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Time-aligning Miked and DI Bass Guitar Tracks in a DAW

The bass guitar can be a tricky instrument to record. Some engineers swear by the sound of a direct injection (DI) while others rarely use any method other than a nice low-frequency mic sitting two inches or so from the speaker grille cloth. Many engineers record both simultaneously and blend the DI (more defined sound) and miked (less defined but fuller sound) signals to capture the perfect bass sound…and this can cause some problems.

So you’ve recorded DI and miked tracks and you’re listening to this bass masterpiece and you notice it sounds, well, terrible. What happened? Sound moves slower than electrical signal, which means that the direct injection signal reaches the audio interface mere milliseconds before the miked signal, which results in a slight delay that can cause phase problems. So how do you fix it? It’s actually pretty easy.

One method involves inserting a very short delay plug-in on the DI track. There is no way to give an exact amount of delay – you just have to experiment to find the amount of needed delay to compensate for the timing difference. If your DAW has a nudge function, you can use it in place of the delay to move the DI track back by very small increments until it lines up with the miked signal. Now EQ, compress, and blend the two into the ultimate bass track!

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