Best synths for Reese bass

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We identify some of the top instrument plugins for creating Reese Bass, one of electronic music’s most ubiquitous bass sounds

Whether you listen to house or jungle, garage or liquid drum and bass, you’ll have heard the deep, dark tone of the classic Reese bass sound in one form or another. The huge wall of low end is just one of those sounds that fills out a club like no other, hence its popularity in such a wide range of genres.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how to create your own Reese bass, while giving you a steer on some of the most suitable plugins for the job.

What is a Reese Bass?

This simple, sustained bass sound is named after the track Just Want Another Chance, by Reese, which happens to be a pseudonym of the techno pioneer Kevin Saunderson. The Reese sound is characterized by its persistent tone and timbre, with some subtle pitch and volume movement.

After its conception in the aforementioned track, the Reese bass went on to find its fame in the world of jungle drum and bass after it was sampled in Renegade’s track Terrorist – P.A Mix.

How to Make a Reese Bass?

The sound is built around two equally detuned oscillators, usually around 30 cents in each direction, thus creating a sort of rhythmic beating. Sine waves, triangles or saws are all capable of creating compelling Reese basses, although the latter wave shapes will need to have their high end filtered out with a low pass filter in order to provide the low end content that the Reese bass is renowned for.

It’s a relatively simple bass sound to synthesize, and it’s a case of less is more; small additions and details can really enhance the quality of a Reese bass. For example it’s common to apply some drive or saturation in order to add harmonics to the signal, or adding a sub oscillator in addition to the two detuned ones to thicken the sound and add more low end. But which of the huge selection of synthesizers are best equipped to conjure up these enormous bass sounds? Let’s take a look.

Best Synths for Reese Bass

Arturia – CZ V

It’s only right that we start with a software emulation of the synthesizer that Saunderson’s original Reese bass was made with, the Casio CZ 5000. Technically, Arturia’s CZ V is modeled on the Casio CZ 1 and CZ 101, but architecturally and sonically there are few differences between the models.

Arturia Casio CZ V

All of these instruments were built around the premise of phase distortion, which is known as FM’s less-complicated cousin. Because of this, they’re able to produce hugely varied and complex sounds. In the case of Reese bass creation, key features include two detune-able synth lines, a separate noise oscillator and huge scope for modulation including ring and noise modulation as well as a vibrato section. There’s also a deep FX section packed with a chorus, multimode filter and overdrive modules, perfect for adding that finishing touch to your sounds.

For that authentic Reese bass sound, grab Arturia CZ V now and start synthesizing.

Xfer – Serum

Next up, we’re taking a look at a synthesis stalwart within the world of electronic music production. Xfer’s Serum is considered to be a bit of a Swiss army knife of synthesizers. Being a wavetable synth with FM and AM capabilities, along with a deep modulation matrix and FX page, there’s very little this synth can’t do.

Xfer Records Serum

Serum comes packed with oodles of premade wavetables, including some designed specifically with the Reese bass in mind. You can also make your own wavetables with the handy creator, or there are all the usual suspects for if you want to keep things simple. Add up to 16 voices of unison per oscillator, plus independent noise and sub oscillators, and you’ve got a synth capable of creating some of the thickest reese basses in all the land.

Get Serum now to start exploring a near endless world of sonic possibilities.

Native Instruments – Massive X

Having been around for over 15 years, this next synth should really need no introduction. Native Instruments Massive X was released in 2019 and took all of the sonic flexibility of its big brother, and brought it up to speed with today’s synth plugins.

Massive

Massive X ships with 170 wavetables to use across its two oscillator slots, so there are plenty of options for building the base of your sound. Deep unison options, a detailed modulation tab, a whole host of filters and modular insert FX can then be used to shape your sound to your heart’s content.

Buy Massive X now to access a vast sonic playground.

The Best Free Synths for Reese Basses

Vital Audio – Vital

The next plugin on this round up is sometimes referred to as a free alternative to Serum. Despite a different appearance, Vital has many of the same functions and features as Serum, and even some other useful features that set it apart from its counterparts.

Vital free synth

Most notably, Vital gives you an extra oscillator and an extra filter, making it ideal for taking further control over the thickness and overall tone of your bass sounds. If you want to quickly synthesize your own Reese bass without taking out your wallet, you can download Vital completely free now.

Tal Software – Tal-Noisemaker

This deceptively simple synth is a little more than meets the eye, and actually has a few tricks up its sleeve. Off the bat, the two detune-able oscillators and sub oscillator make it a prime candidate for generating deep and impactful bass. A choice of driveable filter types, a Juno-inspired chorus and built in bitcrusher circuit round off this free plugin.

TAL Noisemaker free synth

There’s also a custom mod window for drawing your own modulation shapes. Tal-Noisemaker holds its own against many more popular and more expensive plugins; its extensive feature-list makes it a must have for those wanting to program engaging patches on a budget. You can download Tal-Noisemaker now, completely free of charge.

What’s next?

If you’re interested in sound design, check out our Synths & Sound Design w/ D.Ramirez course. In this in-depth look at synthesis and sound design, D.Ramirez takes you through the art of synthesis and explains how to turn those sounds in your head into unique and signature sounds.

Go from the fundamentals of synthesis and basics to sound design, before learning how to recreate some signature sounds and methods for finding your own sounds.

Using a variety of native and third-party software and hardware, D.Ramirez will teach you how to approach any synth, software or hardware and understand how to craft fantastic sounds.

Synths & Sound Design w/ D.Ramirez

 

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