Using EQ to add presence and dynamics to an Electric Bass
The beauty of recording a bass guitar is that we use a DI box instead of using microphones to record the sound. Of course, you can mic up an amp cabinet and record the output but that will not give you a clean signal. The amp cabinet, the room, the mics and so on will add colour to the recording so it's not always the preferred option when it comes to capturing a good live bass recording. The real magic takes place after tracking and when the recording is sitting in your DAW waiting for you to add some fairy dust to it.
There are many ways to treat a bass guitar recording and they invariably involve some form of colouration but in most cases producers would rather work with a clean and strong signal that they can then process within the DAW. I am going to show you one such technique that involves using both a vintage equaliser and a console EQ to control and enrich the bass recording.
When we talk of vintage equalisers we are invariably talking about analogue topologies. Whereas digital equalisers are used for surgical tasks vintage equalisers are used to add colour and fairy dust to your sounds. Linear phase topologies lend themselves well to precision equalisation tasks but it is the minimum phase topology that adds colour and in abundance!
Analogue EQs are governed by the circuit path and components used in the hardware. The imperfections of this system allows for phase shifts, harmonic distortion and added noise, and it is these types of anomalies that, when designed well, can come across as 'musical'.
We now have digital equalisers that emulate vintage designs. How well they can emulate the randomness of the hardware equivalents comes down to coding. Filter curves and phase shifts are emulated to the point whereby some manufacturers offer a plethora of various filter types within the same equaliser. The advantages of the digital emulator is that it is reliable, accurate, recallable and multi instances of it can be used within the DAW without breaking the bank!
But there is more to vintage equalisers than the circuit path and components used. Some vintage equalisers have specific filter curves that distinguish them over other models.
Trident Console EQ
The interesting thing about the Trident A Range console is that they only ever built 13 of these amazing studio consoles. The A-Range was originally designed in the early 70’s for Trident Studios in London by Malcolm Toft and Barry Porter. However, the rarity of the console only added to its legendary status and one component of the console that gave it its unique colour was the equaliser. Nowadays, we tend to work ITB and it was a blessing for us producers when Softube decided to create a software version of this classic equaliser.
The Softube A-Range EQ features four fixed frequency bands of equalization plus high and low pass filters. It comes with a saturation feature that allows the user to overdrive the signal to achieve pleasing distortion. The A-Range console was actually designed to have very little distortion, but it was nevertheless possible to crank up the input volume and equalization bands to make it distort. Softube decided to give us a dedicated saturation feature.
In the video I explain how a vintage equaliser works and how best to use it on a bass guitar recording. I explain the differences between vintage and digital filter curves. I show you how to customise the equaliser's GUI to only display the information you want. I show you how to use the legendary Trident A Range EQ to add presence and warmth to a bass guitar recording.
Topics covered in this video are:
Using Vintage Responses
Boost Cut - Pultec
Shelves and Vintage Bells
Q and Resonance
Spectrum Anaylser Customisation and Optimisation
Trident A Range