ITB Bass Chain

Those that record in the box, what goes into your mixer chain on your bass channel?

Do you keep it simple with just a bass amp plug, or do you just go straight in? Do you EQ or Compress before or after your preamp? Do you use any other effects to sweeten your tone?

What tuner goes into your chain? Which brands of effects do you reach for to meet your ITB goals and what is the genre you choose to record?

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What is meant by 'In the Box"?

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ITB; In the box: Virtual studio, as in plugins and not physical hardware. Everything you use to record your bass in your mixer chain within your DAW of choice. All the plugins you use to process your bass signal for recording.

But if you use hardware to record I also left in the question about going straight into your interface and maybe what you’d use before your signal if it’s not bare-bones and straight in without anything.

I wanted to know the order in which you place gear when recording.

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Clean bass in direct through a DAI; all effects, amp and cab sims in the DAW. It’s by far the most flexible and is easily the best workflow I have found for me.

All of the plugins I use - that would be a long, long list. On my last mix I had 13 compressor instances (counting the master limiter). Usually several reverbs, one for bass, guitar, vocals, and each synth usually. Bass will often have a chorus, guitar chorus or phaser, and amp/cab sims for the guitars and bass. I also have some multiband effects I have made myself from Kilohearts snapins.


Ah, got it…

DAW - compressors, two in a row generally, Waves CLA-76 and CLA-3 in that order. I don’t use pedal compression, I have one for if I ever start to play live.

All other effects - from pedals, EQ is either B7K or VT Bass DI depending.

Reverb, have messed with it in either DAW or Gamechanger Light Pedal.


What’s a DAI?

I find working ITB most comfortable and easiest too and plugins have come a looong way in the last 10 years. Still hardware does sound better in comparison (at least to me anyways) but plugins are coming very close, so with a rolled up sleeve and a bit of processing they can sound identical to one another these days.

How do you structure and order your mixer chain on your bass usually?

For me, starting from the top of the bass chain I have a Aurora DSP - Tuna tuner that I swear by over other tuners I used to use because it’s made for metal guitarists that downtune so it does a great job on accuracy (grab it since it’s free btw) Plugins
…Then following the tuner I go straight in my amp sim that goes into a cab loader if there isn’t one in the amp sim, then EQ and then a compressor. (Sometimes I wonder if I should EQ before my amp sim)

After the compressor I go into another EQ following a multi-band compressor, EQ again and then a limiter. But I wonder if and how I should change things up for even better results in my mixes.

I absolutely LOVE everything that KiloHearts makes, especially the snapins, it’s like a custom modular multiband on steroids! Anytime I work with a client, I always bust out the flashy GUI’s and pretty looking plugins to impress them but when they leave I get down to business with snapins because they are so straight forward and intuitive and clients never tell the difference.

If anything, they are even more impressed by the sound afterwards and I spend less time working cause snapins offer such a rapid workflow since I just load up custom made templates/presets I made previously then barely tweak the sound to fit my mix.

Could I ask why you would use 2 compressors in a row in a single chain? I might try that to see if it sounds better though. I sort of do that when I separate a compressor with an EQ before a multiband compressor.

I love CLA emulations! Although I don’t use Waves, still CLA clones are so easy to dial in the sound and get a phenomenal result afterwards and to me it’s damn near impossible to make it sound bad by pushing slightly too hard. It’s no wonder they are so popular in studios!

I use a Darkglass emulation by Nembrini - Blackice Beta Gamma bass but I know that Neural DSP make a B7K emulation. I should give that a shot as well. You’ve peaked my interest!

I think Sansamp have some plugin emulations as well, I could have sworn I’ve seen them before, I should look into those too.

When I was learning to use them (and I don’t know much) I watched a woman use both stating she didn’t like to push one compressor too far and other backed off the first and used a second to “split the work”. I’d say I use both 75-80% of the time but sometimes only need the 76.

They are pretty indestructible.


After I wrote you, it actually came to my mind that you use one to tame and bring the sound down then use the compressor other to bring the sound back up… Or one to compress and the other to expand after compression has taken place. Makes perfect sense!

I don’t dare to do anything but trust your judgement because I’ve heard your playing and it’s phenomenal, you look so comfortable doing it. As if you are doing something as mundane as picking up a spoon then bringing it to your mouth, is how easy you make it look. Which is hard to do. Was just wondering if I should try doing that without separating the two compressors with an EQ is all.

I will make some time to watch the tutorial you linked later tonight or tomorrow morning.

I actually sort of do that by using a slightly different route. But bass always gets treated with an extra helping of compression because it never fails to make my bass signal sound fatter and beefier. Just adds that oomph you seek in bass!

Digital Audio Interface

Not speaking for what John does, but at minimum you will want some kind of compression for the bass at input and then later an overall track limiter. So that’s two per chain minimum.

My bass chain usually consists of:

  1. Clean bass input recorded from by DAI (Audio interface), usually at around -12dB
  2. Multiband compressor/EQ I made with Kilohearts Multipass. Basically I split the frequency band into three and apply differing compression for highs/mids/lows. Often I will also add a bit of overdrive to the mids or highs here for an exciter-like effect.
  3. Gain stage down to -18dB (usually on the Multipass output). This is important for lots of reasons with later plugins and mixing, if you don’t understand gain staging I would google it and check out some videos - it’s a big topic.
  4. Any bass effects I want - usually chorus, maybe dirt, maybe reverb (though that often goes after the amp sims for me.) Often I just use kilohearts snapins here too, in SnapHeap. All in the same order you would do it on a pedalboard. I love some of Melda’s effects here too.
  5. Gain stage again if I need to.
  6. Amp and cab sim. Usually Kuassa Cerberus, sometimes the official SVT sim. Rarely the G-K RB sim.
  7. MDoubleTracker. I love this thing. Sometimes I put it before the amp sim but usually after.
  8. Reverb, if I hadn’t added it earlier and want it for the track.
  9. iZotope Neutron, with its dynamic EQ and channel strip. Final gain staging here, EQ, one last round of compression, and track limiting.

On the master bus I run iZotope Ozone and occasionally MTM Animate.


Well thank you that’s a big compliment. I can assure you it’s still a struggle but I’m getting more comfortable. Funny enough, someone comments on one of my videos the other day (random person) that is was a good joke/fake. So I guess that’s a compliment too? :upside_down_face:


ROFL. What does that even mean? Fake Music!

That’s awesome.


I’m going with “looks and sounds so good it can’t possibly be real”. Hahahaha


I usually load up Bias FX 2 or Bias Amp 2, though sometimes I’ll do a Brainworx Gallien Krueger RB.

Though my new Darkglass Exponent 500 head can also act as a USB interface and has cab sims; I haven’t tried this feature, yet, but it may be how I record bass going forward.

As is tradition “it depends”

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