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I'm trying to figure out how to create a nice thick sub bass like one used in professional hip hop and other pop electronic music and trap. I've been trying to emulate this nice low round sound that doesn't rumble too much or sound muddy, but it always sounds kind of tired and weak, rather than full and smooth and almost rubbery.

So far I've tried using Massive and Ableton's operator to create a sine or triangle wave, then cut out everything below 40hz and over about 180. I've tried adding some compression as well, but it always sounds weak unless I turn the volume ALL the way up and I'd like the effect to be just relative to the mix. Any suggestions?

EDIT

Here is a link of the sound I am trying to replicate, key features being how smooth and full it sounds, really reaching low without getting rumbly. 1:36

  • Don't use a sine. In fact start with a sawtooth. You can add a sine an octave below the sawtooth but sine waves don't have a lot going on. You actually need mids to make bass sound thick and deep, counterintuitively. If I understand what you mean by rubbery I think you want to get your low pass filter cutoff frequency envelope going to make that happen. – Todd Wilcox Jul 6 '15 at 3:20
  • Hi Todd, thanks for the feedback. For reference I'm looking at the sound right around 1:36 youtu.be/ueTJxe0B44k . The bass is super clean and smooth, but full. I'm not sure if rubbery was the right word for me to use, but it avoids being rumbly or muddy, while staying super low. If I use a sawtooth, am I eqing out all that high buzz? – shane Jul 6 '15 at 3:30
  • @user3667450 You ought to edit that youtube link into your question, I think it's a great example :) – Warrior Bob Jul 6 '15 at 14:46
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You can make smooth subbass with sine or triangle waves. For some color, use saturation and some sort of "character" compression depending on what your music needs.

But the sound in your link is most likely a TR-808 kickdrum sample that's being played back at different pitches. This is a very common sound in this sort of music; it's basically a surge of low end.

If you don't want to use a sample, you can recreate this in most any synthesizer. Play a sine (or similar wave) with a pitch envelope, so that there's a "drop" at the beginning. There are plenty of examples online, here's one I found via a quick search with some audio examples.

  • So I'm able to get the sound and add some saturation when I use a triangle wave or some other noisy addition like the tutorial suggested. Do you have any tips on avoiding the rumble when it gets very deep? I feel like it is a question of EQing but if I cut anything over 50Hz I lose the meat. Also, I feel like I need to cut out the mud around 200Hz? Am I traveling in the right direction? – shane Jul 6 '15 at 15:30
  • There's going to be some rumbling when your bass is in that range if your speakers reproduce it - that's how bass works. But what you might be hearing as "rumble" could actually be some overtones - sweep an EQ notch around and see if you can't spot something higher up that sounds "rumble-y." If your bass goes low enough that your speakers don't reproduce it, you might be only hearing overtones, and that can sound kind of weird. – Warrior Bob Jul 6 '15 at 17:40
  • I'm going to try this out tonight and see what I can come up with, then post here again, thanks for your help :) – shane Jul 6 '15 at 17:50
  • Sure thing! Best of luck to you. – Warrior Bob Jul 6 '15 at 18:04

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