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fantasque 2008-12-10 01:03

how to create a sub-bass?
and hello again...

im currently trying to create a sub-bass.

therefore i use a simple subtractor sine wave.
i was trying (still am)to create a pendulum-like sub-bass...

but somehow, at some notes i almost hear nothing; or sometimes at some notes it sounds louder, at other notes the volume sounds turned down.
so the sub-bass sounds "uneven".

any help???

i tried a compressor on it but that didnt help.

Slope 2008-12-10 22:58

Hey there

A basic DNB sub-bass is fairly easy to create:

Subs are usually monophonic (-> polyphony = 1), have short attack and release times and often feature portamento and slight pitch modulation per LFO. To give your kick a punchy attack you can use a modulation envelope to make a quick leap in pitch whenever a note is triggered.
A sine wave is always a 'safe' choice for this purpose, but you can experiment with other waveforms or even multiple OSCs as long as you are careful to avoid phasing and keep your sub mono at all times.
To sound fat on a big system, your sub should have maximum power between 60 and 90 Hz (that’s where the kick drums in other dance music styles like House, Hip-hop, etc. reside) and contain little or no frequencies outside of this band. If necessary, you can apply some EQ boosting (YES, that’s allowed here) and/or cutting around this range, experiment with filter resonance and KBD settings or use an additional HP and LP filter.
In order to make your bass line constant in volume, you may also want to apply moderate to heavy compression. If you still get volume dropouts you might have to boost the base frequencies of the notes affected. To make your sub audible on ‘bad systems’ you might additionally use some soft tape or tube distortion, preferably as a send effect.

Now that’s the first part, but you still need to make your sub sound good ‘in the mix’ which is another story.

Since we’re talking DNB, I would suggest you make sure you get your frequency ranges right because that's half the battle. Apart from your ears and the obvious bit of technical skill, you will probably require a set of good monitor speakers with a sub-woofer and ideally a spectrum analyser in your rewire host.

Unlike in other styles of dance music, in DNB the sub is always the lowest element and plays a much more central role the mix, so you will have to make room for it in the frequency spectrum by removing the sub range and low bass range from all other instruments in your tune.
So if you make a nice lead or bass sound, you cut of its bottom (I usually start off by using a HP cut-off around 150 Hz and ‘sweep it from there’) and let the sub occupy this space. Any additional space created by this action (outside of the 40 – 90 Hz sub range) will allow room for the main kick and snare to punch through.

Some tips for the drums:
- Have your kicks peak at about 100 Hz (100 is typical, but you can go about as low as 80)
- Have your snares peak at about 200 Hz (200 is typical, but you can go about as low as 160)
- Fill the whole frequency spectrum by adding individual drum sounds & loops, but make sure you remove the low end of everything you add on top
- Preserve the power of the main kick drum: if the main kick drum is comprised of different kicks that's ok, but avoid putting other kicks on top of it as you start adding layers. (Even a high-passed kick drum can still cancel out the attack of your main kick)
- Be careful with layering snares on top of the main snares. Many times it's better to remove the snares on beat 2 and 4 from the loops layer on top of it.
- Don’t use reverb on the main kick and snare; they won’t be able to breathe at 160 bpm. A good option is to have a scrupulously HP'd acoustic drum loop running in the background with lots of reverb on it.

Additionally to carving out the the frequency space required for sub, main kick and snare (and potentially any other sound you would like to 'stick out' in the mix) you can use side-chain compression on the elements that you want to keep in the background.

kage630 2008-12-11 21:18

firstly - be sure you're using a subwoofer (had to say it). the sub is often going to be more felt than heard.

a sine or triangle wave are good choices for sub basses - typically they should follow your bass line, perhaps an octave lower. if you are using one of these waveforms and you notice that the volume seems to change based on which note you're playing, the most likely reason for that is that your sound system is not capable of producing the frequencies you're generating with equal power. also keep in mind that though the human hearing range can go down to 20hz or so, your ability to hear these sounds drops off considerably at these low ranges - assuming your sound system is capable of reproducing the frequencies you're sending at it, you will want to listen with your body more than your ears.

i would disregard all this talk about using compression on the sub itself - if you are using a straight sine or triangle wave and want to alter dynamics, edit the amplitude envelope (probably leave the sustain near max).

i would also avoid EQing with the exception of a high-pass filter to eliminate sound energy from inaudible frequencies that will do nothing but eat up headroom.

some folks will tell you to use an exciter or distortion to add higher harmonics - the idea here is that by adding upper harmonics, you can induce the human ear to perceive the fundamental even if it's outside the audible range or not being produced adequately by the speakers (i.e. for particularly low notes). this is not a misguided idea but a more straightforward approach would be to add those upper harmonics yourself through the use of an additional oscillator - for example, you can add a band-passed saw wave an octave or two above the sub at very attenuated amplitude so that it is barely perceivable. this will allow the listener to perceive the note even if/when the fundamental is too low to be audible or reproduced.

also i would take slope's advice of using sidechain compression - your kick and sub are likely going to be fighting for the same frequency range. use sidechain compression to get the sub out of the way while the kick is ringing out - this way you can turn up the sub and not worry about weakening the kick.

2008-12-11 22:00

To create this, you're going to need to purchase the Sub-Woofer refill from Sonic Reality or Peff. All of the patches are in there.

fantasque 2008-12-11 22:34

thank you guys! thanks a lot!!! ;-)

Slope 2008-12-14 03:20


Originally Posted by phlaphead (Post 598526)
To create this, you're going to need to purchase the Sub-Woofer refill from Sonic Reality or Peff. All of the patches are in there.


Don't be confused by phlaphead's post. In this matter you do not need anything you do not already have in your rack.
Bye the way, Peff's ReFills are free and he has, unlike Sonic Reality, brought out a sub refill indeed.

One more thing:
You asked for a Pendulum like sub-bass, so I assumed you were looking for some sort of kickish 808 non-standard type of a sub as intermittently used in Drum & Bass and assimilated styles that you would not usually encounter in any other style of music. That's why I chose to present my contribution from a DNB centred focal point.

However, creating a standard sub as heard 3 out of a 4 times involves no magic at all: You already had it in your Subtractor when you started this thread.
So, if it's Dance in general and not DNB we're talking, subs play a much less prominent role and will have to make room for the main kick (you wouldn't even dream of hi-passing your kicks or removing the bottom frequencies of voices the sub is doubling to give it space...!), since the ladder is now located in the centre of the sub range at around 60-70 Hz. The common approach for the consequential issue is as kage630 stated side-chain compression on the sub whenever the main kick sets in, which is usually it.

Slope 2008-12-15 03:57

For those who can be bothered with even more information on the subject:

I've just found the note on FutureProducers from a user called 'crownvic1' who offers yet more thoughts and techniques for consideration in this matter - some of which are less controversial than others.


The Frequency Range

If you want your bass to bang in a system with nice subwoofers AND in crappy home shelf systems, it is pointless to use a bass patch whose energy lies only below 40 Hz, because most home systems will not play sounds that low in frequency. You need to make sure bass has a lot going on in the 70-90 Hz frequency range. So just how do you do this? How do you get a sound that is both felt and heard on a number of different speaker systems?

Layering Other Waveforms

The sine and triangle wave produces that low thumping bass tone we electronic composers love (e.g. sub bass, 808 boom, DnB drone). These waveforms have few or no harmonics, so they are felt more than they are heard. If using a synth (or even a sampler), try layering these waveforms with a waveform rich in harmonics, such as a square or saw wave. After layering, use the synth's or sampler's low pass filter cutoff to trim away some of the higher harmonics from this new bass patch.

Distorting for Harmonics

Start with your favorite bass sound, one that happens to be low in harmonics (like the sub bass and synth bass discussed above), and add some distortion/overdrive. Use anything with a tube (e.g. tube preamps, tube compressors) or a dedicated distortion unit (e.g. guitar distortion pedals, computer plug-ins, etc). This will add harmonics to the bass sound so that it will be heard in a higher register for those people with less ideal speaker systems, but still felt for those of us using speakers with more bass response.


If programming with a synth or sampler, use two oscillators (or create a multi-layered sampler patch). Set one the oscillators/layers to be an octave below the other. Lower the volume on the higher octave layer so that it is just heard. This will ensure that your thumping bass patch can be heard in both the lower and mid frequency range.

Percussive Attack

Another approach is to layer your bass patch with a percussive sound, such as a bass drum. Lengthen the attack of the percussive sound to make it less drum like. To do this, raise the attack time on the amp envelop of your sampler or synth (this is usually the “A” of the ADSR on most synth’s and samplers). If you cannot do this with your sampler, use any wave editing software you may have (or your sampler’s sample editor) to slightly fade in the percussive sound, then save it as a new sound. Layer this new percussive sound with your bass patch. This will make the bass patch punchier, and thus help it to cut through the mix, even on a system with low bass response.

Real Bass

Yet another layering approach is to layer your deep synth bass patch with a real bass. This can either be an actual recorded bass guitar, or a patch in your sample library that sounds like a real bass. Since real basses are usually higher in frequency and more punchy than synth basses, your the deep bass will be heard and felt more on systems with good bass response, but the real bass layered over the top will be heard more for those with less fortunate systems.


Another tip is to use a bass enhancement plug-in (such as Waves MaxxBass), which essentially adds psychoacoustically calculated harmonics to the sound in order to trick the human ear into believing that the missing lower bass frequencies are actually there. This occurs because the human’s auditory system has the ability to recreate missing fundamental frequencies from remaining harmonics present in the bass tone. Bass enhancement systems will allow you to bring this out in your bass sound.

Compression is Key

Ever made a bassline that switched between lower and higher notes throughout the song? The low notes are fine in relation to the volume, but the higher notes stick out like a sore thumb? Or the higher notes are fine, but the lower notes are too low to be heard? To correct that problem, try a little compression. Do not over do it though, or you will kill all the dynamics and emotion in the bass part. With basses, start with a threshold of between -5db to -15db, and a ratio of between 3:1 to 8:1. If you are using a synth-like bass, a quick attack would be advised. If you are using a more plucked or slappy type bass, use a longer attack to allow for the initial “pluck” to pass through uncompressed, but the rest of the note to be compressed.


Truhse 2010-05-12 11:55

You don NOT need any refill. Thor and the mixer gate feature will do anything you need without any patch....

selig 2010-05-12 19:05

In addition to the other reasons mentioned... this is a classic acoustics problem, the "uneven bass notes".

With a pure waveform (fundamental only, aka Sine or to a lesser degree Triangle), there is only ONE frequency that produces the bass sound - if that frequency finds a room "dip", it's gone. This is only one reason to add upper harmonics like mentioned in Slope's post.

Uneven bass notes are mostly a by-product of an un-tuned room, usually a smaller room. Room modes cause not only extreme buildup at certain frequencies (based on the room's dimensions) but also sever "DIPS" that cannot be EQ'ed. A room dip or null is similar to polarity problems, but are frequency dependent. So boosting EQ doesn't help, it just eats up monitor headroom.

Bass Traps are an option - cheapest solution is to stack rolls of fiberglass insulation (keep the plastic ON) in the corners of your room if you have the space. Also remember that certain bass frequencies can sustain (like reverb on higher frequencies) - this causes the low end to not sound "tight". Bass traps will also help this by damping the decay time of the frequencies that are sustaining. BTW, you won't see this problem with a RTA and pink noise, you need convolution software and a Waterfall display (frequency over time) to really tell which frequencies are hanging around longer than the others. (I use Fuzzmeasure for this and more)

clarktw 2010-05-12 19:24


Originally Posted by Truhse (Post 720256)
You don NOT need any refill...

Did you notice that post is 1-1/2 years old and made by a "Guest"? Your advice is well intended, but I don't think they're going to benefit.

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