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Q: How can I make a good mix for TV?

A RecordProducer.com reader wonders what he can do about the bass in a TV mix. Will viewers be able to hear it?

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A question from a Audio Masterclass reader...

"How can I make a good mix for TV because I do not hear the bass in the TV transmission?"

The reason you don't hear the bass is because TV speakers are often small. Small speakers can't produce bass in enough volume to fill a room. Although some people have hi-fi speakers connected to their TV sets, they are in a tiny minority compared to the rest of the TV-viewing population.

An experiment in bass

You could try an experiment like this... Create a mix on your studio monitors in which the bass instrument is heavily filtered, so that only the fundamental pitches of the notes come through. You could try a 24 dB/octave low-pass filter at around 200 Hz for a start. Tweak the cutoff frequency downwards until the only bass you hear is a low rumble.

Now play the mix through your TV. I'm sure you can work out a way to do it. It is very likely that the bass is completely inaudible. Clearly this is not going to be a good TV mix.

Don't take out the harmonics

Fortunately there is a solution. This is to use a bass sound that is rich in harmonics. Often all you have to do is make sure you don't EQ out the harmonics, at the guitar, the amp or in the mix.

When played through a TV loudspeaker, the fundamental pitches will still be too low in frequency to be audible. But the brain has a way of filling in the missing fundamentals from the pattern of harmonics it hears. If the harmonics are there, the bass will be clearly audible. This applies to the kick drum in a similar way.

By David Mellor Friday April 22, 2011
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