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Thread: Bass editing and phase relationship with drums

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    b00n is offline Junior Member
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    Bass editing and phase relationship with drums

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    Hello everyone,
    first posting in ere, so go easy on me.

    I have a maybe stupid question,
    right now I'm mixing a track that needs very heavy bass editing, as the bass does not lock at all with the drums.
    So, I am getting into editing territory for the first time.
    When editing that stuff, I use the "snap to transient" tool in Reaper to find edit points for bass and drums, and move the bass to the respective drum transient.
    Now, does this provide me with phase identical transients for bass and drums?
    Or should I flip phase for each transient and listen to, what sounds best?

    This methodology (find transients here and there and align them) provides a slightly early feel for the bass,
    so I guess I will end up nudging the bass track a little bit,
    and flip phase to see if something improves,
    are there any "rules of thump" (pun intended) for editing bass and drums?

    tia,
    b00n

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    ecc83 is offline Three Thousand and Counting
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    My instinct is that trying to lock phase with two instruments that produce sound in two very different ways and at different distance is bollox! A drum head is not a "piston" it is a vibrating plate.

    I mean, do bands move the bass cab or kit around to achieve this live?

    But I await the 'sperts!

    Dave.

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    ashcat_lt's Avatar
    ashcat_lt is online now Force of Nature
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    It's always a good idea to try a polarity flip here and there. Sometimes it can make a difference for one reason or another. It only takes a second. I'm not sure that trying to do it by eye is worth the trouble. Any phase coherence between the drum and bass would be completely accidental IRL.
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    Track Rat's Avatar
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    As said, phase doesn't enter into this type of situation. Only worry about phase alignment on things like lining up a bass DI and a bass mic, and even then it ay not be necessary.

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    Bobbsy's Avatar
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    By all means line up the transients and see if you like the effect...it can also sometimes work to offset them by just a small amount (not enough to be two distinct sounds, just a slight "stretch" on the thump).

    However, as Track Rat says, phase doesn't come into this since it's two totally different sources. You can only match a phase relationship if you have exactly the same source miked from two different places (and you don't always want to do this anyway as it can be slight differences in phase that give you positioning information in the stereo field).
    The pessimist sees the glass as half empty. The optimist sees it as half full. The realist just drains the darn thing and gets a refill!

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    I agree with the above, but I'd add that the easiest and best thing is often to just re-record.
    If it's more than the odd note here and there, you have a bad take.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grawlf View Post
    That's a tad too much terminology. What do you mean by 'mix'?

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    b00n is offline Junior Member
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    Hey guys,
    thanks for your answer so far.
    Rerecording is not an option here, as the bassist simply is not uber tight.
    Won't get any better.
    But I don't think phase does not matter here,
    I mean if I align a transient that goes 'up' first with another transient that goes 'down' first, I loose a whole lot of speaker excursion at this point.
    Or is this a wholly theoretical thing with no relevance to real live whatsoever?
    (I'm good at that kind of brain knots, mind you...)

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    Quote Originally Posted by b00n View Post
    Hey guys,
    thanks for your answer so far.
    Rerecording is not an option here, as the bassist simply is not uber tight.
    Won't get any better.
    But I don't think phase does not matter here,
    I mean if I align a transient that goes 'up' first with another transient that goes 'down' first, I loose a whole lot of speaker excursion at this point.
    Or is this a wholly theoretical thing with no relevance to real live whatsoever?
    (I'm good at that kind of brain knots, mind you...)
    You are not wrong. Especially if you are purposely aligning those transients, they will pull against each other just like you have described. It can and does happen. Also, if the bass is playing a note that is very close to the fundamental of the bass drum you could have some general bass loss, or at least weirdness.

    I think that folks are saying it's not an issue because in "real life" it would be completely accidental for those transients or the fundamentals would line up that closely. Even the tightest rhythm section will be off just that little bit, and a different little bit on each hit, so that it becomes difficult to predict the interaction. But...

    ...the wavelengths down in this area are so long that there is a lot of "wiggle room" in there. The waves don't have to be exactly 180 degrees out of phase to get noticeable cancellation. That whole half period between 90 and 270 will knock down the total perceived level by some amount. If one of them has "absolute polarity" opposite the other, then it's -90 to 90 that will cause loss. At 50Hz (what, G#?), that half cycle lasts for 5ms.

    I posted earlier in a bit of a hurry, so I left out the part where any significant bleed from the bass into the drum tracks (if they were recorded in the same room) will make the whole thing an even bigger mess.

    It has taken me a lot longer to type this than it would have taken you to flip the polarity on one of the tracks and actually hear if it helps. There are good reasons to try it, especially with low end instruments.
    It only hurts if you let it... --- Ash's Tube --- Join the Partnership for a Drum Free Amerika

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    Chili's Avatar
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    I'm all about not being uber tight....

    Simply aligning transients doesn't always work either. I find when going through bass tracks, that the wave form might not depict where the beat is. I see the wave form ramping up in amplitude at the beginning of the first note of a measure and it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish exactly where the note starts. So, I nudge all over the place and give a critical listen to see if it's tight.

    If I have one take on the bass, which for me is common, I will splice the bass track and nudge every verse and chorus.

    On the other point you're asking about. Don't confuse up and down transients with phase. Those transients are short durations of an oscillating signal. It's the relationship of the oscillations from one track to another that determines phase. And... if the tracks do not have the same signal, then you don't have to worry about phase. Put another way, phase is a microscopic issue, transients are a macroscopic issue. So if your transient goes up while your kick transient goes down, it's still good.

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    miroslav's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili View Post

    Simply aligning transients doesn't always work either.
    Exactly....and as has been said, it can actually sound worse than if the transients are a little off. When the transients are a little off, it can still be very tight but can actually fatten up the sound. Also there is a difference in the combined sound, depending on which of the two is ahead or behind.
    Try it with just a single Kick beat and Bass note. Get them perfectly lined up with the transienets...then nudge one of them a hair forward and compare....then put it back again in line, and then this time nudge it forward a hair and compare.
    It can make a big difference in the combined sound, one way or the other.

    I just got done cutting up a Bass track....not so much for the need to make it uber tight, but more so to clean up some of the fret/string buzz noise on the note tails, and since I already have it cut up, I'll also tighten things up as needed in some spots, relative to the Kick drum. I do this manually, and not with any automated "snap" process, and purely "by eye" and without being "zoomed in" too close...so yeah, a little work, but it comes out more "real" that way, and there is still a natural randomness to the interaction of the Bass and Kick.

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