Recently I purchased a vehicle that has two 12″ subs in the rear seat compartment. Like most of you I thought, Hmmm….I wonder what my latest mixes sound like on “this” system?
My current mixing set-up consists of monitors with 8″ subs, low fi desktop speakers, and a few pairs of headphones to compare my mixes on, along with my usual car listening during commutes.
I fired up the last 7 or so songs I’ve done, and wow the bass was huge. I was a bit worried leading up to the listen since I noticed way more bass on general listening. While the music I mixed had more bass on that system, it wasn’t overly present in the mix. I usually roll off quite a bit on the kick and bass tracks to clean up the low, low material. If I can bypass those two types of tracks, and the bottom falls out, I know the rest of the tracks are clean in the low end, generally I’ve also done some massive roll-off for all the other tracks as well to clean up the bottom so there isn’t much present in the lows except bass and kick.
Listening to the tracks on the “sub” system taught me a few things. I would love to hear those lows during the mix or tracking phase, but I also didn’t mix them where the mixes fell apart when playing them back. In a way is was pretty cool hearing the bass come through with so much power. I was surprised as how low some notes sounded considering they were in standard tuning A-440 on pretty much all the songs.
I am glad I chose to roll off the lowest frequencies on the low end prominent tracks. This kept the low end from blowing up in the bass enhanced environment of the newly acquired truck. Another mixer asked me about rolling off lows on the bass / kick, and we both agreed you don’t really need a bunch of low, low information. I’ve even scaled back the bass up to 70hz before, just to clean up and make room for the kick, or vice versa.
It really only matters what the entire mix sounds like to begin with. If you’ve set your low point from the beginning, and got a great sound, it will carry over no matter what the system. Just learn the system you’re listening back on before doing any drastic decisions based upon what your hearing. I had to listen to a few types of music to get a feel for this new set-up. Then I listened back to my mixes knowing what to expect. Had I only listened on that system, I would have thought my lows were too loud and scaled them back.
A decision needs to be made as to whether or not the bass or the kick wins in the lows department. It’s pretty much dependent on the song. Rock music can have it either way depending on a fast or slower tempo and focal point of the track.
Low end can cause a mix to get muddy and unfocused sounding very quickly.
Not building the low end up is the key to getting the lows you “need” and the bottom end you don’t need removed.