OBJECTIVE: Optimize the sound of bass tracks through creative signal processing.
BACKGROUND: Sonar 8.5 introduced the PX-64 Percussion Strip, but don’t let the name fool you: It also does some fabulous things with bass. However, you need to know which options work best for bass, and which are best-suited to drums.
1. To tighten up a bass note’s decay and make it more percussive, enable the Expander. Due to the fast release time, decays may distort with certain combinations of Threshold and Ratio; try a high Threshold, then set the decay with the Ratio control.
2. The Compressor can soften attacks and increase sustain. The compressor also has a fast release time, so set a high threshold (e.g., 6dB) and use the Ratio control to affect the attack and sustain.
3. Like that NIN distorted bass sound? So do I! Turn on input Saturation, and slide the brown Saturation fader all the way up. Use the input level control to set the amount of “crunch.”
4. You can change the bass attack radically with the Shaper by varying the Attack control. Turn counter-clockwise for a softer attack (yellow line), clockwise for a sharper one (superimposed red line).
5. You can have tons o’ fun with the Weight and Decay controls, but for minimal distortion on low notes, turn the Color controls fully clockwise.
6. And of course, EQ can be extremely useful for bass—but note that you can change its position in the signal chain. Try both pre/post Compression and pre/post the Shaper, as you’ll hear different effects.
-In Step 3, the Saturation and Input level controls interact. There’s also an output Saturation stage if you really want to pile on the distortion.
-Don’t forget to try this on drums, too!