It’s OK to Not Do Things

I’ve recently gone through the process of final mixing for my track ‘Cantana 1‘.  I came to the point of mixing the bass line, and had a bunch of ‘standard’ effects I wanted to apply (as in ‘my standard effects’… EQ tweaks, sidechained compression from the bass drum, etc…).

Usually I’m super cautious with effects that give too much stereo width to the bass… I’ve been made mildly paranoid by knowing a lot of club subwoofer systems are mono (hence the potential for cancellation of bass frequencies), and by stories of needles jumping out of grooves on vinyl.  But at the same time I do like to have at least a little space/width, and possibly movement in the bass, so my standard practice previously has been to put a mild stereo chorus or similar on a high pass filtered duplicate of the bass line track, and blend it in.

Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of tracks with bass lines that have much more width than what I would typically apply… especially moreso in minimal techno styles (I’ve heard many examples recently, but ‘Squeeze the Trigger’ by Noaria is one which has a reasonably amount of out of phase bass content).  Hearing this made me keen to move away a little bit from my previous conservatism, and use more chorus/doubling type effects to try and get a thicker bass sound.  I had this idea in my head for a couple of weeks while I was putting the basic parts of Cantana 1 together and sequencing, so when it came to mixing, it was almost a foregone conclusion that I must have some type of chorus on the bass line.  But despite auditioning several plug-ins, I couldn’t find anything that brought an improvement without also creating additional issues.  Because I’d set out to do this from the start, I really persisted, and spent a good couple of hours trying numerous different combinations of plugins in parallel, on different EQ bands of the bassline etc… but at the end of the day, if I stepped away from my expectations, the chorus didn’t improve things.  So after a lot of experimentation and perseverance, I decided to dispense with it and just go with the original, mono (but smooth and thick sounding) bass line.

Was an interesting experience, because having had the expectation in my head for several weeks, I persisted with trying different options for probably a lot longer than was necessary.  It just highlighted to me that When you’re writing or producing, you need to keep an open mind to changes, and most importantly use your ears over and above your expectations or preconceptions.  At the end of the day if something doesn’t sound right, or doesn’t make an improvement, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.

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