Hot on the heels of our hugely popular and perhaps overly obviously titled ‘How To – Create The Perfect Kick Drum‘, apologies, it won’t happen again, is the equally demanded query how to create a heavy sub-bass sound that’s thick, clean and also able to cut through the mix on smaller less capable speakers? Such tutorials are so eagerly sought after that you’ll find many a frustrated forum moderator frequently scolding those that constantly post such a question. Yet as annoying as this repeating question maybe, complaining about those that ask is a bit like adults who complain about kids who are loud, overly energetic and cycle on the path. We were all there once… So with that in mind we have collated six sub-bass tutorials that will have your neighbours banging on the wall in no time…

There are 6 videos in all and whilst each video leans on a particular VST, we would still recommend watching all six, as the skills and techniques discussed are fundamental synthesis techniques that, in the most part, are interchangeable.

Sub-Bass

Video 1 – 808-Style Sub Bass Kick Drum [Dubspot]

Matt Shadetek focuses on creating a booming subby 808 style kick drum using Logic’s ES2. The tutorial is based around a Hip-Hop Trap example, however the skills and techniques he teaches are very much applicable to all electronic genres and DAW’s. Skills demonstrated:

  • Logic ES2 – Select Initialize Patch, Caps lock keyboard, waveform selection, pitch, modulation router, envelopes.
  • Pitch Decay – Creating punch
  • Envelopes – Controlling pitch decay and softening initial attack / transient
  • Mono – Switching from poly to mono
  • Chords & Root Note – Using chords root note to create midi bassline
  • Distortion – Create high & mid range harmonics for smaller speakers

Video 2 – Creating an 808 Kick Deep Bass Sound with Analog [Point Blank Music School]

Point Blank legend Ski Oakenful is once again behind the camera, if you are yet to encounter Ski on your YouTube tutorial travels we’d strongly recommend checking pretty much anything he has to say. Ski has an incredible depth of knowledge and experience that he expertly communicates in an intuitive, concise and understandable format for both beginner and expert. In this video Ski uses Julio Bashmore’s classic ‘Battle For Middle You’ and Ableton’s Analog to re-create the tracks now legendary sub-bass bass line. Again, like all the tutorials on this page, the skills discussed are relevant whatever style of music or DAW is your chosen preference. Skills Demonstrated:

  • Analog – Osc 1 & 2, Filter, Amp Envelope, Pitch Envelope, Octaves
  • Layered Sound – Sine & Saw layered together for more body
  • Pitch Envelope – Create more punch with greater bite in the initial attack of the patch.
  • Amp Envelope – Smooth the sound by adjusting the attack & release
  • Filter – Low Pass to add more body
  • Compression – Emphasise the attack and sustain to give the bass a sharper, fatter sound
  • EQ8 – Boost frequencies to create a fuller final sound
  • Sidechain Compression – Create additional energy in the final bass line.

Video 3 – Massive 808 and Sub Bass Tutorial [Knowledgeable Audio]

In this video Knowledgeable Audio build a detailed sub bass patch that is designed with a number of additional macro controls so that the core sound can be manipulated to suit a variety of applications, as apposed to a single project. For those of you still getting to grips with Massive we’d suggest watching ‘How to make a legit sub bass’ (see extra reading) which is a slightly more simplified version of the same concept. Skills Demonstrated:

  • Massive – Osc 1 & 2, Modulation Osc, Filter & filter routing, Envelopes, Gates, Macros, FX, Inserts, Voicing and Routing
  • Layered Sound – Sine + Smooth Square
  • Filter Routing – Low Pass, no resonance, separate filter for each Oscillator
  • Macros – Filter Cutoff, Distortion (tube), Drive Insert 1&2, Glide, Pitch
  • Gate – Phase alignment for a more solid sound.
  • Amp Envelope – Smooth sound by adjusting the attack
  • FX – Distortion (tube) & EQ boosting
  • Insert 1 & 2 – Parabolic shaper and internal routing
  • Voicing – Single voice and mono
  • Glide – adjusting glide between notes to smooth movement between notes

Video 4 – How to Create 808 Style Kick Drums Using Operator [Dubspot]

This video was a great find; again like the tutorials above the content is not overly complicated yet extremely effective in creating the thick and clean sub bass patch we all crave. Dubspot’s Raz Mesinai explains the process both concisely and with minimal fuss. Skills Demonstrated:

  • Operator – Pitch Envelop, Oscillator A, Amp Envelope
  • Pitch Envelope – Adjust the Decay, Sustain, Release and pitch percentage to create desired sound
  • Amp Envelope – Remove pop by adjusting release Osc 1.
  • Midi Note Length – Short and Long notes determining if the sub is audible
  • Time – Adjusting envelope rate from slow to fast

So there we go 6 video’s (including the two below) that should set you on the path to floor shaking immortality. If you found these helpful make sure you check our other featured tech tutorials on Sampling, Kick DrumsVocals and Arrangement. Best of luck.

Additional Reading 

How to make legit sub bass [Massive] – DJ Vesper
Subby Bass with U-He ACE – Attack Magazine