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Making a Techstep Serum bass

In this tutorial, I will teach you how to make a Tech Serum bass. When mentioning Techstep, you probably think about futuristic, dirty but clean and energetic Bass. It is all about sharp movements and precise engineering. That is exactly what I am going to show you. I will only be using Xfer Serum plugin without external effects. I will leave effects and resampling to you so you can experiment and get something unique. This tutorial will show you how to get basic sound design for techy bass which you can then later on resample.

First of all, we are going to focus on Oscilliator A. Waveform we are going to use is Reese. I also said we need a big sound, so we are going to set Unison on 7. Detune knob will be slightly reduced since we are getting alot of phasing. Also, turn up the Unison Blend knob all the way up, to get more thicker and wider bass. Oscilliator A is now done.

Lets bring on Oscilliator B now. Waveform we are going to use will be dist d00t. We aren’t going to mess alot with it because of phasing. We are simply going to leave it like this for now because it sounds good.

Lets also bring up the sub oscilliator. You could remove low frequencies with filter and add your own bass later on, but since we will bring on the filter and modulations, I simply find it better to work with this sub, and then split it when adding further effects and resampling. Sub will have movement and you can process it with your own effects.

Now fire up the filter. I have picked French LP and this is basically most important part of the patch, simply because it will add movement to the sound. So, route oscilliator A, B and Sub through filter, turn on Drive on 60% and set cutoff on about 20 Hz. Resonance should be on about 20 %.

LFO1 is the automation we are going to use. If you have Midi keyboard with knobs, you can right click on a parameter (cutoff in this case) and press MIDI Learn. Then move a knob and it will respond to the paramater. That way you can experiment with your hands a bit to try and get a movement you want.

Route the automation to cutoff by pressing the button on LFO1 with left click and then pressing the cutoff with left click.

I have decided for a 1/2 rate and something like this.

Since we need more movement lets also apply this envelope to WT position of Osc A and lets warp the Osc B by pressing Asym + and also applying the envelope.Now we got some movements in our bass which will keep it interesting. This is fundamental so your sound doesn’t get dull and actually has some groove in it which is important.

Now lets add some effects which are included in Serum. We are going to bring the EQ and boost lower and higher frequencies. Hyper/ Dimension is next but we will only need dimension to make our bass a bit wider. Put size on 10 % and increase Mix on 50 %. Also add a bit distortion. We are just going to use default distortion patch. Add flanger for a little bit more movement in bass. It shouldn’t be much, just a bit. Effects rack should look something like this now:

In the lower right corner, you can set your patch to be mono, since it is bass. We will also add portamento so that notes can glide when we play them. I have set it on about 400 ms.

For external effects, I would recommend now to split your bass into three parts. Low, mid and high frequencies. Keep your sub clean, punchy and mono, mid energetic and dirty, highs should be clean. I would now distort sound and then filter it again for more movements. You can also automate more parameters such as volume, distortion, filters, chorus and so on. Layering is another option for keeping things interesting. Filling out the main bass with little layers is the best technique for me. Altough layering is good, mixing down will be tougher so prepare for those problems and be patient.