Hi. This week, we’ll be doing more bass stuff. I posted my last tutorial on Renoise & DOA forums and it’s gotten some real nice responses which made me a happy monkey! Thanks folks! The routing paradigm of Renoise/Redux also raised some questions and caused a bit of confusion for some of the newcomers. I’ll admit it can indeed get messy sometimes and I’d much rather have a signal routing system like Reaper or Ableton. But at the end of the day every software has it’s ups & down. The creative workflow of Renoise is unparalleled for me so I can live with it’s quirks just fine.
Here’s this week’s scenario: A fellow Redux user experiments with the techniques demonstrated in my last post and comes up with some sounds. He also has a few problems understanding the signal flow so he slightly misses the spot for some of the routings. I try to help him out a bit and once I’m done I realize I’ve got pretty good content for a new blog post. So there we go.
Anyhow, this is one of those bass sounds they’ve sent me which will be the basis for this tutorial. I will try to keep things simple and concise routing wise.
I like the raw quality here but there are a few issues with the sound. First of all it’s a bit too distorted. To prevent myself from overdoing distortion I came up with a simple method some time ago: I avoid clipping the waveform. Here are two examples illustrating this via s(m)exoscope: Original clipped bass with straight lines vs final sound of this post. As far as I’m concerned that almost always hurts the sound. Sure enough, it isn’t the only factor for getting a good distortion but it’s something that can keep you in check, at least when your ears aren’t sure. (This is also very much true for breaks.)
The second problem: It doesn’t seem to have any detuning/chorus going on. This is crucial for fattening up sounds and adding more movement but again you need to be gentle when adding it.
And finally, the weird pitch modulation. This is something tricky as I can never tell if an “embedded” pitch movement inside a sample will work out once you start chopping it. In this case it does, as you will hear in the last example. But this is a hit & miss thing for me, so let me know if you know a better way!
Now that those are out of the way, let’s get started on processing our sound. I’ll first start with adding a modulation to the sample. It’s a K35 bandpass filter with little resonance and drive. Cutoff is being modulated by an envelope. The envelope is pretty low, so most of the high frequencies are filtered out. The modulation scheme looks like this. The resulting sound:
Now we need more bass. As usual, I’m adding a second oscillator underneath this to get a clean & powerful sub. It’s a square wave, filtered down pretty low. It has two modulation devices. First one is for pitch that attempts to get the sub to follow the mid sample’s note. Not 100% accurate but close enough. A niffty trick: I’ve used Renoise’s spectogram view to help determining the pitch movement of the mid sample here. Works fine as you can clearly see the fundamental note of the sample with the help of the colours.
A second envelope here modulates the cutoff. It tries to be synchronous to the mid layer movement. The modulation happens in the low frequency range so the sample is still very subby. There’s also some resonance and drive here.
Time to move on to effects. First our sub layer. Not much here really, it’s just routed to FX chain “01: sub” first. There are no effects here but only one send device. This sends our audio to the “sub+mid” channel. Also note that “mute source” is selected on the send device. This means the signal is carried over to the new channel, not copied or duplicated. So this is a serial connection. In this case, you could also just select the 3rd channel for the sub and it would sound the same but that way you can’t add any effects to the sub seperately if you wanted to.
For the mid layer, we needed a chorus, so here’s one. The chorus’s internal modulation LFO is being reset by a velocity tracker. That means the chorus modulates the sound exactly the same anytime you hit a key. I’m a big fan of this! The chorus DSP is also tweaked slightly and I’m really enjoying how it sounds in Redux. So anyway, after chorus, the signal runs through 2 distortions. The 2nd is very subtle, just adds up some high end. Finally there’s a small amount of EQ.
After that, both sounds are summed up in channel 3 and saturated slightly via Analog Filter. The whole routing setup looks like this. In essence it’s a simple serial setup; channel 1 and 2 are being sent to 3 and being processed together there. And the result:
Now for the fun part! Chopping & sequencing. What I have here is a quick phrase that does some basic slicing to the bass sample via 0Sxx and 0Bxx pattern commands. And a simple break to roll with it. Redux phrases are great as you can trigger different samples in one phrase. Love that!
So there you go. Thanks for reading, hope you find it enjoyable! As always, all sounds/patches are free to download, comments and feedback most welcome.
(Background image by Herr Olsen.)