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It's a trap! The 808 bass line

Updated: Apr 15, 2021

"Here comes the Boom!

We know that the 808 is a staple sound for the Hip Hop and RnB genres, and in fact if you want to even consider being noticed in Trap, you have to master the 808 sound. Today’s Blog is all about creating that awesome 808 ‘Boom’ bassline sound using a stock standard synth plugin in Protools.

Here are the steps

In your ProTools session:

  1. Create an instrument track and insert Xpand2

  2. Click on Part A and go to 0027 Basics from the list

  3. Choose Poly ElectroDrum

  4. Change the voice mode to mono. This is important so that the 808s don’t overlap when played.

  5. Navigate to the top and select part A next to the smart knobs

  6. Turn the noise off. All the way down.

  7. Ove the “sine tune’ to 75%. This will give you the pitch C.

  8. The Cut off will help manage the top end of the sound. Works as a low pass filter. Leave it at around 55% as the starting point. You can experiment with this as you play to craft the sound you’re after.

  9. Bend time set at around 50%. Again, experiment with this after you’ve got the initial patch sound going.

  10. The Sine decay determines the length of the 808. All the way up you get a nice resonance. A long tail. If you play around with length and you get the clicks and different sounds. But, set it to 100 for this walkthrough. Adjust to suit when you start working on your bassline.

  11. The Noise knob. You don’t need to adjust it, as we’ve already turned the noise down. That first knob, right at the beginning of the walkthrough.

  12. Now, click on the EASY button next to the Smart Controls.

  13. If you want to have the control over your notes as you play them, to determine how long the note sounds for based on your playing and not on the velocity you strike the keys at, then turn the release down. Say around -80 to -90. So, when you play, it sounds, and when you lift your finger off the key, the sound stops.

  14. And there you go! A BASIC 808, that sounds cool!

But, there’s more. To fit into the Drill genre, you will need to dirty up the 808 sound.

Here are the steps to get a ‘dirty’ 808 sound

  1. Go to the Inserts on the instrument channel (that XPAND channel you just created the 808 sound on) and load in the Lofi Fi plugin from the ‘Harmonics’ menu.

  2. Change the sample conversion to ‘Adapt quantization’

  3. Reduce sample size to 16

  4. Turn up the distortion to around 5 for now. You can adjust later.

  5. Turn up the saturation to 6. You can adjust to suit your taste later.

  6. In the next insert slot, add in the trim plugin. This is a very important step, as the sound will be loud because of the distortion. Turn the gain down a good -5dBs or -6dbs or so. You don’t want the channel to overload, even though you’ve added distortion and saturation.

  7. And, there you go, a nice gritty, dirty sound for the 808.

  8. Tweak and adjust to suit.

Ok, so just in case you want to see the steps in action, Here’ a video!


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