Howdy, happy new year and all that. Yes, its a little late but hey, better late then never!

So, moving on… gotta treat for you because a good friend of mine Severity Zero put together some tasty instruction on how to create your very own Sub Bass Patch.

So make sure you click the link and follow/comment etc.

Severity Zero or Leo as I know him is one of the rising stars in DNB so keep a look out for his name.


*** How to get a basic, decent sub bass sound going … on a shoestring ***

One of the pillars of drum and bass production is getting that ‘dnb’ sub bass sounding right. Being able to master this skill is absolutely essential, as this is “drum and bass” after all, and without the latter.. well, you got nuttin’, man!

The good news is that it really not hard to get a decent, booming bass sound going. You know, the type that makes chests vibrate on the dance floor – AND you don’t need to pay top dollar for the right VST/plug in to do this. I’m an advocate of the “less is more” rule when it comes to choosing the tools to get the job done. Personally, I’m an Ableton user and, call me crazy, I like to stay clear of any external VSTs, plugins, “bass-o-nators”, synths, etc. Yes, it is certainly possible to get a HUGE sounding bassline happening by just using your DAW’s built in tools, irrespective of what DAW you use!

Whatever your weapon, wether it’s FL Studio, Ableton, Cubase, etc.. A decent sampler is part and parcel of any modern DAW. I recommend you become well familiar with how your DAW’s built-in sampler works. In particular, learn how to load samples, loop them, set loop points and how to adjust attack and release times.

Before you start writing me off as a cheat, I’m gonna make it clear that I’m not going to direct you to pluck a bassline samples straight off your favourite sample pack, chop out one note and then play at different pitches, etc… Instead, we’re going to be creating this shizz from scratch. Yeahh!

What I would like to share with you is my recipe for my basic sub bass sound. What you choose to do after that is entirely up to you, the possibilities are indeed endless.

Have I hyped this up enough already? Enough with the blabber, let’s get down to business. What you will need for the job is:

– A sine wave waveform (ie. in a wav file for instance)

– A sampler (Most DAWs should have one) that you can play notes with using the piano roll

– An overdrive/saturator effect (most DAWs come with one built in)

– EQ – use the DAW built in, or your favourite external one

– Spectrum Analyser – same as for the EQ

Load the sine wave into the sampler, and set the sampler it to loop that wave continuously. Don’t loop a big section of it, 4 to 5 ‘wave crests’ will do. Now play a note of that sample, preferably a high one (ie C3,C4) so you can hear the typical “sine” sound. In most instances you will hear a clicking sound, and this is because as the sine wave starts repeats itself, there will be a gap. What you want to do is to move the looping points (start and finish) so that they’re placed exactly at a point in which the wave crosses the middle line, thus eliminating the gap.

Got it? Now what you’ll find is that as you play lower and lower notes, you’ll get more of a “sub bass” sound going. However, the “pure sub bass” in that fashion is, well, quite boring as it lacks harmonics. There’s no mid range or highs. What you’ll find is that, unless you got a sound system capable of playing those realllly low notes, you won’t hear any bassline at all. Think of those poor people who will be hearing your future blockbuster hits on their crappy ipod headphones!!

The solution here is to add some grit to the sound in the form of distortion/overdrive. This will add harmonics to the sub bass and make it resonate at other frequencies which will now be audible on all types of speakers. There you have it, “byass for da masses!!” I like to be gentle with the overdrive, but that is personal preference. Feel free to experiment with this so that you can get your unique sounds going.

Now that we’ve got our bass sound, we want to make it sound more natural, more like a real instrument. Think of a bass guitar and how a plectrum strikes the string, and then the string vibrates until the sound dies out. The next step is to adjust the attack and release times on that sampler so that when you play an individual note it doesn’t just start and stop abruptly, instead it mimics that “string” action. I recommend adjusting the attack to about 30-50ms and the release to about 800ms. Again, experiment with these values to get your own unique sounds going. I find this really adds that “Boom” quality to the bass sound.

Next, EQing. Although our bass may be sounding quite decent at this stage, it may or may not fit well within your mix. I suggest using an EQ to roll off the frequencies above about 200hz. I find that if this isn’t done, the bass sound may start interfering with other sounds in the mix such as vocals, keys, pads etc. Again, this is not a hard and fast rule. You may choose not to EQ that bass at all if you’re doing a track that is mostly drums and bass and not much else going.

Finally, you want to use a Spectrum Analyser to check that your bass is hitting the right frequencies. I’ve run countless commercially released tunes through an analyser to see what kinds of levels the producers applied to their subs. I found that, within the “sub” territory (ie. between 30 and 150Hz) the notes peak at anywhere from -10dB to -6dB, so you’ll want your sub peaks to be within this zone. How far within the zone really will depend on your mix. As it has been said often, “use your ears”.

There you have it, a simple guide to get you started with writing some sick sub basslines. Remember, this is just the basic, basic stuff. You can add any effects you want to create some proper sick sounds. Try adding some chorus (between distortion and the EQ) or crank that distortion right up. Hell, maybe even use a totally different waveform, like a saw or triangle. Rip out little bits of other samples and zoom in enough so that you find a bit that roughly resembles a sine wave, then and loop that instead. Layer another more mid-rangey soundin bass (or two) for a fuller sound. Anything is possible!

By the way, yes, you can do most of the above by using a soft synth, too. You can set an oscillator to sine, add an overdrive within the synth, etc. But how much fun is that? Besides, synths can cost ya $$$, especially if you collect dozens of them. Stick to the basic building blocks, I say. Not only will this save you money, but this sampler-based method will also use less of those precious CPU cycles on your machine.

Happy producing!

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