Sub-bass sounds, 808-based kick drums, and 808 basslines are an essential part of many electronic music genres. While they sound great on big sound systems and studio monitors, they tend to disappear when played on small speakers like the ones from a laptop, earbuds, smartphones, etc. In the next tutorial, we’re going to show you a few tricks to make 808 basslines sound more prominent and present on small speakers.
Here is a previously made sequence in our SoundBridge: DAW. We have a Trap style pattern that contains a basic 808 bassline.
Let’s first hear how it sounds without any processing.
~808 Bassline – Unprocessed
If you are listening on studio monitors or a sound system that can handle very low frequencies, you might find the 808 sounds pretty massive. However, our goal will be to make it sound as good as possible on smaller speakers as well. To do this, we need to accentuate the higher frequencies of the sound. This we can do with saturation, enhancing transients, or a combination of those.
Enhance the transients and saturate the mids
The first tools we are going to use are a transient shaper followed by a compressor. The setup will further enhance the transients.
As you can see from the picture above the transient shaper’s attack parameter is increased to about 15%, since the original sound already has a decent amount of punch. After that, we have added a compressor where we set a medium attack and synchronize the release time according to the original sound. The threshold and ratio are also adjusted to taste.
~808 Bassline – Processed With Transient Shaper & Compressor
After we have our transients enhanced the way we want, we will duplicate the channel of our 808 bassline. On the duplicate, we will add an EQ where we cut all the low and high frequencies. In effect, this will leave us with just the mids. After the EQ we are going to add a saturator. This will limit the saturation effect to act only on the mid frequencies.
After setting the EQ and the saturation to taste, we can blend the duplicate track’s volume with the original sound.
This is the result.
~808 Bassline – Processed With EQ & Saturation
Here’s an additional touch you can do. Choose a kick drum sample, make it really short, and place it on the same spots where the 808 bassline notes are hitting. This will further increase the transients of the overall sound.