Get the Sub Focus sound using freeware synths
24th Feb 2012 | 12:40
The first Sub Focus album is a genre-blending heavyweight classic, demonstrating that Nick Douwma has the experience to use the precisely right sounds at the precisely the right time.
We've chosen the driving Drum 'n' Bass chart topping epic: Time Warp We want to encourage the vast abundance of freeware for this track so we are going to usesynths fromTAL (Togu Audio Line) made by Patrick Kunz. The combination of these synths and Ableton Live will equip us with enough music-making tools to tackle the recreation of the sub, bass and synths to emulate the more dominant elements of this tune and riff.
As always with these tutorials, we want you to use this newly-created sound as a starting point for your own fresh and new productions.
We will start with the TAL ELEK7RO using a single sine wave oscillator.This is a great free synth and is ideal for producing silky smooth rounded sub.
We added a bit of warmth and control from the PSP Vintage Warmer, this will help to fill out the low end sonic spectrum, and will even out plus flatten any peaks. If you don’t have Vintage Warmer, and are using Ableton, then try the Dynamic Tube and the Saturator as inserts to drive the sound a bit. Speaking of peaks, the useful compressor from Ableton is in place here to further flatten any spikes, but the compressor will also raise any hollows in the sub spectrum too. The Auto Filter placed here is the last chance saloon to ensure full control of where the ‘low’ is at.
I have used the TAL U-NO-62 synth for the bass here. The unit is in square wave mode with the chorus and noise switched off so take care with the VCF settings as they are very powerful on this synth.
Don’t be put off by the slider/fader-based interface, I find them more visually accurate than rotary controllers – you can really see where they are set, especially when shaping an envelope.
The Ableton Compressor is employed next for boosting duties here and for bringing the sound nearer to the listener. Again used to liven up the U-NO quite a bit, the compressor brings out all of the frequencies – the PSP then warms all of these elements combined.
This has been placed after the compressor so it’s processing a consistent signal and if you don’t have one at hand find something similar in your plug-in collection as mentioned above.
It’s all about the band-pass filtering and filterenvelope shaping using pulse waves on the TAL-ELEK7RO for the synth sound, plus the added noise and all three oscillators working together to make this Rave-stab-esque filtered synth sound.
Use that combination of contour and cutoff on the filter section to work the sound design here. The two opposing delay speeds on the Simple Delay used here enhance the stereo field in which this sound sits, but easy with that wet/dry mix, then after the delay we have reverb which is set to a large room setting. The Warmer has been put at the end of the line of inserts here to warm up the synth, but it brings the delay and reverb forward in the mix as well.
I used sounds from the brilliant Loopmasters to get the basic beats down, I have used a bit of tube distortion on the snare plus extensive high pass filtering on the hi-hat and ride cymbals to get that high wash.
Under the beats is some basic detail of the notation used for the Bass synth. Please note that the sub notation is the same, but the sub synth (TAL ELEK7RO) is set to operate an octave lower. To control the filter automation on the TAL ELEK7RO you will need to select the master pitch parameter in the control lane (slightly confusing).This will then control the VCF (Voltage Control Filter)
With the synth set up as it is, the slightest automated change really mangles the filter’s sounds with dramatic effect.Mess around with your MIDI controller to really get the best out of this and hit record while you’re at it!