Subtractive Synthesis with PreSonus Studio One's Mojito

With a name like Mojito you may suspect this subtractive synth included with PreSonus Studio One is going to be rather tasty.Gary Hiebner explores how to create bass sounds, including dubstep wobbles.  

An instrument that I really like in Studio One is the included monophonic subtractive synth, Mojito. What I like about it is that it has a really simple and clean user interface. You can dial in sounds very quickly. These types of subtractive synths work very well in designing bass sounds. Lets explore the synth and see what's possible with it.

Step 1 '" Getting To Know The Synth

The general idea behind subtractive synthesis is that the synth waveshape is attenuated by a cutoff filter, and in Mojito you can't miss the filter. It's the big round knob in the center of the interface clearly marking out its subtractive nature. For the waveshape you have a choice of a Saw shape (all the way to the left) or a Square shape (all the way to the right). In between will be a mix of the two waveshapes. This is found in the Osc section of the synth. It's a simple one oscillator synth, but you can dial in an extra sub oscillator.

On the Osc section you can edit the Pitch. The Width parameter changes the pulse width (when the Oscillator is in Square mode) of the sound. (Thanks to Ari Ahrendt for providing his correction in the previous sentence -Ed) Drag this to the left for a mono sound, and to the right for a wider spread sound.

The Width parameter changes the stereo width of the sound

The Width parameter changes the stereo width of the sound.

There is an LFO Speed under the Osc section. The speed of the LFO can be set to the tempo, or set manually. Under the Pitch, Wave, and Width are modulation dials that let you enter in how much of the LFO will be applied to these parameters. 

The modulation dials.

The LFO speed controls.

Under the Osc you have the Portamento, and next to this the Amp envelope for the synth. These allow you to further tweak the synth.

The Portamento and Amp envelope.

The Portamento and Amp envelope.

The most important section of this Synth is the Filter. The main dial is the Cutoff Frequency. Use this to subtract the cutoff frequency of the sound, and use the Reso to dial in the resonance peak at the cutoff frequency. You can also saturate the filter with the Drive parameter. And under the filter is an FX section that can be used to further enhance the sound.

The filter and FX section.

The filter and FX section.

Step 2 '" Creating a Bass Sound

Let's create a bass patch with this synth. Load up the plugin, it will come up with the default preset. Leave the pitch at its default position. Pull the Wave to 0.6 so it's a mix of the Saw and Square waveshapes. Now decrease the Width to 38%. You should be able to hear how this widens the bass sound, to give a fuller sound.

Let's create some Pitch modulation on the bass sound. Set the LFO Speed to 1/2, and then increase the modulation dial for the Pitch. Hear how the LFO now modulates the pitch of the bass sound up and down. If you pull the modulation dial to the left it will change the direction of the LFO modulation on the pitch. 

Applying pitch modulation to your sound.

Applying pitch modulation to your sound.

Switch between the different LFO Speeds for different modulation results. You can also modulate between these waveshapes. Try this out by changing the modulation parameter under the Wave dial. And the Width can also be modulated for more interesting results with the sound. Adding subtle width modulation can really beef up the bass sound. Now increase the Sub OSC to add in a low-end Sine oscillator to the synth sound.

What really works well with bass sounds is to introduce some portamento. This adds a nice glide effect between notes when you play them. Longer portamento notes will give very exaggerated glides between the note changes. You can choose between Legato mode; and Retrigger mode, which retriggers the portamento each time you hit a new note.

Now onto the filter. Drag the Cutoff down to about 2kHz.  Raise the Reso to halfway 50% to increase the resonance peak at the cutoff frequency. 

The Key changes the range of the cutoff frequency. Decrease this to hear how it affects the cutoff. When the Vel is increased, it'll open up the filter more when the notes are played with more velocity. Add some Drive to saturate the filter slightly.

The key now changes the Cuttoff frequency.

The key now changes the Cuttoff frequency.

Step 3 '" Using The LFO

Let's introduce some LFO modulation to the cutoff filter. Set the LFO Speed. It can either be set to the tempo or set manually. Now increase the speed and hear how the cutoff frequency is modulated. This can be used to create some nice dubstep-style wobbles. Increase the Reso for a more drastic filtered LFO wobble effect.

LFO modulation on the cuttoff filter can produce nice dubstep wobble bass sounds.

LFO modulation on the cuttoff filter can produce nice dubstep wobble bass sounds.

You could also automate this LFO speed on an automation track to create varying LFO speed changes in your song.

Step 4 '" Using the FX

The built-in effects can be added to your bass sounds to really give them more character. On the FX section increase the depth and it adds a chorus-style modulation effect to the sound. Set the Depth to 30%, and set the Color to 10. Drive pushes the effect harder and introduces more harmonics into the sound. Increase the Drive to about 44%. Increasing the Width on the Osc, can heighten the modulation FX applied to the sound.

The FX section.

The FX section.


So, in a nutshell, this is how to use the Mojito to create your own bass sounds in Presonus Studio One. The interface is very simple which allows you to dial in sounds very quickly. Also, making use of the Effects section and LFO modulation really adds interest to your bass sounds. Try these out and create your own Mojito presets for your productions.

For more music production tips and techniques with Studio One check out the following tutorials:

Gary Hiebner is an enthusiastic South African Sound Designer and Apple Tech Head! Gary has been involved in the South African music industry for the decade, and in this time has also been involved in the sound design and music production for many advertising agencies and media houses. Gary is a devoted Logic and Ableton user, but he al... Read More


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