Reason 6: Pulveriser for Bass Modulation

What is Reason 6's Pulveriser? Why is it so darn good for Bass modulation? How can you create excellent DubStep wobbles using it? G.W. Childs answers all the above!  

The Pulveriser is a misleading little beast. Is it a compressor, or a distortion device? Really, it falls under the 'something else' tab. It fulfills both compression and distortion adequately, but it's the overall package—with its highly assignable modulation capabilities—that separates it from the crowd. 

It's great for percussion, voice, and definitely drums. But bass processing, in my opinion, is where the Pulveriser really shines. 

Its filter section for example, when mixed with the Squash, and Dirt can completely change the original sound behavior. A very basic sound can become something much bigger and dirty!

In this article, I'd like to guide you in creating a frequently used sound: a Dubstep style bass. You'll see how easy it is to create it with the Pulveriser.

Step 1 - The Bass Synth

Let's start off by creating a Subtractor synthesizer. This is a great synth for simple bass patches, and generally hits the mark pretty quick. 

sub synth

Make sure you initialize the Subtractor, by right-clicking on the Subtractor and choosing Initialize Patch.

Next, lower your polyphony to 1. This is just in case you want to play some complicated octaves and don't want note overlap.

Polyphony to 1

For the Oscillator section, lower Oscillator 1's octave down to 3. Then enable Oscillator 2, and keep it as a Sawtooth waveform as well, but change its phase polarity to negative (–). These settings will give us a nice 'octave-bass' with generous thickness. The phase setting on Oscillator 2 is going to make it even bigger with the next tweak!

sawtooth in OSC 2

Let's create some big thickness now: Go to the LFO 2 section and increase your rate to around 11 O'clock. This will cause phase modulation to occur in the Oscillator 2, which was set to a negative phase polarity. This is a great trick for thickening up basses. 

Big thickness!

In the Velocity section, lower the F.Env knob, so that the filter envelope is no longer affecting the Subtractor patch at all. Then raise your Amp setting, so that the patch is now highly sensitive to how hard you press a key on your keyboard in terms of volume.

Raised amp setting

Now, raise your Filter 1 Freq, almost all the way up where it's completely open. We will be using the Pulveriser for our primary filter. 

Primary filter

Finally, program a bass part that has dramatic velocity changes (hit some notes hard, some soft). I'd actually recommend drawing your pattern in if you can. Tempo should be around 140bpm.

Program a bass part

Step 2 - Insert the Pulveriser

Now, drop that Pulveriser in, and let's start tweaking! 

Insert the Pulveriser

First, turn the Squash up to about 2 o'clock. This will keep our very dynamic bass in check. Even though it's played with ranging velocities, we need it to 'seem' like it's being played at one level. The need for velocity will come up in a bit, trust me! Also, lower your release so that the compressor is closing up quick. We want that pumping bass. 

Turn up the squash

Place the Filter in LP12+Notch mode. This setting is great for the enhanced filter sweep effect, and then notch on the end gives it an additional phase shift that is awesome. While in this setting, take your Frequency down to 3 o'clock. 

Filter in LP12+Notch mode

In the Tremor section, set the rate to around 9-10 o'clock, un-synced. By keeping the Tremor LFO un-synced, we're ensuring a very wild modulation pattern. This can be tweaked at any point to your own taste, too!

The Tremor section

Turn the modulation knobs on the right and left of the Tremor section to around 2-3 o'clock. The knob on the left sends Tremor Modulation to the Filter, the knob on the right modulates volume. By setting these up, you can actually hear our modulation when you play your Subtractor, or run your sequence.

Adjusting modulation

Okay, if you play your Subtractor patch right now, you'll undoubtedly have an ongoing wobble. Now it's time to modify the behavior so that the wobble occurs randomly. 

In the Follower section, raise your Threshold to 10-11 o'clock. The higher the Threshold, the more dynamic the wobble will be. Next, raise your attack and release to somewhere midway. These adjust how fast the wobble will increase and decrease in speed over time and signal. 

Speed of wobble

Now, here's the real trick in all of this: we'll turn the Follower to Rate knob up to around 3 o'clock. This will make it where the Follower's signal determines how fast the Tremor modulates the filter and the volume. This means that the Follower is now turning up and down the modulation speed for you!

The Follower adjusts the modulation speed

You can also use the Trig button on the Follower to interrupt the modulation as well. 

Trig button will interrupt the modulation

All that's left now is to add in some drums! Try experimenting with your dynamics within your Subtractor more or less to get some really crazy modulation changes.

Sound Designer, Musician, Author... G.W. Childs has worn many hats. Beginning in the U.S. Army back in 1991, at the age of 18, G.W. began learning electronics, communications and then ultimately audio and video editing from the Department of Defense. Upon leaving the military G.W. went on to work for many exciting companies like Lu... Read More


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