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This bassline blows me away:

It sounds to me like it's made of multiple parts, most notably a really heavy-sounding bass and a few higher synths that play shorter notes to accompany it. I'd imagine there is a lot of layering, even for just the heavy bass. How are sounds like this made? (Specifically, the bass)

I've tried using simple waveforms with distortion to no avail; I don't think that's the solution.

For reference, I'm using Logic Pro X, and I'd appreciate any general tips about creating basslines of this type.

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Usually those crunchy, dirty basses used in Electro or Dubstep are made using FM Synthesis (Frequency Modulation). It also might be Additive Synthesis of some saw waves with a lot of effects, but FM is more common for those type of things. It's important that you use saw waves for those basses, as they have the richest harmonic content and can allow you to do very deep effects.


FM Synthesis

From wikipedia:

In audio and music, frequency modulation synthesis (or FM synthesis) is a form of audio synthesis where the timbre of a simple waveform (such as a square, triangle, or sawtooth) is changed by modulating its frequency with a modulator frequency that is also in the audio range, resulting in a more complex waveform and a different-sounding tone that can also be described as "gritty" if it is a thick and dark timbre.

So basically, it's the exact same thing as LFO-ing the pitch, except instead of a Low-Frequency Waveform (LFO), you use a normal pitch sound, resulting in a higher frequency, resulting in an extremely fast modulation, which makes a really special sound. I do believe Logic has an FM synthesizer, but if it doesn't or if it's not really good, I really recommend FM8 by Native Instruments.


Additive Synthesis

So it's kind of like the layering you said, except for waveforms. There may be several harmonic waveforms (like square/triangle/saw) stacked together in the synthesizer, maybe affecting each other in one way or another. There is probably also a bass sine (something that is extremely popular with basses, especially in dance/electro/club-ish music) which is basically just a simple sine wave set to a few octaves lower than the rest of the synth, which really fills up the low frequencies and fattens up your bass a TON. That simple, though that awesome.


I also noticed that there are little treble-hits, that sound like no more than a simple sine wave synth, or maybe a richer waveform (square/triangle/saw (but I doubt it's a saw) with a low-pass filter (that might also be automated with an ADSR envelope with the attack going down).

Hop this helps, and I can't wait to hear what music you'll create with this knowledge!
--- Hexa

  • Is FM synthesis common on Sawtooth waves? I think Logic's Retro Synth has an FM mode, but I believe the carrier is hard set to sine. ES2 might be more flexible, but I haven't tried it with FM – sneelhorses Jul 12 '16 at 1:23
  • @sneelhorses First, FM Synthesis IS common on sine, but it doesn't HAVE to. Though by "saw" I meant the modulator wave, not the modulated. Also, as a Logic user, I highly recommend Alchemy. I believe it has an FM option, though it's also really powerful as an additive synth – Hexa Jul 12 '16 at 20:07
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You could also make this with wavetable synthesis (adding to what Hexa says). With synths like Serum since you can specify the waveshapes and how to change between them in a very direct manner you can create very complex sounds as well.

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You can also add a transient to each bass note that doesn't occur with the kick. Utilise a transient from a percussion instrument, or synthesise/construct your own. 808 style pitch sweeps can sound good, if you don't mind a laser-like transient.

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LFO modulation of the volume of an FM operator that modulates the base oscillator to make this fast change in tone (that sounds a little like an echo). When the operator volume is high, the sound gets more harmonics, when the operator volume is low, the tone gets dull.

There is also some very short metallic reverb (very small space). Zebrify has such a reverb.

I'd recommend SeamlessR videos "How to bass" for these sounds. FM8, Sytrus are synths often used.

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