Waves Bass Slapper

Get your Bootsy on with Waves’ amazingly realistic slap bass emulation plug-in. Powered by the company’s Waves Sampler Engine, Bass Slapper is built on a 4.9GB sample library (with a lower-quality SD alternative also included for those short on space or installing to a ‘secondary’ laptop) that captures the particular sound of session bassist Or Lubianiker and his five-string instrument. As well as offering every key-switched articulation required to make totally convincing B-lines – including pulls, hammer-ons/offs, release sounds, harmonics, string squeaks, etc., plus the slaps themselves – it also incorporates a bank of seven superb pedal-style effects (Compressor, Overdrive, Wah, Phaser, Chorus, Delay and Reverb), amp and cab simulation, EQ, and various other sound-shaping tools.

Coaxing lifelike performances out of Bass Slapper on your keyboard is made easy by the slick interface, which enables real-time adjustment of the crossover point between slaps and pulls, and the ‘left hand’ position, and features the brilliant Dead Notes switch, for inserting quiet incidental ‘detail’ notes. Funky, fresh and fly.

Check it out here.

Standalone Music Getlow

Featuring well over 300 presets by Italian trance producer 7 Skies (a.k.a. David Boldini), Getlow is a KONTAKT Player instrument “designed with modern electronic dance music in mind”. And to that end, bass sounds feature heavily, of course.

More than 4000 samples (requiring 4GB of hard drive space) were captured from a collection of analogue and digital synths, and are used as source material for Getlow’s three-layer engine, which includes per-oscillator phase randomisation and effects, distortion, reverb and delay processing, and an arpeggiator. The whole thing is presented in a quick and easy interface that’s a joy to operate from your KOMPLETE KONTROL or MASCHINE hardware, and the sounds it makes are as big and bold as they get.

Check it out here.

Sugar Bytes Cyclop

This mad-as-a-brush instrument plug-in might look like something out of a 60s electronics lab, but it’s actually an action-packed monophonic bass synth geared up specifically for EDM, dubstep, and bass music in general. The synth itself is a three-oscillator (one of them a sub) job with two filters. The two main oscillators draw on a small collection of powerful signal generators (a wavetable, FM, stacked saws, etc), and the filters include all the usual modes, as well as vowel morphing and more. It’s in the modulation and effects, however, that the real magic happens.

Beyond the regular envelope, LFO and 16-step sequencer, the Wobble knob is the focal point, sweeping through 12 fully editable LFOs to create (and record) an infinity of elaborate sonic shapes. The FX Sequencer, meanwhile, takes inspiration from Sugar Bytes’ Turnado and Effectrix plug-ins, jumping around between eight four-module setups, the modules comprising Pitch-Looper, Looper, Vinyl FX and Send FX, each housing a range of preset sub-modules.

Add to that a ton of randomization options, a massive library of presets, and a degree of low-end heft that has to be heard to be believed, and you have a monster of a synth for bass music of all kinds.

Check it out here.

Embertone Leonid Bass

Bring a touch of class to your next track with Embertone’s sublime multi-sampled acoustic bass for KONTAKT Player. Leonid Bass is a lovingly crafted virtual representation of an 18th century Italian upright bass, played by the virtuosic Leonid Finkelshteyn. Over 6000 samples were recorded (weighing in at 4.2GB if both 16- and 24-bit versions are installed), taking in a range of articulations including True Legato, Con Sordino, Sul Ponticello, Harmonics and Pizzicato; and the gorgeous interface gives control over dynamics, colouration, vibrato and more. There’s also a polyphonic option, and an Ensemble mode for stacking up to eight basses in one instance.

Leonid Bass is clearly aimed primarily at orchestral composers, but with its warm, emotive, detailed sound and stunning realism, it also has immense potential for employment in downtempo, hip-hop and trip-hop, amongst other genres, most notably in regard to pizzicato play. Beautiful.

Check it out here.

Synapse Audio Dune 2

One of the finest soft synths money can buy, Dune 2 is a plentiful source of bass sounds, its two main oscillators each switching between analogue, wavetable and FM modes, and bolstered by a tuneable sub oscillator and a stereo noise generator. That’s really only the start, though, as the eight-layer architecture (each layer effectively a synth in its own right) and Synapse’s Differential Unison Engine between them deliver a frankly ridiculous maximum of 520 oscillators at 16-voice polyphony, for 8320 oscillators in total! Then there’s a beautiful zero-delay feedback filter (with optional distortion), four graphical multi-stage envelopes, three LFOs and nine effects modules, not to mention a very capable arpeggiator/sequencer for programming basslines entirely within Dune 2 itself.

Thick, weighty and absurdly powerful, few synths can touch this one for richness and depth.

Check it out here.

Submission Bass Eurobass

There are loads of excellent electric bass libraries available for KONTAKT and KONTAKT Player, but the NKS-compatible Eurobass is one of the best. Put together by Systematic Productions’ Ermin Hamidovic, it comprises three separate instruments based on a multisampled Spector Euro 5 LX: Eurobass DI, Eurobass Clean and Eurobass Drive, capturing the direct, cleanly re-amped and distorted re-amped signals respectively.

Eurobass is very much a load-and-go instrument, with only a handful of controls onboard for tweaking the sustain, string noise, etc, and the multisamples themselves being the stars of the show. Along with a broad range of stroke strengths recorded at every note from E0 to E4, you also get handling sounds and slides.

Thoroughly mix-ready and far less hassle than a real bassist, Eurobass would make a fantastic addition to any producer’s collection of KONTAKT basses.

Check it out here.

Rob Papen SubBoomBass 2

Powered by the same engine as its more general-purpose stablemate, Predator 2, Papen’s cone-rattling two-oscillator synth gets the ball rolling with a huge array of analogue, sampled and spectral waveforms, all designed specifically for the creation of bass tones. Alternatively, either or both oscillators can run a Karplus-Strong String emulation, for a bit of physical modelling action.

The oscillators feed into a pair of filters, the first decked out with four predistortion algorithms, an envelope and an LFO; and there’s plenty of assignable modulation on hand, too, including a superb XY pad into which movements can be recorded and subsequently edited. The 16-step sequencer not only facilitates pattern programming but also ‘wave sequencing’ via its two Oscillator lanes; and two FX modules from a list of 28 can be loaded at a time for processing and polish.

Enabling speedy hands-on navigation through its enormous preset library, SubBoomBass’ NKS compatibility is very welcome indeed – and the fact that it’s one of the best bass synths around doesn’t hurt, either.

Check it here.

u-he Diva

Another must-have for bass-heads, u-he’s virtual semi-modular synth takes inspiration from classic instruments by Moog, Roland and Korg in the modelling of its five oscillator, five filter and three envelope modules. These can be freely mixed and matched to construct your own custom hybrids, and an extensive library of presets (including a ton of basses, natch) ably demonstrates the possibilities. Ever wanted to know what you’d get if you ran a Minimoog oscillator through an MS20 filter? Well, now you can find out. Beyond that, the architecture is straightforward enough but certainly not lacking in terms of depth and tweakability for those who like to get their hands dirty.

What really defines Diva is the uncannily ‘analog’ quality of its sound – we’d challenge even the most hardened hardware hold-out to resist falling in love with its faux imperfections, warmth and character. Such authenticity comes at a price, however, and the system resources demanded by u-he’s six-and-a-half-year-old meisterwerk are considerable, even by today’s standards. The results are worth every CPU cycle and more, though.

Check it out here.