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The ultimate guide to sub bass: tips and tricks for a high-class low-end

6 sub-enhancing plugins

If you want to enhance as well as balance your sub bass frequencies, these plugins will help you get there.

1. PSP MixBass 2

Mixbass

(Image credit: PSP)

MixBass 2 is a bass enhancement plugin that uses a combination of compression, harmonic generation and dynamic filtering to help you rebalance the bass content of any sound. 

For sub bass start by using the Tune control to limit the processed frequencies and the In Cut control to filter unwanted frequencies (from 0Hz upwards). For sub tweaking, add some low frequency compression and use the Punch processor, applying dynamic boost/cut to centre frequencies from 32Hz upwards.

2. Waves LoAir

waves

(Image credit: Waves)

Waves produce a number of bass enhancement plugins, and if it’s sub you’re looking for this is a good choice. Originally designed for sound design and surround mixing duties, the plugin includes level controls for creating just the LFE output. For sub processing the key control is LoAir. This generates subharmonic content by lowering and filtering the target audio by one octave. The target frequency is set using the Range control and the level of the filtered signal set using the Lo control.

3. Melda MBassador

Melda MBassador

(Image credit: Melda MBassador)

Melda Production’s take on the subharmonic synth concept provides three signals in addition to the original. First it resynthesises the original signal to add clarity, it then provides two subs, one and two octaves below respectively. All three get adjustable Saturation and Tone controls, and there are plenty of level controls for balancing the original and synthesised components. Extras include an inbuilt limiter, automatic gain compensation, multiparameter controls and four modulators.

4. Brainworx bx_subsynth

brainworx

(Image credit: Brainworx)

Bx_subsynth takes the classic dbx subharmonic synthesiser design and supersizes it into a multifaceted processor. At its core are three separate subharmonic generators covering three frequency bands – 24-36Hz, 36-56Hz and 56-80Hz. 

You can adjust the action and level of these individually to get a balance you like, and then adjust the global Subharmonic level to taste. Beyond this you also have a saturation stage, an M/S based Stereo Width control and adjustable high-pass Mono Maker filter.

5. UAD Little Labs Voice of God

UAD

(Image credit: UAD)

Based on the classic hardware processor from Jonathan Little, Voice of God is designed to enhance low and sub frequencies. It uses a high-pass filter with emphasis control at the cutoff frequency, creating a boost at the chosen frequency. You can select the frequency anywhere from 20Hz-300Hz and adjust the boost up to +18dB. What we love about it is the way the high-pass filter design boosts the selected frequency while helping to clear out unnecessary frequencies below that point.

6. reFuse Lowender

refuse

(Image credit: reFuse)

reFuse Lowender is an analogue-modelled subharmonic synthesiser. Its two key features are a dual band Bass Synthesis and a Bass Gate. Its three frequency modes, Bass, Classic and Guitar, let you tailor the generated frequencies accordingly. There is also a Drive stage for adding harmonics and a low-pass filter (55Hz-1kHz). Use the bass-focused gate in conjunction with the wet/dry Blender to achieve tightly focused subharmonic enhancement without destroying your existing audio.


6 great synths for low end

Some plugin synths are just better at the bottom end. Here we've picked out six of the best. 

1. Initial Audio 808 Studio 2

sub bass

(Image credit: Apple)

808 Studio 2 is a bass synth on steroids. Designed to capitalise on the pitched 808-style bass often used in hip-hop, trap and beyond, they’ve actually designed a synth that goes way beyond that remit. 

You get two regular oscillators, one sub and a fourth sample-based oscillator with onboard samples and sample import. Typical effects (EQ, compression, distortion and chorus) are joined by a nifty pumping sidechain effect, and there’s even an onboard sequencer. Oh, and it’s super easy to use.

2. Rob Papen SubBoomBass-2

sub bass

(Image credit: Apple)

As bass-focused soft synths go, this Rob Papen classic is up there with the best of them. Now on version 2, its twin oscillator engine provides virtual analogue, sample-based, spectral and granular synthesis types. But it’s the additional sub oscillators within each oscillator that give this synth its big bottom. Couple this with distortion, saturation, a couple of filters and over 2,000 presets, and you’re pretty much all set. It’s been around a while but this is still a benchmark synth.

3. Newfangled Audio Pendulate

Newfangled Audio Pendulate

(Image credit: Newfangled Audio)

Pendulate may not have been designed specifically for deep bass duties, but it’s absolutely great at them, particularly if you like them dirty. Built using what they call double pendulum chaotic oscillators, it’s monophonic and its core components include loads of intriguingly labelled parameters. You can also link the modules with patch cords. It includes plenty of presets, which demo the vast flavours on offer. Plus it’s free, so you really have nothing to lose.

4. Iceberg Audio The Sub

sub bass

(Image credit: Apple)

Without a doubt the simplest of our suggested synths, this sample-based design comes in a base version with a bunch of additional sounds available in expansion packs. Its controls form part of a gorgeous interface, and although there really are no hidden extras, basic features such as Extra Attack are very welcome and work well. Wind up the Drive, adjust the Glide and tweak the ADSR for simple but powerful solid basses that really hit the spot. It’s that simple.

5. Diginoiz Subdivine

sub bass

(Image credit: Apple)

This sample-based instrument is heavily influenced by the classic 808 sound, but actually includes a wide range of samples derived from a multitude of analogue and digital devices. 

Throw in some drive (which comes in seven flavours) and tailor the outcome with the ADSR and Glide controls and you should be good to go. If you’re not sure then you might want to give the free Lite version a try. Either way, we can’t fault this simple but focused bass synth.

6. Softube Monoment Bass

sub bass

(Image credit: Apple)

Softube’s bass synth takes a reasonably individual approach to most aspects of its operation, from the two sample-based sound generation sources at its core (A and B), through to its punch-focused amplitude envelope, analogue ageing and dirt effect, drive settings and onboard ambience. 

Onboard you’ll find 13 sub specific sources, easy octave down (or up) switching for source B, and crossover based A and B source blending. The result is a fat sounding bass synth perfect for thunderous sub bass sounds.

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