Recording Double Bass / Mixing & Phase Alignment for Upright Bass

Recording Acoustic Double Bass with Multi-Miking

In today’s #faTutorial, explore our multi-miking technique tailored for acoustic double bass recording, ensuring optimal phase alignment and mix clarity! Acoustic double bass recording techniques often involve the use of multiple microphones for several reasons:

There are many aspects to a large acoustical instrument. You have, for example, the sound of the picking of the player on the fret-board, the bass-rich, vibrant sound of the body and maybe some nice room ambience (depending on your recording studio, of course).

Don’t fix it in the mix – “Blend it” in the mix!

If you use different microphones for all of these aspects you gain total freedom of how they are blend together in the final mix and you can choose and change the sound at any time. That’s why I use 3 different microphones in this setup.

Some of the lower frequencies that are dominant for acoustic upright bass need some room to develop. That’s why a certain distance, without too much room ambiance, is essential! Although multi-miking techniques can give you all these benefits, you’ll also have to deal with Phase issues due to the time differences (or better ‘run time differences’) between the mics.

Double Bass Recording with 3 different mics in different distances

We have one condenser mic picking up the fret board. Another one in a certain distance picking up the complete double bass and a little bit of room. The third mic is a ribbon mic pointing at the f-hole of the bass. Ribbon mics are known to have a great bass response and are often used for bass rich signals.

Mic Blending & Phase Alignment go hand in hand

Screenshot of the faGuitarAlign VST Automatic Phase Alignment Plugin processing double bass mic tracks

faGuitarAlign can detect the run-time differences between the double bass mics and align the recording automatically.

In this tutorial I use our Automatic Phase Alignment Plug-In faGuitarAlign to counter these effects! Of course, you can use every other Phase Alignment Plug-in you want. But faGuitarAlign is the ultimate choice for this task. You’ll notice that I don’t use a lot of effects in this particular mix. The blend of the 3 mics combined with the Phase Alignment gives us an already pretty good sounding acoustic bass.

Screenshot of the faGuitarAlign VST Automatic Phase Alignmen Plugin processing double bass mic tracks

Our phase density scope already tell us that the phase relation between the mics is extremely off (red bars). Fortunately, the plug-in can solve this problem automatically.

Mixing the double bass

Screenshot of the Fabfilter ProQ VST Plugin applying a bell and highshelf EQ to a double bass recording

To restrain the extreme low frequencies a subtle low-cut is applied. The bell & highshelf EQ curve at 4 kHz and 10 kHz enhance the picking sound and give our double bass recording more breath.

All I’ve done, aside from the mic blending, is some subtle adjustments in the 4k range, a little bit of multiband compression in the lower mids to get rid of ‘boom-iness’ and a little bit of saturation to add warmth. And that’s basically it.

Screenshot of the Fabfilter Saturn VST Plugin processing a double bass recording

Just a little bit of saturation added gives our double bass recording even more warmth.

I’ve also added sidechain compression to make air between the bass and the kick drum. I will go into more detail on how to do that in an upcoming tutorial.
Screenshot of the Toneboosters Flux 4 VST Plugin used for side-chain compression on a double bass

Lastly, we apply frequency dependent side-chain compression to make room in the bass frequencies, when ever the kick drum is hit. This little trick gives a lot more room in the mix and allows use to make the bass even louder with out it getting to dominant.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful. In case you need some more double bass action: Check out this article from the double bass blog: Recording Double Bass in the studio. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and leave a comment below.

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