Wave Alchemy’s BASSYNTH is a 12GB sampled instrument with extensive synthesis features that runs in the full or free versions of NI’s Kontakt. After downloading and authorising, you navigate to the single .nki instrument and it loads in Kontakt’s interface. From there you get access to its many different features and sections. The first one you come to, and the most instantly playable, is the Perform section. Here you find a large X/Y grid that enables you to morph freely between the four different sound slots, with each one able to be switched on or off to create as simple or as complex a sound as you desire. Each of the 4 voices also has a quick level slider associated with it, so you can submix them very easily.
Clicking on the name of any of the voices opens its source browser and from there you can load any one of the 800+ crafted multi-sampled Sources, Oscillators or Wavetables. These are grouped by category and cover a huge range of sounds from synths, oscillators and wavetables to 808s, bass guitars and noises / transients. All have been meticulously sampled and the inclusion of more esoteric sounds alongside the synths and wavetables means you have a near-infinite palette of sounds to mix together and choose from. It’s safe to say you’re unlikely to run out of options any time soon.
Moving to the second page you find the Design section, where the building blocks of each voice can be modified. The first sub page here is Engine where you get tuning, start, stretch and ADSR controls for each of the four voices, amongst a range of other parameters. You will also find small dice buttons - these are also found elsewhere in the instrument - for quickly punching in random settings. As is often the case with randomisation, using these more often than not has pleasing results and helps you to come up with new sounds you might not have reached by endlessly twiddling controls yourself.
The next subpage in the Design section is Tone, where you can shape and crush the sound as well as using EQ. Then there’s a Mix section where you can submix, pan and assign send effects to any voice. The final edit page is Motion, where multiple step sequencers can be programmed to add movement to multiple parameters including space, bend, intensity, power and more. This is a quick way to animate your patches when notes are held and of course it can be controlled so you can have different pattern lengths, expand each lane out for more precise control over the parameter changes and so on. it’s also polyrhythmic, meaning you can mix and match speeds and lengths across parameters for much more interesting results.
Moving down the interface you will find a Macro section, where you can freely assign multiple parameters to up to 8 Macro Knobs for performance, sound design, morphing or Motion Sequencing. Each of the 290 bundled presets has macros pre-assigned to best suit the patch in question and provide access to the most useful parameters. Simply click on the macro area to reveal a slide-over control window which also features MIDI learn for quick assignment. The drag and drop system means these are pretty easy to get to grips with once you have worked out the process. You get to assign 8 unique controls to any 8 macros to control up to 64 parameters for performance or creative sound morphing.
You also get a powerful modulation system, with three ADSR envelopes and four LFOs, as well as Velocity, Key-tracking, Aftertouch and Pitch-bend Modulation. Selecting a Modulation Source highlights the selection, and then the available parameters for the selected Modulation Source appear in the left-hand panel of the Modulation Tab. it’s a great way to quickly assign modulation sources and targets around the instrument though initially I would recommend a read through of the manual (this applies more generally too, since this is a very flexible instrument) so that you get the most out of it.
Next up is a Modular Effects System that lets you load up to 6 unique Insert Effects per voice, alongside 6 Master Effects,and 2 Send Effects. Each Insert and Master Effect slot can be loaded with any one of 20 effects Modules, many featuring multiple FX sub-types within them. So there’s filtering, delay and reverb as well as some more unusual effects like rotator, tape and bit crushing.
Sonically, BASSYNTH is an absolute monster. The wide range of bass sources that have been sampled cover all kinds of eventualities from gritty old skool analog through sub basses, authentic sounding bass guitars and more. But the real pleasure lies in mixing and layering these using the 4 voices and especially the XY pad system. You’ll have endless fun morphing between voices and seeing what weird and wonderful results come from blending filthy synths with bleeps, noise and bass guitars.
Dive further into the other sections and you’ll find an incredible depth of editing and tweaking possibilities, enough to satisfy the most ardent sound designer. Every aspect of each voice is editable, and the modulation and macro systems make it possible to get into great detail with editing and shaping each sound. The modular effects system also adds a whole new layer of depth and sound sculpting to the proceedings.
The only thing to be aware of is that this is a seriously in-depth instrument. Even though the Perform page is (intentionally) very accessible and fun to use without spending ages learning your way around, once you delve into the edit sections you might initially need to have a bit of a poke around the manual to understand how everything affects everything else. This isn’t a criticism - simply a reflection of the depth of synthesis, modulation and editing tools on offer. So if you want to get massive bass sounds for many different kinds of production, BASSYNTH is definitely worth checking out.