I'll try to help. I'll also keep it simple for you to play around with.
1. Use two oscillators, one saw and one square, at the same octave.
2. Apply unisono with a bit of spread and a few voices.
3. Apply some kind of lowpass filter, with low/no resonance, and fairly low cutoff.
4. Play low notes.
If you're using Massive start by going File -> New Sound. Set up oscillators as instructed, and try the Daft filter with the cutoff a little below half. Unisono is found under Voicing: There should be a box called "Max" which is set to 16. The box next to it, labelled "Unisono", you can set to e.g. 4 or 8. To the right of this, turn unisono spread On, and drag the fader a little to the right until you like how it sounds. In the FX section, apply Dimension Expander for an even more paddy sound.
If you aren't using Massive, you should still be able to use this little mini-guide but you might have to look for a detune knob or something similar in lieu of unisono, depending on the synth.
I also think you should look into Massive for the sound you want, if you don't already have it. It comes with a bunch of different presets, is fairly easy to use, has a lot of options, and there are tons of tutorials for it on Youtube which you can check out.
I do not have massive and only have ableton's built-in stuff atm (operator/analog/etc).
Not familiar with the term unisono. Will look this stuff up and play around with this when I get back from work...
I always thought massive was for bigger/louder sounds, like those used in dubstep/club bumpers etc.
I'm about to explore the VSTs out there because I'm starting to feel restricted with the sounds I have access to. This deep/pad sounding bass is what I'm after..Want to make psybient/psychill/atmospheric music.
Could just be that one or several of the generators have a long release and just fade naturally similarly to how a reverb would. I use lots of pad type stuff in the low frequencies and, depending on the application, reverb is fine IMO. I think when you get into more dance oriented stuff, lots of times people will dis-recommend the practice because it can muddy the low end, as you mentioned. However, in the instance of stuff with more sparse low-end demands, no 4x4 kick, no chugging bass line, etc, you can get away with it more. Even in those situations, nothing is ruling out SOME reverb, just saying that it's easy to take too far and highly case specific.
Remember, the "Rules" are just something that work in certain situations and applications and none of them apply to all circumstances. Rules also, IMO, are generally set forth to eliminate the thought processes behind one particular repetitive action or another and rely on the law of averages to streamline the process. It's not saying there's no sense to them, but that sometimes disregarding that is ok, even good.
BTW, you should totally be able to make a sound like you're talking about in Operator. I might recommend watching some tutorials on it and playing along so you get a better sense of what each control does and how it impacts the overall sound.
I do not have massive and only have ableton's built-in stuff atm (operator/analog/etc).
And I'm not familiar with Ableton, but Analog at least has detune for oscillators which you can use, and what seems to be unisono on the far right side of the synth (Detune / Uni), judging from this pic. Try playing around with it. There might very well be some reverb on their bass, but that's relatively straight-forward once you have the basic bass sound.
You can probably make a similar sound in Operator as well, but as far as I remember, it's an FM (frequency modulation) synth, which works differently from subtractive synths (like Analog). FM synthesis can be a little tricky to use at first, but has almost endless possibilities.
It's true that Massive is very popular for dubstep/electro house, but it's a pretty versatile synth. You don't HAVE to use the Modern Talking wavetable with a Scream filter and Dimension Expander ; )
It sounds to me like it's just a sustained tone, doesn't need reverb if you just hold the note down for the length of the song. It also sounds to me like there's some higher harmonic content in there; it's not just a 50ish Hz sub bass, it's also a 150ish Hz higher bass and maybe even a little grit above there, which could be an acceptable frequency range to use reverb on if you're careful with it.
It should be a pretty simple patch to make in Analog, just set it up with two oscillators on sine waves that are an octave apart and play long, sustained notes with it. Maaaaybe add a little grit via distortion, but if you do you probably want to low-pass it so it stays neatly in the bass range, and it does probably have some unison / stereo spreading as well but be sure to only apply that to the higher octave, you don't really want to spread your sub.
Anyway, I would record myself playing a harmonic/ open string (open string has a harsher sound and, depending on which string you play, usually won't work as a pad too well) on my guitar then run it through sampler and add some reverb to it, it gives a nice smooth sound.
Bumping this thread to try to get more advice. Unfortunately I have not had a lot of time to produce/create since I made this thread.
I have made some strides with this sort of sound but still am not completely satisfied..I'm still getting a fairly muddy sound and simply not as smooth as an artist like Koan.
A more specific question I am going to ask to achieving this sound: Frequency ranges and the application of effects:
Can someone be a little more specific on how you would split the bass frequencies and where effects would be applied. What would be considered lower, mid, upper bass range in a song like this? And where would one start to apply effects to get the reverberated/unison sounded bass sound?
For example: The song I'm working on I have a clean sine wave making the sub at 150 Hz and below. Then from the advice in this thread split into another channel and used two detuned oscillators above 150 Hz with chorus, etc and then put a low pass filter on it which is cutting off the sound around 260 HZ
I understand that this question is very dependent on each individual track, but just looking for a general guideline. I'm getting closer but still a semi muddy result. Thanks in advance for any more replies..
Can you upload a sample of what you've got currently? It would be easier to compare the two if we could hear what you've got. Also your original youtube link is broken now; is the Koan track "After The Guiding Venus" or something else?
If that's the right track, I dropped it in to Live and did some analysis; I'm pretty sure the, "pad" bass goes up to about 360 Hz and it has a fair amount of stereo spread going on, but it's mono below 120Hz (which would be the sub range.
It still sounds pretty simple to me; either a distorted sine or lowpassed square with some form / combination of chorus, ADT, unison, or artificial spreading. It also has a little bit of a knock at the beginning of each note.
The bullet points of my patch are:
Split the signal path so there's a chain for the sub and a chain for the top end. Sub is a saturated + low-passed sine, top end is dual + unison + saturated square waves run through a butt ton of stereo processing (chorus, phaser, haas effect, long-ass reverb, etc.) then band-passed to restrict it to the low mid range and keep it from muddying the sub.
Both signals are compressed separately to solidify them, then summed together and EQ'd compressed together for a final bit of glue. I also put an autopan on the top end to give it that beating effect, but as Blingley said theirs is probably oscillator beating rather than just volume automation, but alas I suck with Analog so I cheated.
It sounds to me like (almost) everything going on in that sub is a product of the unison and detune being used. Are you using reverb? If not, you could try epicverb, it has an "ambience" mode which keeps the reverb, but cuts off the tail, so it adds space to the sound, but keeps things pretty clean. I don't know about the synths in ableton, but maybe you need different oscillators to get the sound as rich and clean as you like. I like Charlattan, it has good oscillators, 7-voice unison, detune, and stereo spread control. Both those plugins are free downloads, and (I think) will give you exactly what you need to do this sound.
If you think it's just a matter of splitting frequencies, I'd start trying a split between 120 and 150 hz (that's where I start to hear tone instead of just bassy rumble) and apply effects both above and below, using different settings and even different effects of course. What you do is going to be up to you, but you might try compressing the lowest frequency band harder to help bring it out in a different way than just pushing up the gain. I've just started messing with subs myself, and that's what's worked for me, though I'm just lopping everything off at 120-150 hz and not mixing in any higher frequency content, so ymmv.
Thanks for the replies guys. This site is great...
Adantonius I will upload a part of the song either tonight or tomorrow when I have time, and will check out what you created as well.
Can I ask how you analyze a track by dropping into Live? Is there something you're actually looking at or just using your ears?
I understand too, that a lot of this type of thing is based on hands-on production experience, which comes with time. The one thing I continue to struggle with is the technical side of music production. I am able to write flowing songs. The challenge has been to get the songs sounding smooth and professional. I'm relatively new to a lot of this stuff, so it is a learning experience.
Thank you for taking the time to really explain the patch. I truly appreciate it.
White Noise: thanks for the reply as well. I will look into epicverb. I wasn't using reverb on the upper portion of the bass. The bass above 150 has two detuned oscillators with chorus and a filter delay synched to time on the L and R channels to spread the sound..
I will post an example of what I'm working on when I get a chance. Should be later tonight or tomorrow.
Analyzing tracks is a great way to beef up your sound design skills, and there's definitely some tricks that can help. The first part is easy enough: find the part of the track that has the least number of elements except for the sound you're trying to replicate; I chose a bit towards the end for that Koan track as it had the pad but very few of the drums (most notably no kick drum) so I could hear it pretty clearly.
Then from there I tried to break it out in to separate parts as much as possible. I put an EQ on there with a steep low-pass filter and brought it down until I noticed it affecting the pad, which got rid of everything except the fundamental of the higher, more ethereal pad, so I could hear the bass pretty much isolated.
Then I dropped a utility plugin on there which has a width control at the bottom, which doesn't do any artificial spreading it's just a plain volume knob that crossfades between the mid and the sides. So by taking the width to 0 I can hear what's just in the center (mono) and pushing it to 200% tells me what's just in the sides (stereo). If you push it to 200%, you'll notice the sub disappears completely, and the dry signal of the top end gets quieter in comparison to the reverb. So that tells you a lot about how the sound is structured; mono sub, and the FX are pretty spread.
You can also use the Spectrum plugin to look at the frequencies in more detail and see what the actual harmonic content is, then drop a spectrum on your own version and see if you can spot any major differences.
There's also plugins that can show you a visual representation of stereo width which can be useful, but I don't think Live has one built in. I used Paz Analyzer from Waves, and Ozone has a great one too.
Obviously there's only so much you can do to break a full mix in to its individual parts for analysis, but you can get a long way just with filtering out irrelevant frequencies and comparing the mids and the sides.
Adantonius thanks for the advice on analyzing a track. Unfortunately I can't see your file because it was made with a newer version of live..
Here's a real short part from the track I've been working on. I'm trying to get this bass to stand out more, sound more smooth, and to have the type of energy that these bass parts have in a koan song..