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I’ve been wondering for a while how to synthesize a sound similar to the bassline in Megalomaniac by KMFDM. The sound I’m referring to is the one that sound-feels a bit like someone gently but firmly caressing your brain with a plastic comb.

I’ve heard similar sounds in a number of other electronic tracks, so I’m guessing it must be fairly well known. I feel like it ought to be fairly easy to reproduce, but I simply have no idea how to do so!

A different example of the sort of thing I’m looking for is the track Sukk my Sawto0th by Megaman, which was featured on the cover disc of July’s issue of Computer Music. I’ve uploaded a snippet of that track to YouTube to illustrate what I mean, although I much prefer the sound of the KMFDM track.

I’ve always assumed that the sound is based on layered sawtooth waves, and the title of the second track above seems to support that assumption. I also suspect that there is a sawtooth or square LFO (with a relatively high frequency) controlling the cut-off of a low-pass filter or similar. However, I’ve never managed to synthesize a sound even remotely close to the KMFDM one.

Can anyone offer some tips on how to create this sound?

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+1 for "gently but firmly caressing your brain with a plastic comb." –  NReilingh Jun 14 '11 at 3:28
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Sounds to me like just one sawtooth with a lowpass, cut-off frequency set relatively high (900? 2k? 5k? experiment. Find the sweet spot) with some Q to taste. There might be a bit of bit crushing going on too, I hear some of that typical ringing (could just be the Youtube compression though lol). You can mess around with some filters. You can bring up the lows a bit with an EQ and try scooping the mids a bit, see how it sounds. With the highs, they are what's giving you that rubber texture so we don't want to eliminate them but if they are too sharp or loud we go from thick nasty rubber to cheap shiny plastic (imo).

Then in the KMFBD sequence he sounds like he's bending down to notes that are so low you can just almost count the oscillations. With this kind of bass it's all about the bends, hearing the oscillation rate change. Makes it mad rubbery.

Then consider enhancing the bottom end with something like Waves RBass or my personal favorite, the "Bass Shift" knob in the Brainworks BX mastering EQ.

Oh and maybe split out just the top end and throw a little verb on there to make the sound a bit bigger.

Cheers!

Blake

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Oh, and make sure you hit a low enough register to make it bassy! –  SeanBlake Jun 15 '11 at 0:36
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That does the trick perfectly. I feared I was missing something blindingly obvious, and I was. I simply wasn’t playing a note low enough to get the desired effect -- duh. I achieved the sound I wanted with a simple sawtooth wave, in the C0 - C2 range. I added a low-pass filter with the cut-off just below the middle of the range (unfortunately I used Sytrus, which doesn’t provide specific values). I also added quite a lot of resonance, and found that adding some overdrive helped a lot. Thanks for your help :) –  Daniel Cassidy Jun 15 '11 at 23:34
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