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How To Mix an 808 Bass In Trap & Hip-Hop Music

How To Mix an 808 Bass For Trap & Hip-Hop Music

Learn how to mix an 808 bass for Trap and Hip-Hop music with our step-by-step guide. Discover essential techniques, including sidechain compression, EQ sculpting, and adding punch and distortion, to make your 808s stand out in any mix.

The 808 bass is one of the fundamental elements of Trap and Hip-Hop music. It has a powerful punch with tons of bass and a lot of sustain. When mixed correctly, the 808 will make your song feel big and powerful!

But when mixed poorly, it can sound weak and thin, making your track sound unconvincing. On the other extreme, it can sound boomy and muddy, making it hard to hear the vocals.

A great-sounding 808 is what separates an amateur track from a potential HIT. Don’t worry, you’re not alone—EVERYONE has gone through this process. That’s why I’m going to explain in this simple step-by-step guide how to mix an 808 bass track or 808 bass loop.

The choice of DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) for mixing 808s can largely depend on personal preference, workflow, and the specific features you find most useful. In my example I use FL Studio, with is one of my favorite DAW when mixing Trap or Hip-Hop beats.

Ultimately, the best DAW for mixing 808s will be the one that fits your workflow and production style the best.

Step-by-Step 808 Bass Mixing Process:

1. Choose the Right Sound for Your TRAP Song

Let’s start with the creative part of your song. The Roland TR-808 drum machine is one of the most sampled instruments of all time. However, that doesn’t mean you need to use an original sample.

Sometimes, a simple and unprocessed 808 sample works best because you can shape it as you like.

For that characteristic TRAP sub-bass, I use a VST instrument based on samples. The X-Eight VST by Thenatan contains an extensive library of sounds that will blow your mind.

You can create a vast number of different songs without repeating any 808 sub-bass.

FL Studio X-Eight 808 VST Plugin

Go to our partner website (Hex Loops) to Buy X-Eight VST Plugin

2. Tune and Adjust Duration

Since an 808 is just a sine wave, it has a root frequency, meaning it can be tuned. After selecting the sound you like, tune it to fit the key of your song. Ideally, tune it to the fundamental note of the key.

Ensure it harmonizes with the other instruments in the track.

Next, adjust the duration. Today’s Trap and Hip-Hop songs often have simple basslines with few notes, so the key is to adjust the length correctly.

Make sure the 808 stops on the correct beat to keep the song balanced.

FL Studio 808 MIDI Pattern

3. Mixing the 808 for TRAP

Make It Louder! One of the easiest ways to make your 808 pop is to make it the loudest element in the mix. Instead of embedding it in an existing mix, start with the 808 and bring in other instruments around it.

Settings: Set the 808 fader to a level where it sits prominently in the mix, around -8 dB as a starting point.

808 Volume Level

Add a Kick to Blend with the 808! 808s are sustained low frequencies. Pair your 808 with additional kick samples for added attack. This will help your ear identify the bass and make it punch through the mix.

Settings: Use a kick sample with a strong attack but less sub-bass. High-pass filter the kick to around 80-100 Hz to avoid clashing with the 808.

FL Studio 808 Kick Layering

Sculpt the Lows with an EQ! Start by boosting the lows around the root frequency of the song, usually around 40 Hz. Then, make a gentle cut in the low mids around 250 Hz to remove muddiness. Additionally, you may need to cut around 50 Hz to make room for the kick.

Settings:

  • Boost: Around 45 Hz to enhance the root frequency.
  • Cut: Around 250 Hz to remove muddiness.
  • Notch: Around 80 Hz in my case to make room for the kick.

FL Studio 808 Parametric EQ2 Settings

Add Punch and Sustain with Compression! Use a compressor with fast attack and release times to enhance the initial transient of the 808. Sidechain compression can also be effective to help the 808 cut through the mix.

Settings:

  • Attack: 10-20 ms
  • Release: 50-100 ms
  • Threshold: Adjust so that the 808 compresses by about 2-4 dB
  • Ratio: 4:1 for a tight compression
  • Gain: In my case, I set the gain to +2.5db to compensate the lost volume due compression

FL Studio 808 Compression Compressor Settings

Add Distortion! Add subtle distortion to help the 808 cut through the mix by adding harmonic saturation. Experiment with different types of distortion to find what works best for your track.

Settings:

  • Drive: Adjust to add subtle saturation. Start with low settings and increase until the 808 cuts through the mix without sounding overly distorted.
  • Tone/Color: Adjust to ensure the harmonics enhance the 808’s presence without adding unwanted harshness.

FL Studio 808 Blood Overdrive

Use sidechain compression to create more space for your kick drum in the mix by ducking the 808 whenever the kick hits. This technique helps prevent frequency masking between the kick and the 808, ensuring both elements stand out clearly.

To set this up, place a compressor on the 808 track and select the kick drum as the sidechain input. This way, every time the kick hits, the 808’s volume will temporarily reduce, allowing the kick to punch through the mix more effectively.

FL Studio 808 Kick Sidechain Compression Fruity Limiter

See here: How To Do FL Studio Sidechain Compression

By following these simple steps, you’ll be on your way to mixing 808 bass hits that will make your song the next hit. Don’t miss out our FL Studio Drum Mixing Presets which includes 25 x 808 Mixing Presets ready to enhance and improve your beats!

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