All About The Bass

In this article I’ll pass along some tips that I’ve garnered over the years with respect to mixing in home studios. One of the most common challenges in mixing is getting the bass right. We’ve all experienced the frustration of finishing a song, then going to have a listen in the car and discovering that things don’t sound right. The problem could be overly boomy bass, the kick drum and bass line fighting each other, or a myriad of other problems in the low end. To understand why the bass can be so problematic, let’s first consider problems within your mixing environment, i.e. your room. All rooms have areas where the bass is either absent or exaggerated– these are called peaks and nulls.

Here’s a helpful way of illustrating this phenomena: in your DAW open up a signal generator and play a 50 hz tone. Now move about the room. You will most likely find that there are places in the your listening environment where the bass practically disappears, and other places where the bass build up is so intense you feel like your head is going to explode. This happens because of the acoustics relating to the size of the room, height of the ceiling, positioning of speakers, etc. In a perfect world the bass should be even throughout the room.

So what can we do to minimize these peaks and nulls? Well, there are a number of best practices. Ideally your room should be rectangular and the speakers should be positioned facing the long way with tweeters at eye level. It’s also wise to keep some distance between the speakers and the walls, as placing the speakers too close to walls will tend to amplify bass. More rules of thumb: Your listening area should be approximately 1/3 of the way between the front and back wall. Also, your speakers should form an equidistant triangle with your head.

In addition to proper placement of speakers, another helpful tool is the use of bass traps. Strategically placed bass traps will help to even out the peaks and nulls. You can find articles online on how to build your own bass traps with materials readily available at hardware stores. If you don’t want to build your own, I’ve had excellent results using products made by Real Traps and GIK Acoustics Both of these companies also provide excellent support. In general I recommend using the thicker model bass traps, as they do a better job with lower frequencies.

Following these best practices for speaker placement and bass trapping can make a world of difference in how your room sounds!


The Magic of 432 Hz

“If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.” – Nikola Tesla

“What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.” – Albert Einstein

Tesla said it. Einstein Agreed. Science proved it. It is a known fact that everything—including our own bodies—is made up of energy vibrating at different frequencies. That being said, can sound frequencies affect us? They sure can. Frequencies affect frequencies; much like mixing ingredients with other ingredients affects the overall flavor of a meal. The way frequencies affect the physical world has been demonstrated through various experiments such as the science of Cymatics and water memory.

The science of Cymatics illustrates that when sound frequencies move through a particular medium such as water, air or sand, it directly alters the vibration of matter. Below are pictures demonstrating how particles adjust to different frequencies.

Water memory also illustrates how our own intentions can even alter the material world. This has been demonstrated by Dr. Masaru Emoto, who has performed studies showing how simple intentions through sound, emotions and thoughts can dramatically shape the way water crystallizes. 

We all hold a certain vibrational frequency, not to mention our bodies are estimated to be about 70% water… so we can probably expect that musical frequencies can alter our own vibrational state. Some may call this ‘pseudoscience,’ however the science and patterns shown above don’t lie. Every expression through sound, emotion or thought holds a specific frequency which influences everything around it—much like a single drop of water can create a larger ripple effect in a large body of water.

With this concept in mind, let us bring our attention to the frequency of the music we listen to. Most music worldwide has been tuned to A=440 Hz since the International Standards Organization (ISO) promoted it in 1953. However, studies regarding the vibratory nature of the universe indicate that this pitch is disharmonious with the natural resonance of nature and may generate negative effects on human behaviour and consciousness. Certain theories even suggest that the nazi regime has been in favor of adopting this pitch as standard after conducting scientific researches to determine which range of frequencies best induce fear and aggression. Whether or not the conspiracy is factual, interesting studies and observations have pointed towards the benefits of tuning music to A=432 Hz instead.

432 Hz is said to be mathematically consistent with the patterns of the universe. Studies reveal that 432hz tuning vibrates with the universe’s golden mean PHI and unifies the properties of light, time, space, matter, gravity and magnetism with biology, the DNA code and consciousness. When our atoms and DNA start to resonate in harmony with the spiraling pattern of nature, our sense of connection to nature is magnified.

“From my own observations, some of the harmonic overtone partials of A=432hz 12T5 appear to line up to natural patterns and also the resonance of solitons. Solitons need a specific range to form into the realm of density and span from the micro to the macro cosmos. Solitons are not only found in water mechanics, but also in the ion-acoustic breath between electrons and protons.” – Brian T. Collins

Let’s explore the experiential difference between 440 Hz and 432 Hz. The noticeable difference music lovers and musicians have noticed with music tuned in 432 Hz is that it is not only more beautiful and harmonious to the ears, but it also induces a more inward experience that is felt inside the body at the spine and heart. Music tuned in 440 Hz was felt as a more outward and mental experience, and was felt at the side of the head which projected outwards. Audiophiles have also stated that 432hz music seems to be non-local and can fill an entire room, whereas 440hz can be perceived as directional or linear in sound propagation.

“The overall sound difference was noticeable, the 432 version sounding warmer, clearer and instantly sounded more listenable but the 440 version felt tighter, with more aggressive energy.” – Anonymous guitarist

The video below was created by someone with no preference or opinion on whether 432 Hz or 440 Hz is better. Therefore, the way both versions of the melody is played is unbiased. It is up to us to tune in and feel which one feels more harmonious to us! (More videos demonstrating the difference between both tunings are available online.)

I personally have enjoyed many bands, artists and styles of music even though they were tuning in 440 hz, however by comparing a few songs in both 432 hz and 440 hz, I can feel and hear the difference. I wouldn’t say that my experience of 440hz music has turned me into an aggressive person, but I can understand how an entire population being exposed to music that is more mind directed as opposed to heart directed—not to mention all of the materialistic and ego-driven lyrics in most popular music—is a perfect combination to maintain a more discordant frequency and state of consciousness within humanity.

“Music based on C=128hz (C note in concert A=432hz) will support humanity on its way towards spiritual freedom. The inner ear of the human being is built on C=128 hz” – Rudolph Steiner

I cannot state with complete certainty that every idea suggested in this article is 100% accurate, nor am I an expert on the subject. For this reason, I suggest that we each do our own research on the matter with an open yet discerning mind if we are looking for scientific validation. However, we all possess intuition and the ability to observe without judgment—which can be just as valuable (if not more) as filling our heads with external data and even scientific concepts. It is therefore up to us to tone down the urge to jump to conclusions and instead EXPERIENCE the difference between 440 Hz and 432 Hz. To do so, we need to listen with our entire body and a neutral awareness as opposed to with our mental ideas, judgments and preconceptions. Let me know which frequency resonates more with you!

If you are interested in changing your music’s pitch to 432 hz, it is possible to do so with a program called audacity.


The Grammy Museum

As a fan of a wide variety of music styles, I highly recommend visiting the Grammy Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. On my most recent trip, I only managed to get through one floor because the amount of information was mind boggling. On that floor, they had featured exhibits by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Donna Summer and Blue Notes Records.

For Stevie Ray Vaughan they displayed his actual guitars, amps and chain of fx pedals that he used. As a producer this was fantastic to gain insight into how he crafted those bluesy tones.

The Donna Summer wing had behind the scenes studio information, hand-written lyrics and notes, and many other cool tidbits. If you’re a fan of today’s pop dance music, this will show you where it all started.

The Blue Note Records area traced the history of this iconic label from its inception in 1939 through today, providing a history of the evolution of Jazz itself. I discovered my favorite style is ‘Free Jazz’.

What a learning experience! Again, this was just a small part of one floor. The vibe of the place is fantastic as well with dim lighting and a modern, yet comfortable feel. More importantly since it’s all about the music, all areas had multiple listening stations.

Experiencing the various genres, I left with a better understanding of the history and evolution of today’s music. If you’re looking for some inspiration, this is the place to go!