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bass

Translate Sub onto Smaller Speakers

There’s a few things you can do to make your bass sound on smaller speakers like laptops, tablets and cellphones. First you need fundamental and harmonic content on your bass. The fundamental frequency is the base foundation note that represents the pitch that is played and the harmonics are the following frequencies that support the fundamental. In short, it’s the higher frequency harmonics that allow for the sub to cut through the mix.

One idea is to create higher frequency harmonics. The harmonics should be in unison with the fundamental frequency, but don’t contain it. (The harmonics trick your brain into hearing lower frequencies that aren’t really there.) Add a touch of harmonic saturation, drive a little warmth, a little fuzz to help that sub cut through. The harmonic distortion, adds high-frequency information to reveal presence on systems with poor bass response.

Also try to copy the bass to a parallell channel, bitcrush the higher harmonics and cut all lows and mix with the original bass.

If you’re beefing up your main bass by layering a separate, low-passed sine wave at the octave below, perhaps try square (or triangle) to add some subtle higher frequencies that allow the sub bass to translate better than a pure sine wave.

You can also try to EQ the bass. Try to boost the harmonic multiples of the fundamental frequency to hear some definition from the bass sound. And boosting above 300 Hz will bring out the bass’s unique timbral character. Actually, try around 1 kHz (but add a low-pass filter at around 2-3 kHz).

Use high-pass filtering (to clear the low-end frequencies and make room for the intended bass sound), and you can also side-chain your sub bass to keep it from fighting with the kick drum.

When it comes to kick drums you can add a small click noise to help it translate onto smaller speakers.

P.S. There are also plugins that use psycho-acoustics to calculate precise harmonics that are related to the fundamental tones of bass.

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Happy New Bass

If you’re reading and following this blog you ought to be interested in bass. And because of that, I’m giving you two – not so obvious – techniques on how to accentuate your synth bass sound.

Using the high-pass filter to boost bass

Okay, so you know what a high-pass filter is right, and that its cutoff frequency is the point at where the filter limits the low frequencies and lets the high pass.

You also know about resonance, and that it’s generally used to give a brighter/thinner sound. (And when the resonant setting is cranked to max, some filters go into self-oscillation and which make them scream.) But when high-pass resonance is added, the note and overtones near the cutoff are boosted – in other words, this is lifting the bass.

Just use keyboard tracking to make the resonant peak follow the pitch of the note and cutoff to follow the keyboard. The fundamental note will now be boosted while the surrounding spectrum is unaffected.

Use two filters in series if possible, set the other to low-pass filter and reduce harsh elements of the sound.

Get bigger bass by focusing on midrange

To get louder bass it’s not always necessary to pump up the level or to boost the lower frequencies, no you could just draw more attention to the bass element. Add midrange to it – it’s almost a mindtrick, and it shouldn’t make the bass any muddier.

So saturate the overtones of the bass or sculpt the thud of the kick drum. This is also valuable when there are several sounds competing for room in the low end.

A microKORG Growl Bass

Hi, here’s how to make a dupstep wobble/growl bass on the microKORG. Or at least a good starting point. The raw sound is pretty standard, still full and with some fine overtones, that you should be able to take a step further with compressors, saturation and effects outside of the microKORG. Just resample an process.

You can manually change (or automate) the wobble speed with LFO 2 > Frequency, which is tempo synced to the BPM set on Arpeg. A > Tempo. Alright, start with initializing a program on the synth and follow the money.

Edit Select 1
Voice: SYT, SGL, MON, SGL, –
Pitch: -24, 0, 0, 2, 5
Osc 1: DIG, -, 61, -, –
Osc 2: SAW, OFF, 0, 0, –
Mixer: 127, 100, 10, -, –
Filter: 12.L, 38, 53, 0, 0
Filter EG:  0, 64, 127, 0, ON
Amp: 127, CNT, ON, 0, –
Amp EG: 0, 64, 127, 8, ON
LFO 1: TRI, OFF, OFF, 10, –
LFO 2: SIN, VOC, ON, 1.3, –

Edit Select 2
Patch 1: LF.2, CUT, -40, -, –
Patch 2: LF.2, PTC, 0, -, –
Patch 3: LF.1, CUT, 0, -, –
Patch 4: LF.2, CUT, 0, -, –
Mod FX: ENS, 20, 12, -, –
Delay: STR, OFF, 40, 0, –
EQ: 60, 7, 1.00, 3, –
Arpeg. A: 140, 1.16, 80, UP, 1
Arpeg. B: OFF, 0, OFF, 8, –

Faux Bass Textures

Here’s a little tip to make your bass gritty as fuck. I’m not sure what to call it, and I usually don’t do this myself. But if you haven’t already, I suggest you give it a try.

Well the trick is to layer a foley sample on top and process it to blend with your killer bass, this will hopefully render a high end, wet texture. The bass itself should of course be sounding pretty good from the get go and have some nice movements.

Okay then, find some foley sample on the internet or record it yourself; try fry some eggs or crumple a piece of paper.

  1. Put your sample in a sampler or on an audio track and play the sample together with the bass, try to match the spikes on the audio recording with the movements in the bass. You might as well time stretch a bit for a better fit.
  2. Filter out the low end of the sample, you really just need the high mid frequencies.
  3. Insert a vocoder on the sample, meaning connect it as carrier. Split the bass output and route the bass to the modulator input. Experiment with the band count and the formant shift of the vocoder. Anyway, the tone of the sample will now follow the bass.
  4. Add a compressor (with quite high ratio) to the process chain of the sample to reduce its dynamic range.

Well that’s all for today. As I said before, I prefer to program my synths fat enough on their own, so they won’t need these fake layers. But then again, anything goes. Now go out kill.

Bass Sick Instinct

Bass, the low end theory, everybody’s at it. Here’s a brief walkthrough on the subject.

Many types of bass are similar; Wobble, Reese and Neurofunk in essence, share many features. This tutorial could be used as fundamental ideas to any of these types.

Firstly, if possible, turn on Mono retrig and set the Polyphony and Release Polyphony to one (1) on the synth. You may add some Portamento or Glide if you wish.

Now set up some oscillators, separate ‘em a few octaves apart. Any old (virtual or real) analog oscillator with a Saw waveform will do. E.g. set up three Saws, spread them apart with Unison effect, add two voices and a little Resonance. There you go.

Have ‘em run trough a Low Pass filter, or use a Band Pass to get a different effect. Turn down the filter’s cutoff a bit. Connect a LFO to alter the cutoff. (Some producers change volume instead by routing the LFO to the Amplitude Gain or such.) Tempo sync the LFO and Key sync so it retriggers the start of the sinus waveform.

You could assign knobs on your keyboard/controller to influence the LFO Rate, or use a Step Sequencer to automate the wobble speed. (Eight note triplets are nice.)

On the Amplitude Envelope, set the Sustain level to full so the sound doesn’t lose volume over time. Adjust the Attack, Decay and Release as you see fit your sound.

Of course you can replace the Saws to other types of oscillators, like or Square or a Triangle pulsewave, or even a sample based Wavetable. (With a Wavetable, you can have a LFO controlling the sample position.)

In Neurofunk there’s usually a lot of movement and change in timbre along with the beat. You can achieve this by adding a couple of EQ notches and automate them with different LFOs at different (usually quite slow) speeds. Depending on your DAW, you might have to route the LFOs to the EQ via CV (Control Voltage). 

Sometime you wanna control the opening and closing of frequencies not by a LFO, but by an Envelope, for example on a Growl bass. Then connect a Modulation Envelope to the filter cutoff and try to have a longer Attack to open the frequencies, making it talk.

Experiment with different distortion effects to saturate your sound, like a Tube or a Waveshaper. Use Tape saturation to fatten and to warm up the sound, as well as to cut some harsh frequencies at the top. Also try some Flanger effects if you wanna.

As for every bass, put a Compressor on, to keep the transients and shit tight.

FM

A FM (Frequency Modulation) synthesis could be really nice for your mid-range bass. FM makes distorted, complex sounds.

FM works in a way that an oscillator’s pitch (carrier) is controlled by another oscillator’s frequency (modulator). Modulators and carriers are called operators, and most FM synths include a number of fixed structures or algorithms.

An envelope can be used to determine how the FM is applied to the first oscillator.

FM doesn’t use filters per se, so a technique is to automate an EQ band (notch) for texture and modulation.

Sub

Put a High Pass filter on your main bass to filter out the lowest frequencies, and layer it with a standalone Sub-bass. (Remember that you can route the LFOs on your bass to work the same way on the Sub.)

Resample

A trick for sound design as well as for songwriting is to resample the bass.

Compose a funky bassline – and don’t be afraid of jumping between different octaves. Bounce the MIDI track to Audio, cut it up, and rearrange it. Put the sliced up samples on different Audio tracks with different filters and EQ.

Note: Soon after I started to put down notes for this text, I realized it could turn out long as hell, therefore I made the decision just to scratch the surface. Please feel free to ask me any questions on this, or to fill in the blanks.

Crunk Up the Bass

Here’s a method to get that crunk/trap bass working with your Roland TR-808 drum machine. You know, like that fat Wiz Khalifa track. In brief, the whole point is the get the attack from a kick and some tonality in the following sub-bass boom. And while they’re on the same frequency, you need to make ‘em play along.

Alright then.

Upload an accented 808 kick drum sample with little decay (meaning a dry, short kick without any boom to it) to your sampler.

Get ya sub-bass on. Program it to hit on the same notes as the kick.

Now, the trick is in the Amplitude Envelope of your synth generating the sub-bass: a) slightly adjust the Attack so it doesn’t clash with the kick, b) set the Decay to around 650 ms, c) bring Sustain all down to the bottom and d) raise the Release to around 2,6 s.

You may adjust these numbers so you get the desired sound, but leave the Sustain level to null.

That’s it. I didn’t invent this, I got it Dorincourt, and he didn’t come up with it either. It’s been around for ages. Still, it’s not common knowledge.

Al Dente Headphones

Firstly, thank you guys for the feedback on the previous posts, I’m now trying out new weaponry in COD based on your suggestions. Now I’d like some recommendations for iPhone headphones.

So I bought new headphones the other day, the a-JAYS Four by Swedish manufacturer Jays, for my old and dirty iPhone 4.

image

While the sound was good – a relatively rich, deep bass response provided, much better than the Apple default headset – the a-JAYS Four had other problems:

They weren’t in place and fell out too easily. (Even if they were delivered with different sizes of the silicone sleeves.) Really I think my ear canals must be somewhat misshaped; and if so, I just need to deal with it.

The a-JAYS Four totally seal that ambient door. You see, I don’t need maximum external sound insulation, I wanna be able to hear the traffic around me when I’m riding my bike. And yes, I’ve tried to lower the volume to balance this.

I didn’t appreciate the distinguished tangle-free, flat cable (it’s like an al dente pasta linguine string). The problem is that the cable was reproducing the sounds that occur when it’s hitting your body or clothes while moving, straight to the ear canals.

In short, Imma return these suckers to the store.

I never cared too much about headphones for my cell phone/MP3 player. Listen to music outdoors, is done quite passively and purely for pleasure. So I’ve had five or six of the standard iPhone sets, which worked well for this, but the durability is awful.

I’m now looking for alternatives. I’m not interested in any hi-fi gadgets. For me, such tech is overkill. But I’m not getting any garbage either. I want some in-ear or earbud headphones, with full-feature remote and mic. And they should be affordable. (Yes, I want the headphones to be discrete.)

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