FANTASTiC | 29 February 2016 | KONTAKT VST: 1 GB | AU: 1 GB
Slap Bass was sampled from a Fender Jazz electric bass guitar with Carvin J99 pickups and DR Hi-Beam bass strings directly into a Radial Pro48 DI Box. An extended range was obtained by tuning the E-string all the way down to a C. The low B (B0) of a standard 5-string bass was omitted do to “floppiness” from down-tuning. “Slap” and “pop” articulations were carefully and meticulously recorded for each note, although in the extreme upper range of the bass, do to tension of the string, normal notes starts to become indistinguishable from a pop articulations. Regular notes were recorded with a guitar pick, in order to maintain a semi-percussive and metallic sound.
Regular pick notes were recorded in 5 note round-robin with 4 velocity layers. The velocity layers themselves don’t have much of a dynamic range (between -7 -1 dB), as bass guitars are typically compressed signals that end up somewhat level in modern recordings. Slap articulations are 5 turn round-robin, but exist as one velocity layer. The decision was made to simply pick the best representations of a slap or pop sound, rather than mix in many different sounds, in order to achieve a “better” sounding vst instrument as opposed to a more “realistic” one.
Bass strings were periodically cleaned with denatured alcohol, as the metallic Hi-Beam sound tends to darken rather quickly. Pains were taken to ensure that the transition in tone between strings was minimized by selecting the best places to start sampling a new string. One octave of harmonics was achieved by selecting the best harmonic tones and tuning/detuning strings around these notes, thus it would be impossible to recreate these harmonics on a standard-tuned bass, but they do sound cool.
Slides were recorded for most strings, but were ommited for things like open strings, or when sliding down or up would overshoot standard tuning. Major Thirds and Perfect Fifths were chosen for the sake of usability. Slides were recorded at a tempo of 120 BPM.
The Kontakt version of Slap Bass is cross-platform, and is maintained by NI, all the programming and effects being done through them. Some simple scripting is done by us. The VST and version is another beast entirely, and the programming falls entirely on AdamMonroeMusic. The goal in any sample library that is also a VSTi (virtual instrument) or Audio Unit, is to attempt to match the performance of the Kontakt Player. With this library, we feel like we have done just that.
The VST version includes updated, high-performance algorithms. For example, the buffering algorithm is double-buffered and multithreaded, which means that buffering performance is fast, even on slower computers, and even in lower latencies. Voices are held and iterated over in a pure, C-Style array. Memory use is comparable to the Kontakt version. Because of the solid VST code base, you can feel confident that the VST version should work just as well as the Kontakt version.
Why develop a VST or Audio Unit version at all? Although a great piece of software, the Full version of Kontakt (required to run 3rd party sample libraries) is expensive. Developing a VST and Audio Unit version that anyone can use does not add significant time to the development of a Slap Bass library – most of the time is spent sampling and processing the samples – so it’s a real no-brainer. Audio engineering is a large part of creating a VST or Audio Unit, but the sounds of this slap bass have barely been processed. Slight eq tweaks were done here and there, mostly so that the instrument would have a similar sonic footprint note-to-note. Some noise was removed to level out some of the “hotness” associated with bass guitar circuitry and pickups.