7 ways to get a great bass sound in music production

Want to create deep, fat, exciting basslines? Get inspired with these tips to improve the bass sound in your music production.

There’s nothing like a big clean bassline to create a groove. Whether you like to start off your music producing by writing a clever bassline to build the rest of the track around, or you prefer to add bass afterwards as solid grounding to compliment the rest of your instruments, bass is a fundamental part of any song.

To get you thinking about the best ways to use bass in your producing, here are seven ideas to help improve your bass sound.

Variation is key

Keep things interesting for the listener by changing up your bassline, just slightly, every so often. Small variations in the MIDI, like a little run here and there, inject a bit of creativity, because even if you’re loving your solid, funky bass loop repetition gets boring fast.

Fight the muddy bass

Recording live bass? Amplified bass can sound muddy, so try using a touch of compression to counteract it. Uneven levels from an enthusiastic bass player can be tamed with compression, too.

Check out our tips on compression here.

Go wide

Use panning to open up the sound of your bassline. Although bass is typically panned in the dead centre for grounding, playing about with panning can lend spaciousness to the mix. Try duplicating your bass part into two tracks, panning each to the far left and right.

Then think about using the EQ plugins in your DAW – use a low-pass filter to bring out the lowest frequencies and a high-pass filter for a wide sound.

Go deep

It might seem obvious, but an easy way to make your bass sound deeper is to play about with pitch, with surprisingly creative results. If you’ve got a synth bassline, tune your oscillator down, or move your bass sample down an octave. Get creative and see what works best with the other instruments you’ve got going on.

Pitching the bass up a few octaves is also vital for sub-bass to check everything’s in the right key.

How low can you go?

Give your track some body by providing a sub-bass line with a deep sound that vibrates your very bones. The sub bass can play the same line as your main bass as backup, or act as the only bass part.

If you don’t have professional speakers or a subwoofer it can be hard to hear the frequencies especially for mixing, but there are some good tutorials kicking about to help solve that issue.

Create a slide effect

Want a smooth bassline? You need the pitch of the notes to slide into each other in a flowing way. Try using your synth’s slide control. It can also help the bassline sound less robotic.

The bass and kick are best friends – until they’re not

The kick and the bass parts anchor the whole track, and should blend together and work in harmony. Make sure your bassline times beautifully with your kick, accentuating it.

Problems arise however from the similar frequencies of the kick and bass, which can cause clashing in the mix. EQing can help with this issue, making room for both sounds. If adding a frequency to a kick, try cutting the same from the bass.

Panning, as previously noted, can also help with separation to make room for the kick. Keep the kick central and pan two tracks of bass to either side.

Next time you’re starting a new track why not make the bass the star of the show. Got any bassline secrets that have changed the way you make music? Let us know in the comments.

Happy with the bass on your newly mixed and mastered track? Let RouteNote know and we can distribute your music to all the major streaming platforms and stores, for free. Start making money from your music today – find out more here.

Improved new Spire Studio from iZotope delivers quality recordings quickly on the go

Image Credit: iZotope

Spontaneously record and edit your music whenever you want with the updated second generation Spire Studio device from iZotope.

Audio technology makers iZotope recently announced the release of their upgraded Spire Studio recorder. It’s a wireless smart recording device, with built-in effects tools that make it super-easy for vocalists and instrumentalists to record wherever and whenever an idea may strike.

Spire Studio is able to act as an on-the-go recording engineer, offering built-in intelligent audio processing and can sync to production tools on the cloud.

So what’s changed in the second generation? There’s more storage with the new Spire Studio and improved, crisper preamps for your gear. The preamps promise a smoother sound, for professional-sounding recordings.

You also get a six month free trial of processing app Spire Pro. The device features pedalboard effects and amp simulators, an integrated 360°condenser mic, and includes an auto-mastering tool, Enhance, which is powered by iZotope’s Ozone. The controls for recording are simple and the Soundcheck feature auto-sets your levels as you sing or play.

The new generation has kept the same design as the first version. Unfortunately, the upgrade comes with a catch – the price. The new version will set you back a steep $499, up on the already wince-inducing $350 of the original.

Spire Studio Specifications:
  • Connection Type: Built-in Wi-Fi network
  • Power Supply: Universal power adapter
  • Battery: Internal rechargeable lithium-ion
  • Battery Life: 4+ hours
  • Supported Operating System: Android, iOS
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 4.8 x 4.4 x 3.4 inches
  • Inputs: 2 XLR/TS combo jacks, 48v Phantom Power
  • Outputs: Two headphone 1/8″ outputs
  • Sample Rate/Bit Depth: 48 kHz/24-bit

Check out the new Spire Studio here.

5 EQ mistakes new music producers make

Image Credit: Dimitri Houtteman

EQ is a powerful music production tool – when used correctly. Try and avoid making these common mistakes that producers make when EQing their tracks.

In music production the EQ process is such a vital part of any mix that the biggest mistake is forgetting about EQ in the first place. The second biggest mistake is using it too much.

Check you’re not making any of these common mistakes that producers, new and experienced alike, make when EQing their tracks.

Forgetting about the mids

When EQing it’s tempting to zone straight in on the very highs and the very lows of the mix, for example focusing on getting that perfect big bone-quaking bass. But don’t neglect the midrange. Human ears are most sensitive to it, and it’s where the heart of most instruments live. Too little midrange and the mix will feel hollow and lack power.

Not making sure the tracks gel together

Generally, avoid EQing in solo when mixing. You might be fixing problems that don’t exist and making the individual tracks worse, because none of your listeners will ever hear that one track by itself. You can do a little solo EQing in the prep phase, but when mixing it’s usually best to do most of your EQing whilst the whole mix is playing. Otherwise you can’t be sure if the instrument fits into your entire mix, and you’re wasting time.

Using EQ as a volume control

Don’t boost everything just to make it sound louder. As a rule, cut rather than boost EQ, as the result sounds more natural and preserves some headroom. We naturally think that louder equals better, but that’s not always the case.

Accidentally causing clashing in the mix

Boosting the same frequencies in different instruments can cause a cluttered mix and cause masking, when two signals overlap and cancel out the quieter sound. You want separation in your mix. If you boost in one instrument, cut another that’s in the same frequency range to ensure clarity – for example, cutting either the bass guitar or the kick.

Letting the EQ trick you

Each mixing decision causes your ears to become more accustomed to the new frequencies and tones. The mix sounds much better than before, so the temptation is to add a little more EQ, and a little more…

If you find yourself doing this, stop, bypass the plugins, listen closely to the tracks and the whole mix and make sure that your decisions have actually made a positive difference. You should always be EQing to fix a problem, and if there’s no clear goal, you probably don’t need to EQ at all.

EQing is a skill that improves with practise as your ears are trained to recognise frequencies and what works where in the mix. You don’t need to buy loads of expensive plugins – learning the ins and outs of one or two EQs will serve you perfectly fine, and you can even just stick to the stock EQ that came with your DAW.

Keep practising EQing your mixes, trust what sounds good, and watch your producing improve.

Pause for these soothing ambient loops made by an acoustic guitar and the Microcosm effects pedal (Video)

Image Credit: Hologram Electronics

Sit back and just breathe for a mindful few minutes whilst Chords of Orion plays around beautifully with an acoustic guitar and the Hologram Microcosm effects pedal.

Over on YouTube, Chords of Orion recorded a few minutes of acoustic guitar and had a play around with the various settings on the Hologram Microcosm effects pedal. The result is a deeply relaxing few minutes of layer upon layer of murmuring repeated loops.

Hologram’s Microcosm is a granular processor, a looper and glitch pedal with a reverb unit, modulation section, and resonant lowpass filter to sculpt all manner of tones. It has 11 effects and 44 present variations.

As Engadget say, it can make almost anything sound gorgeous. Reviews say that it doesn’t take much twiddling to transform chords and loops into a beautiful kaleidoscope of ambient sounds.

If you’re interested in buying the Hologram Microcosm have a look here, but be warned it doesn’t come cheap at $449 a pre-order. But there’s no denying it’s extremely tempting if you’re a musician or producer who loves to create ambient music. It might be the only pedal you ever need.

Got a few ambient tracks you think are perfect to bring a bit of calm to the waiting world? Sign up with RouteNote to get your music on all the major streaming sites, for free.

Stand by for the new Behringer RD-9 Rhythm Designer to ship out soon

Image Credit: Behringer

Get ready for the long-awaited launch of new drum machine Behringer RD-9.

A month or so ago Behringer announced an update on the release of their RD-9 Rhythm Designer, the new drum machine modelled on the classic Roland TR-909 which helped elevate dance-pop tracks by the likes of Madonna and Daft Punk to legendary status.

Behringer says the drum machine faithfully keeps the original feel, but also introduces modern features to suit the 21st century musician and producer. Apparently it’s not too pricey, either.

The RD-9 can switch between “Enhanced” and “Authentic” mode as the user desires. Authentic mode produces sequences similar to those of the TR-909.

The enhanced features are new – there’s controls to change the pitch and the pitch depth of the bass drum, and the tuning of the hi-hat. The Wave Designer compressor and transient shaper from the RD-8 also gets a feature.

Behringer keep teasing the release of the RD-9 – its existence was first announced back in 2018, but the launch has been continually delayed. Once the final tinkering around with sounds had been completed the company said they expected the RD-9 to start shipping in March or April 2021, so we can expect an announcement soon.

A price hasn’t been revealed, but the RD-8 comes in at around $350 so assume a similar amount. Keep an eye on the Behringer website and socials for the launch.

Fender’s acoustic Jazzmaster could be their strangest guitar yet

The latest in Fender’s Acoustasonic series takes a curvy, gnarly classic and gives it an o-hole and a hollow body for resonance and a fat pickup for some grit.

I’m a Fender fan, no two ways about it. There are only two electric guitars that I use; a Telecaster for when I’m feeling loosie goosie, and for every mood, any day of the week, I use my beloved Fender Jazzmaster. The curves of a Jazzmaster are more beautiful than any human body to me – try though you might to tempt me, Hollywood. So imagine my conflicted feelings when I saw this latest release from Fender.

The release video above showing the guitar being wrung like a soppy rag that’s just been on car cleaning duty probably doesn’t help the ghastly image. There is something strangely enticing about the guitar but every time I spend too long looking at it, my eyes begin to sizzle like acid is being dripped on them.

Fender promise their “most versatile guitar yet” in the Acoustasonic Jazzmaster which can switch from clean, country tones to the beefy grit that the original guitar is famous for.

You know, perhaps it’s a logical fate for the beloved Jazzmaster design. Fender originally created them to capitalise on, you guessed it, jazz guitarists who were looking for something solid, comfortable, and vibrant to play out their soulful tunes on. To Fender’s surprise, the burgeoning world of surf rockers were the ones who laid eyes on it with a greedy grin and appropriated the guitar for that iconic twangy sound.

Since it’s inception the Jazzmaster has done the rounds, straddling the dirty pits of grunge guitarists, pronouncing out the delayed laments of indie rockers, and even making appearances in the arsenal of metal rock players. It’s a versatile guitar that escaped its master’s intentions to become a wild beast of its own.

So maybe this Frankenstein’s monster of a new hollow instrument is a full circle, middle finger in the face of the Jazzmaster’s legacy. Perhaps Fender are saying: “Hey, at the end of the day we know that whatever we do you guys are gonna find your own use for it. So here’s some bastard guitar, have fun!”

The Acoustasonic guitar comes with a new humbucker designed by Tim Shaw, promising to power its acoustic sound with some edge. Fender’s engineers say the the Jazzmaster body surprisingly lends itself to the acoustic form, offering a warm and authentic acoustic tone thanks to its offset shape which enhances the low and mid-frequencies.

To be honest, it sounds pretty f–king good when it’s being used for some fuzzy blues. Whilst I’ve not played or used it in person, from what I’ve heard the acoustic tone sounds a bit flat to me – despite Fender’s claims of the body lending itself to resonance I’m not sure how true that really is.

It certainly looks shocking, I’ll give it that. In the way that many of the great guitars have at first release and glance, it takes you by surprise when you first see it. It simply needs to find its players to make a mark – whether it will find the right finger-fretting mates to be a success will have to be seen and heard. It may simply go down in history as one of Fender’s many strange mutant releases.

Apple To Discontinue The Original HomePod

Image credit: Mark Tegethoff

The HomePod is to be discontinued to make way for the HomePod Mini.

Customers looking to purchase an Apple HomePod may have recently found it difficult, at first this was thought to be due to production issues caused by Covid. However, it has become apparent that the HomePod has been discontinued completely. 

According to TechCrunch, Apple is discontinuing the HomePod and will now focus solely on the HomePod Mini, the newer, more powerful speaker. However, Apple is said to be continuing support for the HomePod with software updates and service through AppleCare. 

Although the HomePod was a feat of sound engineering it struggled to gain any major traction, arguably due to its initial price point of $349 and the state of Siri, Apple’s voice assistant, at the time of release. 

In a statement released by Apple, they explain that the HomePod will continue to be available via the Apple online store, Apple Stores, and authored third-party retailers until supplies run dry. 

“HomePod mini has been a hit since its debut last fall, offering customers amazing sound, an intelligent assistant, and smart home control all for just $99. We are focusing our efforts on HomePod mini. We are discontinuing the original HomePod, it will continue to be available while supplies last through the Apple Online Store, Apple Retail Stores, and Apple Authorized Resellers. Apple will provide HomePod customers with software updates and service and support through Apple Care.” 

AirPods 3 Could Be Delayed To Launch With iPhone 13

Image credit: Omid Armin

According to a new rumour we may not get the AirPods 3 till Q3 2021.

The new AirPods 3 may start rolling off production lines in Q3 2021, according to a new rumor, which suggests that it may launch alongside the iPhone 13 range. 

This latest rumor contradicts another recent rumor that suggested that the new AirPods model would launch at Apple‘s next product event on the 23rd March. However, new information comes courtesy of noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo, who reportedly claimed that Apple will start producing AirPods models in the “third calendar quarter of 2021”, according to an investor report seen by AppleInsider. 

Interestingly, Kuo isn’t sure if Apple will keep the older generations of AirPods or replace them with the latest versions. By removing the previous editions Apple will deny users a cheaper alternative. 

Judging by previous Apple bundle announcements coming in September (Q3) this rumor is likely to carry some weight. Although the iPhone 12 range was scattered across three days in September, October, and November back in 2020, this was likely due to pandemic-related production delays though. 

Top 10 tips for better vocal production

Image Credit: Sincerely Media

Record and mix vocals like a pro with these top tips for music producers.

The vocals of any song are the centre of attention, and therefore should be the focus of the track. Unluckily it’s hard to get away with any sort of poor sound when you’re recording and producing vocals.

It’s worth spending time getting the vocal part spot on as you produce your track. Here are ten tips to help get you well on the way to better vocal production.

Let vocals sit nicely in the mix with EQ

Make sure when EQing that you’re not making the lead vocal too loud – overpowering the other instruments. But don’t make vocals too quiet either, losing clarity. If you’re the singer and therefore mixing your own vocal, try not to be self-conscious – let your voice be heard!

Don’t bury the vocal

Lead vocals should generally speaking ring out clearly through the mix. Adapt the other instruments to the vocal, not the other way around. The key is to always give the lead vocal space.

Make the most of panning

Where you decide to position the vocals in the stereo field is going to make a big difference to the overall sound of the track. Typically, lead vocals will usually be panned directly in the centre. You need to give the impression that the vocalist is singing straight at the listener, addressing them directly.

Backing vocals meanwhile are usually panned hard left and hard right, and some producers like to add a third in the centre to add more depth. Cool effects can be created by playing around with vocal panning if you’re after an immersive, atmospheric effect.

Keep recording

Even if you think that incredible first take is The One, keep going for a couple more runs. The vocalist will be fired up and more confident for subsequent takes, and you might get an even better result now that they’re relaxed. Besides, it’s always good to have a backup recording just in case.

Get a sweet room setup going on

Spend a bit of time making sure the room you’re recording in at home is treated properly so you’re getting the best sound possible. See our tips on building a home vocal booth here.

Don’t sacrifice the character of the singer

Make sure the voice and style of the vocalist doesn’t get lost as you apply vocal effects plugins. The quirks of individual singers and the emotion of vocals is a huge part of what makes them compelling – the last thing you want is a bland lead vocal.

Always record vocals dry

Once you’ve committed an effect to the track, you’re stuck with it. Saying that, at this point an effect that can be useful is compression…

To compress or not to compress?

When it comes to applying compression to vocals, generally less is more. If you’re looking to smooth out a shouty vocal take, you don’t want to hear the compressor working. Use it to even out erratic levels and tame transients.

For an up-in-your-face vocal, adjust the threshold and ratio and play around to create effects and bring the vocal to the front of the mix.

Do you need every little line?

If you’re producing a track for electronic music for example, dropping in a select part of the vocal might well be more effective than using the full vocal. Don’t feel trapped sticking to a verse-chorus-bridge approach.

The mic is key

Deciding on a microphone is a subjective, personal thing. It’s well worth investing in a half-decent microphone if you’re a singer yourself or know you want to record vocals often.

A large-diaphragm condenser microphone is preferable for singing, and it’s a good starter mic in general for home recording. Dynamic mics are best for screaming singers and the harder, dirtier sound from a loud rock or blues vocalist.

There’s plenty more advice for recording and producing vocals online. So much depends on the singer, the setup and the sort of song that’s being produced. Use these vocal production tips as a starting point and soon you’ll be laying down your vocal tracks with confidence.

KORG Modwave is a powerful modern wavetable synthesizer

With distinctive wavetable timbres, Kaoss Physics-based modulation and Motion Sequencing 2.0, Modwave from KORG is a synthesis powerhouse.

The new Modwave builds on the legacy of the 1985 KORG DW-8000, that combined digital wavetables with rich analog filters. “Featuring incredibly deep wavetable oscillators, gorgeous filters, wildly flexible modulation, unmatched polyphony, comprehensive pattern sequencing, and immediately satisfying hands-on control to deliver unique, powerful, and easily customizable sounds and phrases.”

Browse through hundreds of customizable preset sounds such as aggressive basses and leads, as well as lush ambient pads. Modwave is loaded with gigabytes of samples from KORG, Airwave and Francis Preve. Create a truely unique sound, with 200 wavetables, each containing up to 64 waveforms, plus 30+ Modifiers and 13 Morph Types, that’s over 230 million wavetable variations before you add modulation.

I/O includes a 6.3mm headphone stereo phono jack for private playing or cueing, balanced 6.3mm L & R output to record or monitor sound, a 6.3mm damper, MIDI in & out to hook up other instruments, and a USB-B port for connection to Windows and Mac computers.

The KORG Modwave comes bundled with free software to get you started including Reason Lite, Izotope’s Ozone Elements, Skoove and more. Click here for more info.