How to build a trap-style TR-808 kick-bass

The kick drum sound from Roland's legendary drum machine makes for a superb bass source, as this sub-heavy genre demonstrates…

How to build a trap style TR 808 kick bass
Shut your trap!

Alongside its crazy hi-hat patterns and generally sparse, brooding feel, the hallmark sound of trap is the TR-808 kick drum, which is often pitched up and down to serve as a bass instrument.

In this tutorial, we'll show you how to create a trap-style kick/bass combo sound, starting with a tone generated by Synapse Audio's Dune 2 synth. You can substitute that with samples, of course, or an 808 emulation such as D16 Group's Nepheton, but since the 808 kick is essentially just a filtered sine wave, any synth should be up to the job.


Step 1: Let's make a huge, trap-style 808 bass and kick combo using a selection of CM Plugins. Set the tempo to 80bpm then download and import Backing.wav. First off, we'll use a synthesized 808 bass drum from Synapse Audio's Dune CM - add a new instrument track, load Dune CM, download and import 808Bass.mid onto the track to trigger the synth.

Step 2: Next, open Dune CM and load the Kick 808 RH preset. This sound doesn't play chromatically across the keyboard, but we want to play it in key with our track. Open Dune CM's Mod Matrix 1>12 and set both Const > Osc 1 KeyTrk and Const > Osc 2 KeyTrk to +100. Osc 1's Semitone dial is set to -29, so it's not playing in key - change it to -24 to fix this.

Dune CM 808 kick

Step 3: Add a new send with DDMF's LP10 CM - we're going to layer two copies of the same signal, so this linear phase EQ will isolate low-mid harmonics without causing phase distortion. Set up a 0dB send from the 808 bass, then in LP10 CM, add an 18dB/oct FlexHP filter at 100Hz, and an 18dB/oct FlexLP at 400Hz, isolating the low-mid frequencies.

Step 4: Now to add some distortion. Add WaveShaper CM (using its Bottom Noise preset) to the FX send after our EQ. Pull the FX send's volume down to -24dB to blend it in. Finally, to fill the high-mid frequencies, download and import 909Kick.wav. This layer is tightly enveloped for extra punch. Compare with and without the new layer to hear the difference it makes.

With added distortion

For more advice on getting great bass sounds, check out the full Kick & Bass Power feature in theJuly edition of Computer Music (CM231).

Get 68 VST/AU plugins for free…
…with Computer Music issue 238