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Sound Design

Quick Tip: How to Create a Dubstep Wobble Bass with Subtractor

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When creating Dubstep music, one of the most important instruments is the bass. A lot of Dubstep songs have a wobble bass. This is basically a bass with a filter being modulated in a rhythmic sync with the tempo. Most often you will hear triplets and 8th notes being modulated by an LFO on the filter. In this tutorial, we will cover how to create a bass sound and add the 'Wobble' effect in the Subtractor device within Reason.


Step 1

First create a new project in Reason then add the following devices from the tool window:

  1. 1. MClass Mastering Suite Combinator
  2. 2. Mixer 14:2
  3. 3. Subtractor Analog Synthesizer

You can hide the Mastering Suite and Mixer, as we won't need them, by clicking the arrow in the top left of each device. Now we need to initialize the patch. (This clears out the default sound) Right click anywhere on the Subtractor and choose: Initialize Patch.


Step 2

Now we can start to create our bass sound. First, choose waveform 8 on oscillator 1 and put the pitch up 10 cents. This will create a phase or beat when we turn the second oscillator on because of the difference in frequency. Next, turn on oscillator 2 and change the waveform to a sine wave, drop the octave to 3 and finally turn the FM up to 8.

It should sound like this:


Step 3

The next step is to add the 'wobble' effect. We can now turn on our LFO 1 sync button and change our tempo in reason to 70 bpm. This will allow our wobble to sync to a rhythmic value (1/8th notes, 16th notes, etc.) rather than a hertz value. Then turn up the amount of the LFO 1 and change the destination to filter frequency. You can experiment with the different types of waveforms, but I usually just stick with the sine wave.

 


Step 4

Now we should hear a wobble sound, but we need to tweak the filter in order to make it shorter and more 'whomping'. Put the filter frequency at 47 and the resonance at 24. We can leave it on LP 12, LP 24 is a more drastic filter change, 24db per octave and we don't need that much. Finally put the FM on the velocity section up to 12.

Now it should sound nice and dirty, like Datsik.


Step 5

Now we are going to use the sequencer to input some midi notes for our variation to express how the wobble effect is used. Start by selecting the pencil tool or just hit 'W' and draw in these notes: C2, F#1, C2, A#1, F#1. Dubstep usually incorporates either half steps, thirds, and tri-tones in this case or (#4). Lydian-type sound.


Step 6

The next step would be to add some automation on the rate of the LFO. You can draw in the automation but its much faster to just record it. Start by going back the subtractor and right clicking on the rate knob, under LFO 1. Choose 'Edit Remote Override Mapping'. Now check the box that says 'Learn From Control Surface Input'. Then move the knob you want to control it with and click 'OK. (In my case, I'm using the modulation wheel on my keystation.)


Step 7

Now you are ready to record your live automation. Right click on the 'rate' knob again in the subtractor and choose 'Edit Automation', or just option or alt click on the knob. Now a green box should appear around it, this means you know have an automation lane for that knob. Lastly, hit record and modulate it any way you like. The movements will be recorded and you can play back what you've done.

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