Kick and bass are the unsung heroes of music. These two elements are the foundation of most great modern mixes, laying down the groove, the thump, and the pulse that make your track irresistible.

But here’s the catch: mixing kick and bass isn’t a walk in the park. It’s more like trying to balance a see-saw with a couple of elephants on either end. Get it right, and you’ve got a track that’ll shake the dancefloor. Mess it up, and you might end up with a muddy, messy sound that’s a party pooper.

So, stick around as we dive into the world of kick and bass mixing, walking through the challenges and showing you how to achieve that perfect, bone-rattling low-end balance. 

Table Of Contents:

Selecting the Right Kick and Bass Sounds

Mixing kick and bass starts with selecting the right sounds and samples

Both kick and bass occupy the lower end of the audio spectrum, providing the essential foundation for a track’s mix, anchoring it, and giving it weight and power. However, they must also complement each other without getting in the way. 

For example, if you’re working with a really subby kick, you might go for a mid-range bass or vice versa. 

Of course, different genres and styles often have specific expectations regarding the kick and bass. For example, electronic dance music may require a deep and punchy kick with a powerful sub-bass, while a funk or jazz track might benefit from a more dynamic and expressive bassline. 

Choosing appropriate sounds for the genre is just as essential!

PRO TIP: Listen closely to some of your favorite tracks and analyze the kinds of kicks and bass sounds they’re using. 

Setting Levels and Balance

Without proper levels, you’ll never get your kick and bass to sound good together. 

Because the kick drum and bass often share similar frequency ranges, finding the perfect equilibrium ensures that neither overpowers the other, giving you a clear and cohesive low end. 

The kick’s transient punch often provides the initial impact, while the bass delivers the sustaining body and groove. By carefully adjusting the levels, you can control the perceived depth, power, and definition of the low end, allowing these foundational elements to work together. 

Again, one of the best ways to set levels for kick and bass is to use reference tracks and see how some of your favorite producers adjust the levels for their low-end instruments. 

Soloing for Clarity

When mixing kick and bass, I often like to start by soloing the two elements and muting all other tracks in my mix temporarily so that I can focus solely on them without distractions.

If I’m having trouble figuring out where my kicks and basses are living in the frequency spectrum, I’ll use a frequency analyzer to analyze them. There are plenty of great frequency analyzer plugins that you can use to get a visual representation of the frequency content of your signals over time. 

I’ll often put a frequency analyzer on each track to see where the fundamentals of each instruments are, so I know how to EQ them to complement one another. 

Equalization (EQ) for Kick and Bass

EQ is going to be one of your main tools when shaping your kick and bass in your mix. While all kicks and basses will be different, here are a few common EQ moves you might want to focus on as a starting point:

Kick Drum EQ:

  • Low-End Focus: To emphasize the kick’s power and presence, boost the low frequencies in the range of 60 Hz to 100 Hz. This imparts a solid thump to the kick, giving it the necessary weight.
  • Attack Enhancement: For punch and definition, a boost in the 2 kHz to 5 kHz range can emphasize the kick’s attack and beater sound. This helps it cut through the mix and provides clarity in the rhythm section.
  • Subtractive EQ: To prevent muddiness, apply a gentle cut in the 200 Hz to 400 Hz range. This can help reduce any unwanted boxiness or boominess in the kick sound.

 Bass EQ:

  • Low-End Control: The bass’s low frequencies are its core. Enhance the bass’s warmth and depth by boosting the frequencies between 40 Hz and 80 Hz. This adds weight and body to the bassline.
  • Midrange Clarity: For definition and articulation in the bassline, consider a subtle boost in the 500 Hz to 1 kHz range. This can help the bass cut through the mix without overpowering it.
  • High-End Presence: To provide some clarity and articulation to the bass without making it too boomy, you can apply a slight boost in the 2 kHz to 5 kHz range. Be cautious not to overdo this, as it can introduce unwanted finger noise or string squeaks.

EQ is used to create separation between the kick and bass. If there’s a conflict in the sub-bass frequencies, try applying a narrow cut to one of the elements in the overlapping range to reduce muddiness.

Compression and Dynamics

After EQ. compression plays the most crucial role in mixing kick and bass, helping to control dynamics to achieve a more balanced and polished sound.

But beware. Overdo it, and you’ll squash the life out of them.

To get that punchy yet controlled sound from your kick, start by setting a slow attack time; this lets through some initial thump before clamping down. For release times, make sure it syncs with the tempo—too fast can suck out power, while too slow may cause muddiness.

Bass demands its own approach to avoid drowning in the mix: aim for moderate attack settings to preserve its character but still control those longer sustain notes effectively. A quick tip is to use different types or brands of compressors for each element—they bring unique flavors to your sonic dish.

Sidechain Compression for Kick and Bass

Sometimes, bass and kick don’t want to play nice together, even after a bunch of EQ and compression work. In that case, you might have to use sidechain compression.

This powerful technique is widely used in music production to create space and clarity in the mix, particularly between elements like the kick and bass. 

It involves using a compressor on one sound source (the bass, in this case) and triggering its compression with the input from another sound source (the kick). Here’s how to set it up:

  • Choose a Compressor: Start by selecting a compressor plugin capable of sidechain functionality. Most modern DAWs come with one.
  • Insert the Compressor on the Bass Track: Insert the compressor plugin on the bass track where you want to apply the effect.
  • Engage the Sidechain Input: Locate the sidechain input or key input section in the compressor’s interface. This is where you’ll specify the source of the trigger signal, which is the kick in this case.
  • Route the Kick to the Sidechain Input: Use your DAW’s routing capabilities to send the kick signal to the sidechain input of the compressor on the bass track. Ensure that the sidechain input is active.
  • Set Compression Parameters: Adjust the compressor’s threshold: Set the threshold to trigger compression on the bass when it exceeds this threshold. A fast attack and release with a 4:1-8:1 ratio will usually do the trick. 
  • Listen and Adjust: Listen to the mix and fine-tune the compression settings until the kick and bass sit well together, with the kick cutting through.


Think of layering in mixing like a master chef’s secret to that perfect bite—it’s all about combining flavors. 

When you’re working with kick and bass, it’s not just slapping two sounds together; it’s the art of blending them so they complement each other without stepping on toes. Layering can beef up a weak kick or add depth to an uninspiring bass line.

When it comes to layering kicks, I like to blend multiple kick samples to achieve one super kick, such as combining a punchy, transient-rich kick with a subby, deep kick for a fuller sound. 

Careful EQ and volume balancing are essential to ensure that the combined kick drums complement each other rather than clash. 

In terms of bass layers, I like to combine different bass synths, samples, or recorded bass guitars, to create a more textured and expressive low end. Each layer can contribute unique qualities, such as sub bass warmth, midrange presence, and high-end articulation. 

Tips for Different Genres

Think of kick and bass as the heart and soul of your track—they need to vibe together, no matter what genre you’re throwing down. However, each genre has its own distinct rhythm.

EDM: The Floor Fillers

In electronic dance music, that kick needs to hit like a freight train—clean, punchy, and in-your-face. Pair it with a sidechained bassline and create space for each thump of the kick.

Hip-Hop: The Smooth Operators

Now slide into hip-hop where sub-bass reigns supreme; we want that low-end thickness to be the main focus.

Your kicks should knock but not overpower—the key is balance. Use EQ cuts on your bass around 80-100 Hz to give those kicks some breathing room without losing any swagger.

Rock: The Power Duo

Moving over to rock? We’re talking gritty and raw—like jeans straight outta the wash too many times roughness here. 

Keep those kicks tight but organic with a growl in the bass rather than tons of low-end. You’ll want enough mid-range presence so listeners can hear the bass cutting through the mix. 

Final Thoughts

By now, you should feel like a kick and bass ninja. Mixing these two elements is like making the perfect PB&J sandwich – it’s all about finding that sweet spot.

The dance between kick and bass sets the stage for your track’s energy level. Get this wrong, and even with stellar melodies or killer vocals, listeners might not stick around. Remember to carve out space using EQ; think Michelangelo chiseling away marble to reveal David’s six-pack – but here we’re sculpting frequencies.

If there’s one takeaway from our sonic adventure together, let it be this: listen critically, adjust meticulousl, and always trust your ears over meters. 

If you’re itching for even deeper dives into mixing mastery, start a free trial at Mix Elite Academy. You’ll gain access to Premium Courses galore plus 320+ lessons that go deep into production secrets. There are also some sweet sample packs waiting for you alongside juicy discounts on plugins – because who doesn’t love saving money?


What is the relationship between kick and bass?

The kick and bass work together to form a track’s rhythmic backbone, driving its pulse and energy.

How do you mix bass with kick?

To mix them well, balance their levels, carve out frequencies for each using EQs, and sometimes apply sidechain compression.

Should kick be lower than bass?

Kick doesn’t always sit lower; it depends on your track. The key is ensuring they don’t mask each other’s punch.