Please Read - FORUM RULES!
I've mixed a couple of hundred tracks with no serious worries, and although I'm a million miles from being an expert I feel that I manage OK - usually. However, I've tried making a few hip hop tracks recently that have included sub bass and had problems, especially when rendering to mp3. I've felt reasonably happy with the bass being under control in the mix, and although I admit I'm using only 5" monitors and no sub monitor, visibly (using the graphics on Fab Filter EQ) the bass looks OK. I've even tried rolling off the real lows using a HP filter set at about 35hz. Still, when I convert my mix to mp3 I'm hearing distortion that mainly affects the high-hats/cymbals. I can't help but think its still the bass that's causing this, but what can I do? How do the hip hop guys get the real deep bass yet keep everything else clean and also loud? Any tips greatly appreciated.
First off, you're right about the 5" speakers. It's impossible to mix/master sub bass using them because you can't hear it! That would be like using a black and white monitor to correct a color video. If you can't see the color, it's impossible to correct it.
And using only a meter isn't going to work either. Meters can help in some instances (like peak volume levels), but can be WAY off at times when it comes to EQ. This is why instant mastering software will never be able to properly master a song without the help of a person.
1. Your sub bass cannot distort your hi hat/cymbals. They're at the opposite ends of the frequency spectrum.
If your sub bass was EXTREMELY loud, it could muddy up the entire song and affect the hi hat/cymbal's clarity, but it can't make them distort. They're distorting because you're probably mixing then over 0 level.
2. Deep bass is achieved by using a good deep bass sample to begin with, AND using a spectral enhancer that thickens your bass without adding volume.
3. Clarity (and space) comes from HIGH PASS filtering your mid to high frequency instruments, and LOW PASS filtering you bass instruments. If you don't, everything will collide in the middle frequencies and create MUD (the opposite of clarity).