Creating a sub bass can be very easy: Open your favorite (bass) synth, turn on a sine or triangle oscillator and boom, you got a nice and clean sub bass.
Sometimes, a sub bass like this won’t do, though – you might need a little more bombast. For this case, I’ve created the following list where I’m collecting free sub bass VST plugins and sample libraries.
Note: Make sure to use headphones or quality speakers to listen to the audio examples. Sub frequencies do not translate well on phone and laptop speakers.
Format: VST, 32 bit + 64 bit
OS: Windows, Mac
Xsub is a free 808 sub bass VST brought to you by Hexloops and SimplySounds. According to Hexloops, Xsub was created “using analog synthesizers, digital sine waves, guitar amps and other fancy gear.” A total of 36 different bass sounds are included, each spanning two octaves. I was surprised by how much the included sounds differ in character. Some of the sounds include an 808-ish click in the beginning, while others are smooth bass sounds. Many of the presets are more on the distorted side – and while this means that Xsub might be a little dirtier than some might like, this is also what gives some of the sounds their unique tone and presence.
Xsub has a built-in ADSR envelope, a panning knob and even a reverb. There’s also a pitch-modulating LFO.
Format: VST/AU, 32 bit + 64 bit
OS: Windows, Mac
X-Eight Lite is the free lite version of X-Eight, an 808 and sub bass VST/AU plugin created by Thenatan. While the paid plugin contains over 1000 presets, X-Eight Lite comes with a total of 80 sub bass and 808 presets. That’s a good amount of presets for a free plugin! What’s even better is that these sounds are all very distinct, creative and fun to play with.
For some, the main issue with X-Eight Lite might be that many of the sounds are not subby or subtle enough and will steal quite a bit of attention as they contain plenty of high frequency content. However, depending on the style of music you’re making, this might also be a good thing – these samples bang hard!
If you want to remove some of the high frequency content, you can use X-Eight’s built-in low pass filter. Besides attack and release, you can also dial in the right amount of glide. This feature makes X-Eight Lite even more useful for creating engaging beats.
There’s another issue with this particular preset selection if you’re looking for sub bass for layering purposes. Most of the included samples feature a prominent kick or click sound in the beginning. While you can lengthen the attack or pull down the filter to remove some of the kick/click sounds, this will also shape the sound in a way that might not be practical for your purpose.
I also discovered an odd behavior that you should be aware of when using the filter: When the filter is completely at 0 and you start turning the knob up slightly with your mouse, the knob will be sluggish and not move but the filter will, in fact, open. (Note: I don’t know if this bug exists just in the context of my setup or whether it’s reproducible somewhere else.) This is not a big problem, but it’s good to be aware of it.
To get X-Eight, you’ll have to add it to your cart on the Thenatan website. You can decide what you want to pay ($0 is okay as well) and are then redirect to a page where you have to type in your email address. After you’ve submitted your information, you will receive a download link in your email inbox.
Not happy with the selection? Here’s more:
- Beatmaker 808 Bass Module 2 Lite (VST, AU / Windows, Mac / 32 bit + 64 bit)
- subfreak (useable sound but GUI is TINY) (VST / Windows / 32 bit)
About this page
I decided to focus page exclusively on plugins and libraries that have their strength in the sub range. There are many other bass synths and libraries with a wider range of bass tones that I will cover in other articles.
Over to you
If you know of any other cool sub bass plugins, I’d love to hear from you! Write a comment below or get in touch here.