Should I buy the SubLab? Is it the best 808 Synthesizer?

Should I buy the SubLab? Is it the best 808 Synthesizer?

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Where does the 808 sound come from?

The Roland TR 808 Rhythm Composer, or 808, is a drum machine that was produced by Roland Corporation between 1980 and 1983. It was one of the first drum machines to allow users to programme their own rhythms rather than relying on pre-programmed patterns. The 808 produces sounds using analogue synthesis rather than playing loops. 

 

The 808 was a commercial disappointment and received negative feedback for its unrealistic drum sounds when it was released when electronic music was still in its infancy. Roland discontinued the 808 after its semiconductors became difficult to restock after approximately 12,000 units were produced. In 1983, the TR-909 took its place.

 

The 808 developed a cult following among underground musicians during the 1980s due to its low cost on the used market, ease of use, and unique sounds, especially its deep, “booming” bass drum. It was popularised by early hits like Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” and Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force’s “Earth Rock.” It became a staple of the new electronic, dance, and hip hop genres.

 

tr-808 rhythm

SubLab by "Future Audio Workshop"

SubLab is a modern synthesiser genre aimed at hip-hop, future bass, and trap music. With this plugin, you can create strong 808-style sub-bass that sounds punchy on all speakers.

 

In one plug-in, you’ll find everything you need to sample, layer, widen, and distort any kick into a uniquely strong sub. X-SubTM, SubLab’s psychoacoustic sub-bass oscillator, is part of SubLab’s creative and easy mix workflow.

 

This newly invented oscillator acts as a sub-bass maximizer, allowing every speaker device to achieve reliable, precise, and deep subs.

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SubLab's Sound Module

The sound module in SubLab is made up of three separate sound generators. From left to right, the first consists of a Single-Oscillator Synthesiser, a Sampler, and FAW’s trademarked X-Sub technology.

 

A global filter is located at the bottom of the sound module and can be routed to the synthesiser and sampler. Also, a Mixer sits next to it, which is used to balance the three sound generators.

 

Let’s Look at SubLab’s sound modules in details. 

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1. Synthesizer

To generate tone, the synthesiser uses a single oscillator. There are four common waveforms to pick from Sine, Triangle, Sawtooth, and Square. Choose the octave at which the waveform is produced and fine-tune it if necessary.

 

Three envelopes – Volume, Filter, and Pitch – can be modified for shaping. The ADSR parameters govern the shaping.

 

They layered the envelopes and allocated a colour to each one due to their brilliant GUI design. When you change the envelope, the other two become noticeable yet unobtrusive. 

 

Many similar plugins struggle to nail this functionality, so that’s why SubLab shines among all of those.

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2. Sampler

SubLab’s sampler is as simple as the synthesiser: load a sample and start playing. It comes preloaded with a huge range of presets, all of which sound fantastic. If you like, you can conveniently drag and drop your own audio files into it. Another helpful function is the ability to rename files and also build personalised tags.

 

The sampler’s parameters are close to those of Ableton’s Simpler or some other sampler you might be familiar with. To smooth out the looping, adjust the loop scale, start/endpoints, and crossfade amount.

 

Underneath the waveform display is the main display where you can set the sample’s root note. Pitch monitoring on the sampler is disabled by default, so you’ll have to use it if you want to repitch the sample with your keyboard.

 

Impact, delay, lo-cut, and hi-cut are the other four parameters. The effect parameter is worth elaborating on since it acts as a maximizer, giving the audio sample Extra. 

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3. X-Sub TM

The X-Sub sound generator from Future Audio Workshop is more than a synthesiser. Around the same time, the trademarked invention accomplishes a few tasks. It does this by producing a sub-octave tone based on the input pitch.

 

It first produces the sub-octave, then processes it to make it FAT.  

 

When it comes to the parameters, x-sub has a graphical display at the end. The output level of the sub frequencies below 65 hertz and the harmonics above that cutoff can be adjusted there. You may also highlight various harmonics, which is a very useful function.

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4. Filter & Mixer

The sound module’s filter is straightforward. It allows you to pick from three different cutoffs: low-pass, band-pass, or high-pass. Using the graphical display or the numeric boxes, modify the cutoff and resonance. You can also switch on or off-key tracking. Eventually, the filter may be applied to the synthesiser and/or sampler up to 100%.

 

The mixer is simple, with three colour-coded sliders for adjusting the volume of each sound generator.

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Now let's look at other SubLab's parameters!

Effects Modules

The distortion module and the compressor module are the two effects units available to you. Both have minimal control, but they achieve their goals in the end. Both will submit to the synthesiser and sampler separately.

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1. Distortion

Drive, tone, and gain can all be tweaked in the distortion module. There are four different distortion types to pick from, each of which has the tone mark “fatness”. As you would suspect, it makes you fatter.

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2. Compressor

Threshold, ratio, gain, and release parameters are used in the compressor module. It’s basic, but it gets the job done in terms of compression.

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Master Module

A frequency spectrum shows the three sound generators in the plugin’s master module, which is located in the top right corner. It did this in the same manner as the synthesizer’s envelope displays do. Visible, but not overbearing.

 

It acts as a helpful reminder of the frequency splits identified as a sub, main bass, and harmonics on the graphical monitor. Frequency markers are shown alongside the labels at the bottom of the window. Finally, there’s a volume meter on the right.

 

The volume meter functions as a level control as well as a maximised final step. The maximized is adjusted by the little arrow, and the volume is controlled by the slider; this can be frustrating at first. You should vary the width of the output at the bottom of the volume lever without disturbing the sub/bass tones. That’s a thoughtful gesture.

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Final Thought!

Finally, as a last thought, SubLab has almost everything a modern producer needs. SubLab is a fantastic alternative because it has a very user-friendly interface and simple parameters. From personal experience, I liked this device because it isn’t a complicated-looking synth, but it is really powerful and has a large preset library at a fair price. 

 

To be frank, certain features, such as Frequency Modulation, LFO, and Bit Crasher, are absent from this. For me, it’s not a huge deal; the positives outweigh the negatives, and I’m glad I got my hands on a copy of SubLab. So yeah, if you’re looking for a quick and simple way to make a killer sounding 808s or Subs, this plugin would be great.

Requirements:

  • Available as VST2, VST3, AU, AAX
  • Compatible with Mac OS 10.10 – higher
  • Compatible with Windows OS 7 – higher

If you enjoyed this article and learned anything, please share this blog with your friends so they can learn something as well.

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