Circle Tutorial 2 - Creating an Electro Synth Bass Sound

What is Covered?
A starter level tutorial, introducing how to create an electro synth bass sound.
Connecting modulation, using Circle's main synthesis modules and apply effects to the sound are covered.


As we have already discovered, creating your own patches with Circle is really straight forward.
Let's take a look at another basic sound to help you get more familiar with Circle's environment. Synth bass sounds are possibly the most popular patch on any synth. As a budding synthesist creating your own bass sounds is a must..

Let's look at how to construct an electro inspired synth bass patch. We'll use similar techniques as we did in the first tutorial but with very different final results. This should show you how knowing the basics can allow you to program a number of different sound types.

Step 1 - Starting from scratch

Just as we did in the previous tutorial, we are going to start with a blank initialised patch. This is easily achieved and is just a case of hitting the 'new' patch button at the top of Circle's interface.

As i mentioned in the previous tutorial,the new sound will not be completley empty, some basic settings are in place. A single saw wave oscillator and some simple envelope settings enable a sound to be played back.

Creating a new patch in Circle

Initial patch

Step 2 - Choosing your oscillators

We are now ready to choose our oscillators. As we want this to be quite a cutting, intense sound we are going to use the harmonically rich saw wave oscillators. With the right settings these should give us a nice bright bass patch.

Two saw wave oscillators

When you insert a new oscillator Circle automatically sets its volume at 50% in the mixer section. If you first oscillator is set to 100% then it is worth mixing the second one to the same level. This will give you an even mix between the two. Of course later, as the patch develops, you may want to adjust this balance.

Circles oscillator mixer

Two saw waves

Step 3 - De-tuning the oscillators

As we did in the brass patch, we are going to de-tune the two saw waves to add some width. This time the values will be a little higher to make the difference a little more distinct.

The de-tuned oscillators

As the oscillators we are using here are more harmonically rich, the de-tuning is naturally more apparent and this should be perfect for creating a wide, interesting bass sound. Some purists that unison and de-tuning effects shouldn't be used on bass patches but for electronic music this effect can work really well.

De-tuned saw waves

Step 4 - Setting up the amplitude envelope.

We are after a sharp, acidic, decay based sound here so both our envelope settings are going to be pretty extreme and will drastically sculpt the sound. At this point the envelopes will still be in their default state as they haven't been touched since we initialised the patch.

Circles default envelope settings

The filter is still currently open so any changes we make to envelope at this point will be heard clearly. Editing the envelope before the filter is a deliberate move here to make the programming process clearer and easier.

To create a stabby bass sound we will need to create a delay based envelope profile. This means turning the sustain down really low and turning the decay and release up. This will create a sharp sound that has a decent decay time when we release every key. This is actually very similar to some drum envelopes, such as snares and kicks.

Decay based amplitude envelope

Amplitude envelope set

Step 5 - Setting and modulating the filter

Now we are ready to start editing the filter and filter envelope to compliment the sound of the amplitude envelope. It should now become clearer why the programming was performed in this order.

Default filter setting

You may notice that up until this point the process for building our bass sound is very similar to that of the brass patch in the previous tutorial. You will find that when building basic synth patches, the steps taken up until this point are pretty generic. The real difference becomes apparent when we start to tweak the filter and envelope settings.

I've used a simple low pass filter setting with a decent amount of resonance, this should impart the acidic edge that we are looking for here. The cut-off is then set quite low as this will be modulated by our filter envelope.

Filter setting

The filter is easily modulated by the second envelope in our modulation area by dragging the small orange circle to an open mod slot on the filter area. We are now ready to start programming the filter envelope. I have pretty much matched the settings of the amplitude envelope, with some small differences.

The decay and release are slightly shorter than that of envelope 1, this is to make the filter snap a little bit and add some extra interest. You can hear this occurring when the sound is played using separate notes. Adding more resonance will exaggerate this effect.

As I changed the filter envelope setting I decided that the amp envelope needed some small changes making, the settings were simply tweaked and balanced as I went.

Final envelope settings

Filter modulation

Step 6 - Adding some glide and changing the voice mode

By entering the pop up menu at the bottom of Circles interface and choosing the keyboard tab, we can add some glide to the sound. This will add a further acidic quality to our bass patch and should compliment our envelope and filter settings nicely.

Adding glide

Now when you play the bass you may notice some clashing of notes, this can be solved by hitting the settings tab and making the sound 'monophonic' by lowering the voice amount to '1'. This will ensure only one note plays at a time. I have also engaged 'legato' mode as this will cause overlapping notes to blend nicely, rather than re-triggering every time.

Lowering the voice mode and entering legato mode.

Glide and legato

Step 7 - Adding some delay

As a final touch here I added some delay to the patch. The delay has a very short feedback and the bottom end is filtered so the bass frequencies are not effected. The end result is a spaciness, that is only added to the high end. When played this adds pace and dimension.

Hopefully constructing this sound has shown you that even a similar process can create two very different sounds. It's all about knowing each area of the synthesiser and being familiar with the interface, so you can find what your looking for quickly.

Adding delay to the patch

Delay added

Download Tutorial 2 Files

Tutorial 2: Creating an Electro Synth Bass Sound
Download the tutorial in plain text format, the associated audio files and the completed Circle sound/patch.