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How to morph a drum loop into a techno bassline

(Image credit: Future)

We're going to show you how to create a rumbling sub bass using a percussive source sound...

(Image credit: Future)

Step 1: Start with any basic four-to-the-floor drum loop from a sample pack. Ensure that the loop’s kick and percussive elements feature sufficient low frequencies, as this bass content can be boosted and shaped at a later stage.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 2: Transform the loop’s clean timbre into something gnarlier by applying distortion, ring modulation and/or frequency shifting. We’re using auto-panning set to an uber-fast audio rate. Don’t worry too much about specific settings for now – you can come back and tweak later.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 3: If the loop needs more weight, tune it down using your DAW’s audio editing features or a pitch-shifting plugin. We’re using a real-time shifter to ramp down the loop’s pitch and time in tandem over every beat, turntable-style. 

(Image credit: Future)

Step 4: Next, apply four-to-the-floor ducking to isolate the portions of the loop that occur between each beat. To achieve this, you can use sidechain compression keyed to a 4/4 kick, or a dedicated volume-shaping plugin for more precise control. After that, obliterate the signal’s dynamics with heavy compression.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 5: Now it’s time to turn the odd-sounding signal into a pumping wall of sub-bass frequencies. Throw a flavoursome low-pass filter next in the effects chain, set cutoff to a suitably low value, then ramp up the filter’s resonance to pull out those lows.

(Image credit: Future)

Step 6: You should now be left with a ducking sub-bass loop that snakes between your track’s four-squared kick notes. If the signal contains any stereo content, use a width-controlling tool to mono frequencies below 100Hz. Now the basic effects are in place, you can go back and fine-tune specific settings.