How to Kick & Bass – Part II

1001 Ways to Rumble 

Today you are going to be introduced to a secret – the mysterious craft of techno rumble that is passed on for generations. 

Being new to the concept of rumble or not knowing about it at all when you start producing techno will leave you with a big question: How does everybody get this massive, growly, diffuse and mostly atonal bass? You will try different synthesizers and use low octave notes, maybe a lot of distortion, filtering … it will never sound right. Because the so-called rumble is made differently! 

There are actually so many ways … 

Techno Kick Rumble Chain

One of the most common ways is to use the Kick Signal itself and turn it into rumble. In this example we created an Audio Effect Rack on the Kick channel with two chains – one without processing for the clean Kick signal and one for the rumble. It consists of a reverb, an amp and an auto filter. This processing chain turns the Kick Drum into a massive wall of sound that gets heavily distorted. It is very important to use Amps “Mono” function! If you use another amplifier keep in mind that you might need to use Utility with “Mono” – be sure to never have a stereo signal in your sub bass (when producing dance music). With the Auto Filter it sounds useless, but we only need the very low end of this signal! Cutting away everything about 100 to 200 Hz will leave us with the legendary rumble we all love! 

By the way: Record the rumble chain into a new Audio channel – then you can delete the Audio Effect Rack on the Kick Drum and just go with the sampled rumble!

We have created a FREE Rumble Rack for you to plug&play into your tracks and make the most of your bassline! 

Techno Kick Rumble

In this example, we created a separate track for making the rumble. The MIDI Notes play a 16th note rhythm, triggering the Kick Drum in the Sampler. Again, the Amp is used for overdriving and compressing the signal and keeping it mono – and on the very end we low pass the whole signal again. This can provide more freedom in making rhythms and groove as you can place notes yourself.  

Rumble Techno

Another nice way to get rumble is using toms. This chain looks exactly the same as the one above, but this time we are using a very bass-heavy tom sample. This might result in a more tonal rumble, which can work decently in some situations or styles.  

Rumble Techno Granulator

This one is a little more creative and shows the infinite possibilities we have when it comes to rumble. I am using the Max for Life Granulator with a Kick Drum sample. MIDI Notes can be placed by taste and one thing you should try out here is adding Frequency Modulation (FM), as it can add interesting and rich overtones to your rumble, which can help it cut through the mix. 

Techno Kick
Techno Kick
Techno Kick
Techno Kick

One of the most important aspects about it is the frequency response. Compared to tonal basslines, typical techno rumble also does have a root note that is the loudest, but there is a lot going on around that. Maybe the frequency curves peak sits at 48 Hz for a deep F sharp rumble, but the bass response ranges from 40 to 100 Hz in an almost equally loud way. Still, tuning is important though! For more tuning tips check out Part 1 of this series. 

And please don’t forget to apply side chain compression on your rumble! The Kick Drum wants its space, and the rumble can fill the blankets, while in other situations shorter Kick Drums leave a lot of space and opportunity for massive rumbles. 

Pro Tip: A nice way to create unique and rhythmic rumble structures is to combine several rumbles. You can literally cut out the best pieces and put them together in new orders.  

Both, side chain compression and the editing tip, can result in clicking. This happens when bass waves amplitude is interrupted and suddenly is put to 0. The click is very audible, because there are no higher frequencies masking the click. When using side chain compression one way to work around that is using Lookahead with about 5ms or more. When editing and putting several rumble pieces together make sure to always use crossfades! 

The next part of this series will be about textures! Stay tuned. 

Until then, here is the FREE Rumble Rack for Ableton once again :) 

written by Kos:mo for weltsound.