How To Make A Simple Sub Bass

As an audio production instructor, one of the most common questions that I receive is: “how do I make a powerful sub bass?” Everybody wants to have soul-shaking, booming bass that makes their listeners’ hair stand on end. It turns out the method to achieve this sound is shockingly simple.

 

First, make sure that you are using decent speakers while you are doing this. If you are using earbuds or laptop speakers, you will not be able to adequately hear your sub bass patch.

 

First thing you need to know about sub bass is the frequency range that it will inhabit in your mix. It will primarily be in the 40-60Hz range. You can try to go lower than 40Hz, but most speakers won’t be able to accurately articulate frequencies that low. The human ear can’t hear sounds under 20Hz anyway, because it is at the very bottom of our hearing threshold.

 

To make space for the sub bass in your mix, it is recommended that you EQ out some of the low end on almost every other track in your song, even some from your main bass track.

 

The next step is to become best friends with the sine wave form. A sine wave will give you a pure tone without all the higher harmonics. Make sure that in whatever synth you choose you are only using a sine wave. With that one step you are well on your way to having a solid sub bass patch.

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.22.45 AM

 HERE IS A SPECTRUM ANALYSIS OF A SINE WAVE.  
NOTE THAT IT ONLY CONTAINS THE FUNDAMENTAL NOTE BEING PLAYED, WHICH MAKES IT PERFECT FOR JUST CAPTURING THE LOW END.

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-15 at 11.23.06 AM

 HERE IS THE SAME NOTE BEING PLAYED ON A SAW WAVE.
IT CONTAINS MUCH MORE HIGH FREQUENCY INFORMATION, WHICH WE DON’T NEED WHEN GOING FOR A PURE SUB TONE.

 

Dialing it in only takes a few small additions. If you are using a synthesizer with more than one oscillator you could add in another one. Make sure that you don’t choose any harsh waveforms like a saw or square. Try maybe a triangle, but keep it subtle. If you are using an FM synthesizer try adding in another sine wave on top of your first oscillator.  After that I like to add in some kind of saturation or distortion plugin to bring out the tiniest amount of higher harmonics.

 

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 10.03.53 PM

IF YOU ARE USING ABLETON’S SATURATOR, TRY OUT THE “SINOID FOLD” SETTING.

 

The last step would include EQing out anything above 200Hz, and maybe boosting a little bit of the frequencies under 100Hz. This way you get plenty of that deep low end and prevent higher frequencies from sneaking through.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 10.06.12 PM

YOUR EQ CURVE SHOULD LOOK SOMETHING LIKE THIS.

 

That’s all there is to it. Now layer it up with the main bass patch that you have in your song and see how it sounds.

 

AUTHOR: ZAAK KERSTETTER

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