Dirty Dubstep Tutorial Day 3: Making a Throaty Wobble Bass + Quick Sub Bass

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Hi, I’m Dave from boyinaband.com and welcome to day 3 of the 7 day song on Dirty Dubstep.   Yesterday in day 2, we made some seriously dirty basses, and today we’ll be making some more seriously dirty basses.   Well, one dirty one and one so deep and smooth that I’m sure any metaphor I came up with would end up being horiffically euphamistic, so I won’t even try.

This bass is very similar structurally to the last one we made – so instead of re-inventing the wheel let’s simply duplicate the one we’ve got and connect it up to the mixer.   So if you haven’t done day 2 part 2 yet, you should go back and do that.

Now I’ll solo out the malstrom instance before the parallel distortion, bypass the fx for now and we can hear what the crack is!

I’ll add in the one note I’ll be using here before we start.

The idea when I made this bass was to get a really deep, gritty sound with a lot of top to it.   It ended up being nice and throaty and here’s the key: Get a source sound with a really deep, gritty tone with a lot of top to it.   It’s going to be a lot harder to morph a conventional saw wave into something like this than to find a synth capable of these kinds of sounds from the off.

So we only need one oscillator – turn it to PWM, down 3 octaves for depth, bring the motion down to about -17 so it’s more robotic and crisp, nudge the “shift” parameter up to get a more harmonically interesting tone and bob’s your uncle!   There’s the start to the sound.

The distortion settings:

lo band: Overdrive, just over half dmg, full p1 and p2.   Cut the highs, no body.
mid band: Distortion, full dmg, full p1, 0 p2, full mids, no lo or hi, no body.
hi band: feedback, 5/8 dmg, full p1, 5/8 p2, no lo boost hi, no body.

So that gives us a seriously crunchy tone, with this cool top end from the feedback.

On the filter, if we turn that back on *funky music* yeah, that worked, try bringing the resonance up – it gives a nice watery tone to the sound.   Resonance is feeding back a part of the signal into the signal chain, so it’s a similar concept to the feedback on the top end, just on the whole majholey.   By the way, that phrase doesn’t exist, I just made it up.   I just wondered how many exclusively British phrases I could get away with.

EQ-wise, this won’t affect the sound too much because of all the soft clipping we’re going to mangle it with in a second (anyone else thing of that as kinda ironic?   no?), but it can make things a little less muddy.   Notch out 200hz by 7 dB and leave the Q.

While we’re here, let’s remove one of those more piercing overtones that isn’t sounding as harmonically consonant.   Yeah, I can use some big-ass words.   You should probably learn them too if you want to come across as an arrogant producer type.   Notch 3.8khz down buy loads with a medium Q.

Bring the whole high end up to compensate, lowest freq, 8dB gain and lowest Q, listen without the EQ… and with it.   As I said, not too noticeably, but it’s clearer and that nasty little overtone is gone!

Lastly, maximize the frickin’ crap out of it with full soft clip and not much else.

Now listen – ahh, music to my ears!   Remember, the rotary is linked to the filter frequency, hence the wobbliness.

Let’s move over to part 2 to find out how to make a big sub bass that can fill in the areas where these mid and high-heavy basslines lack!

Part 2

Okay, it’s the best time of the day – Sub time.   I should advertise for a certain fast food company.

As per usual, the sub is simple, but I’ve gone for a bigger one for this genre, I think it needs it.   Make a combinator, name it sub, chuck in Thor.  Init, open and make 3 analog oscs on sine wave, one up and octave and one down one.

I’ll add in some notes now.

Remove that filter and let it shine for gorgeous sound it really is!   A little bit of lower mids won’t hurt from the higher octave oscillator, but just to be on the safe side, bring the 1+2 slider in Thor’s mixer down to half, boost 3 to full and aim the balance at 10 o’ clock.   So there’s more of the mid-range sine than the high.

Make sure your sustain is up to full and give the amp envelope a bit of room to breathe on the attack as well.   You’ll get a lot of clicking from the wave being too long to bother starting at the zero-point crossing otherwise.

Put on a filter, lp24 is pretty much vital, no res or anything and link up the frequency to rotary one, then you can go ahead and modulate away!   Make sure you do cut out a lot of the bass with your wobbles, that’s what will make those subs shake, not the other bass sounds.   This is the actual bass.

Now you can go about your song layering all the basses with the sub – just using the same envelope automation and notes should be fine.   Listen to the difference on a reasonable system; in your car or rent out a club and put on a dubstep night.   Did you really need an excuse to do that?

So there we have it, a bass throatier than a frog with laryngitus, and a sub bass deeper than an philosophical angler fish.   Join me tomorrow for day 4, where I’ll be exploring the wonders of the top end with an arp-y lead synth or two to help build the track!


One Response to “Dirty Dubstep Tutorial Day 3: Making a Throaty Wobble Bass + Quick Sub Bass”

  1. Dave – I just wanted to thank you for all you’ve put up here. I’ve been doing electronic dance music for 15+ years, and in all that time I’ve not found half of the instruction I’ve found here. I’ve figured a lot of stuff out over the years, and know my way around, but learning some of the finer points of synthesis and production tips has been a real breath of fresh air! Thanks. If you happen to check out any of the stuff I’ve done, you’ll see how I could have benefited from some of these tips…it’s that one little “something” that needs to be there to polish it up. This is not a plug, just a means to show a point: http://www.myspace.com/theoriginal8om

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