808 Bass and Beyond: SubLab

See how to use our new synth SubLab for the latest 808 style sub-bass tricks and techniques.

After over a year of designing and developing, SubLab is finally ready!

In our previous 808 Bass and Beyond posts we covered the origin and evolution of the iconic TR-808 and all the latest production techniques used to achieve hard-hitting, unique 808 style sub-bass sounds.

So much has changed since the release of the TR-808 in 1980, but that deep hard-hitting bass sound is more popular now than ever. Over the decades this type of sub-bass sound has become the underpinning of many genres and styles of music around the world.

The modern production techniques are constantly evolving, growing and becoming increasingly complicated.

This is why we created SubLab. Our aim is to push this iconic sound even further by streamlining popular techniques; creating oscillators and controls that are optimized and especially designed for dealing with sub-bass; recording and creating our own sample bank with only the highest quality samples of old school and modern analog drum machines to build your own unique sub-bass sounds; and collaborating with sub-bass experts to create 6 signature Bass Banks that offer release ready 808 subs.

With all that said let’s dive in and take a look at how we’ve streamlined the most popular 808 production techniques and made them easier to achieve with SubLab.

1) Turn any 808 kick into a hard-hitting 808 sub with the zero-crossing method

This technique comes up quite a bit on Youtube production tutorials, and it’s known as the Zero-Crossing method.

The basic idea is to load your 808s into a sampler and cleanly loop the sustained sine tone part. This turns your sample into a pitched instrument with control over glides, etc.

With SubLab, simply drag-n-drop your kick sample into the sampler. SubLab will auto-detect the pitch of the kick and place it on the correct root note of your MIDI keyboard. 

Then loop the sustained part of your sample. We’ve made it simple – when looping, SubLab’s sampler will snap to zero crossing by default and show you the smoothest looping points for any sample.

2. Tuning your 808 samples

When you start working with your 808 sample, you need to make sure it’s tuned correctly.

SubLab auto-detects the pitch of any sample you want to use, but you can also use the built in spectrogram which has a cursor that shows the nearest note and frequency. Simple as that!

3. Side-chain your kick and 808s

With 808 style kick basses, you want the attack thump to cut through the mix and have enough room to hit hard. One way to do this is to have a compressor that makes your sub-bass dip out when the kick hits.

SubLab has a built in side-chain compressor. Just enable side-chain mode and you’re good to go. 

4. Wide Bass

Traditionally, the rule is that sub-bass has to be mono. Our ears can’t hear the direction of low-frequency sounds. If your bass is stereo and then summed to mono during mastering, having stereo phase differences in your bass can cause one channel to cancel out the other.

However, rules are made to be broken. A technique that is getting covered a lot recently on YouTube is Wide Bass. Using a high-pass filter, sample delays and distortion you can add stereo interest to you sub-bass.

In SubLab, we’ve condensed this multi-step technique into a single control for instant wide bass.

Internally, we filter all the frequencies that are outside sub-range and break them into different bands. Each band is then delayed and fed back and forth between left and right of the spectrum.

Creating wide bass with SubLab’s dedicated control will add stereo interest that is especially optimized for bass.

5. Distort your sub-tone for hard 808s

Another popular technique to make your sub-bass more interesting is to high-pass filter your 808 and then distort it. 

If you high-pass filter before adding distortion, you’ll avoid generating harmonics from the lowest tones of your sub. Those low harmonics can make your bass muddy and lose focus in the mix.

SubLab comes with 4 types of distortion that you can use on your sample or the synth engine. Control exactly how much of the sample or synth engine you want to distort using the percentage sliders on the bottom.

That’s it for now! But we’ve got plenty more to show you soon.

We’ve got more SubLab tutorials on the way so if there’s a technique you’d like to see or if you have any questions about SubLab, comment below ?