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Argle

Dubstep bass

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So let's talk about dubstep bass. I've watched a lot of tutorials on making them, and most of the sounds produced are mediocre. I can't figure out what the pros use to get those really nasty, cutting, interesting textures. It's definitely not just a bunch of saws... whether it's FM, wavetable, additive, I don't know. So, yeah, just figured I'd open in up here in case anyone has advice on makin good dubstep bass.

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I've found that the really rich, gritty, unforgiving basses are made with FM synthesis or comb filters. Waveshaping/Distortion really adds to the raw meatiness of the sound, while occasionally (but not always), oscillator sync adds a sort of "scraping" effect to the sound.

Maybe this

could help give you ideas for techniques you can reapply.
Edited by timaeus222

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Whats your definition of an awesome one, and what are the "mediocre" ones you're talking about?

Here's

I was listening to in the car this morning. For mediocre bass sounds just search for wobble bass tutorial on youtube. :lol: Plenty of videos that convey the idea but don't have the thick, rich sound I associate with really good dubstep bass.

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Here's
I was listening to in the car this morning. For mediocre bass sounds just search for wobble bass tutorial on youtube. :lol: Plenty of videos that convey the idea but don't have the thick, rich sound I associate with really good dubstep bass.

There's a lot that goes in to processing a good dubstep bass, and that extra elbow grease is what sets a badass bass apart from a typical, mediocre "wobble" bass. Messing with unison settings, distortion, FM, resampling, vocoding, filter sweeps, types, and patterns, pitch bending, multiband compression, distortion, pre- and post-EQing are the main tools. The Youtube guy I linked you to will demonstrate how to use all of those things to make dubstep basses.

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Well, that's an easy one. Here ya go. Watch the rest of his videos to become dubmaster.

That definitely sounds good, not like a wimpy saw and some bit reduction. I will watch it carefully.

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I've found that the really rich, gritty, unforgiving basses are made with FM synthesis or comb filters. Waveshaping/Distortion really adds to the raw meatiness of the sound, while occasionally (but not always), oscillator sync adds a sort of "scraping" effect to the sound.

Maybe this

could help give you ideas for techniques you can reapply.

Cheers fella, I'll give it a watch.

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Another thing about dubstep basses is that there are some "pitfalls" that many people do, which turns at least me off in those particular cases:

- Too much resonance --- it's gonna hurt, and you get why.

- Siren-like timbres, but that's just personal taste.

- Using the same one over and over again at a plodding rhythm --- variety helps keep attention as you well know. You could glitch up the bass perhaps, vary the cutoff filter envelope length or LFO rate, etc.

- Tiny little missed details such as harsh treble from excess distortion or harsh treble resonances from bitcrushing (I personally am not bothered by non-excessive bitcrushing) --- minor nitpicks, but it couldn't hurt to be detailed. It also allows hi hats to come through, as a benefit.

Some things you could try while experimenting:

- With FM, it helps to slightly detune the input oscillator that came previously in the serial oscillator layout and use multiple voices for a thicker timbre.

- With comb filters, if you have one, depending on the sound you currently have, it may thicken the sound to detune the comb filter.

explains the comb filter pretty well (I'm actually learning more about it that I didn't know). Edited by timaeus222

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The song you linked (Skism's remix of The State) utilizes a lot of heavy, almost DnB-flavored basses, so I think you should look into tutorials for producing a "Reese" bass.

It's a very textural, guttural sound that a lot of DnB producers use, and I find that it has a much better effect than 'wobble' bass noises.

Try this tutorial.

The emulated sound is similar to a sound that KOAN Sound or Noisia would use, and with the right level of ducking or sidechaining to a kick drum, you can produce awesome impact effects!

There are dozens of ways to make different Reese basses, so I suggest looking into that! Also don't get stuck on the idea of "Wobbles". I think that concept is kind of dated, the real height of production is knowing when to wobble and when to just play with the modulation so it produces some proper dynamics and not just a binary up-down-up-down pattern.

Starting at around 0:42 you'll hear a lot of volume and modulation work. Though technically that song is considered Glitch Hop, I believe that those elements are far more powerful and intense than what most wobbles or basic dubstep can achieve.

16bit is one of the best artists to look at for those elements combined, and I think that their iconic Machine Gun remix is something to look to for inspiration, specifically the second drop at 3:39 (which is more along the lines of wobbles).

Hope I was able to help!

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There are dozens of ways to make different Reese basses, so I suggest looking into that! Also don't get stuck on the idea of "Wobbles". I think that concept is kind of dated, the real height of production is knowing when to wobble and when to just play with the modulation so it produces some proper dynamics and not just a binary up-down-up-down pattern.

Starting at around 0:42 you'll hear a lot of volume and modulation work. Though technically that song is considered Glitch Hop, I believe that those elements are far more powerful and intense than what most wobbles or basic dubstep can achieve.

16bit is one of the best artists to look at for those elements combined, and I think that their iconic Machine Gun remix is something to look to for inspiration, specifically the second drop at 3:39 (which is more along the lines of wobbles).

Hope I was able to help!

In my personal opinion, the reese isn't super powerful, but it's an intermediate power in my own personal hierarchy that goes basic wobble < reese-like < bitcrushed FM/comb < FM/comb. It's what I would describe as "transparent", for which if I try to visualize what it represents, it would look like something I can see through. It's still pretty good, though, and with some refinement on the strength of the overall harmonics it can be even stronger.

Truth be told, dubstep isn't all wobbles. There are also what I like to call drifters, scrapers, and... yes, I'm going to say "dancers". Can't really clarify these without examples!

Drifters travel through the stereo field as essentially wobbles with longer LFOs or just a long envelope instead. Example @ ~1:05.5

Scrapers do what their name says: they are essentially scraping your ears with their heaviness, and can be accomplished in some uncommon cases where oscillator sync on an FM bass actually works out this way. Example 1 @ 0:57 Example 2 @ 1:49

Dancers is a little bit weird of a description, but they sound like they're dancing and surrounding your ears. A little more straight forward to make, but possibly a result of meticulous glitching techniques centered on controlled gating that has a longer-than-usual release. Example @ 1:57

In my humble opinion, this is a fantastic representation of the diversity of dubstep basses (dubstep basses start at 0:49). They don't have to be dark. They can be playful too! 2:06 is the best part, IMO. (Pay attention to the pattern that is in this track; the wobbles usually show up on the second and fourth up beats)

Edited by timaeus222

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I mostly used the recommendations I did because of the song Argle linked, I personally think that Reese Bass has a very wide range of use, and a lot of great modern Dubstep tunes are utilizing it in cool ways (such as the works of Culprate, Joe Ford, etc.)

Of course there's a lot of other things to use and try, but what I was mainly trying to emphasize was dynamics! Dynamics can spice up wobbles even if they're basic, so play with envelopes a lot to see what you can make happen!

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I mostly used the recommendations I did because of the song Argle linked, I personally think that Reese Bass has a very wide range of use, and a lot of great modern Dubstep tunes are utilizing it in cool ways (such as the works of Culprate, Joe Ford, etc.)

Of course there's a lot of other things to use and try, but what I was mainly trying to emphasize was dynamics! Dynamics can spice up wobbles even if they're basic, so play with envelopes a lot to see what you can make happen!

Well, I did then learn from you that Reese basses are for more than just Drum & Bass! :) Dynamics, though, seems like a broad, umbrella term used in place of something more elaborate---you may have meant dynamic flow, which is larger-scale dynamics, but you may have also meant a flat/static or expressive/dynamic quality to the timbre created by its envelope, LFO, or occasionally filter choice. Either one is fine!

Edited by timaeus222

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I get that dubstep isn't all wobbles. :-P My problem is just getting that harmonically rich sound. It doesn't help that any dubstep bass presets in my synths are underwhelming, leading me further to believe this is some freaky dark art. I'm guessing that most of the guys with mad skills aren't making tutorial videos because this is their livelihood.

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@Timaeus: Let the Reese fever spread! >:0 Also, by dynamics I simply mean a non-static sound (which is very general, but I mean it to be so). For example, instead of setting your LFO's on a few knobs and then letting that wobble play for 2-3 beats, adding an envelope on one of those knobs to slowly change the level of it -while- it's connected to the LFO will make that sound much more interesting 9 times out of 10. There are some instances where a sound can be effective verbatim, but adding small envelope-changes or using an automation clip to adjust some of the more textural effects while the sound is running it's course adds a lot of expression to it (in short, dynamics :P ). I do see how that was very vague, looking back on it though X)

@Argle: Something that I noticed when I first started out w/ making Dubstep was that a sound without a sub-bass under it will almost always sound underwhelming. If you make a wobble with a lot of texture and then make a wobble that is the same pattern but purely sub-bass (just a simple sin-wave, very deep) to play at the same time, it usually gives you an idea of what it would sound like when "finished" or in the final stages at least!

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@Timaeus: Let the Reese fever spread! >:0 Also, by dynamics I simply mean a non-static sound (which is very general, but I mean it to be so). For example, instead of setting your LFO's on a few knobs and then letting that wobble play for 2-3 beats, adding an envelope on one of those knobs to slowly change the level of it -while- it's connected to the LFO will make that sound much more interesting 9 times out of 10. There are some instances where a sound can be effective verbatim, but adding small envelope-changes or using an automation clip to adjust some of the more textural effects while the sound is running it's course adds a lot of expression to it (in short, dynamics :P ). I do see how that was very vague, looking back on it though X)

Ah, okay, like if you said one envelope for the main filter and one envelope for, say, oscillator sync or something. Makes sense! Could be meticulous, but makes sense!

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I get that dubstep isn't all wobbles. :-P My problem is just getting that harmonically rich sound. It doesn't help that any dubstep bass presets in my synths are underwhelming, leading me further to believe this is some freaky dark art. I'm guessing that most of the guys with mad skills aren't making tutorial videos because this is their livelihood.

...I threw together one in like minutes on GarageBand a few years ago....

...just sayin'....

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yup, that is dynamic. quite funky and really controlled, not attempting to assault the senses every microsecond. which leaves more of an impact in the end.

i can dig that even tho i'm not the biggest fan of dubstep in general.

Stuff like this always makes me smile, the KOAN Sound boys are young but I feel like they understand quality electronic music production far beyond their years, always happy to spread the sound :)

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Sometimes, you could just get by with a

in a tiny booth and go at it with distortion and filters. They're not exactly making dubstep, but it has many similarities to the sound design. Avoid staring at those synth VSTs for too long :P

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watch this guy. he has the neatest random workflow.

I've never been a huge fan of Savant's music, but watching his process was very interesting, thanks for the link! :)

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In my humble opinion, this is a fantastic representation of the diversity of dubstep basses (dubstep basses start at 0:49). They don't have to be dark. They can be playful too! 2:06 is the best part, IMO. (Pay attention to the pattern that is in this track; the wobbles usually show up on the second and fourth up beats)

This was the happiest happy-go-lucky dubstep song I've ever heard. My life is complete.

watch this guy. he has the neatest random workflow.

I am now terrified of what Harmor is capable of.

Edited by Anorax

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