I was really assuming that the monitors were pretty small and by “sub” the O.P. really meant “below 80 Hz or so.” There is some information that can pretty much be below that kind of rolloff. It really depends what you’re working on. 808’s and sub basses can really pretty much disappear in those speakers (in fact, mixing them usually means checking in smaller speakers and driving something to distort so some upper partials start to appear). A subby electric bass, especially a 5 string, can do the same thing.
I agree with the reply. Really, I’d be more clued into what the subs are doing pitch-wise, since those big low waves (bass) really set the root of the tonality. Intonation, to me anyway, always seemed like a “bottom-up” phenomenon.
The timing thing happens across the spectrum, but, like the reply says, there are reasons for click references being in the mids and up. One of the reasons that gets overlooked is that subs aren’t going to be immediately recognizable as a wave, so there is a blur in timing. If you don’t buy this, put a LPF on a kick sample – set the slope as high as possible (24 dB/octave or more), and take it down to 50 Hz or so, so you ONLY hear the fundamental. Chances are, you’re STILL getting your timing from the little bit of upper harmonics bleeding through.
A 50 Hz wave, for instance, takes 20 ms to complete a full cycle (50/sec * sec/1000 ms). If you’ve ever done timing edits on a DAW, you know that 20 ms is an ETERNITY when you’re moving drum hits, vocal words, or whatever. And, by the way, that 20 ms is for ONE cycle – psychoacoustically, your brain probably doesn’t even really know what to do with it yet (without something higher in the spectrum to associate it with) – is it rumble or wind, or is it musically relevant – is it steady pitch, or is it going to drop?
So really, I was translating the question in the original post to, “I wanna hear some thumpy low end so I can at least feel like there is a bottom octave there, even if the frequency response is all over the place.”
Yes, if it really IS just timing, especially if you’re on guitar, the track should be enough, or demo tracks plus clave, or whatever. If your tracks are moving around, then you have an unsteady foundation and won’t be able to do a whole heck of a lot about it without fixing/re-recording.
What I will say about timing with subs that is relevant is really more of a bass thing. There is magic in putting big, fat bass notes RIGHT behind a hard-hitting kick drum, timing-wise. And that DOES resolve itself at the millisecond level. But it’s not because you feel the punch of the “note” when the kick hits or something. It’s more because the bass note can take over that wide swath of dynamic range as the kick is decaying – at least, that’s the way I think about it, when playing or editing. This is more something that happens at the 5-10 ms level. If you want to have some fun with it, program a kick and snare in quarters at midtempo, maybe 100 bpm, 1-2-3-4, then hit one SINGLE note on a bass or a good sounding subby synth bass. Zoom in and move that note so it EXACTLY (to the millisecond) matches where the drum hit happens. Then loop the bass note and kick/snare for two bars. Listen to where the bass “sits” in the pocket, and zoom WAY in (again) until you see those big, beautiful waveforms at the millisecond level. Then slide this bass line back in a range of 1 to 10 ms (or more to taste) and listen to how it shifts in the pocket. For all those who say that this kind of editing is “cheating,” first of all, “Rust In Peace” was tracked on an Otari RADAR system, and Mustaine, in interview on MTV, was excited to be able to edit tracks to perfection. But moreover, in my experience, this kind of editing will TEACH YOU HOW TO PLAY to a session-quality level, if you let it. The chain is: play part, fix part, then re-play part in a fashion that incorporates the positive differences in the fixed part.
If you want a trick for playing your parts, hard pan your current take to one side. That will help you locate it in a dense mix. I’ll go so far as to physically look at the speaker it’s coming out of. Your ears and brain are very much designed to help you focus on what is dead-straight ahead.
I know this is a “guitar” board, but I gather that a lot of people here are recording, so I am trying to pass along the good stuff to the folks on the board who are maybe not as far along with the recording thing.