August 23, 2013  |   Guest Artists, News, Tutorials

Friday Forum (not) Live! – DECiBEL: Creating the Sub-Bass in ‘G.A.P’ (Tectonic)

Due to key members of our broadcast team hightailing it off on holiday, for the next couple of weeks we won’t have Friday Forum as it’s usual live broadcast. Instead we have a couple of quality video tutorials for you lined up, starting with former Point Blank Student DECiBEL’s breaks down of how he created the sub-bass on his EP for influential Bristol label Tectonic. Tune in for this at 4pm BST HERE.

DECiBEL, who’s now exclusively signed to Mistajam’s Speakerbox imprint and has supported Jaguar Skills on eight consecutive tours and played at the likes of Outlook, Creamfields and We R Festival, originally completed a Point Blank Advanced DJ course 9 years ago. More recently he studied our online Ableton Sound Design course.

This exclusive insight from one of the UK’s rising production talents will be going live at 4pm BST today in the place of our live broadcast. Although it’s not live, if you have any questions for DECiBEL, leave them in the YouTube comments and we’ll get him to message you back.

Check DECiBELS latest Trap monster on Speakerbox below and stay tuned to our YouTube for another exclusive production insight, coming soon!

Pre-order DECiBEL “WOT” remixes from iTunes here (out on Speakerbox 15th September)

Video Transcription:

DECiBEL:  Hello everybody. My name is DECiBEL. I am an artist who’s signed to Tectonic records, SpeakerBox and FOUR FOURTY RECORDS. I tend to specialise in 140 bass music. I am going to take you through one of my tracks from last year called G.A.P. which stands for Gangster and Pimp. It came out on my debut EP for Tectonic last year. And I am going to show you how I make the sub-bass in it, because that’s the main thing that seemed to get everyone. All right.


Before I start when I do produce, I don’t really use motors [sounds like 0:44] or anything because I am normally traveling quite a lot so what I do I use production headphones. These are BeyerDynamic DT 880 PROs. These are actually really good, because they are semi-open so you can still hear some bass. Because on open headphones there’s not too bassy but then on closed headphones it means they can put a lot of pressure behind your ear which can ruin your hearing. Ableton is good to go. So just go to view and make it full screen. First of all, listen to the track.


This is G.A.P.


[inaudible 1:19-1:21]


Got a loop there, so what we’re going to do, we are going to create that sub and full discretion this sub is what I learned from watching two tutorials. One was a high ranking tutorial on bass and another was the Point Blank tutorial when you are going through battle from a middle U-track [sounds like 1:41]. See there yellow’s clicking away which means the computer is noticing it. Yeah. First of all I made it MASSIVE. I think I know how to make this from scratch. Drag MASSIVE onto there. Go back to the original one. I’ve got some saturation on there and some compressor.


Again, I’ve only been producing for about 18 months to two years and I think this one of the  second or third tracks that I’ve ever made so even I’m quite depressed and I’m always looking at this.


Go back to MASSIVE. So first of all.




We need to change the wave to a sine triangle. Sine waves are really nice, because sine waves are really subby. And we’ll change the wave position. See how the sound changes when you change the wave position because you’re starting on different points of the wave? I believe I hit down there. Yeah. That is really subby. I push the levels up on all of these. The reason you push the levels up what it means is that when you are holding the key it’s not going to go down on the level. It is just going to stay at that level for the whole time of the duration that you hold that midi note down. I think I had this one up as well. And I had that one up as well. Strangely, I had this one down. And it had a harsh attack. I have a small release.


Let’s go back to that reference. Yeah. Had a very, very short release on it. And then this was dragged over onto the pitch of one and if I go like crazy. You can see how it’s affecting the pitch. The attack falls away really quickly that’s because it has a harsh attack but a really low level and a short release. Actually, I don’t think I have a decay on that. Yeah, and I shortened the decay as well. There you go. You just want a little knock on the pitch you don’t too much. You don’t want it going mental. That sounds quite rigid and quite straight right now. And with music especially in bass music as well I don’t like things too rigid or too straight. You want as much movement as possible. Just like Teddy Riley [sounds like 4:03]  or Netrich [sounds like 4:04] production or Timberland [sounds like 4:05] production. It’s always movement. It’s always movement in like the bass, in the percussion. Everything. Say you watch Elvis Presley swinging his hips it wouldn’t be on point you wouldn’t quantize it. Watching girls twerk, can’t quantize that. It’s movement. It’s nice, movement is sexy.


So what I do, I put a small L-F-O in the sound. Probably go to like eight. Bring that there. You can see there. If you go to extremes. Wobble, wobble, wobble. I can, also, do a Dub-Step track. We don’t want that much. We just want a little bit, so it is not too rigid. Not even that much. But even when it’s like you can see, zero points. You can just about hear it start wobble away, and it gives it a bit on movement. So it not just hitting you straight. It’s got movement, it’s nice.


You can see me listening to it, you can really hear the knock to it. So what we’ve got here is an envelope for the end of the sound. You can see it’s there right now. And what I have for this is by increasing the attack you can see it’s more gentle as it rises up to the main level. And actually what else do I have on the envelope? Yeah. I had a low attack, and I increased the release, as well.  Okay with the middle. I’m going to increase the release, which means we let go of the key. The sound will still play for a little bit, so it’s like we are kind of morphing into jelly, into one. I think that’s pretty much the same. So there you go.


This is like, sometimes you can look at things like MASSIVE and synth stuff and that and you can think like, that’s really scary how to get the sound. But obviously I made this when I was first starting out. By just using one oscillator, mucking around with a few envelopes putting a few L-F-O’s here. Look, I haven’t touched filters, amps, any of that crazy stuff. You can get a nice, warm bass sound, which just fills the room which can fill a club. And then, what else I did to this was, I added some saturation. Saturation is what you normally see in old school stuff where it’s like tape saturation, clip saturation, but with Ableton you can cheat. Let’s go here. And I will go to the saturation plugins and it looks like I warmed up the lows and I used mid-range fattener. So I will warm up the lows. Wow, see, nice. And fatten up the mid-range. Whoa. See, we are moving now.  And I had a compressor on it, which I side chained to the kick.


As I said, I made this – lower that down a little bit – I made this a while ago. I think if I did this again I’d probably do something like New York or what Ableton calls Brooklyn compression. And that’s like a parallel compression and that would be a new tutorial. So for now I’m just going to cheat, because Ableton’s version of New York compression, which is Brooklyn compression is actually quite cool. And what it does is just brings up all the low levels all to the same level and makes it warmer and fills up all the space. And the reason I can get away in this track with that in this track is that, move a bit further forward, it really is just sub and kick. So there’s lots of room to fill.




Back to the sound we are recreating. I’ll put some compression on it. That’s actually probably a bit too much, you can see how it warmed up all the dynamics. And basically that’s how I made G.A.P. Basically it. The track was hot, because like the bass everyone’s like Whoa this warmth comes in and you get that chest bass. It fills you in. And there you go and now we can all be gangsters and pimps. And have fun and twerk away.




Danny J.

Lewis:       At Point Blank Online, you’ve got two methods of interaction with your tutor. Firstly, you’ve got the weekly online master class which is in real time. Then also we’ve got feedback on your assignments, and that’s known as DVR. So the online master class is a one-hour session you get with your tutor every week. You can ask questions about lesson content and get instant feedback and also demonstrations on the fly from their computer desktop with our streaming technology. DVR stands for Direct Video Response, and the concept is really simple.


You upload your Ableton, Logic or Cubase project file to your tutor, he downloads it, and then he pushes record on the screen capturing software and it evaluates your work, so basically giving you one-to-one feedback.


You see all of the mouse movements and any parameter changes made by your tutor. It’s kind of like sitting in the studio over their shoulder watching what they’re doing whilst they work.


We’ve found the DVR process has truly revolutionised the way that we teach online, and the results speak for themselves.


Book your place on a course now by visiting