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First of all, let's look at recreating some popular 'hollow' bass patches with a virtual analogue synth. We're going to use PG-8X by Martin Lüders, which you can pick up for free at www.bit.ly/IFVcXm. This is an excellent-sounding VSTi. Start from the default patch, Piano 1 - there's no need to initialise it.
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Set DCO-1's Waveform to the square shape, take the DCO-2 Range slider down to 16' and move the DCO-2 Tune knob to 00. Next, set DCO-2's Fine Tune to -50 and tap the orange Mono button (on the far right) for monophonic operation. This simple patch comprising two heavily detuned square waves is the basis for several garage and rave sounds.
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In the Mixer, push both DCO faders up to 99 and switch HPF to 1. On the row below, set all the sliders to 00 (to disable modulation), apart from Key Follow - set that to 50. Turn the Chorus and all Key Follow and Dynamics switches Off for a flat, hard tone. Set all Mode switches to the top, then set both envelopes to 00 Attack, 50 Decay, 00 Sustain and 10 Release.
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Have a play with the patch so far. It's reminiscent of an old-school jungle sub bass, quite similar to the sound used in Trust Me by Roni Size. If you slide Env on the second row of the VCF section up to 20, it instantly starts to sound like an old rave sound, though not quite as punchy as the one used in Full Throttle. For garage vibes, push Envelope-1's Attack up to 50.
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Let's try some filtering. Put both Cutoff Freq and Res sliders at 33, then push the VCF Env slider up to 50. Set the Mixer DCO-2 level to 00, then crank Envelope-2's Sustain to 99 for a sustained sound. These tweaks produce a classic 'warp' bass similar to that in Dred Bass by Dead Dred and countless garage tunes. Push the Res to 75 for dubstep or fidget house evilness.
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Slide Envelope-1's Attack back down to 00 and experiment with different filter (VCF) Env positions for bass sounds like those in Sway's grime hit Baby Father. For some classic garage leads and basslines, push the Mixer's DCO-2 level back up to 99, then set the filter's Env and Res to 00 and Cutoff to 66. These are nice sounds, but we're not hearing Full Throttle yet...
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...So we decide to turn to FM synthesis. After trying a few plug-ins, we found that there's something suitably full and yet throttled about Native Instruments' FM8. The way those operators interact gets about as close to the Full Throttle sound as you're ever likely to need. Start by maximising the Output Volume fader on the Master page.
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Switch to the Expert»Ops page and right-click on the E operator in the FM Matrix to activate it. Now turn on Key Sync for both operators E and F. Back in the FM Matrix, push the value in the box directly to the left of F up to 70, then raise the output level of operator F from the default value of 80 all the way up to 100. Hmmm - it clicks.
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To fix the click, move to the Env page and click on E to get to operator E's envelope. Once you're there, drag the release node (bottom right) to at least 0.6 with a convex curve. Go to operator F's envelope next, dragging the release node only a small amount - around 0.05 should do it - and leaving it on the default convex curve. Now we have a classic ragga bass.
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Next go to operator E's main page, where you can see more detailed controls. Look at operator E's envelope again, and drag the top-left node over to the right until the Abs T field reads 1.00. This produces another garage-style bass! From the same page, you can set operator E's Ratio to 2 to make yet another popular garage bass patch.
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OK, let's get back on track. Put the start of the envelope back to the top-left corner, as it was. Now pull the sustain Level node down to about 0.4 on the Y axis and drag it across to the left so that the decay phase ends at around 0.4 on the X-axis. In the Amplitude panel above, pull the main Level slider down from 70 to about 52.
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The sound so far vaguely resembles many of the hollow sounds that were popular during the early '90s rave scene, and so it's not too dissimilar from some of the sounds that Jack Smooth, Andy C or The Prodigy might have used. To take it Full Throttle, go back to the Master page, set the Unison Voices to 2 and whack the Detune up to 80. That's the stuff!
How to program a Prodigy Full Throttle-style 'hollow' bass sound
Here we're looking at programming a '90s rave and UK garage-inspired bass sound, much like the one used in
Prodigy's classic Full Throttle.
The 'hollow' bass used in Full Throttle is a sample that's been around since the '90s, but let's try creating it from scratch ourselves. The sound is similar to a classic garage patch - the type grime fans will recognise from
Wiley's Eskimo instrumental - but with some extra FM-synthesis touches added.
Check out the two videos below, in which you'll see the basic patch created, then the hollow FM version tackled.
Programming an analogue hollow bass patch Programming an FM hollow bass patch