Ah, the bass. What an awesome (and oftentimes underrated) instrument. The anchor of a bands sound, the driving point in most electronic music and hip hop, an absolutely essential element to all funk music, and the link between all the instruments and the drums. Percussive, raw, gritty, and funky. Many producers of the modern recording era often times find themselves pondering, what exactly is the best bass VST?
How do I get that thick, raunchy tone so crucial in so many genres? How do I get that sub sound for EDM, or how do I get funky slap bass for soul, hip hop, and funk tracks? In this article we will look at a variety of options available for bass plugins to get you dropping bass bombs in no time! Read on for some of the best bass VST plugins available on the market right now!
One of the newest entries in the bass VST plugin world is Sublab by Future Audio Workshop. It only took a few days for us to fall in love and make this our go to plugin for 808 and sub bass! What makes this thing so genius is that it is truly a one-stop-shop for anything subby. You are not only choosing from a variety of waveforms that can be shaped with filters, amp envelopes, distortion, etc. There’s the possibility to layer kick samples for more punch or even import your own custom 808 samples and just use the processing on those.
Further tone shaping can be done with the X Sub function, which is basically like Waves RBass, LoAir, etc – introducing harmonics so your sub bass can be heard on cheap headphones, etc as well. If you are making trap, future bass, edm or any other bass heavy music, then Sublab should be in your arsenal!
Rob Papen Sub Boom Bass. $99.
Rob Papen should be a familiar name to all music producers who dabble in virtual instruments. He has tons of virtual synths available on the market, but as far as bass is concerned, Sub Boom Bass is the way to go. Sub Boom Bass has it’s similarities to Predator (another Rob Papen VST). Two oscillators share sixteen analogue inspired wave forms, but with Sub Boom Bass you’ve got an extra 39 wave forms to use! These additional wave forms were crafted by sampling various instruments, with the pitch brought down.
Many users can attest to the quality of the sound this synth offers, and the presets that are immediately available can prove very useful in spurring some inspiration as you begin to delve into using this VST for the first time. This VST is suitable for a variety of genres, given the depth of the tones and the power of the sound, so whether you’re looking to craft some chilled out hip hop, high energy electronic music, or pulse pounding synthwave, Rob Papen’s Sub Boom Bass is likely a good choice!
Native Instruments Massive. $149.
Although dubstep has come and gone, the more loyal dubstep producers continue to make those crazy chaotic bass lines. It is a genre that was quite obviously over saturated to a point you’ll hear “poor man’s dubstep” in a wide range of mainstream media outlets – car commercials, cell phone advertisements, movie soundtracks. While it isn’t quite as popular as it once was, dubstep is here to stay for the long haul for those who utilize the techniques and sound in an interesting and unique fashion. Native Instruments Massive is a great instrument to get those “WOMP, WHIR, WHUCKA WHUCKA” tones that dominate the dubstep sound.
While lots of bass VSTs are modelled after analogue classics, Native Instruments have created something truly unique with Massive, and many EDM producers swear up and down it’s THE most important VST to acquire. Massive offers a variety of unique sounds crafted by the wave table oscillators, and affords users the ability to visually drag and drop modulations, a task that would prove daunting on most synths due to the excessive programming it would require. There’s a sheer endless amount of Massive Presets, which is a major selling point for me. Everything from gritty drones to booming sub bass is offered through Native Instruments Massive, so if you plan on crafting electronic dance music of any type, particularly dubstep, this will likely be the stand out choice for you to go with.
Massive is included in their primary bundle called Komplete. And although they have other plug-ins in that package besides bass plug-ins, I have never once regretted all of the material that is at my fingertips, ever since I purchased Komplete. I highly suggest that you check out the current pricing as well as all of the amazing customer reviews from people that now own this amazing software!
UPDATE: Native Instruments has just released Massive X, the much anticipated successor of this bass VST. We haven’t gotten our hands on it yet, but if it’s anything like the original, then you should look into it!
Chris Hein Bass. $200.
Chris Hein is another name that will likely ring a bell. Chris is a specialist in the field of sampling actual instruments and creating software instruments for producers the world over to utilize. Some times a sub bass isn’t what you’re looking for – you yearn for something realistic. Something that sounds organic. But not everyone can slap the bass like some kind of funky delirious priest. And that’s where virtual instruments that sample real instruments come in – like the instruments Chris Hein develops.
This virtual instruments comes with a staggering 12.7 GB of sampled content, so be weary if your computer or laptop is low on space. It also features 42 articulations, which makes it possible for producers to create bass lines that sound more realistic, even to the point of tricking untrained ears into believing someone is actually slapping the bass, as opposed to pushing a few keys on a MIDI controller. Chris Hein Bass also includes 8 built in effects to beef up your sound.
Be advised, this is a rather expensive plugin, costing nearly three hundred dollars, and you must have Kontakt to use it. But if you’re looking for a realistic sound and don’t have access to (or don’t know how to actually play) a bass, this might just be the golden ticket of bass VSTs you crave! With the necessary space available on your computer or laptop and the budget to afford such a product, this could be a great virtual bass to add to your arsenal of soft synths. This software is truly amazing, I suggest that you check out the current pricing of it to see if it is up your alley.
Looking for something a bit more retro? Something a bit more ‘dated,’ and less ‘modern’ and ‘mainstream?’ Your weapon of choice to craft such bass tones may very well be the SQ8L. The SQ8L is modeled after the Ensoniq SQ80, a synthesizer that is decades old and is especially insteresting if you are into lo-fi beats and vaporwave.
Even in the primary preset bank of the SQ8L, you’ll find a variety of interesting bass tones to choose from. From the raunchy and unique Snare Bass (good for a horror movie vibe) to the more funky tone of the slap bass (for those funky tracks), a lot of bass tones are available from this gem of a synth. Best part is, it’s entirely free! So whether you’re looking for a booming bass pad, a funky slap tone or even a low, sweeping pad, SQ8L likely has you covered. And at the price of free, it’s hard to pass on this incredible virtual instrument.
These are only a few of the many great Bass VST products available on the market. I encourage anyone looking into investing money into a product to conduct more research, listen to demos of each VST, and weigh each option carefully before taking the plunge. Bass is such an essential element of all musical genres, so be sure to carefully select the best bass VST plugin to suit your particular wants and needs.
With a bit of time investment and research, you CAN achieve the sound you’re looking for without breaking your bank, and even so never need to actually pick up a 4 string instrument. But at the same time it is hard to ignore the fact that the more expensive plug-ins make it much easier to find this sound that you are looking for. The developers for these plug-ins have really put in the time and effort to make the user interface intuitive and the software pretty much flawless.
If it is within your price range I would definitely recommend checking out Komplete! Happy hunting and happy producing, fellow music makers! Drop some cash and start dropping some infectious bass bombs – bring your sound to the next level, from funky G Funk hip hop to pulsing trance to mechanized, digitally dripping dubstep!
iPad Users: Check out iBassist for a dope Electric Bass sound.