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A synth pedal that does not sound like a 1982 kids toy keyboard?

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Mister Mo, Jan 11, 2019.

  1. Mister Mo

    Mister Mo

    Apr 22, 2016
    I am searching for a deep somewhat-sub-bass pedal that creates modern bass sounds, like a real synth (aka Novation Bass Station II). I found nothing, no matter how expensive. They all sound like poopie. I am close to buying a Novation, it's cheaper than many bass synth pedals and can do 100 times more.

    Please, stop me from becoming a keyboard player....

    Just an example of a sound I like... play it loud.

  2. sifrancis


    Oct 29, 2012
    Endorser: Ashdown, Darkglass, Earthquaker Devices, Jule Amps, Mantic, Malekko, Source Audio, Yamaha, Serek Basses, Delano Pickups, Hamstead Soundworks
    This is an eternal quest, so welcome to the journey!

    Out of curiosity, what pedals have you been able to try for yourself?

    In my experience, I am yet to encounter a synth pedal that I am happy with using it on it's own - the secret to not sounding like a toy from the 80's seems to be from stacking into other effects.

    Some examples for reference:

    EHX MicroSynth (preferably the old big box version) > Chorus > Reverb

    Future Impact > Moog MF101 LPF > EQD Westwood (any "transparent" overdrive) > Reverb

    These would all be run with a Meatbox / Density Hulk (or other variant) in parallel providing pure sub.

    The Future Impact setup is incredibly versatile, and I would be happy for something like that replacing a keyboard synthesiser, though it does need a good amount of encouragement to sound more "real". Pairing it with a good analogue filter is a huge upgrade, and adding any low gain overdrive after that also helps massively in giving more of a 3D quality to the sound.

    Reverb is often overlooked in bass synth sounds, and can often be the difference between an OK synth sound, and an amazing one. Try bright reverbs with a short decay.

    Hope some of that is helpful.
  3. Mister Mo

    Mister Mo

    Apr 22, 2016
    Some standards like OD (I have a Tech 21 VT Bass DI and still wonder whether this was a waste of money, tried Darkglass stuff, had a Big Muff and hated it), octaver (a costly MXR M288, but I use it very rarely, maybe I just don't like octavers), compressor (EBS MultiComp SE). I listened to many, many youtube presentations of bass pedals and especially bass synths and still wonder whether all pedal developers aim to create the same crappy sounds as the others :)
  4. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012
    While I would argue that a Korg G5 sounds pretty darn good all by itself, I agree that stacking effects is where you separate the cheesy 80s kids toys from the bowel-rattling subsonic dreamscapes. I'm often feeding my G5 into an envelope filter, or an octave up/down, or some distortion (Damnation Audio MBD-1 ftw!), or, often enough, all three. And it's almost always used in conjunction with a phase shifter; imho my MXR Phase 95 can transform even the most flat, farty, 2-dimensional synth patch into a liquid organic seething 3-dimensional animal.
  5. Mister Mo

    Mister Mo

    Apr 22, 2016
    Can you show an example....?
  6. Xandrell


    Aug 23, 2014
    Having been on the same quest, I ended up with the Boss SY-300.
    rocmonster, mikewalker and Adienn7 like this.
  7. Rambazamba


    Dec 14, 2012
    Meris Enzo.
    Quickfinga, chaak, DubHunter and 3 others like this.
  8. Jonny5bass

    Jonny5bass Supporting Member

    May 3, 2011
    Seattle, WA
    I searched for years and finally gave up. Then the Future Impact came out and it was exactly what I’d been waiting for. Throw a little overdrive after it and BOOM!
  9. I do have the Digitech Dirty Robot which has the fuzz, chorus sound in spades and has a sub-bass selector. You may want to try listening to a demo.
  10. Callused Finger

    Callused Finger

    Feb 22, 2007
    New York
    I ended up with IOS synth app (SunrizerXS, Animoog), midi interface, midi pedal board.

    Also required powered usb hub, and usb sound interface.
  11. ChubbyJerk

    ChubbyJerk Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2011
    Chicago, IL
    SY-300 is my favorite synth pedal. It's extremely versatile, easy to use, easy to program, sounds great IMO. Some seemed to think it lacked something (oomph, or bass, or mojo), so YMMV. I think once you get the hang of programming it you can get great sounds out of it. I did prefer the higher register airy pad type sounds of that over the bassy womp-womp noises, though. Those were phenomenal and I haven't found another pedal that can do those anywhere near that well.

    Future Impact is amazing. The biggest downside is that the usability, user interface, connectivity (no direct USB, you need to go through a MIDI to USB converter) is...less than what you might be used to in the modern age. Going from the SY-300 to the Future Impact, I simply didn't care if it sounded better when I saw how much worse it was in terms of usability and programming.

    On the simpler side, the Pigtronix Mothership 2 is amazing. It's monophonic, but has amazing tracking and is (I think?) feeding an actual analog circuit. So...digital pitch tracking triggering an analog synth? I think? Whatever it's doing, it sounds great. It's what I'm currently using. It has some neat tricks with portamento and so on as well. It doesn't have the built-in filters and so on of the first 2 though.

    The Dirty Robot is fun, sounds great, cheap. But not versatile enough for what I want.

    The Synth9 looks cool, and I love that line of pedals, but I've never tried it. I don't know if that would do what you're looking for.
  12. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    Most of what you linked is tweaked out samples, lots of reverb. Piano thats heavily tweaked - possibly some synth mixed with it but negligible, strings, some vocals drums and "everyday" sounds. The stuff that actually is possibly a synth, you wont be able to do with a bass synth pedal. I'm not exactly sure which part of this song you're hoping to replicate, though.

    You'll wind up with a pile of pedals for each synth sound you want. The BOSS Syb-5 has some nicely useable tones in it - add some external filtering pedals like you would with any real synth. A saw wave or sine wave etc sounds pretty damn similar no matter what company makes it- its the rest of the synth that makes it.

    Certain sounds you might want to produce would be easier done with a hexaphonic pickup driving a midi convertor to trigger a synth.

    Keep in mind, just like translating languages, no matter how good the translator is, you aren't conversing effortlessly in your native language, there will always be the middle man in there interpreting things and slowing down the signal. I just give up and play the real synth parts on a synth when I need it. I still have some bass synth pedals for when I want to sound like a bass synth.

    I think you want a highly feature-rich sampler, personally.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019
    Super25Smasher, Mili and Frank77 like this.
  13. hintz


    Jun 5, 2014
    wahiawa, HI(Oahu)
    The Source Audio MultiWave Bass Distortion get very nice synth tones without the cheese for about $159 new, plus you can save a few presets on it. The EH Bass Microsynth is pretty amazing as well, a little more pricey but very versatile. I found both to track excellent.
    mikewalker likes this.
  14. depalm


    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Meris Enzo
  15. TheDirtyLowDown


    Mar 8, 2014
    I have the Future Impact. The sounds are good, but the thing I really like about it is how well it tracks. I play fretless, and I've been pleasantly surprised by how well it does. I use it for synth/envelope filter type sounds and I also use just the octaver standalone. The computer interface via MIDI makes it easy to program, but I had to stop myself because I will tweak sounds for hours instead of doing something more useful, like practicing...
  16. The track you shared was not created using a bass unless as a trigger, highly doubtful, all of the sounds were created or sampled and treated by a "synthesizer" in this case multiple filters and other effects. There is no single bass pedal that will get that sound and honestly no synthesizer that will get that sound unless it is included as a preset. Creating those sounds and textures is what synthesis is all about. In essence a pedal board is a synthesizer and so is a multi-effects = bass synth pedals are only a sound source that still need some enhancement.

    The Deep Impact and the proposed Source Audio Synth Filter pedal come closest to being a complete solution.

    No reason to fear the keyboard because there are things it can do no bass will ever accomplish and then again there are things only a bass can do.
    Mili likes this.
  17. moon-bass

    moon-bass Supporting Member

    May 10, 2004
    USA, New Orleans
    I've used the SA Multiwave Bass Distortion and really liked it. There are a few demos available online that show you what it can do. I like that you can save presets and it has a lot of usable (and unusable) tones. I also have the Boss SYB-5 which I also really like and have used with great results on gigs.

    However, I am selling them both after having bought a Helix HX. Bought the HX to consolidate, otherwise I would keep both as I do really like them.
    hintz likes this.
  18. Mosfed


    Apr 21, 2013
    Chamonix Mont-Blanc
    Partner - CCP Pedals
    It doesn’t sound like you have used any actual bass synth pedals.

    The future impact sounds great.
    sillyfabe and Jonny5bass like this.
  19. ugly_bassplayer

    ugly_bassplayer Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2009
    No pedal is ever going to replace a real synth. Cheapest way to get there is a midi keyboard and a laptop with synth modules.
  20. shrigg

    shrigg Beta Tester for AudioKinesis Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Traverse City, MI
    Meris Enzo is by far the best synth pedal I've come across. Youtube it, you'll see!
    Quickfinga likes this.

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