Mixing Orchestra bottom end

For everything after the recording stage: hardware/software and how you use it.

Moderator: Moderators

Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by ManFromGlass »

I’m working on a partially orchestral film project that requires huge bass drums, low loud brass, lot’s of low strings. I’ve been checking out the Hollywood A-List guys scores for reference. I’m amazed at how good they sound in the car. I’ve been asking mixer friends how they would deal with all that low end. Here are tips I have been given but I’m looking for more because I have to mix it and I am not a great mixer.
(Bass drum hits and taikos/toms are driving the track)
- roll off anything below 20 Hz or higher on the bass drum
- same with other instruments if anything is down there
- doubling the low strings/brass with a low sine wave of the same melody might help
- Waves Maxx Bass might help the bass drum hits on smaller monitors
- no reverb on anything low or eq the low end out of the verb
- don’t be afraid to do extreme eq cutting if that helps
- and ???
User avatar
ManFromGlass
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5667 Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:00 am Location: O Canada

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by The Elf »

At any point in time only one instrument should be allowed to dominate that low end. Your job is to decide which one and make it happen.

I'd get busier with that low end filtering. Most sources will happily take a cut up to 150Hz (and many sources will take considerably higher) without losing their mojo, and I'd be looking to cut bass drums at around 30Hz to get rid of really low junk that will add nothing of any value to the mix. Use you ears - if you can hear the filtering it may be too much.

And think three times before adding *any* boost to anything below 150Hz. Does it really need it?

Others will do it differently - and that's fine! :mrgreen:
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 18718 Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by blinddrew »

Might be worth looking at some ducking as well. If you've got low, sustained notes from strings or brass, sidechaining a compressor driven by your percussion hits can help them stand out without needing to crack the level.
Obviously you don't want to get into EDM-style 'pumping' so use your discretion...
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 20269 Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by Rich Hanson »

In orchestral scores, if more than one low section are playing at the same time, they will generally be playing in unison or octaves, anything else tends to lead to mush.
User avatar
Rich Hanson
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2944 Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 12:00 am Location: Sort of near Rochester, Kent, UK

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by ManFromGlass »

Thanks all. An interesting side note -
I’ve been listening to some Batman cues. I have MP3s. They sound really good in the car even cranked at highway speeds. The car sound system is good but not high end. But under good headphones (Shure SRH 1840s) the cues sound pretty bad in the low end, mushy and not clear.
I’m wondering if my brain is filling in all the lost frequencies in the car and yet I swear I am hearing the fundamental of the monster bass drums. (which can’t be true)
Under headphones I can also hear the strings and low brass doubled with low synth, barely audible. Perhaps that is one of the secrets to a mix translating well to a non-optimal listening environment. Fascinating.
User avatar
ManFromGlass
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5667 Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:00 am Location: O Canada

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by RichardT »

That sounds like a real challenge. The bass frequencies are very hard to get right. Eddie Bazil has a course / ebook called ‘The Low End’ that might be helpful.

With heavy bass drums there is enormous potential for making the mix sound messy. I would cut away as much as possible without losing the power in the bass and the beater sound, which is much higher in frequency. So there may be an area in the middle where you can cut a lot away without bad effects.

Also be ruthless in cutting away frequencies higher than the ones you need for definition. It’s amazing how high up bass drum sounds can reach.

The other problem is the long decay time of taiko drums and the like. I use a transient enhancer (in fact, NI’s Transient Master) to emphasise the bang and shorten the boom on bass drums. That can be very effective.

Multiband compression can also help control the drum sound.

For other instruments playing in the bass register you may need quite a bit of fast-attack fast-release compression to bring up the sustain portion - the transient portion is going to be lost under the drums anyway.
RichardT
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2485 Joined: Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:00 am Location: London UK

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by Martin Walker »

The Elf wrote: Fri Aug 12, 2022 1:14 pm At any point in time only one instrument should be allowed to dominate that low end. Your job is to decide which one and make it happen.

Lots of good advice here, but if I could only remember one sentence from this thread, this would be the one ;)
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 19661 Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by ManFromGlass »

:thumbup:
also
Boz has a plug called Transgressor 2. It’s great for shortening the ring out. I assume a gate could work too but I like Boz’s plug better.
I may try a really short ducker on the other low end instruments each time the drum gets hit. Perhaps this is a lazy approach but if it gets me there then I don’t mind.
I just remembered, Melda makes an autodynamic eq. If I can set up ducking with it I will have good control over the bottom of the other instruments leaving the higher frequencies untouched.
User avatar
ManFromGlass
Jedi Poster
Posts: 5667 Joined: Sun Jul 24, 2011 12:00 am Location: O Canada

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by Martin Walker »

ManFromGlass wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 1:56 pm:thumbup:
also
Boz has a plug called Transgressor 2. It’s great for shortening the ring out. I assume a gate could work too but I like Boz’s plug better.
I may try a really short ducker on the other low end instruments each time the drum gets hit. Perhaps this is a lazy approach but if it gets me there then I don’t mind.
I just remembered, Melda makes an autodynamic eq. If I can set up ducking with it I will have good control over the bottom of the other instruments leaving the higher frequencies untouched.

I've got the Boz Transgressor 2 - it's really effective on problem sounds, plus a true creative tool.

On the subject of dynamic EQs, don't forget TDR Nova, whose basic version is not only really good, but free:

https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-nova/

Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 19661 Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:44 am Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by blinddrew »

Martin Walker wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 2:08 pm On the subject of dynamic EQs, don't forget TDR Nova, whose basic version is not only really good, but free:

https://www.tokyodawn.net/tdr-nova/

Martin

That's what I'd use. :thumbup:
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 20269 Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by The Elf »

I'll just point out that many DAWs do feature these kinds of plug-ins, so check them out before you start spending money. It's a rare plug-in that I need to go seeking these days...
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 18718 Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Mixing Orchestra bottom end

Post by blinddrew »

The Elf wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 4:53 pm I'll just point out that many DAWs do feature these kinds of plug-ins, so check them out before you start spending money. It's a rare plug-in that I need to go seeking these days...

Indeed, it's one of the weird gaps in Reaper's standard set though. Multiband compressor, yes, dynamic EQ no. Though you can do something clever with ReaEQ and ReaComp to make them act together as a dynamic EQ.
But it was easier to go to Tokyo Dawn and as it's a freemium model you get a good tool for nowt if you so choose.
User avatar
blinddrew
Jedi Poster
Posts: 20269 Joined: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:00 am Location: York
Ignore the post count, I have no idea what I'm doing...
Post Reply