Solid State Logic SubGen: What is it?
macOS: 11 Big Sur - macOS 13 Ventura. 64-bit only. M1 Mac supported.
Windows: 10-11. 64-bit only.
Buy at Plugin Boutique
Processing bass frequencies typically involves EQ and compression. However, sometimes these simply aren’t able to deliver, and we need some kind of bass enhancement processor. These tend to fall into two camps – those that generate higher harmonics to give the impression of more bass and those that synthesise additional lower frequency content.
SSL’s new SubGen plugin falls primarily into the latter category, but there is some harmonic enhancement available too.
Solid State Logic SubGen: Performance and verdict
It features four sub harmonic generators, and these along with the accompanying display dominate the plugin interface. Each band includes fully adjustable centre frequency (20Hz to 160Hz), bandwidth (0.1 to 1.0) and amount (-60dB to +12dB), and bands can overlap. Settings are made using either the regular controls or within the display, and the display also includes a background frequency analyser showing both the original and generated signals for each band. If you want to hone in on just one band, each also includes a solo Listen button.
As mentioned, SubGen can add harmonics too and the Drive control is in the bottom panel. The drive comes in three flavours – Bass, Kick and Pre. Further options include a one-knob compressor, global wet/dry mix, input and output levels, and below this the preset browser.
The final processors in the signal flow chain are high- and low-pass filters. These are at the top of the plugin and include their own background frequency analyser. If you need just one filter or want to deactivate them completely, each adjustable flag has a bypass button.
SubGen utilises a natural-sounding bass synthesis algorithm. This inspects the octave above your chosen centre frequency for each band, using the input audio to generate a sine shape signal that is then filtered to help it blend with the input. For simple fixed pitch sounds such as beats, this is incredibly easy to set up, and with up to four bands to play with and frequency settings right up to 160Hz it’s very flexible.
We found the graph display excellent for this as we could quickly sweep the frequency, adjusting gain and bandwidth at the same time to precisely focus the processing. The same technique works well for effects such as booms and impacts, and adding multiple fattening layers to lacklustre sounds for that hyped blockbuster feel is quick and satisfying.
With more melodic pitched sounds such as bass, a broader bandwidth approach is better, and once again sweeping the frequency helps find a centre frequency that works. For a really broad note range you can combine two or more bands. That said, processing multiple pitches does require a bit more tweaking than beats and hits.
SubGen’s Drive is a gain compensated, single knob effect with a choice of three flavours, and in terms of signal flow, it sits between the sub synthesis and the compressor. Harmonics can add presence to low frequencies, but it’s important to understand that here it’s only processing the synthesised sound and not the source signal itself.
Each mode has a different harmonic profile. Pre is based on an overdriven ’50s style valve preamp. This generates a smooth mix of odd and even harmonics. Kick and Bass are both based on transistor-style overdrives and produce primarily odd harmonics. In isolation, and listening just to the effected signal, the difference between modes is quite obvious with Pre sounding quite mid rangey, and Bass and Kick sounding a bit more lively. Of the three, the Bass option is the most aggressive. Once you blend the synthesised sound in with the original, these subtle differences are quickly masked. Even so, the process itself definitely adds a bit of presence, and is a welcome inclusion.
Shut up and drive
SubGen’s drive and compressor only process the synthesised component. The compressor seems to be tuned to work with low frequencies and although attack and release are fixed (5ms and 20ms), the Compress control influences both the threshold and ratio, so you can achieve quite gentle compression at lower settings, but push things much harder at higher settings.
In use we spent a lot of time soloing and bypassing bands, or simply using the global wet/dry control to evaluate what we were doing. Add in the visual feedback and SubGen clearly has plenty of ways to assess things, which is particularly important when enhancing bass frequencies. Couple this with the ease of use, the multiple bands and graphic interface, and SubGen is one of the most robust sub bass plugins we’ve worked with.
MusicRadar verdict: SubGen is a very flexible and powerful sub harmonic generator, that’s easy to use and sounds great.
Solid State Logic SubGen: Hands-on demos
White Sea Studio
Solid State Logic SubGen: Specifications
- macOS 11 Big Sur - macOS 13 Ventura. 64-bit only. M1 Mac supported.
- Windows 10-11. 64-bit only.
- Buy at Plugin Boutique