Mixing bass is not always the easy task. Being a low frequency instrument, bass requires a good ear and sound system to spot how it fits into the mix and the characteristics of the record you’re mixing.
In all fairness, it takes some time to master mixing, let alone mixing bass so don’t get discouraged if your bass is off.
This post will discuss why your bass may sound boomy. Knowing this can help you know what to avoid and know what to implement so you get a good clean bass.
With said, lets dive right into it.
Why does my bass sound boomy?
For context, a boomy bass sounds loud but generally has no impact and bleeds into other frequencies. There are many causes of boomy bass such as wrong sub-woofer placement, bad sub-woofer, bad room acoustics, bad mix etc. It’s therefore important that you get things right so you avoid bad boomy bass.
Below are some things may cause boomy bass.
Not all equipment works the same. Some tools require specific placement in order for them to work a certain way.
For example, a microphone, depending on its polar pattern, has to be placed at specific angle taking into account the singer or artist recording.
The same goes for subwoofers.
Having them placed the wrong way without carrying out proper tests to get a good general idea of sub output with respect to various positions is one of the reasons why you may be experiencing a boomy output.
Therefore, the first thing I’d check for is the overall position of the subs and how it affects the audio output.
Sometimes, boominess could be the result of your sub being placed too closely to an untreated wall. Which would then lead to bass bouncing off the surface of the wall therefore causing boominess.
Subwoofer placement is of vital importance as I’ve discussed above and you have to take it into account before you start meddling with other things.
But perharps, something that’s of equal importance as much as speaker placement is the quality of the sub that you’re working with.
If you’re working with a badly designed sub with low quality parts that are assembled with no genuine care for the quality of the output.
You shouldn’t be surprised when you notice your sub output to be boomy.
Bad room acoustics
In speaker placement I talked about the importance of keeping your speakers off walls. This part will discuss further room acoustics and their effect on sound.
A sub placed in a bad room (with regard to acoustics) will not perform very well and some of the notable effects of doing this is boomy bass.
The simple thing to remember here is that when sound hits a hard surface it reflects and will continue to do so.
Therefore boomy bass can sometimes be the result of your room being acoustically inappropriate and causing reflections and clashing of sounds.
I’d check for how my speakers are placed and where they’re placed. Plus, the overall walls and floors in the room.
A bad mix
Sometimes the cause of a boomy bass is simply a bad mix.
If your low end frequencies are all cluttered and clashing you may experience a boomy bass.
The effects you use on the bass could also sometimes affect how your bass sounds.
So you have to watch out for that and ensure your mix is right before you start moving your speakers around.
Let’s take a look some things that you can do to counteract a boomy bass.
Fix the mix
A bad mix can result in a number of problems and one of those problems is frequency clashing.
If you don’t take the time to pay attention to each mix element to make sure that it’s frequencies don’t interfere with others , you’ll have a mix with crowded frequencies.
A boomy bass could be the result of bass colliding with a mix element that is supposed to be a mid range frequency element but has low end frequency activity.
Therefore, the best practice is ensure that only bass elements cover the low end and you can do this by moderately cutting away low end frequencies from non low end elements like synthesized pads, guitars etc.
Use the right room
Sometimes improving low end frequency activity comes down to simply optimising your room.
Ensure that your walls are properly outfitted with sound absorption materials that have to be placed strategically.
Carry out various sound tests in the room by trying out various speaker placement angles, moving the work station etc.
If you fail to get the right Acoustics in the room then you can move to a new room if you have one or you can simply call an acoustic treatment expert to help you out.
Buy high quality subs that produce good low end. Avoid buying regular subs because most of them aren’t really well balanced or optimized for audio production work.
Once you buy good subs hook them up to your system and assess if they perform better.
If you don’t notice any change, then review placement, the mix itself, and the room acoustics.
Also check for any parameters or controls on the sub that you may need to adjust to get better audio output.
Good speaker placement is essential. Your subs have to be decoupled from the ground by use of stands or any other recommended material.
Also, they have to be toed-in so they form an equilateral triangle with the listening spot.
They also need to be away from nearby walls because the low frequencies can easily travel through the air and into the structure. Which could cause vibration and boominess.
Multiband compression can be a great way to fix a bad bass.
You can simply slap a multi band compressor on your bass channel and then reduce the low frequency bands so you get a cleaner bass.
This can be an effective way to get a good handle on the dynamics of the bass.
As a warning, use moderate compression because you don’t want to end up with an over compressed bass.