Designing DnB Bass with Joe Ford | Producer Masterclass
Sound Design

Designing DnB Bass with Joe Ford | Producer Masterclass

Matthew Vere
Matthew Vere

Writes basses in the key of F, bounces and resample them.

Starts with a saw wave in Serum, then modulates the pitch which provides a little transient at the start of the sound.  Uses the frequency of the second oscillator to modulate the first (FM synthesis).

Pushes the bass into the red with a limiter to get a flat waveform (sine compression).

Adds white noise with fast LFO modulating the level for the top end of the bass.

Processes the bass in various bands with Pro Q3, and Ableton's rack to create two versions, a low and high band - this gives you greater control over the sound. Often you'll want to leave the sub frequencies alone, and only process the top end.

Uses Ableton's Frequency Shifter plugin to add movement into the sound. This device creates two signals, one dry and one wet. The wet is going to be shifted by an amount of your choice, which provides a phasing/chorus effect. The further the wet signal is from the dry, the quicker the movements will be.

Seeing what's going on and linking that to what you're hearing is crucial for understanding sound design.

Uses Native Instruments Phasis plugin for move filter moments.

That's the first stage of processing completed.

The next stage is distortion and then even more movement.

An important aspect with this style of bass design is what order you process in; it can be interesting to change the order and listen to what happens to the sound.

Adds an Erosion (Ableton) after the distortion plugin.

Uses the pitch bend envelope in Ableton's MIDI page to bend the note up an octave and slide back to the root every 3 bars. This is a classic DnB Reece bass sound.

Both oscillators need to remain at the same pitch when doing FM processing, to keep the sound clean.

When the pitch goes up, LFO 2's rate increases - the pitch bend is controlling the LFO rate on Serum.

The pitch bend can also control the amount of FM modulation (warp on Serum) taking place on the first oscillator.

The chorus effect is being controlled by the pitch bend too.

This is a solid starting point for a bass patch. You could apply more modulation, resample the sound into a sampler and rinse and repeat.

MV: There wasn't a screen recording, so no doubt there are elements I missed. The basic idea is starting with a basic sound in Serum, filter, modulate, distort, resample, rinse and repeat.