i've been assigned a sound design task to recreate the sound of a subwoofer playing music live from the speaker. Here's a reference-

it's not as simple as adding a filter and heavy distortion to make it seem real. Any sort of suggestions and help would surely be appreciated. :)


  • 2
    In the video you're not really hearing the sub, you're mainly hearing the body panels etc rattling - the sub itself could likely be quite clean, the distortion is all the sympathetic vibration; consider it an additive synthesis issue, not subtractive.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 7:12

6 Answers 6


Full rattling is as Tetsujin said a matter of adding something to the mix, potentially a field recording or synthesis. However, you can get a lot closer to what your looking for by using a combination of amp/cabinet/speaker simulation, short reverb, distortion, etc. There are a variety of plugins for this. An interesting approach would be Ableton's "Corpus" effect which warps different sounds to make them boom - but any kind of speaker emulator or amp emulator plugin can be tweaked to make the groaning sound of a woofer to a certain extent.

If you do decide to add a rattle layer, try gating it so it is triggered when your bass sound pulses, it will fool the ear into thinking it is a part of the sub sound.


I think I'd go the worldize route - record some miscellaneous items rattling on the sub whilst the track was playing, then record the sound going through a broken speaker. Mix together.


What I hear in this video, in addition to the rattling, is the amplitude of the bass being modulated because of mic-distortion. I would try to put the music-track through a tremelo-effect with a high rate(=speed). I always use 'Tremolator' from Soundtoys but any tremolo-plugin could do this, I guess. Experiment with the settings to your taste. (depth, rate, envelope-shape,...)


I've had some luck, unintentionally, getting in the ball park of what you are looking for by filtering a saw wave and compressing the ever living out of it to get the distortion. After that, it's all about EQ.

  • Welcome to sound.stackexchange.com. That answer you wrote here does indeed answer the question, but we generally prefer posts that go into a bit more detail (e.g. what filters used). Commented May 13, 2015 at 22:30

I'd use a combination of a low frequency sine wave, as well as another sine at the first harmonic of the initial sine wave.

distort the first harmonic enough to give it the proper crunch.

I'd use FM8 (my fm synth of choice) with 3 operators

  • first one (carrier) at the fundamental sine's frequency

  • second one (modulator) at a ratio of around .25, fully modulating the carrier, set to the "10th" formant waveform.

maybe add a 3rd op for subtle upper harmonics to the 2nd op. then just distort it, and get it layered nicely.

modulate the carrier with the 2nd op @ 100%.

bear in mind, this is without having the synth in front of me. I'm just kinda doing it in my head. this would make a nice rattle effect tho.


Perhaps u can create a fat fader and filter everything above 120 hz off then try to add early reflections

  • Can you add a bit more detail to the answer?
    – AJ Henderson
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 5:50

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.