Drum Synthesis: Bass Kick

There are different ways to create a synthesized bass kick.
Here we will look at how to use a simple sine wave as basic raw waveform,
and sculpt that into a bass kick.

This typical bass kick sound might remind you to one of the most iconic drum machines in electronic music history.

VCV Rack is used in this example, but you can do this with any synth software or hardware of choice.
Provided you have the basic building blocks to work with:

Oscillator / Envelope / VCA

Lets start by patching the oscillator into the amplifier, this will result in an ongoing stream of sound.

Next, connect the envelope to the vca.
Each time a trigger is sent to the envelope, the vca will open and allow the sine wave to pass through according to the attack / decay settings. Tweak these settings until the desired bass kick sound is achieved.

This is the basic starting point of your newly created bass kick sound!
There are many creative ways that can follow from here on, which will further sculpt the kick sound.

For example one of the most common next steps, would be to add a pitch envelope if a pitch sweep is desired.

The cv/pitch needs to be connected to the volt/oct input of the oscillator, but will first pass through a vca.
This vca will then be controlled by another adsr, the adsr envelope settings will determine the amount of pitch sweep.

A broad range of kick sounds as well as toms / percussive sounds can be created, depending on how fast the envelope is set.
In general for percussive sounds you will want to have a fast reacting envelope.

Add a vcf or frequency shifter (or both) to the oscillator output, to change the timbre of the sound.
You could also experiment with a waveshaper and / or distortion, or mix in some noise.

This wraps up the article on how to synthesize a bass kick.
Don’t hold back on your imagination, let it go wild!

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