How to mix bassguitar for Lo-Fi equipment like smartphones and laptop speakers? These simple tricks will help you create a mix that sounds fine on them!
Ever considered this: many people listen to music using (cheap) earbuds, a smartphone or laptop. Does your mix sound good on that equipment? Most of ours didn’t. Not until recently that is. Except for those where we use the Digitech TRIO pedal.
We discovered a cool plugin for Mixbus5 that enhances the sound of the bass in such a way it sounds better on cheap speakers. But of course it should be possible to do this without a plugin – and we wanted to do so, especially since the plugin was software that needed a license..
Many people use smartphones, laptops, ipads and lo-fi earbuds to listen to music. These speakers and earbuds have a poor audio quality and lack low and hi end. So, how can you create good bass sound on them? By “moving” the bass sound into the right frequencies! Here’s a little trick I use for mixing the bass so it will sound better on earbuds, laptops and smartphones and still sounds fine on high end equipment.
Recorded using Mixbus5, Sony Cybershot and video editing using FlowBlade.
Songs with Blues, Rock & Roll, Country Rock and Indie Rock influences and with a touch of Post Punk. Guitar oriented songs using Gretsch and Telecaster electric guitars as well as acoustic guitars, an occasional keyboard and even tambourines.. the Solid Rock Blues Band at it’s best!
Proud to announce another EP from my one-man-band-studio-project was released on BandCamp, SoundCloud and of course on Drooble!
The album consists of original songs only and one of them was a co-write with my friend and fellow Drooble user James Zheutlin with vocal contributions of singer Judith S.
Available on BandCamp of course and also on CDBaby and (soon) on all major streaming platforms. It contains three songs already on Drooble (but I’ve now updated them with the mastered versions of course).
Hope you like it as much as I did writing and recording it.
The album is available for download (only $4.95) and free streaming at BandCamp. It is also available for free streaming at Drooble and SoundCloud.
Audacity is a free DAW, a program for audio recording and mixing, and it’s popular for some very good reasons besides being free. It’s easy to use, stable and is the perfect little DAW for anyone who wants to get his feet wet in home recording. It is also perfect for recording things like voice overs or a demo for a (small) band. Record, for example, the basic tracks an mix them later on in a more professional DAW or let someone else mix them. Some even record full albums with it. So, it is popular for many reasons.
Some time ago, in 2018, I made a video about mixing and recording with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD. The UMC404HD allows for four inputs to be recorded at the same time (4 tracks) so you can record 4 musicians, or instruments/vocals, at the same time. The Behringer UMC404HD is amazing and it’s availble for only a fraction of the costs of several competitors. For example (at this moment) at Thomann. It is out of stock a lot, it seems to be very popular and rightfully so. I am still considering to buy a second one, as a spare, in case mine will stop working or will have mechanical problems one day.
Recording with the Behringer audio interface works perfect with Ardour or Mixbus. Especially since they don’t need any additional drivers. On Windows it also worked perfect on, for example, Mixcraft. I showed this in various videos as well as other people. Many of the viewers however seemed to be having issues with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD.
One of the biggest issues most have is the drivers for the UMC404HD. Behringer has been changing their websites a few times recently and people were complaining they can’t find the drivers. They’re not included on a CD with the interface. Now, there is a good reason for this: production costs. Including a driver CD costs money and Behringer tries to cut the costs so you will have a product that is as cheap as possible. Besides that: most computers and laptops these days don’t even have a CD(r) station. Even if they would include a driver CD it would, in most cases, be useless. Including a CD would only lead to more trash (environmental issue!). You can download it. No environmental damage and cheaper. I’d say that’s a win-win.
However, as noted: the drivers have been hard to find. And, for some reason some complain the new drivers don’t work well. So here’s an older version that does work. Download and use on your own risk, I am not responsible for it.
DO NOT USE ASIO4ALL
Asio4All has been a pretty popular hardware driver for Windows. Do NOT use it. Remove it completely from your system (uninstall) if you wan tot use the Behringer UMC series. They have their own drivers (official site). You won’t get Audacity or any other DAW running on Windows working with the UMC404HD when using Asio4All.
AUDACITY LACKS SUPPORT?
Some noted that the version of Audacity they have doesn’t record 4 tracks. It only shows 2 tracks. There might be two reasons for this, I’m not certain what the reason is in certain situations:
it is showing you 2 stereo tracks (meaning 4 mono tracks!).
You don’t use the correct settings for recording 4 tracks. Set the ‘preferences’ to Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) as I do in the Video!
Some claim it isn’t available on their Audacity version. On the Audacity website, however, it is still mentioned and what’s more: it’s been a standard in Windows ever since Windows Vista. In fact it is one of the “unique selling points” in Audacity! So I do have a hard time believing it isn’t available and my best guess is you’re not using the corect settings.
I am having the Dutch version but you should be able to see where this setting can be found (under preferences). In case you cannot get it working with the current version of Audacity – and I really do advice to use that one since it has hundreds of fixed bugs! – there are still older versions available. Like over here. Please note, this versions dates back to 2015 and this link (from Google Drive, it’s my “old” Windows version, works on Windows8.1) is to be used solely at your own risk.
So this is the video I’ve been talking about, hope it helps or is at least entertaining 🙂 As I said in the video I don’t prefer Audacity for recording. These days I use Mixbus5 (and Ardour) running on Linux Mint. I’ve never looked back at Windows recording since I started using that even though I still have Mixbus on my Windows laptop (Windows 8.1). That doesn’t mean recording using Windows is less good. I simply prefer Linux (Linux Mint).
In God’s Country from the album The Joshua Tree is one of the best U2 songs, from one of their best albums ever. Since I’ve been a staunch U2 fan, ever since I heard them on the radio when I was around 12 years old, I love to play their songs. I hardly ever record them. This is an exception on this ‘rule’. It’s a perfect song for an acoustic version.
I shot the video during the recording. After I shot the video I noticed it could have been a little better but it’s the recording that matters the most of course.
RECORDING ACOUSTIC SONGS
Now many ‘singer songwriters’ whome record at home, record in one take. This is of course possible. The video suggests I did the same. And yes — I recorded vocals and guitar at the same time; the guitar trough a DI (Direct Input) and guitar and vocals on separate tracks. After that, I re-recorded the vocals on an additional track (as you can see in the video). The reason for this is simple: if you record vocals and guitars at the same time, the guitar sound will ‘bleed’ into the vocal track. It makes mixing it very difficult. So if you ever record acoustic guitar and vocals for a simple demo or album: make sure you can split them.
If you record an acoustic guitar that isn’t an electro-acoustic, don’t sing along! Your vocal will ‘bleed’ into the guitar track and if that happens, you can’t do overdubs on your vocal unless you re-record the guitar as well.
There are many great stories in the Bible. Stories about people, stories about how they struggle with life, with their families, with their beliefs. Here’s one I always liked a lot: the story of Jona. You know, the guy swallowed by a big fish. Now, there are many people who say this could never have happened but even in our modern times this happens. There’s even proof of it. So, believe it or not.. in the end, it is a great story.
While driving back from work the first lines of this song ‘came to me’ so I pulled over the car, grabbed the smartphone and recorded the lines. Back home I wrote the other verses. Over the past few days I’ve been working on recording it. I wanted it to be a simple, straight forward, ‘rock song’. I also wanted to use a piece of software I’ve been testing for some time now, AVL Drums. It’s a great drum program, works perfect in Ardour and also works fine in Mixbus5.
The song is available as a free download at Soundcloud.
Some about this recording: it was recorded and mixed using Mixbus5 and AVLDrums. AVLDrums is a great, free, drumkit available for Ardour and Mixbus. I use my Digitech TRIO most of the time for drums, but AVLDrums is more flexible since I can program (and edit it later afterwards) it using a midi-track. It’s got great drumkits availble in different settings.
Bass, Guitars and Vocals are all by me (Rudy). For the vocals I used my MXL770 Studio Condenser; Bass is my Harley Benton Bass guitar and I’ve used my Harley Benton Telecaster for the guitars. For the guitar I used the JoYo American as an amp simulator. My all time favorite for Fender-like guitars.
Although I sometimes still use Ardour, Mixbus5 is now my default ‘workhorse’ when recording and mixing. Mixbus5 offers me a great recording environment, and many, MANY, on-board tools like compression, EQ, Limiter and more including a huge load of plugins. Apart from that, it can of course also use all the plugins I used in Ardour. Apart from the new software, the new studio also helps a lot for creating better recordings. My workflow is now so much better!
Anyway — hope you like the song! It’s a freebie, so feel free to download.
Acoustic version of Folsom Prison Blues Recorded live at the LoftStudio Home Recording Studio. Just a simple quick take, hope you like it!
I learned to love this song on a young age, since my father was a big fan of Johnny Cash (and lot’s of other country music). I’m not a big fan of modern country but like to listen and play songs by Johnny Cash and other “outlaw country” artists even though Blues and Rock are my favorite music styles.
The ZolderStudio (LoftStudio) has moved! As you might have noticed we were moving to a new location because we’ve bought a new house. Well, that is.. to us it’s new. But it was build around 1880. So it’s got a long history already. Anyway — we’ve started moving into the new house and rebuilding the studio.
The acoustic panels, btw, were very cheap to create. We paid less than 20 euro’s for them (hint: pre-made painters canvas). The acoustic foam was ordered online from Geek.
DIY Budget Home Recording Studio
In essence, my home recording setup is a computer with a (Linux) DAW (Ardour, Mixbus5).
Recording at home shouldn’t have to be very expensive. Hook up a mic, trough an audio interface or use an USB condenser mic, and you’re ready to go. But once you get started with recording, there’s no turning back. So I bought a lot of addtional stuff over the years. Lot’s was also given to me as a gift, like the SoundTech ST162 16-channel mixer.
This really still is a budget home studio. Even though some people who visit me think it has cost a fortune to collect all this gear and to create it. There’s a lot of “DIY” stuff in the studio and, as written above, lot’s of stuff comes from very cheap, online, shops and stores in the Netherlands like the Action (there are many of them now all over Europe).
Today we’ve received a new set of headphones from BAX Shop, the Netherlands. The Devine PRO2000 Studio Headphones. We’ve bought them as an additional set of headphones for monitoring, recording and listening to music.
Of course these headphones cannot be compared to high-end headphones. I did a comparison with the Audio Technica ATH-m20x. The ATH’s are twice as expensive as these Devine headphones. And yes, you can hear the difference. No doubt about that.
Pro’s: the headphones are very well build, have a good sound and are very comfortable.
Con’s: they are not suitable for mixing.
The reason why they are not suitable for mixing is because the bass is too loud, there’s simply a little too much low end. The mid’s are fine, high end is slightly recessed. Still, it’s a good buy if you want to use them for listening to music or for monitoring. They’re dirt cheap! Only 27 euro’s.
What better way to celebrate using a new studio than recording a classic, acoustic, folk song? The ZolderStudio (LoftStudio) has moved! So I did some test recordings and one of them is Dylan’s “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. And I did not only record the song, I made a video of the recording session.
It’s just a simple “one-take recording” using my MXL770 for vocals, a t.Bone EM700 for the guitar and I’ve used the Behringer UMC404HD as an interface. The DAW I’ve used was Ardour (Linux).
MOVING TO A NEW STUDIO
I’ve also made a short video about the move to the new studio. A full studio tour will be made as soon as the studio is setup completely. I’m still waiting for acoustic foam, ordered a floor carpet and there are now new monitor speakers too. So subscribe to the channel to receive updates!
We’re moving! Moving to a new house and this also means: a new studio! To mark this big change here’s the last production ever made in the old “Loft Studio” – our brand new EP “Morning Ritual”. The album includes four blues, country and rock inspired original songs.
The album is available exclusively as a download, for now, trough BandCamp.
All songs are recorded at the LoftStudio. The song “Summertime” has been mixed and produced by Jay H., writer of the VocalKing plugin (click here to check his website).
01 – Wine
A song telling the story of a lady, addicted to Wine.. up-beat, guitar driven, track!
02 – Morning Ritual
The Title Track. Well, .. a song about drinking coffee and the End of the World. But it seems as long there’s coffee, we do not need to worry about the End of the World, right?
03 – Stone Hearted Mandy
Previously recorded and released on the Barking Aunts’ album “Yesterday’s Coffee“. This was a concept album, a story in a handful of songs, about family life and how it got torn apart. We thought this track could be improved so we re-recorded it.
04 – Summertime
We can’t wait for Summer to begin.. mixed and produced by Jay H. using his Vocal King plugin and giving it a good creative treatment. It brought the song to a level we would have never expected.
Special thanks to my friends who helped me out on this one!