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Sub bass sounds are below the standard notes in a baseline. They often provide the thumping beat in electronic music that resonates in your chest.
You feel them more than you hear them, but they provide the foundation for a lot of music nowadays, from electronic dance music to film scores.
One of the few ways to produce notes low enough to qualify as sub bass is to use a synthesizer, or synth. And in selecting a synth, you have a wide variety of options.
The first question you need to address is whether you want a digital or analog synth. Analog synths have been around since the 60s.
They use basic circuits with simple electronic components such as transistors, resistors and capacitors to produce sound and affect its pitch, tone and volume.
Digital synths produce similar effects but using computers. There has been much debate about which kind of synth is better, but it really depends on what you’re looking for.
Analog synths have a distinctive warm sound that appeals to many people. Digital synths have a cleaner sound and can produce a wider array of sounds.
And some synths, called virtual analog synths, are digital but mimic the sound of an analog synth (with varying degrees of success).
Both analog and digital synths are capable of producing sub bass, and in fact, most synths on the market can do the trick.
This is in part because one of the easiest ways to create an effective sub bass line is simply to double the bass line one octave below using sine waves.
Most synths out there are capable of doing this, although once in a while you may run into one that doesn’t go quite low enough for you.
But of course there are people who want to do more complicated sub bass lines, or who want a distinctive sound out of their synthesizer.
If that’s you, here are some good synth options to look into.
Both of them are capable of more than just sub bass, which makes them valuable tools to add to your collection.
Both also have a rich, distinctive sound in the low ranges, which makes them excellent choices for producing sub bass lines.
Moog is one of the best-known manufactures of high quality synths, which has earned the company some enthusiastic fans.
One of their more recent offerings, the Subsequent 25, follows on the success of Moog’s Sub Phatty (Amazon link), which shaped the brand’s reputation in the area of deep bass sounds.
Now, though, Moog is phasing out the Sub Phatty in favor of its more advanced Subsequent 25.
The Subsequent 25 is a two-note paraphonic analog synth. It consists of two oscillators, a sub-oscillator and a noise generator.
The two oscillators can be put in Duo mode, in which they play two different notes at the same time, or they can be put in Unison mode, where they both blast the same note.
The Subsequent 25 is remarkably compact, just 20 inches long, but it produces some big sounds. This is helpful if you intend to take it to shows or just squeeze it into an already-crowded studio.
And if you’re performing with it live, it still has the knob-per-function controls that you need to adjust on the fly.
The name comes from its 25-note keyboard and echoes the name of Moog’s Subsequent 37, which has (not surprisingly) 37 keys.
The Subsequent 25 features the classic Moog ladder filter, but it’s been adjusted for deeper sound saturation, especially at the low end of the instrument’s range.
Moog also adjusted the multidrive circuit, so the Subsequent 25 produces even more of the grit and growl users came to expect from the Sub Phatty.
It also comes with twice the headroom, meaning that it can handle even more signal without distortion.
Put simply, this means it’s less likely to distort the sound without you intending to do so. It also has a more powerful headphone amp and an upgraded keybed.
The Subsequent 25 comes with an app that offers a huge variety of preset controls and custom sounds.
And in addition to the ordinary 5 pin MIDI inputs and outputs, there are four CV inputs and some USB MIDI jacks.
This means it’s easy to make it talk to all your other gear, including modular synths to further adjust the sound.
In short, the Moog Subsequent 25 is a portable, versatile synthesizer that’s especially good for deep sub bass sounds.
Dreadbox is a small Greek company that has seen huge success in recent years, as evidenced by the fact that they keep releasing new versions of their flagship synth, the Erebus.
So successful have their products been, in fact, that they recently had to adjust their manufacturing process to keep up with demand.
The instrument has an auto-tuning function as well.
There is also a mix slider that you can use to set the balance between the two primary oscillators.
The different oscillators have different capabilities in terms of what sound waves are produced, covering square, triangle, saw, reverse saw, pulse, sine and white noise.
The third oscillator has its own section of controls with six waveforms to choose from, tuning and level controls.
It also has an FM knob, which controls the frequency modulation from oscillator 3 to the other two oscillators.
To put it simply, the combinations of functions can yield a wide variety of different sounds.
One addition made for the Erebus v3 compared to the Erebus v2 is the triple ring section, which lets you use the pulse coming from oscillator 1 to alternate between triangle waves from oscillator 2 and sine waves from oscillator 3.
The combination creates some rich harmonic tones.
The Erebus’ 12 decibel filter is known in some quarters for its resonance that brings out low notes rather than obscuring them.
It has a 2-pole low/high-pass design with a slider to move continuously from low pass to high pass and knobs to control cutoff and resonance.
Although the Erebus v3 is primarily analog, it uses computers to generate the envelopes. These include an envelope dedicated to Amp, as well as assignable envelopes with looping capability.
It has an additional envelope compared to versions 1 and 2, further enhancing the variety of sounds the instrument can make.
It also has a built-in echo effect, with the ability to adjust the delay time before the echo.
The Erebus v3 also has 35 patch points, more than previous versions, including VCA, analog clock generator, and sample and hold.
It has both MIDI and CV inputs and outputs, so you can use it as a MIDI to CV converter.
Unlike the Subsequent 25, the Erebus v3 is a desktop synth. It’s 6.7 in. high, 13.7 in. long and 7.6 in. wide and weighs 5.2 lb.
With its wide variety of features and multiple possibilities for how these features interact with each other, the Erebus v3 is capable of a huge range of sounds, including some deep sub bass.
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