You might not be able to put your finger on it, but often a DI bass in a mix is just missing something. Call it mojo, funk, tone – whatever it is, it’s just not there. It could be the DI itself that not living up to your expectations, which is why picking the right DI for your studio is so important to your career. But sometimes, what’s missing has nothing to do with the DI you’re recording with at all.
Whether we want to admit it or not, a bass is just as reliant on it’s rig as it is on the bass itself. By recording DI and using that raw DI track in our mix, we’re intentionally ignoring the pedals, amp & speaker cabinet that go into your bass sound. For some mixes this is perfect – it eliminates many of the variables and gives you the sound of your bass with a little bit of processing along the way.
If you’re working with a genre or even a single song where the bass amp contributes to the actual sound though, you’re missing out on a lot if you’re not applying a virtual bass rig to your bass DI.
Getting That Grit
A gritty bass tone is almost a necessity when it comes to working with heavier music. The low-tuned and extended range guitars are already reaching lower into the frequency spectrum and your bass needs a little extra push to help it cut through the mix. To achieve this, your bass DI needs something like Bassforge Hellraiser in the box to help add some dirt to your clean tone.
By incorporating effects like fuzz and turning up the gain on your amp, you can achieve a clanky, distorted bass tone that frankly cannot be matched with a DI alone. An amp adds a new layer of dynamics to your tone and changes the way your sound translates in the mix. It takes on an entirely new life that you can’t get with anything but a good amped-up bass.
If we’re talking about how amps change your tone, we can’t ignore the speakers and cabinets that go with them.
Bass speakers tend to be larger than guitar speakers, which creates a fundamental difference in the way we handle bass cabs. These larger speakers are necessary to facilitate the longer wavelengths of lower frequencies. These waves take more energy and space to develop, something many sound designers know well. Because of this variation, the speaker, room & mic are all important pieces of the puzzle when trying to capture the complete sound.
In virtual bass rigs, the same rules apply. Different bass cab models and microphone choices will change how your amped bass sounds, and choosing the right combo can be exactly what you need to get that extra “something” back into your bass sound. By having a flexible virtual bass rig that supports impulse responses, you unlock a whole new layer of potential combinations to get the perfect bass tone.
To really get an idea of how your bass rig can change your tone, check out Fluff’s video below where he talks about some of the options available using Bassforge Hellraiser:
You can really hear the differences between a 8x10 cab & 2x15 cab in Bassforge Hellraiser, especially when using different microphones on the cabinets. Both tones are completely usable in the right song; it’s just a matter of choosing the one that works for you.
How Does Your Bass Fit With The Rest of Your Mix?
If you’re looking for some honest feedback about how your bass fits in your mix – look no further. I’ve had to deal with just about every bass tone imaginable as an engineer and regardless of what I was given from the tracking session; I’ve made it work.
Send me your mix to take a listen to and let me tell you what I think. I’ll tell you exactly what’s working, what’s not, and what I would’ve done differently.