Recording Bass: Deep Subwoofer Bass on Pop/Rock Music

Bassist Recording

When listening to pop/rock hits, you probably notice there isn’t as much going on in the low end compared to a rap or R&B hit. However, you don’t want to lose the low end. This day in age, if it doesn’t have some beef on the low end, listeners will equate that to low quality. Here is a trick that I learned many years ago to get an extra round low in pop/rock music.

Blend in a subwoofer track.

This was actually a pretty popular technique amongst pop/rock producers in the early 2000s. Many of them would actually put a microphone on a subwoofer and blended that in with their DI and amplifier. The end result would be a Bass DI, Bass Amp, and Subwoofer, all blended together for taste. While I only did that a handful of times, I did find a way to recreate this sound within Pro Tools. I took the subwoofer track that I had already used with good success, and A/B’d it to my “in the box” set up. After some work, it was identical. Today, I don’t need to record the subwoofer. However, I still use this track to get the extra roundness that I’m looking for on pop/rock track.

Here’s how to do it:

Remember, this is to be a blended track with your DI and amplifier, not to be used alone. The only thing that’ll be coming from this track is deep limited bass.

You’ll need some Waves plug-ins: MaxxBass, C4, and L2.

First up is MaxxBass.

We’re adding a lot of it to the track since that is all this track is being used for. 60Hz is a good frequency to use. If it’s clipping, tone it back slightly.

MaxxBass Plugin

Second in the chain is the C4.

You’ll see in the picture, the goal is to boost a lot of low end, but then heavily compress it. This gives it a great sustained tone. The real key to this plugin is making sure your release time works for you. 30-50ms is usually pretty good. I would sweep the release time until you find the most natural release.

C4 Plugin

Last is the L2.

The goal is to limit it even more to bring out the sustain of the low end. I always aim for 3-5dB of gain reduction.

L2 Plugin

There you have it! This is an easy trick to fill out your low end. It’ll work in any music, but pop/rock songs really benefit from it. That genre has the most space available for a trick like this to work. Try it out and let me know what you think!

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