How to Add That Elusive Liquid Element to your NI Massive Bass Synths

There is a certain wetness or liquid element that really works well in certain types of projects. This quick tutorial shares a few tips on how to incorporate it into your own NI Massive bass synths.

We have all heard that thick wet sound in some synths that conjures up images of mercury or molten metal while jamming out to a favorite song. There is no single formula that you can follow to add it to all of your sounds. But there are a handful of tips that you can use when designing your own NI Massive bass synths that will help. Before we jump right into the lesson, I’d like to point out a couple of things to be vigilant of while adding that liquid element to bass synths in general. Bass instruments tend to be problematic once they achieve a certain width, or if too much phasing, reverb…well, too much of anything can wreck a nice bass pretty quick if you don’t pay attention. So as you go through this lesson you may want to consider using a correlation meter or stereo spread meter of some kind. These will show you how your mass moves and if it’s staying centered or not.

So to start this one off, I have selected a few wavetables that may not be used together very much just to show how easy this technique is to use. A Digigrain II wavetable is loaded into OSC1, a default Square-Saw I wavetable is loaded into OSC2 and a Additive II wavetable is loaded into OSC3. All three oscillators are dropped an octave, which is pretty typical with NI Massive bass synths. Notice that the output of each of these oscillators has been set to Filter 1.

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The next thing I do is turn on the Restart Via Gate feature on the OSC tab, which will force the oscillators to start at the same point every time a new note is triggered. This is simply for consistency sake. Something to consider with NI Massive bass synths that are not heavily phased.

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Next, the total number of Unison Voices is increased to three and the synth is set to run in Monorotate mode with the trigger set to Always. The voices are also spread out a touch via the Pan Position feature for extra width, but not too much.

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Now a simple Modulation Envelope needs to be set up. This is fairly important in most liquid synths, as it allows us to control the delivery of sound by controlling one or more parameters at once. In this case we will be applying it to a filter. Agains, something to consider exploring with many different types of NI Massive bass synths, as it helps to provide a more human or natural delivery.

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Now that we have all of that set up, we can get back to the sound itself. A Scream filter is loaded into the Filter 1 panel, and the modulation envelope that was just set up is used to control the Cutoff knob. Then, a Comb filter is loaded into the Filter 2 panel. Notice that the filter panel has been set to run in Serial mode, rather than the default Parallel mode and that the output of the filter panel has been set to Filter 2 only. This means the sound routed from the main oscillators is run first through Filter 1, then through Filter 2, then to the output.

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These next steps really help to bring out the liquid qualities of many different types of NI Massive bass synths. First a Chorus unit is loaded into the FX1 tab. This is a good choice, as it generates movement, depth and width that we can exploit later. A dimension Expander is then loaded into the FX2 tab, providing more space for the sound to develop in, without the drawbacks of adding reverb to a bass instrument. This helps to keep it centered and avoid unwanted muddiness. The EQ unit is activated and used to Accentuate some highs and lows, while attenuating some potentially problematic mids. Again, this is in an effort to focus the sound and avoid muddiness.

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How to Add That Elusive Liquid Element to your NI Massive Bass Synths Tutorial by OhmLab 7
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A touch of feedback is introduced to help thicken the sound.

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Now a Sine Shaper insert effect is added, which not only enhances grittiness, but also imparts a nice thick viscous feel to this bass. Next, a Sample & Hold insert effect is added, which is a typical maneuver when designing this type of sound. The initial stretch it imparts is very liquid sounding in nature and the effect helps to exploit some of the things we added earlier. These same insert effects can be used together in creating many other NI Massive bass synth, too. But they excel with gritty and agressive sounds when being used to bring out more liquid elements in a sound.

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Below is a shot of a Correlation Meter and a Goniometer showing just how centered this bass is, as well as a short audio sample of the synth in action.

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  • John Smith

    amazing tutorial, better than any video i’ve seen, helps to be able to read each seting as it helps to know waht you’re doing ad then hear it to correlate.