How To Make A Great Synth Bass Sound

US Mylar Melodies explains Kae Tempest's PWM bass      21/02/22

Mylar Melodies has just released a video on how to make a great synth bass sound - what more could you ask for?! This beginners tutorial illustrates how this simple but amazing synth sound can be made using any synth or plugin, using an LFO and PWM. In the video, he's using an ARP2600M - showing what can be done with two oscillators, a filter, an envelope, a sine wave LFO, and pulse width modulation. The first 7 steps of his directions are:

1. Open the filter Cutoff up fully so you can really hear the PWM modulation clearly. It'll sound too bright but we'll fix that in a moment.

2. Set Filter Resonance to zero. High resonance sounds really cool, but it will likely also reduce the amount of bass you hear, so for the warmest bassiest sound, set it to zero.

3. Turn down all your oscillators in the mixer section except one.

4. Set that Oscillator, let's call it Oscillator 1, to Square Wave.

5. Take a sine wave LFO (or triangle if you have it) and use it to control/'modulate' the amount of PWM of Oscillator 1, by a small amount...10% or so? (The way you do this will vary from synth to synth, check the Oscillator section of your manual)

6. Adjust the rate/speed of that sine wave LFO and listen to the rate of PWM now occurring, get it where you like it - something like a few cycles per second. You may also have an initial PWM setting on the oscillator too, and you can adjust this, in combination with the 'PWM amount', to get different levels of PWM - it will sound thinner or thicker. On some synths you might even be surprised to hear everything go silent for a split second and think you've broken it, but what is happening is that you're squeezing the width of the square wave so much it's literally disappearing. Reduce the amount by which the LFO is modulating PWM, and/or adjust the initial PWM control and you'll find a balance where you get nice subtle animation/movement, without the disappearing happening. Less is more. Just make it shake a little.

7. Now turn the Filter Cutoff down so that the sound becomes more muffled and dark, but where you can still hear that 'PWM' movement occurring.

He continues the instructions in the youtube video info! Here is the Kae Tempest track being referenced:

More videos from Mylar Melodies here:

About the author [midierror]: midierror makes nifty Max For Live devices, innovative music hardware, award winning sample packs and hosts a podcast speaking to people in the music world.

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