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Synth Secrets is a series of programming tutorials in which we show how to make a range of classic and new synth sounds using plugins such as Massive, Sylenth and Predator.
In this walkthrough we’ll be creating the following squelchy bass sound, synonymous with old-school UK garage and still popular in many genres, including a number of styles of house:
And here’s the MIDI we’ve used for the bass, a simple three-note pattern in the key of A minor:
We’re using Sylenth for this walkthrough, but the crux of the sound is square waves with some filter modulation, so the majority of modern software synths will be more than up to the task if you don’t own Sylenth.
Begin by loading an instance of Sylenth and initialising the patch by hitting Menu in the centre panel, selecting Preset and then Clear.
Now in Oscillator A1, change the wave to a pulse (also known as a square wave).
Now to fatten up the sound with a second oscillator. In Oscillator A2, again load a pulse wave, but this time increase the number of voices to 2. Push up the Detune control to about 3.2, and pitch the Fine control up slightly slightly to about 0.13.
Now do the opposite on the Fine pitch control of Oscillator A1 and pitch it down slightly to about -0.04. This adds warmth and width to the bass.
Load a low-pas filter in Filter A by using the Filter Type drop-down menu. Bring the cutoff down to 1.410 and push up the resonance to 2.800.
Next, in Mod Env 1, click the first modulation slot and select Cutoff A, and push the modulation amount up all way. Now set the modulation envelope up with the attack at 1.891, decay 4.135, sustain 1.589 and release 1.210. Be sure to experiment here and dial the mod envelope settings to taste. Longer attack times give you a warping sound whilst faster attack times produce a more stabby bass.
We’ll also fine tune the filter using the master filter (titled Filter Control), setting the cutoff to 1.100 and the resonance to 3.506.
If there is a slight click on the tail of the sound at this point, push up the release on Amp Env A slightly.
Now to drive the sound slightly using some Foldback Distortion. Turn on the Distort effect in Sylenth by checking the box next to it, then in the drop-down menu change the distortion type to Foldback. Set the amount to 2.672 and the Dry/Wet to 63%.
To finish, we automate the attack time of the filter envelope for a garage-style fill.
If you enjoyed this tutorial you might find our book ‘The Secrets of Dance Music Production’ a helpful resource for similar tutorials.
Synth Secrets is sponsored by
u-he are makers of award-winning software synthesisers and effects including Diva, Repro-1, Zebra2, Hive, Bazille, Presswerk and Satin.
Download the demos and try them for yourself at www.u-he.com