Advice needed: My kick is too low!

Anyone out there with good mixing-experience that could help me out? I have recorded a kick from my A4 MK2 into Ableton and I really like how it sounds. It’s bouncy and deep (at -9 dB) and I would very much like to keep it that way but as soon as I crank the volume on it, even just a tiny bit, it starts to distort in an ugly way. I’m working to get the whole mix up to around -3 dB and that is why I’d like to push it a little bit more, to get the rest of the elements in the mix to revolve around it. No other elements compete with the kick in the lower spectrum so that is not the problem, the kick distorts even on its own when solo:ed. Could it be that there simply is too much bass information in the kick and pushing it higher is not possible without altering it? Someone else that have been in a smilar situation? If so, how did you solve it? All kick-mixing advice are welcome! Thankx! :slight_smile:

I see no real reason why a digital signal should distort just by raising its volume (with still headroom left / no clipping).

Have you tried to increase the kick and simultaneously decrease the overall volume to check if it is your listening environment (monitors/headphones) where the distortions are coming from?

Another guess: do you run the increased signal through plugins afterwards? Some plugins start to distort when you drive them too hot.

And another one: check your whole signal chain if you are not clipping in between two plugins.


Loads of sub frequency ? Try eqing out everything under 30 hz

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Sounds like it may be your speakers distorting rather than the track itself. Can you turn down your monitors and see if you are still getting distortion?

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Thanks! It’s only when I raise the volume within Ableton that the distortion occurs. When I keep the signal at -9 dB in the DAW, but rises the volume on the computer, it still sounds good and it doesn’t distort. Also, it was a good pointer about the plugins. My main compressor is the Klanghelm MJUC. Nothing is pushed to the extreme. But now when I think of it, it maybe is just my “lazy ass” approach right because I left the studio, my audio interface and my monitors (too late for the neighbors) and I’m just sitting with the laptop right now and my headphones (AKG K712), running it all with the computers internal soundcard (MME/DirectX, Realtek Audio). Could that be it?

Drop the volume of everything else to match the kick, then master it to bring it all up to the desired -3dB average overall?


Yup. This.

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