Mixing Bass and Kick

Mixing the bass and kick in a mix can be troublesome, but that can be negotiated by working on the harmonics and complimentary frequencies of each sound.

Beat Construction

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Mixing Bass and Kick is a video tutorial explaining how to process kicks and basses to sit together in a mix.

This particular tutorial concentrates on how to blend the kick and bass frequencies together as opposed to using the traditional method of ducking using side-chain compression.

Complimentary frequencies

The reason we have so many problems trying to get the bass sound and kick drum sound to sit well together in the mix is that they both share similar frequencies. In most instances, we try to separate the kick from the bass by using subtractive equalisation on the shared frequencies of one sound. This then leaves room for the other sound to explore. For example, if the bass and kick have prominent frequencies at 200 Hz we will cut 200 Hz from one sound so that the other sound can shine through. However, the more common approach is to use side-chaining to duck the 200 Hz from one sound with the other. But sometimes you don’t want to cut any prominent frequencies simply because they are an integral part of the sound’s character.


Blending frequencies is not a hard process to master but it does involve some lateral thinking. It involves finding the critical shared frequencies between the kick and bass sounds and instead of removing them we blend or layer them together using dynamic processing to form a single homogeneous sound. The most common form of blending frequencies is to use equalisation and compression together. The equaliser determines which frequencies will be highlighted and fed to the compressor. The type of compressor to use is dependent on what type of gluing is required.

Harmonic distortion

I love all types of processors that generate odd and even harmonics and when it comes to treating low-frequency content these processes reigns supreme.

Harmonic distortion means that additional harmonics are added to the original harmonics of the audio being fed. As all sound carries harmonic content, and this is what defines its timbre, then it makes sense that any additional harmonics will alter the sound quite dramatically. Harmonic distortion is musically related to the original signal being treated and the sum of the added and original harmonics make up the resultant harmonics. The level and relative amounts of the added harmonics give the sound its character and for this, we need to look at the two main types of harmonic distortion: odd and even order harmonics.

Both the bass and kick drums can benefit from some form of distortion to help glue both sounds together and offer a new sonic texture to use in your mixes.

In the Mixing Bass and Kick video, I trigger a drum beat sequence and layer it with additional sounds showing you each and every step of the process. I show you industry techniques in locating the shared frequencies of both sounds and follow that with examples of how to layer kicks with basses. I explore the subject of blending by showing you how to use harmonic distortion processes to glue like for like sounds together to create new textures. Tube compression is next and I show you how they work and what settings to use. Finally, I show you how to use a FET compressor to glue and reshape the kick and bass.

Plugins used in this video:

D16 Nepheton

Klanghelm SDRR

Lindell 6X-500

Kazrog KClip

Softube Focusing Equaliser

FabFilter Saturn

Nugen Visualiser

Topics covered in this video are:

  • Understanding and working with complimentary frequencies
  • Exploring the relationship between kicks and basses and how best to locate the biting point
  • Using Saturation and Tube processing
  • Using Clip processing
  • Understanding and using Focusing Eqs
  • Tip and Tricks

If this tutorial was of help then these might also be of benefit:

Harmonic Distortion – Odd and Even Harmonics

Side-chaining Bass and Kick for EDM

Side-chain Pumping Effect

Side-chain Expansion – Bass and Kick processing

Linear Phase Eq versus Minimum Phase Eq

Eq Filters and Slopes/Responses

What is an equaliser and how does it work

EQ Uncovered – (second edition)

EQ Masterclass

Mixing Hip Hop