Make a Wobble Bass
The wub-wub-wub of the wobble bass is an essential sound in drum ‘n’ bass and dubstep production. Essentially, a wobble bass uses a low frequency oscillator (LFO) to automatically open and close a filter, often in time with the beat. This effect is usually produced using the LFO inside the synthesizer, but you can also use a separate filter plugin to wobble the bass.Operator
Load up an Operator bass patch. In this example, we’ll use the “Foog M 1” preset. Click the “LFO” box to turn it on, then deselect the A, B, C and D boxes in the LFO window. Select the “Filter” box: this should be the only box that’s highlighted.
Play and hold a note, then start turning up the “Rate” knob in the LFO section. As the LFO rate increases, the wobbling will get faster. When you’ve found a rate that you like, adjust the “Amount” knob to control how much the LFO affects the filter. A low LFO amount produces a subtle pulsing sound; a high amount makes a more dramatic effect. Adjust the “Freq” knob in the Filter section to change the tone of the bassline. The lower the frequency cutoff amount, the deeper the tone of the bass will be.
If you want to make the bass wobble in time with the beat, switch the LFO to “Sync” mode and set the Rate knob to “1/8.” The filter will now open on every eighth note. Try changing the LFO’s shape to produce different wobble effects.
Load up Analog’s “Motor Bass” preset. Click the “LFO1” button to turn it on, then click the “Hz” button next to LFO1. Turn the “Rate” knob to around 2.2 Hz:
Click the “Fil1” section. Drag the “LFO1” control in the “FreqMod” section up to about 1. Drag the “Freq” knob down to around 300, then play the bass to hear the wobble. Adjust the Rate knob as needed; as with Operator, you can also synchronize the LFO with the beat.
Because Analog has two filters, you can use two LFOs to create more complex wobbles. Click inside the “Fil2” section, then set the “LFO2” control in the “FreqMod” section to around 500. Drag the “Rate” knob just above “LFO2” up to 7 Hz. Play a note on Analog; you’ll hear a faster secondary wobble overlaid on top of the main one.
To apply a wobble effect to a sample — or any sound source that doesn’t have a routable LFO — use the LFO on Ableton’s Auto Filter plugin. Drop an Auto Filter onto the bass track, then turn its “LFO” control all the way up and its “Phase” knob to zero. Move the filter cutoff point downward (try somewhere around 500 Hz to start with), then adjust the “Rate” knob to set the speed of the wobble: