Creating a Big Sub Kick in NI Massive
In this tutorial, Sam Matia of EDMProd.com shares how to create a Big Sub Kick in NI Massive. Sam has been a longtime reader of the site, and has contributed a couple of tutorials which have been featured here as well. We’re happy to be able to off another one of his great tutorials, and we hope you enjoy it as much as we do! Now onto Sam…
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months – you would have heard this sound. Simply go onto the Beatport homepage and enjoy. I’m talking about that HUGE sub kick that everyone’s raging about. You know, Martin Garrix – Animals, EPIC, etc. It might not be 100% accurate, as I know many people use other VSTs to achieve this sound (Bazzism + samples), but hopefully you can get some idea of how to build a nice kick in Massive.
Native Instrument’s Massive is a very versatile synth. People will argue and say that it’s horrible for building drums in, but I beg to differ – you can achieve many quality percussive sounds from this synth.
So if you can’t be bothered watching the video, or just prefer to read – then this is your section. I’m using FL Studio 11 in this tutorial, but it really doesn’t matter what DAW you use. This sound is done completely in Massive without any external effects or plugins (though they can certainly help with achieving a more ‘full’ sound).
Step 1 – Notes and Osc Shape
First and foremost you’re going to want to input your notes. I chose four notes sitting at C3 in FL’s Piano Roll (you may need to adjust this later depending on your DAW).
NOTE: Make sure the notes don’t overlap, and make sure they’re the full length of the beat; otherwise you’ll start running into problems when we build our envelopes.
We’re only using one oscillator for this sound. If you think you can incorporate more, then feel free to – after all, we’re all about creativity! For this sound I chose to use Massive’s Sin-Square wavetable, moved all the way to the square position. This is also a good time to move your OSC’s pitch up. I chose to move it up to 60. (Note that this won’t sound anything like a kick yet).
Step 2 – The Performer Envelope
We’re not going to use the default amplitude envelope (4 ENV) to shape our kick sound. Instead, we’re going to use the performer. This method isn’t new, it’s explained very well in this video.
Muting the Amp Envelope
First thing we need to do is mute the amp envelope. The ‘AMP’ section is located in the top right of the Massive plugin. To mute it, just right click on the blue number 4, and click ‘mute.’ It should turn grey. Sorted!
Drawing the Performer Envelope
We’re going to draw an envelope in a Performer (PERF) section in order to avoid clicks and other common problems that can occur when building kicks with standard envelopes. After drawing our envelope curve, we’re going to negatively modulate our OSC’s wavetable position (Square to Sine).
- Click on the PERF tab (it should be 7 by default)
- Click on ‘Load Curve’, then choose the straight line curve (3 down from the top, far left)
- Start from the number 3, and drag across. You should have something that looks like this:
Next, load the same straight line curve into section number one.
Finally, for section number two – load the soft curve (3 from the left, top), and move it all the way up. You should be left with this:
Step 3 – Modulating the OSC’s Amplitude
Now we’re going to make our kick sound more like a kick. Well… Sort of. After drawing the performer curve, uncheck the ‘Load Curve’ button to gain access to the ‘rate’ knob. Turn this up to around 2-3 o’clock. Next, you’re going to drag the performer onto the box underneath the Amp section in OSC1. Click, then drag all the way down to negatively modulate the amp knob.
Our kick should now have some sort of decaying character to it. But still, it doesn’t sound much like a kick, does it? Don’t worry. We’re getting there!
Step 4 – Pitch Modulation + More Envelopes
This is basically the final step! After doing this you’ll have what sounds like a kick.
1. Change 1 ENV to something similar to this
2. Now we’re going to modulate the pitch of our OSC to -24 by dragging 1 ENV to the box underneath our pitch (which should read 60), and dragging downwards.
3. You’re also going to negatively modulate the wavetable position of OSC1, similar to what we did with the Amplitude.
NOTE: The negative pitch modulation may not stay at -24. This is something that you’ll play around with at the end until you get the result you desire.
Yet another negative pitch modulation
Time to draw envelope 2! We’re almost finished. Envelope 2 should be very similar to envelope 1, apart from the fact that the decay should be a little higher. See below.
Now it’s finally time to make it sound like a kick! Simply drag the second envelope over to the box underneath our last pitch modulation. Take it down to somewhere around -34 (or wherever sounds good). Keep in mind that you may not be able to hear this if your speakers or headphones struggle to produce low-end frequencies.
Your final OSC1 setup should look something like this:
We’ve got a kick!
An Important Note
If the initial attack sounds too high pitched for your liking, then just lower the first pitch modulation (the one modulated with 1 ENV), if the decay is too high pitched, or too low pitched – then adjust the second pitch modulation.
Final Adjustments and EQ
If you want to make your kick sound a little nicer, then it’s always good to add some EQ, especially considering we made this purely in Massive. First things first though, if your kick doesn’t have enough decay – all you need to do is go back into the PERF tab, and adjust the rate knob. Turning it to the right will shorten the kick’s tail, and turning it to the left will lengthen it. Make sure you don’t turn it too much to the left or you’ll get an ugly, lazer-ish sound!
I did some quick EQ in Massive to improve the sound.
Tips, Tricks, and Wrap-up
There’s a lot more post-processing that can be done after making this sound. You can add multiband distortion, reverb, saturation – all kinds of stuff! But I’d like to keep this DAW friendly and also keep it under 2000 words, for your sake.
Here’s a few tips that I’ve compiled in a list:
- Play around with different wavetables. For example: Smooth Square gives off a nice distorted hardstyle vibe.
- If the decay is too quiet, consider automating the master volume of Massive.
- Sometimes a sub bass sidechained to a shorter kick may work better.
- Play around with both pitch modulations to tune the kick with your song (if you’re using it in a song).
- Add another OSC and try to make it fit!