Arca Style Subs In Ableton Live

We show you how to create Arca Style Subs in Ableton Live

In this weeks blog we explore how to create powerful, distorted sub bass in Ableton Live. Inspired by the experimental & innovative sounds of production powerhouse Arca!


Wavetable - Abstract Waveforms

Wavetable is a powerful synth within Ableton. Here, we're stacking up three oscillators. A sub sine wave to add weight, and two more avant-garde signals. Ocs1 and 2 are the 'brutal metal preset', providing harsh, distorted signals that are gently roll off with a low pass filter. 

We're also adding more shape to the sound by adding drive within Wavetables filters, setting them to the OSR setting and pushing up the gain amount. It's also set to 'Unison' on the 'Noise' setting, which adds a good amount of extra colour to the patch!



Distortion and Harmonics

Oftentimes, a dry sub or bass signal can be lost in a mix (especially in the lowest octaves). One way to offset this is using saturation and distortion to add harmonics and life to the mid and high end. Here, we use Ableton's Overdrive and Saturation FX. 

Plugins that take this further could be Plugin Alliance - 'SPL Vitalizer', or Soundtoy's 'Decapitor'.

The images below show how much harmonic information is added when distorting or saturating a sub signal!





It's important to bare in mind with all this extra harmonic information, that the bass (often times) maybe need to sit alongside a kick drum or other low end information. 

'Sidechaining' offers the perfect solution for this. We use one in the video to dip the bass signal under the kick as it plays, using the threshold to control the amount the kick impacts the bass.



Another option for making low end space is Wavesfactory - 'Trackspacer', which is more a frequency accurate plugin that will dip the bass signal based on where it sits sonically, as well as it's gain amount.

If you like the music from the top clip, be sure to check out our pack 'Electric Nights' were you get all the loops, MIDI and Ableton Live instruments we used!