Hi Stephen57. Hope you are well?
For me “BASS” is also always a ‘thing’! I always start thinking that I’ll throw in a bass and do a little EQ cut on 110~140 hz to take the muddiness away. But I always end up tweaking this and that and trying different plugins to tame it or to make it fit?
My latest trick that works for the most time now is to put 2 separate compressors on the bus. The first to shape the sound and the second to sustain this shaped sound.
Works a lot of times. But not always? Bass is just the most difficult thing to fit in the mix imho.
What I also experienced is that other instruments, namely keyboards, can occupy the sub range frequencies where the bass should play it’s ultimate role.
Go over tracks that operate in that frequency and cut some of the low end there so the bass gets some more air to breath.
Hope these tips help you a bit?
And yes, many times bass is an illusion. People in cars with 1500 watt amplifiers and 24" woofers think they hear a real low bass! The space of car really hardly allows for frequencies of 50 Hz. What they actually really experience is the air pressure of the woofers and the resonance of the car making their brains think they really hear low tones. The only ones that really hear the low tones are the people that they drive by on the street.
Not sure if you know this formula? But in order for a low frequency to be heard in a given space it needs at leased half of it amplitude to be finished. The speed of sound is approx. 340 meters per second. For a tone of 50HZ to be heard you need 340:50= 6.8 meters : 2 = 3.4 meters for it to be heard. The average distance from the woofer in the back of a car to the ear of the driver is usually no more than about 3 meters or so? So they just don’t hear the extreme low frequencies they think they do?
One might think “But what about headphones and earbuds”? These are different beasts than speakers. They don’t rely on air travel. They project the frequencies directly on your eardrums. So another illusion…
So yes, the perfect low end in a mix is also an illusion? But that doesn’t make it anymore easier to achieve!