Review: de la Mancha bassbomb
A little over 3 years ago de la Mancha started releasing free VST instrument and effect plug-ins for Windows. Quite prolifically too.
After releasing many freebies — lots of great random/probability-based FSU type stuff, early 2008 de la Mancha released Octav8r, its first commercial plug-in; a 7 band pitch shifter collaboration with Singing Crane.
Currently de la Mancha’s collection of plug-ins spans more than 50 freeware and commercial plug-ins including 4-operator FM synth FMMF (3rd place winner of KVR’s Developer Challenge 2009), and drum sample player ballistic, released as a charity fund raiser for Cancer Research UK (over £1,000 GBP donated already!)
bassbomb is dlM’s latest effort, a monophonic bass “monster”.
bassbomb is a monophonic, bass synthesizer focused on creating a wide range of bass sounds from punchy to chunky via squelchy and fat with a sprinkling of dirt on top. It does everything from dubstep wobble, electro house dirt, funky bounce, breakbeat dirt, hiphop boom, acid squelch and more besides. As well as bass lines it’s also happy banging out kick drums and bass drops, with a pure sine sub osc to really nail that low end.
bassbomb features 2 (syncable) oscillators with 7 custom waveforms. They have detune and pulse width controls, and adjustable Unison with spread for each. There’s a sub oscillator (sine) to fatten things up.
A 24 dB/octave low pass filter features velocity and key tracking for the filter cutoff.
ADSR envelopes are available for the amp, filter, and modulation. There’s a “pickup” button for each of these, which once enabled will keep the envelope’s attack from re-triggering, which can be useful to minimize clicks.
The mod envelope can modulate the detune and pulsewidth parameters of each one of the (sub)oscillators, the filter cutoff & resonance, and the amount of “dirt” – a home-made cocktail of saturation and harmonics that will bring rawness and filth to your bass escapades, according to dlM.
These mod targets can also be modulated by 2 LFOs, which feature 20 waveforms with adjustable phase. The LFOs can be synced by note (each time you play a note) or by host tempo, from 1/32th beat to 32 beats. The second LFO can also modulate the depth and frequency of LFO 1.
bassbomb also features a straightforward tempo-synced (1/32 beats to 4 beats) arpeggiator. It has a number of patterns (up, down, up/down, down/up, tarnce, and fancy) and plays notes with adjustable note length, from 1 to 4 octaves.
The user interface is pretty straightforward and easy to understand. Knobs can generally be double-clicked to go revert to default settings and you can fine-tune values by holding the Ctrl-key while adjusting a knob. The text below knobs can also be clicked allowing you manually enter exact values, even beyond the range of the knob. The yellow outer rings of modulation targets will move in real time when being modulated, a helpful visualization of what’s going on with your modulation.
What else? Some global parameters are available for pitch and volume. There’s a portamento control, a note sync (restarts the osc waveform at every note) and a mono drop mode which kills the previous note when playing another one.
I find bassbomb quite pleasing to the eye too, but hey… what does it sound like? The included presets (200!) show off its capabilities pretty well, not just bass but also lead, drum and fx sounds are included.
So what do I think?
Format: VST instrument plug-in for PC
Price: $24 USD (includes free PULS until 28 February, 2010)
Bassbomb does a great job at what it is designed for. It features all you need to create a wide variety of bass sounds for any electronic music genre, and more. The modulation options are great for creating wobbly bass sounds for drum & bass or dubstep, or for getting a more dynamic/moving sound.
Although I rarely use one, the arpeggiator is a nice addition, and overall I feel like de la Mancha is really coming up with the goods here. It’s probably good to mention that de la Mancha uses SynthEdit to create instruments and effects. Some people avoid anything SynthEdit (yes there are a great deal of SE creations out there that probably aren’t worth your time) but in my opinion plug-ins like bassbomb are well worth checking out.
In short, the bassbomb is a very capable little synth for bass and more. Definitely a good choice for those who are looking for a cheap dedicated bass instrument.
A free demo version is available to download from the bassbomb product page. It lacks some of the features but you can get a good idea if this synth is for you.
Until the 28th of February you’ll get a free copy of PULS (a monophonic pulse wave synthesizer with simple controls but complex sounds) with your purchase as well so check it out.