Really? The Novation Bass Station soft synth that came and went? Yeah!
The software version of that 90s classic was released in 2003 (making it a vintage itself-at least in software terms) to a collective ‘meh’. Computer Music magazine complimented it on its sound and CPU efficiency, but also said that it had arrived to the party a bit late, awarding it a rather dull 7/10.
The world moved on. Novation gave away a load of bundled Bass Stations with their Remote range of controllers and people went back to lusting after the latest greatest Super Saw Tarnce synth. So, who cares right? Well, you cares. If you want to get your hands on the industry’s best kept secret for bass that is.
You see, the Bass Station is basically a filthy factory for phenomenal low end. Sounding almost like a cross between an Arp and a Moog, it’s warm, aggressive, three-dimensional, and has a phat bottom (a bit like that chick from high school I can’t stop thinking about).
The front panel is ‘keep-it-simple-stupid’ and easy to get to grips with, even if you’ve never set sights upon the original (or a synth, period). You get two sweet sounding analog modeled monophonic saw/square oscillators, pulse width modulation, one LFO (can control pitch, pulse width and that all important cutoff), portamento (hello Electro!), multiple trigger options (Moog/Arp/303-don’t need to mention that it does 303 now do I? Everything does a 303), and two juicy filter types (12db for that ‘Japanese’/Roland sound, and 24 db for ‘American’/Moog).
Oscillator sync is available, and while it’s a bit convoluted, it’s perfectly capable and does a good job of widening the instrument’s sonic palette.
And that’s your Bass Station. Unless you’re producing Ambient Japanese Emotion Pop textures (in which case look out for the upcoming feature on Synplant-I got you covered, Kimosabe), this should take care of most of your synth bass needs. Trust me when I tell you that a vast majority of ‘classic’ electronic sounds are not all that hard to make (i.e. made accidentally by non-boffin knob fiddlers-ahem).
It’s also a supremely CPU friendly plug-in, so much so that you forget it’s even there. Those of you with older PCs will think they got a processor upgrade!
I am well chuffed that I rediscovered this gem of a mono-synth thanks to the Synth Odyssey! If you are lucky enough to have received it free with your Novation controller, don’t take it for granted. You already have it, get to know it, love it, and it will reward you with plenty of bottom end satisfaction.
If you would like to get your hands on one, my humble advice would be to get yourself a Novation controller. They are among the best in the business, and what makes them truly revolutionary is the superb Automap Pro software that will breathe new life into your synth and effects collection. So really, a win-win situation there!
And remember, the original Bass Station was used and abused by tons of legendary acts like Orbital, KLF, Apollo 440, Daft Punk, and the Chemical Brothers to name but a few. The first 40 or factory bank presets are sounds you’ve no doubt heard on countless 90s anthems, which is why you should make your own; the presets are the only thing that date the ‘Station.
For me, it’s an all-you-can-eat reminder of a time when music producers were obsessed with analog, knobs, filters and getting their hands on the best TB 303 emulation. My, how times have changed.
Now for some Bass Station action! No effects at all, just pure ‘Station!
Yes, that is a Bass Station in action! Listen to the harmonics and the filter action. Saw/Square combo. Very analog indeed!
Not a Mini Moog (but no one needs to know!)
Electric Baba. Lots of pulse width modulation for a dirty, almost digital sound.
Bootsy Bass. P-Funk in the house! Throaty wah bass, the kind that a certain B. Collins would have used back in the day. Groovy baybee!
From my chart topping remix of the Station X hit Dirty F@ck! Filthy bassline is all Bass Station!
And those are but a few examples of what this little synth can do! There are probably hundreds of Bass Station patches out there, what with the software being compatible with the hardware, but why not make your own? Go on, you know you want to.
A modern classic, now on your desktop!
Next: Do You Eat PlastiCZ?
(c) All Sounds lazy programmed and sequenced by P Brown
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