Crafting a Powerful Sub Bass in Xfer Serum: - A Step-by-Step Guide

Creating a robust and impactful sub bass is an essential skill for any music producer, regardless of genre. Xfer Serum is our synth of choice, it offers a plethora of tools and features to help you craft the perfect sub bass. In this tutorial, we will walk you through the process of creating a warm sub bass using Serum, with a focus on the basic theory.


Step 1: Initiate a New Serum Patch

Begin by opening Xfer Serum and initiating a new patch. We need to ensure we have a blank canvas to start building our sub.

Step 2: Oscillator Setup

  1. Change Oscillator A wavetable to basic shapes (by clicking where it says "Defualt") We will leave the wavetable position to ensure we select a clean sine wave. This waveform's simplicity will provide a clean foundation for a powerful sub bass.

  1. Draw in a midi note that is in the key of your track, the note for your sub bass will vary depending on the genre you are creating. However, for most styles of electronic dance music, we recommend you select a note between C0 and F0. You can choose to sustain single notes that are different to your mid range bass sounds, or draw the same midi notes in a lower octave for your sub to follow along with them.. Just make sure you stay in key! Always experiment and find what works best for your track, sometimes adding a note an octave up can compliment your mix.

Step 3: Envelopes

  1. Set the Amplitude Envelope:
    • Apply a short attack time (around 10-20 ms)
    • Apply a release time of 30-60ms  
      These settings will avoid clicks and ensure smooth transitions between notes. 

      Step 4: Distortion

      Let's head over to the FX tab and apply tube distortion to the sub bass to add harmonics, making it more audible on smaller speakers. We like to apply 30-80% drive to Serum's distortion.

      *If you are applying a heavy amount of distortion, don't forget to apply an eq and cut out the higher frequency harmonics that will clash with your mid basses. We recommend setting a cutoff of 100-150hz, adjusting the frequency to match your track.


      Step 5: Final Touches

      Don't forget to set the voicing to mono mode; this ensures only one sub note plays at a time.

      While you're there, play around with the portamento time control knob. This applies a pitch bend between your notes and gives that smooth gliding feel.

      • For a subtle effect with a quick transition, set the portamento time to around 50 milliseconds. This will create a gentle glide between the notes without it being too noticeable or pronounced.
      • To achieve a more noticeable and pronounced pitch glide, experiment with longer portamento times between 100 and 250 milliseconds. This will result in a slower and more dramatic transition between the notes, giving a prominent gliding feel.

      Remember that the specific values you choose will depend on the context of your music and the desired aesthetic. Feel free to play around and experiment until you find the perfect balance for your musical composition!


      There you have it, a nice, warm-sounding sub! By following these steps, you can create a sub-bass that underpins your tracks with depth, impact, and clarity. Experiment with different settings, and remember that practice is key to mastering this essential aspect of music production.