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Creating a bass patch with Reason’s Subtractor synth

The first thing I do is create a new Subtractor synth. By default, the selected waveform is a sawtooth wave (the sawtooth wave just happens to be a nice waveform for a cool bass sound. Also by default, in the lower right corner of the synth, the velocity is mapped to F.env (filter envelope). By this default, when you hit a key harder, it will sound more bright. You will briefly hear these higher frequencies before the filter cuts them off at the speed set by the attack and decay on the filter envelope.

Next, I change the polyphony to 1 instead of the default 8. That way, if I press more than one note at a time, only one will be allowed to play. For the most part, bass instruments do not play chords or simultaneous notes. Next, I lower the octave on Osc 1 to 2. You will want to lower your octave on any bass patch to get a nice deep sound. Then, I change the mode of the oscillator to X (there are 3 options directly to the left of the waveform selector: X, -, O) What this does is creates a duplicate copy of the waveform and stacks it on top of itself. Then you can control the “alignment” of the two stacked waveforms with the phase knob. With the X mode, the waveforms are multiplied, and create a nice fat sound. If one waveform is subtracted from the other (- mode) then it will sound weaker. If O is selected, then a duplicate waveform is not created at all. So for a thick juicy bass patch, I leave the mode set to X and shift the phase knob to my taste.

Next, I decide how I want the filter envelope to sound. If I increase the amt (amount) knob, the filter envelope will be more noticeable. Then I can create a sort of fade-in effect on the filter by increasing the attack time. This is nice for slow notes that build in intensity as time passes. If you only want this fade-in effect when the keys are pressed lightly, and not when you hit them with force, you can also change the amp (volume) envelope. Increase the attack time and then turn the A. Atk knob in the Velocity area to the left. Now when you press lightly on the keys, the sound will fade in, and when you press hard, it will snap right into action.

Finally, I add EQ and Compression (not the dinky old kinds, I’m talkin’ about the MClass units). Emphasize those low frequencies with the EQ to really make your subwoofer rumble. Then use the aforementioned compressor settings to make sure the bass cuts through all the other parts.

download the example RNS file

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