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Explain me that bass sound

Discussion in 'F.O.H.' started by LeSedna, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    I just realized how this, and "get lucky"'s bass sound, are deep. I'm almost in shock and I am listening to this song in repeat again (and I am already one of the admirers of this album, no matter how different it is from their earlier albums).

    How is this even possible ? It's like pure low end warmth, clear, deep, low, warm. Can it really just be from the tracking ? Why only a few songs in their albums sound like this ?

    Bonus :
     
    #1 LeSedna, Jan 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  2. Potshot

    Potshot Member

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  3. EOC

    EOC Member

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    Love that álbum. No idea about how it was tracked or mixed but it is awesome
     
  4. StoneLord

    StoneLord LurkMachine Pete

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    This might have some info.

     
    #4 StoneLord, Jan 5, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2015
  5. LeSedna

    LeSedna Mat or Mateo

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    I actually found this useful peace of info there : http://productionadvice.co.uk/daft-punk-mastering/

    Random Access Memories” sounds awesome.

    And that’s important. Of course the songs are the most important thing, and of course the real reason people love this album is that it’s rammed full of hooks. But the sound is crucial too – if only because people are talking about it ! Over and over I read people saying how much they love the way it sounds – and I can’t remember the last time that happened with such a mainstream release.

    Lots of the attention has focused on the fact that the album is quite dynamic, by modern standards – the TT Meter gives it an overall reading of DR8 – but the surprising truth is, it’s still pretty squashed at the loudest moments. A step in the right direction, for sure – but there’s more to the story than just the DR values.

    So why does “Random Access Memories” sound so good ?


    It’s all about bass
    The first thing that hits me when I press “Play” is the bass. The bass on this album is beautiful. It’s huge.

    On all the songs, but especially on “Lose Yourself To Dance” and “Get Lucky”. And especially the sub. The deep bass on this album is a joy to hear – in fact at some points I might have been tempted to reduce it slightly myself if I was mastering it – but that would be such a shame ! It’s controlled, it’s musically valid, and you feel it.

    And that’s why it’s important. I think the warm, clean low end is one of the reasons people love the sound of this album so much – because the bass is the foundation of the mix. And on top of that foundation, you can build a groove.

    Producer and guitarist Nile Rodgers says the groove is something you feel. I’m not sure if he means “feel emotionally” or “feel physically” but my guess is both – because for me, you can only really feel a beat emotionally when you can feel it physically.

    It’s a positive feedback loop – feeling bass physically helps you feel the beat emotionally which makes you move physically so that you feel it physically… and so it goes round and around.

    Remove the physical sensation of the bass and you remove a key part of this magic. It’s still a great song with great hooks and great performances, but let’s face it – “Get Lucky” is never going to be as pleasurable to listen to on a mobile phone speaker !

    All of which underlines the fundamental role that EQ plays in mastering.

    So the dynamics aren’t important, then ?
    Wait, I didn’t say that.

    One of the key problems with “loudness” is that bass distorts fast – and it distorts nasty. So if you want your music “loudness war” loud, one of the first things you need to do is cut out the really low bass completely, and tame the rest.

    In fact, you can hear it happening on this album. Listen to the final track, “Contact”. By the end the TT Meter reading has been reduced right down to only DR6 – but in order to achieve that, all the deep sub bass audible earlier in the track is gone.



    Now I don’t know if it’s a mastering or mix decision, but the fact remains – if anyone had pushed for “Random Access Memories” to be that loud all the way through, as most mainstream releases these days are, it would either be distorted to hell, or have no bass – or both.

    And as a result, it would lack that clear, deep pulse – that amazing foundation and heart.

    And THAT’s why I disagree with people who say that EDM doesn’t need dynamics – that club music “needs” limited dynamic range as part of the sound. In my opinion, if Skrillex gave himself a few more dB to play with, he could increase the impact of his tunes even more.

    Drums are all about impact – the difference between them playing and not playing is what makes a beat ! Remove the impact, you remove the essence of what drums are.


    Musical variety
    I mentioned above that the ends of some of the songs get really “loud” – so why does the album have a better DR score than many, then ?

    In a nutshell – because not all the album is really loud. In fact, a lot of it is positively mellow. So rather than making the whole album quieter, the mastering engineer has chosen to allow a few really “loud” moments, while keeping balance and variety elsewhere.

    Which is exactly as it should be – the “DR” measurement is a very limited way to describe musical dynamics, after all.

    OK, so – big bass and more dynamics – is that it ?

    Not by a long shot. I do think those two factors are key to the overall sound, and my hope is that they’ll start a trend that grows and grows – but there’s more. For example:


    Real instruments, real players
    Almost everything on this album was played on a real instrument, by a real person. And it shows ! That feel, that groove (again) is everywhere – even when you’re listening to a vocoded voice. And let’s not even mention the gorgeous real strings…

    As “Get Lucky” vocalist Pharrell Williams says – “music and the liveness is what moves people”. The robots are bringing a human feel back to music – creating real music you can dance to as opposed to just dance music, as Annie Mac said – how’s that for irony ?


    Analogue warmth
    “Random Access Memories” is full of the fat, saturated sound of analogue tape and processing – but it’s not true to say this is an analogue album – again it’s not that simple.

    Everything was recorded simultaneously to both digital and analogue tape, which was then digitised afterwards. With everything in Pro Tools, engineer Mick Guzauski says this meant the band could choose which format they preferred song by song – or phrase by phrase, as he says.

    I’d love to know the percentages – and also how much of that sound was added in mastering, if any – but the truth is we’ll never really know which format we’re listening to at any given time, and the answer may often be both…

    (For the record, analogue synth legend Giorgio Moroder, featured on track 3 of the album, is in no doubt which he prefers – it’s digital ! And actually, in my opinion the real secret of “analogue warmth” isn’t really saturation distortion at all, it’s balanced EQ – but that’s a whole other blog post.)


    Sweet, soft high-end
    The top is just as lovely as the bass on this album – perfectly balanced, open, clear but never harsh. This is especially true of the vocals – and a lot of this will be down to skilful de-essing.

    People get obsessed about this topic so I don’t want to delve too deep – my guess is that it was all done in the mix, rather than the mastering. One point though – there’s a really interesting moment in Dave Pensado’s interview with Mick Guzauski where Mick reveals that he used a DBX-902 – and Dave is obviously unimpressed by the choice ! Showing once again that ‘it ain’t what you use, it’s the way that you use it’…


    What about the vinyl ?
    Apart from discussions of the great dynamic range of the abum, the other hot topic of debate as far as the sound is concerned is the vinyl release. Several recent vinyl releases have had significantly more dynamic range than their CD counterparts – is that the case with “Random Access Memories” ?

    As far as I can tell… no. The DR values do measure a few points higher, but the sound of the vinyl versus the digital releases is very close in the comparisons I’ve done, bar some minor EQ discrepancies.

    Which is not a problem ! As I’ve said many times, a great master is a great master – a great vinyl master, a great CD master and a great master for mp3. It may be that a slightly less limited version was used for the vinyl releases, but this doesn’t mean the digital versions play second fiddle in any way.

    [Update – so many people contacted me pointing to the TT Meter measurements of the vinyl, I decided to do a more rigorous comparison. The results were really interesting, so I made a video to share them with you – to see it, click here.]


    All in all…
    …I’m impressed ! As you can tell : )

    The album was mastered in two stages – initially by industry legend Bob Ludwig from the analogue mix masters. He then released the 88.2 kHz 24-bit files to the band, who made further changes and tweaks with Antoine Chabert (“Chab”) from Translab studios in Paris.

    The album shows again that great, dynamic mastering can be hugely successful despite the so-called loudness wars.

    Bob has taken some flack recently from “dynamic range purists” for some re-masters where his hand was obviously forced, but as a founder member of the Music Loudness Alliance and a supporter of Dynamic Range Day, he’s consistently leading from the front, making more dynamic masters wherever possible and proving again and again that you don’t have to make music “loudness war” loud to achieve commercial success.

    Recently albums by many artists have been successful without paying any attention to the “loudness” trend – Jack White, Laura Marling, Bjork, Ben Harper, Steven Wilson, My Bloody Valentine, Mumford & Sons, Bon Iver and Fields Music and more, all have minimum of DR8 – and been very successful.

    And now Daft Punk can be added to that list – and you could hardly ask for a higher-profile example.

    Let’s hope the rest of the music industry is paying attention !



    For more information on the recording and production of this album, check out this great post on theproaudiofiles.com:

    How Mick Guzauski Mixed Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories
     
  6. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    That album does sound fantastic. The Bass just sounds like a REALLY good bass player, a nice bass, and a blend of DI and amp.

    The best bass sounds I've ever gotten were the ones I had to do the least amount of work on. Just plug in a bad-ass player with a bad-ass bass, and voila.
     
  7. indecizo

    indecizo Member

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    all about that bass, 'bout that bass
     
  8. xplanet2112

    xplanet2112 Member

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    http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jul13/articles/daft-punk.htm

    This is a lovely album to listen to and this is a great article about tracking this marvellous album and its journey. I have the original article in the magazine, it's a great read, not sure this is verbatim or not but it looks like there's still a lot to take in. It really sounds like an epic adventure rather than a recording session and if they ever produce a documentary about making this record it would be a fantastic thing to behold! I consider 'Get Lucky' to be the best pop song in at least the last 20 years.
     
  9. crillemannen

    crillemannen Member

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    It really wouldn't be that hard to get that super lowend, it's just that we have cut the deepest lowend the last 15years because of the loudnesswar.
     
  10. mva801

    mva801 Member

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    See, there you have it. I thought the bass sounded pretty simple. It's just a damn DI and neve/ LA-2A. Like I said, the best bass tones ever just come from a good player and good bass. NO substitute for that.
     
  11. Studdy

    Studdy Member

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    no amp, cab sim, sansamp or anything eh? interesting.
     
  12. egan.

    egan. daylightdies.com

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    I feel like the "split it, send it through 5 comps, 20 eqs and 3 amp sims" is something that only really exists here on this forum.
     
  13. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    great post hahaha.

    essentially, add another EQ/compressor for each of the following:

    bad playing
    the wrong bass
    old strings
    bad DI
    bad preamp
    bad convertor
    bad monitoring
     
  14. indecizo

    indecizo Member

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    just use the FTS bass preset 1 at max velocity for a huge bass sound and no more processing is needed other than volume taming and it works well for any style 100% dead srs
     
  15. colonel_claypoo

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    One of the best sounding albums ever IMO. Nathan East (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pO6-ECotdCM) and John Robinson, anyone?
    That bass sound would never work as well with fast and dense metal music as it does with spacious music like were`re talking about here.
     
  16. Ermz

    Ermz ¯\(°_o)/¯

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    That's the key when trying to reference this to a metal context. The bass on the first track is quite ringy in the subs.

    With Solar Sailer, and most of the TRON: Legacy soundtrack, the 'punch' is centered around 40Hz. Good luck again trying to make that happen in metal.

    When you get the right arrangement, performed by the right players, you'd be amazed at what's possible. Much of the work we do in metal mixing is to overcome the shortcomings of the recording process, or at the very least to work within the physical constraints of having only so much frequency bandwidth, only so much dynamic bandwidth, and so many tracks and a fast tempo to deal with.
     
  17. Machinated

    Machinated Member

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    absolutely.

    this daft punk album really sounds incredible. the aesthetic is spot on, tasteful to the music while technically nice. shame the kind of budget for it is way beyond the reach of almost every musician on the planet.

    just skimmed through the album, what a guitarist nile rodgers is. more interesting than pretty much anything metal I've heard for a while.
     
  18. schwinginbatman

    schwinginbatman It's shittay!

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    Most definitely. I've been listening to a lot of his work as well as a lot of other old school funk and RnB stuff recently, and I've been devoting just about all of my guitar playing outside of rehearsals to practicing how to play stuff like that. It's just a whole different world, and it's so incredible.
     
  19. P-E

    P-E Munchkin

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    What an amazing mix. I had never listened to it with good equipment, and even with my subpar studio monitors in my very questionable room, I can tell that that low-end is perfect and can only imagine how good the subbass must sound in the right context.
     

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