This in-depth FM8 tutorial video will show you one way you can go about designing an acid style bass synth that can be used in a broad range of music styles.
[aside title="Reinventing Acid!"]This type of acid style synth can easily be used as a lead or a bass depending on how you choose to modulate and process the sound![/aside]
This lesson is a bit long, so we will just summarize some of the key points in the FM8 tutorial video, as well as provide some helpful advice, and let you follow along with the video if you want to replicate the synth exactly.
In this FM8 tutorial video beginning with the FM Matrix, you will see that the routing is fairly complex, with plenty of feedback and modulation happening.
There are different waveforms used and oscillators have been detuned from each other to create movement and phasing along the way. In the end you will have Operators E and F routed to the main output, but panned in opposite directions to create a wider bass. There are simpler approaches to making a sound like this one, but this example will provide you will plenty of character and a lot of cool sounds to expose through different types of modulation.
The bulk of the work does happen in the FM Matrix, so once you have the main sound in place it is up to you, how you choose to modulate and/or process it. In this video an LFO is applied for movement, as well as a Shelving EQ to add more emphasis on the higher frequencies of this sound. You can try experimenting with keytracking on a sound like this to increase the rate of modulation as you up in octaves, and decrease the rate as your notes get lower. You may also find great success in layering more than one instance of this sound playing notes at different octaves for a much deeper sound.
One more thing to keep in mind with this type of sound and how it works in a mix. Be aware of how wide the sounds is, as well as how much phasing has been introduced. If there is too much of either it is easy for this sound to fail as a bass in a full mix. It can fall prey to phase cancellation, which results in the sound cutting out at point, or not be centered enough to cut through the mix without creating muddiness in the overall sound of the song. If used as a lead or backup synth, rather than a bass, you may also want to test out a small amount of reverb in the higher frequencies to help carry the sound forward. This style of sound can also do well with a small amount of saturation added after the sound design process is complete.
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