Chapter 3: Low-end Damage Limitation


AUDIO FILES (To download all WAV examples at once: 59MB ZIP)

  • LFSineTones: (Ex3.01:WAV/MP3) Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! This file contains a chromatic scale of sinewave tones spanning 24Hz-262Hz. In conjunction with the Table 1.1 in Section 1.4, you can use it to work out the resonant frequency of a speaker's port.

  • ConeFlapper files: ConeFlapperOut (Ex3.02:WAV/MP3) is a section of R&B-style backing track with well-controlled low end. Now compare it with ConeFlapperIn (Ex3.03:WAV/MP3). Do not play this at high volumes or you may damage your speakers! In the latter version a strong subsonic element in the kick drum eats up around 3dB of extra headroom in return for negligible audible change.

  • Kick-drum Low-end Lag: Here are two examples of kick drums with sluggish low frequencies. The first (Ex3.04:WAV/MP3) is more obvious, the second (Ex3.05:WAV/MP3) more subtle. Compare these with the following versions, which have been processed to reduce the lag: first (Ex3.06:WAV/MP3) and second (Ex3.07:WAV/MP3). For more information on the processing used, check out these two Mix Rescues: article 1, article 2.

  • Restricting Low-end Contributions: A good example of the 'simplify the problem, simplify the solution' tactic mentioned in Section 3.5 can be heard in this Mix Rescue. Here the three main electric-guitar layers (Ex3.08:WAV/MP3; Ex3.09:WAV/MP3; Ex3.10:WAV/MP3) were all high-pass filtered to make way for the bass guitar (Ex3.11:WAV/MP3), which itself was high-pass filtered to leave the bottom octaves for a sub-bass synth part (Ex3.12:WAV/MP3). By combining all these elements (Ex3.13:WAV/MP3), you get an ensemble sound which still provides plenty of low end, but in a way that allows you more easily to work around low-frequency monitoring problems in your listening environment.


  • Affordable Spectrum-analysis & Level-metering Plug-ins: Voxengo’s freeware SPAN and MeldaProduction's freeware MAnalyzer are very good for spectrum analysis, although I personally use Schwa’s affordable Schope most of the time. For fully-featured full-band level metering, check out Sonalksis FreeG and Tischmeyer Technology's freeware TT Dynamic Range Meter. There's also PSP's freeware VintageMeter, a nice stereo moving-coil display for those who like the way that type of meter responds.


  • Audio Metering: If you'd like to know more about the mechanics of using audio metering, check out this nice little FAQ.

Sign up for the monthly Small-studio Secrets News mail to get info on my latest free recording and mixing resources!

Spotted a broken link? Need more audio examples or plug-in suggestions? Get in touch!