details that are interesting to me as a listener. A bass sound should be made up of a Fundamental, A Layer & A texture. What this means is essentially 3 different sounds glued together to make one new sound.
Typically you only want one bass occupying the lower frequency’s 20 – 120hz to avoid phase cancelation. So with this in mind i rolled of the bottom end on the re-amped bass. I also used an eq to increase the midrange and decreased the paper rattling sound that was occupying the upper frequency.
In the video above you can see the level of my texture layer sidechaineing. Using Fruity Envelope controller I can send midi information to any parameter and have it behave exactly how I want. This beats side-chain compression as i can be much more particular with levels and movement. As well as a side-chain envelope controlling the volume there is an LFO on the same volume parameter. This just creates more texture between bass sounds.
Overall Re-Amping is an effective tool useful for not just adding upper harmonics to a track amongst a host of other thing. Get Creative!
Let me know in the comments below. What have you re-amped before and how did you do it?