Neuro Bass Processing [Tutorial]


My name is Jago (HYQXYZ)
Nov 6, 2009
Antwerp, Belgium
09-09-2020: I recently stumbled upon this thread and noticed that the images and audio links were all broken. I used to host everything on a Dropbox public folder, but those were disabled years ago :) I've uploaded the audio samples to SoundCloud and recreated some of the images to fix some of the missing media. I left in the spelling mistakes, odd wording and bad production advice though ;)


I don't come here very often anymore but I got a lot of very valuable info and feedback here so I thought I'd share how I do neuro basses these days. This is by no means the perfect or 'right' way to do it, but should rather be approached as a set of building blocks to make your own processing chain.

The things you'll need for this are:
  1. Your favorite synth (I'll be using massive as an example)
  2. Camelphat link
  3. Ohmicide link
  4. A good EQ (I use FabFilter Pro Q, but any equivalent will do) link
  5. An (envelope based) filter. I suggest Filtershaper 2, but possibly others will suffice link
  6. Compression plugins of your choice.
Part 1 : Synthesis

Every starting patch should follow 3 criteria in my opinion.

1. As with all reeses there should be a good amount of movement.

The first logical thought here is of course to detune the oscillators you're using. This will create phasing that varies on every note you play (higher = faster), and creates that classic reesey quality.

Since I'm using massive as an example here you should know that this synth is based on wavetables. Take the image below as an example:

This is the reason I use a wavetable synthesizer to make neuro basses. Say I have an oscillator that uses the wavetable above. Changing the wavetable position (moving it to another wave via envelope or LFO modulation) would very easily create interesting and complex movement. In massive this is represented as the WT-Position knob on every OSC. You should do some testing yourself to see what wavetables in massive you find interesting, but good starting points for this are Scrapyard and Carbon. Slap an LFO or Envelope and the WT-position knob and hear that sweet techy goodness come to life.

Another thing you should definitely check out is the phaser in massive. It's a very powerful tool because when you couple it with the technique above, it can make the reese you have sound completely different and interesting by adding a little bit of phasing. Try putting an LFO on that too and see where it gets you. In later stages (when you have distorted and filtered your bass) try assigning the phaser to your Sub OSC (see later section), this can add very interesting harmonics that sound rad when distorted.

Other things to check out are of course unison, internal filtering, pitch cutoff and pitch bending.

2. A good sub layer should be present

This is something that I do , but a lot of people do it differently and therefore I assume my technique is not actually correct, but I'll leave it in ;)

In massive I'll always have one of my OSC's set to a sine. No modulation happens here, just a dry bass layer. I want this to be preserved throughout the processing and work as the basis on which the rest of the synth is built.

In my opinion it doesn't need any processing within the synth. The only thing I might do is go to the routing tab in massive and click the B next to the sub oscillator (bypass). If the internal processing of the synth then takes away too much of the sub, I can simply open up the bypass gain a bit to let some of that clean sub through.

3. Crispness and high end

This goes hand in hand with the first requirement, and if you apply the wavetable technique you probably have high end and crispness covered already. The reason this is so important is because we're going to be doing some pretty aggressive filtering later on , which will take away some high frequencies. The more there are present the easier it will be to bring the crispness back after filtering. Make sure there's a good mid and high layer going on because I can guarantee that this tutorial makes no sense for stuff that is just sub based.

Here's a 128kb/s example of what I usually start with:
pre-processing sample link

Part 2 : Processing

First thing you notice in the example is that it sounds kind of bland, digital and cold. We can solve that by adding some tube distortion This is where camelphat comes into play. Camelphat has an excellent tube distortion , turn it on just a little bit and you'll immediately hear the sound warming and fattening. You can also play a bit with the Mech distortion and the exciter.

Next up is ohmicide. After you've applied camelphat things will sound warmer, but it'll still sound like the raw oscillators. Put an ohmicide on and we'll start to seriously deform the sound. The cool thing about ohmicide is that it works in bands, removing the need for me to frequency split the reese. So I usually just keep the sub clean, and put one band from the low mids to high mids, and one on the highs. This leaves us with one clean band , and two to distort. Turn up the gain on the two distortion bands and start experimenting! Ohmicide is a great distortion plugins because it has an amazing amount of distortion types that add a lot of character to a sound. You can use this control:

to select between all the different types. And the 'shape' button to adjust how aggressive the distortion is. To select the right distortion it's mostly just a process of trial and error, just click through them all and see what sounds best for you. Once you've done this a couple of times you'll know where to start looking. There are a couple of distortion types in ohmicide which add magical artificial crunchy noise stuff, definitely try that on the high end :)

Once you've got the sound distorted, it's time to filter!

Filtering is quite possibly the most important part of the whole bass. We start of with a bland monotone sounding reese and are left with an amazing warping sound. This is however also the hardest part since it is different for every synth. Some combinations might work for one synth but suck for the other. This is why you should never try to just re-use a chain on every synth you make, it just won't sound right.

The thing we really want is movement , we want the bassline to speak and form a punchy warping unity with the drums. The filtering type that supports this the most in my opinion is band passing. Try drawing an envelope with some nice peaks, wobs and warbles and assign it to the cutoff of a bandpass filter. You should now have some basic movement going , but it probably sounds very flat and a lot of the fatness disappeared. You can accentuate your movement by also assigning that envelope to the resonance of the bp filter. This should sound a bit more aggressive already. The strength in filtershaper however is its support for parallel filtering, which means we can layer another filtered or unfiltered version of the sound underneath. For example , missing bass -> add a lowpassed version of the sound , missing highs -> add a hi passed version of the sound , and automate its volume with the same envelope as the cutoff from the bp, and so on. This is also a process of trial and error and it will take some time before you understand what ingredients make a good filtering. (Source: I still suck at this :D ) Interesting filter combos are the ones mentioned above but also , BP & Peak and BP & BP.

Even If you've done everything right , filtering will probably leave kind of a mess. You'll have the movement you desire but it almost always costs you something in return. 90% of the time this will either be bass or highs (or both). But this is not necessarily a problem if you put the right safety measures in place. As said in part one , we made sure the synth already had some good highs , so the chances are slim all of the high frequencies will be gone. These can be brought back with some aggressive post-filter EQ'ing. Boost the shit out of the highs and hear the sound come alive again. Boosting frequencies like this might sound like a bad Idea but I find that it often actually sounds really cool. Bass is something that can be brought back by using one of two techniques:
  1. First one is bouncing out the bass once you're done processing it, high passing it an then layering a low passed version of the original, unprocessed synth underneath it.
  2. Second one is the same technique but without bouncing (I prefer this personally). To do this just send the unprocessed bass to a second channel, low pass it there and turn the volume off. Once bass starts to disappear in your main processing. start turning up the volume on the lowpassed version as you desire.
Once you've done this, it's time to clean up. EQ comes first, take out all frequencies below 20Hz, they just add rumble and you don't want that. I always tend to boost highs a bit here too, clarity is key in these reeses. If you have a mid-side compatible EQ, high pass the side at +-100 hz, making the bass mono. Other alternatives for this are iZotopes Imager or TP Basslane. See 6:10 of this video to learn why.

After that bounce and compress! I'm not good at compressing so I'm not going to go into that because I don't want to give you bad info :)
If everything went right you should be left with something like this (again 128kb/s):

Post processing sample link
Post processing sample link 2

I hope this was a little bit useful, happy processing!

Last edited:
I hope this was a little bit useful, happy processing!

HYQXYZ! your a fucking legend mate, great explanation for somethig a lot of people get lost with.

to extend a couple tips, modulating with a ~%50 resonant highpass and a low feedback, high intensity flanger can quickly give you a more vocal reese, especially with camelphats bandpass linking. A boost at ~300hz helps a lot to by boosting the lower formant.

big ups man, love your work! post here more often eh? :)
ok, not preset hunting, but, how do I get something just a wicked as a starting sound? don't really use massive that often and seem no to be getting a nice start off...
ok, not preset hunting, but, how do I get something just a wicked as a starting sound? don't really use massive that often and seem no to be getting a nice start off...

The pre sample sounds a bit too fat since it's in 128kb/s and it's recorded quite loud. This sound was made by applying the techniques I spoke of in part one , I think this is 1 sine osc , one scrapyard and one carbon.
Scrapyard and carbon are detuned , and their wavetable positions are automated. I think I also set the osc mode to bend +- and automated the intensity knob on those two OSC's.
There's also a phaser on one of the two OSC's (of which the amount is also automated). But I think it was no more than that , maybe some internal distortion and I think I got the unison voices set to 2, but I think that was about it :)
Bookmarked for some fun later today (if it's not to damn hot in the studio later today.... Freaking heatwave were I live right now) nothing worse than dripping sweat all over your desk wile making music. Not to mentioned computers and all other audio equipment don't like the heat. I need to move to Alaska or something..

:: sent from android with tapatalk ::
Jesus fuck I actually can't believe how much difference your processing made, need to up my shit! Thanks for the tips, knew most of that but it's interesting how you add you'r sub and High end back in, will be giving that a go for sure!
here we go...

Ok, I made a massive patch with the tips from horace111,

It has some automation on the osc1 position and de mod osc phase. also an external eq with some automation. just a simple sweep.

Massive goes to 1 fx channel wich is split into 2. one low one mid high.

the low channel only has an eq on it highpass @ 50hz en low pass @ 150

the high mid channel starts with an eq highpass at 150 hz. after that,

camelphat --> ohmicide --> filtershaper --> eq ---> ohmicide --> eq ---> eq

they come together in a fx channel. on wich there is an eq rolling off some low end.

all the camelphats and ohmicides are doing what horace111 describes in his openingpost.

the filtershaper has a bandpass and notch running in serial with some lfo to the filter cut off.


and the massive patch... patch.ksd?dl=0
For anyone still struggling with this just a word, all my sickest stuff has come completely by accident so keep fiddling, automate loads of random param9ers, loop random bits, slap some random plugins on a bus and send some of signal there etc.
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