Clear Kick = Good Kick?

Hey guys,
when mixing i came up asking myself wheather removing all freqs that blurr a kick or sound unpleasant is always the best option. i went through some newer releases an found out, that some of them have very undefined kicks (like just raw mass at 100Hz) but the track as a whole worked well. as the kick is often the reference instrument that everything is mixed around, does it need to sound perfectly balanced? and how can we decide balance, when we have no other elements an just start mixing a track (in case there is a seperate mixing stage where everything get really polished wihich i like…)???

Thanks Guys!

thought about that myself in the last months and probably the answer is like always: it depends.

am not much into modern styles like main room house and uplifting trance where it seems to be necessary and the super clean kick just makes people dance, but for example when listening to producers like ellen alien or paul kalkbrenner and his brother, this cleanliness is not that makes their songs work and it would sound weird if you’d try to do that.

it’s the opposite. there is just a blob of frequencies that’s hitting every beat. my theory so far is that in these cases removing mid frequencies still make sense because they don’t add much and just occupy space, but then the usual tips like like removing resonant frequencies (or how it’s called) at the 180-200hz mark - that’s something you don’t want to do. you want this mud. you don’t want to be clean. or layering kicks that are not completing each other, one has the right low, one has the right high, instead in some case you want them to distort each other, be visible and don’t merge, and to create a dirty, rather unconnected, undefined sound. you want this organic sound when the rest of your arrangement is going for the same thing,

probably still to clean for your purpose but still good example for me is this where he goes for this imperfection that it’s uber-obvious what he’s doing: Paul Kalkbrenner - Feed Your Head (Official Music Video) - YouTube obviously, how could you mix some dirty string orchestra with a 60s vocal track and think that a clean 4/4 tok tok tok kick would make any sense.

or "Shona" by Jake Chudnow [HD] - YouTube where the job is left to the bass and the kick is some 80s drum machine and more or less reduced to the thumb (or how you call it) in the high frequencies but the stomping comes from the bass wup wup wup in the low frequencies and not the kick or the two kicks (sounds like). imagine that song with a clean, well defined main room kick, it would completely destroy the song.

so, as an amateur who thanks to sonicacademy and other pages learned how to create clean and not so clean kicks, it’s really more about what you want to do. you need to know how to do it but from that position it’s often much more fun to not do it. if i load an arturia b3 and a eastwest cello into the song it’s very unlikely that my kick won’t be an undefined wump wump wump because everything else wouldn’t make any sense.

Hi kuchenchef!
thank you very much! yes, i feel what you say is right. i think the bottom line is really, how your mix sounds as a whole, rather dirty/not so clean or very clean/crisp. i tried it myself! i startet an slow mo house track with a keyboard chord progression in its musical center. then i load up (i always do that in geist and switch through quickly) some typical dance or electro house kicks with a lot of punch in the mids and often crisp highs. IT SOUNDED RIDICULOUS!

i think the main principle is SONIC AREA. the kick should carry the feel of the track. in other words: your kick is the least instrument, you want to be a stranger to the track. and i think its not very difficult to find out, what the generell feel of your genre is. you just have to visit beatport and listen to the kicks of your genre. or ask yourself, before starting the track, what feel you want to achieve (in basic terms like aggresive, uplifting, chilled, smooth…).

the second most importent thing, i feel, is the interplay of bass and kick and how to eq them, so they complement each other…

ps: i posted the same topic in the subscriber forum. the reply from sa was, that you cant have everything in front and in center. you have to decide, what instruments you want there. but you never want more than 3, max. 4 elements there. another perspective on this issue wich really helps also if find!