Analysis of S7E10: PHACTION – Organic Bass Design

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      First off, I have fallen behind on both watching videos, and posting timeline notes. The past year has been a busy one for me, and even with the current situation most of us are in, I’m still busy with trying to work full-time, from home, with two young kids and a spouse who is also trying to sneak in work when possible. I think I have a plan for myself to get more of these put together, so initially some of the posts might look incomplete, but I’ll be adding to them as I get through the multiple parts of the tutorials.

      PHACTION – Organic Bass Design
      Season 7 – Episode 10 – 5 parts

      Part 1 (20:24)
      – “Creating bass that is warm, analogue, gritty, full of movement, and brimming with flavour”, one of Phaction’s priorities when making bass.
      – The focus of this episode is going to be on bass synthesis, samples, and resampling.

      04:00 – taking basic samples, namely 808s in this episode, and making them more interesting.

      04:15 – looking at his 808 rack/chain in Ableton Live.

      05:30 – explains processed samples versus “benign” samples that are not heavily processed, and having more processing possibilities.

      06:15 – “less of a synth guy, more of a post processing guy”.

      06:30 – the audition hits in this part are mostly one shots.

      07:00 – four elements to Phaction’s bass design:
      1. Distortion
      2. Automation
      3. Reverb
      4. Something that creates movement

      07:30 – A/B’s hits with his 808 rack on, and then off.

      08:00 – explains his audition process, to A/B the rack.

      08:30 – going over distortion chain, starting with the wet & dry layers.
      – Explains how he switched his approach from series processing to parallel processing.

      10:00 – a dry layer is kept, to maintain the low end weight of the sound.

      10:40 – explaining headroom, as how it applies to this processing.

      11:45 – the chain’s wet layer.
      – First plugin is Ohmicide, multi-band distortion, Phaction’s favorite distortion at this time, which he views as a “sledge hammer”, adds nice mid & high range. Actually has two in a row in the rack.
      – Also points out that you can automate the bands in Ohmicide with no issues, but trying to automate in Trash2 has aliasing issues. I can confirm I’ve noticed this with Trash2.

      15:45 – “Trash2 is the razor blade”.

      16:30 – next insert is HY-TP2, a free tremelo plugin (link:

      19:35 – has two Ohmicides in the chain, likes to find the sweet spot of the sound with the first, retains the settings on the second, and then adjusts, A/B’ing between the two to pick the preferred output. Sometimes keeps both active, if it sounds good.
      – Stresses it is important to A/B between processes.

      Part 2

      00:30 – automation of Ohmicide’s bands 1 and 2, to find the sweet spot of the bass.

      02:30 – prefers an exploratory approach vs. a prescribed approach, aiming to find happy accidents. Basically, experiment and see what happens.

      03:00 – Trash2 giving top end presence. Feels you need a distortion adding the initial flavor (Ohmicide in this case), and then another more precise unit adding top end.

      03:20 – next stage is reverb, good to add in moderation. Does not add to the sub though. And likes the Valhalla reverbs.

      05:15 – reverbs can shape tone, not just space.

      06:15 – touches on bass processing group.
      – Reverb (Valhalla Vintage) –> Multi-band Distortion (FabFilter Saturn) –> Limiter (FabFilter Pro-L)
      – Uses Pro-L in transparent mode, has a high attack, 0ms release & look ahead. This is dubbed by some on SG as the “Joe Ford Method”, can be found in his tutorials, and is good for controlling output.
      – Saturn is adding a bit of drive.

      07:50 – reverb as glue, stresses you need to learn your reverb plugins, then you can utilize them effectively.

      10:15 – dry/wet chain approach applied to this rack, but reverts to how he had it set originally.

      12:00 – getting room size right on the reverb.

      12:30 – 808 distortion chain, with an added Saturn to bring up the mids.

      13:50 – Boz JST Sidewidener for some imaging/width. This plugin came with Computer Music issue 215 (, or you can buy.

      14:40 – demonstrates automation to get different sounds.

      15:25 – moving on to U-He Diva, one of his favorite synths.

      18:15 – likes finding a patch he likes, and then makes a lot of variations.
      — I do this when I’m looking for something to do in the studio.

      Part 3

      00:30 – Akai LPD8 macro details:
      Macro 1 –> Ohmicide 1’s Band 1 amount
      Macro 2 –> Ohmicide 2’s Band 1 amount
      Macro 3 –> HY-TP2’s depth
      Macro 4 –> HY-TP2’s rate
      Macro 5 –> HY-TP2’s waveform
      Macro 6 –> HY-TP2’s smooth
      Macro 7 –> HY-TP2’s on/off toggle (I think?)
      Macro 8 –> Valhalla Vintage’s reverb mix amount
      – Covers all this around 15:40 on this video

      03:30 – two Ohmicides running ins series, to provide two key resonant focal points. Says this is more about the principle of the idea, not the exact settings.

      05:00 – next plugin in the chain is a reverb.

      08:00 – Phaction’s ingredients for an emotion evoking bassline:
      1. Sweet progression.
      2. The aggression, quality, and flavor of the bass sound itself.

      10:15 – likes working in the key of E, using E minor.

      12:00 – there is a compressor on the dry chain.

      13:00 – FabFilter Pro-Q3 has changed Phaction’s approach to mixing, touches on the dynamic controls.

      14:45 – using controllers to do automation more by feeling than precision, e.g. drawing automation in with a mouse.

      19:45 – encourages to create your own chains.

      Part 4

      – Looking at “Isiah”, out on Metalheadz later this year. Plays the track until about 04:15.

      04:50 – bass was bounced out, but Phaction looks at the way the bass was created with Omnisphere and the processing chain.

      08:20 – creates a processing chain, and then goes through bass presets to find interesting options.

      10:55 – idea for exploring presets: re-save the ones you like, and then tweak and edit them in to variations.
      – States that you do not have to initialize a synth to make sounds in to your own, you can take presets and tweak them with parameter changes and different processing chains.
      – Uses a patch that is multiple presets layered in Omnisphere.

      19:00 – on this particular track, them mid-layer is where automation really shapes the bass. There is a high frequency layer as well.

      20:45 – crucial to get multi-band layer splits correct. Splits being the crossover points.

      22:00 – Kazrog KClip clipper, to give sounds umph. You can download the demo, and it will work even after the demo period ends.

      24:45 – OTT compression for the high end.

      26:00 – layering is essential to his approach to bass design.

      Part 5

      – Using the same Omnisphere patch, but in a more liquid style track, a more restrained approach. The track is forthcoming on Spearhead, titled “The Fall” and features vocals by Riya. Plays track until about 03:15.

      03:30 – same bass, but processed through a different chain.

      07:10 – layered a low end bass with the main bass, to recover some of the low end lost by the processing chain.

      08:10 – references Joe Ford’s tutorials, using Trash2’s Fuzz distortion.

      09:30 – checks mono capability often.

      10:05 – audio effect rack with a side-signal chain and a mid-signal chain.

      11:50 – likes using legato on the bass, so it bends between the notes.

      "Knowledge kept is knowledge lost." - Bobbito Garcia

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