In the beginning when you learn to mix and produce, you keep the bass in the centre of the stereo field as this will unbalance the mix if you pan it off elsewhere. I find, though, that if you use 3 different complementary bass sounds, you can pan them around the stereo field and actually create a fuller, bigger sounding bass. This also creates interest in your bass sounds. I am going to use Logic 9 and some 3rd-party plugins to demonstrate how this can be done, but you can achieve the same result in any other DAW with other plugins and sounds.
For best results you will first need a nice full low-end sounding bass. This sound will be kept panned in the center. Then 2 different but complementary bass sounds will be used and will be panned hard left and right. Together these 3 different bass sounds will blend and form a huge wide-sounding bass for your mixes.
For my central bass sound I have used the Arturia Mini-Moog plugin and dialed in a nice round low-end sound that will lay the groundwork for us to work from. I have added some dynamic processing to get it sounding just right. I have added Schaack’s Transient Shaper to tighten up the dynamics, a Compressor, Tape Delay (to add some Tape Distortion), Camel Audio’s CamelPhat (to phatten the sound even further), an Exciter to excite some of the lower frequencies, a Channel EQ to carve out the sound, and finally a Low Cut to cut away some of that low rumble of the bass.
For my left and right bass sounds I want to use bass sounds that sound completely different from each other, but will complement each other when they are all playing together. I have used the ES2 and loaded the Acid Bass preset. This sound has a nice buzzy sound that will sit nicely on the left of the stereo field.
I have dialed in some dynamic processing in the form of a Channel EQ cutting away the lower frequencies that may clash with the Moog sound, and a Compressor to tighten and even up the sound. We have panned this sound hard left. For both the left and right channels you will want to low cut as much of the bass sounds before they lose their character. The central bass channel will hold most of the low-end range. Now for the bass in the right channel.
For the Right bass sound I have used the ES2 again, but have now dialed in the Hard Noise preset. This preset has a nice attack to the sound, but a different tonal quality to the Acid Bass preset.
I have also added a Channel EQ to carve out some frequencies, a Compressor and a Low Cut, cutting out those unwanted lower frequencies. Pan this all the way to the right.
Now play all the bass channels together and balance the levels so you get exactly what you want. You want a nice balance so that the bass mix sounds even and not lopsided in the overall mix.
I have added in a beat to hear how this bass experiment would sound like in the actual context of a song.
As you can see the bass doesn’t always have to abide by the ‘mixing rule’ of keeping it mono and central in the mix. You can even add sample delays, and other stereo enhancing tricks to the left and right channels to split up the sound even more.
Have some fun and experiment with other mixing and producing tricks with your bass. Read Mike Watkinsons’s Bass tutorial on adding extra low end to your bass sound.
And check out macProVideo.com’s excellent Logic Tutorial-Videos.