Producing Good Dubstep

Posts 1 - 25 of 32
  1. 182704
    Chud37 : Tue 14th Apr 2009 : 13 years ago

    I dont like to boast, at all, but I feel i've made some good dubstep songs recently and judging from the feedback i've had on looperman I think thats quite a far statement.

    Anyway, I want to share some of technics and advice with people, as I think it could help out people quite alot. Im not a professional by any means, but as I said, i've had good feedback and i'd like to share my thoughts on the music making process with you all.

    First of all, if you dont know what Dubstep is, go and check it out. Particular favorites are Caspa ( and Rusko ( These two are what got me into dubstep in the first place, listening to Fabriclive37 (my all time favorite track being Africa, by 'The Others') and since then i've found lots of other artists that i absolutely love (See my profile page, But a few names are Bar9, The Widdler, Reso, Stenchman and Suspect) all of which can be found on myspace.

    Rather than do a step by step process of making good music, i'll just write out a few pointers, as you cant really say 1) do this 2) do this 3) publish, it doesnt work like that unfortunately! So lets begin.

    #) I think a good thing to start out with is your software. Things like fruity loops and magix music maker are all very well and good, but they dont produce the results and the versitality that the pro's use. Personally I use Cubase SX3 (Im hoping to get version 5 soon, on a student license, for 241) Which i really like. I started off making music a long time ago in Magix Music Maker v2, which was free of a magazine, and was crap. It was basically an arranger and nothing more, and i knew nothing about VSTs and effects or anything. Mind you, i wasnt making dubstep then, just screwy messy trippy type songs with various waves that i had.
    Other music production software (DAWs) that are really good are Reason, Reaktor, and Sony Acid Pro (which Rusko uses). And im going to investigate Reason soon, when i get round to it. But for now im sticking with Cubase. Its logical, and I really like the way it works, because its quite similar to the old MM v2 that I used to use, just alot, lot better.

    #)Build up a sound collection. Over the years (probly about 8 now) I've built up my sample collection from many many different sources. Its something like 8 or 9 GB now, and its got loads of stuff from magazine free-bee collections to things i found online, to samples from TV and Films and anything else i thought was worth saving.

    #)Get a MIDI keyboard. I cant play piano (although im kind of learning) but the MIDI keyboard helps so much. I can load up a synth, and just fiddle around with notes and LFO settings until I find something worth making. Before i was just putting notes in and hoping they sound good. I've got an *extremely* basic knowledge of chords, but i also found a very good tool called Scaletool, which tells me any chord i wish to know and I use alot. ( So now i can make a quick drum beat, and set up my MIDI track to output to my Synth, and just play along until something sounds nice.

    #)Dubstep isnt all about LFOs. LFOs are useful and if you want to make a song similar to 'Cockney Thug' its fine, But one thing that really makes a Dubstep song sound quite amateur i find is just having long notes like C, E and F with an LFO on them. Unless you've hit upon an amazing synth configuration, its not going to sound that good. Caspa can get away with it because he knows how to work synths well, and the quality of the synth he uses is just fantastic.

    #)There are many different types of Dubstep out there, try and find yours. People like Kromestar are quite minimalistic, Low basslines and I dont think he ever speeds things up in his drum beats. Stenchman makes very disjointed dubstep, but its still very heavy and bassy and goodness knows how he gets away with it really.

    #)Imitate Artists. Quite a lot of my songs are based on pro songs, And i've even managed to find out the notes for a few of my favorite ones. I've made songs very similar to Cockney Thug, Mr Muscle, and Flapjack (by the Others) but they were just for fun. Its useful however, to see how they made the song and what kind of scaleset they used.

    #)Listen to lots of Dubstep. Its key. You have to know the genre. Listen to the professional songs and try and break them down. Many times i've put a drum beat into cubase and cut it so that it loops properly, and just overlayed a bass drum and snare over the top to see what pattern they used. I dont really do this anymore, unless im properly trying to remix something. But it really does help when starting out to see the kind of pattern they used. Pretty much all dubstep is in 140 BPM, so that makes life easier.

    #)No Constant Wobs! As i mentioned above, simply putting consecutive notes one after the other and adding an LFO to it, doesnt sound good. See how the pro's do it. Try and vary it in each bar. Maybe put like a note thats 1/5 of the bar long and have that LFO at say, 1/8T or 1/16, then some other sounds to finish off the bar. Again it really helps to reverse engineer the professional songs and see how they did it. Take a listen ot Bar9, they dont ever use LFOs, it just sounds like a bunch of trumpets or something but the songs are amazing. One thing to note about them aswell is they dont use Claps, just dull snare drums. But the sound is fantastic, and so different from the norm. Now there are exceptions to this rule, as Caspa has demonstrated, and in my latest song 'Sandwalker' i've pretty much used just a C note (i think i've put like 2 others in there nearer the end lol) but the first 2 minutes or so is just the note C with effects on it. But i just fiddled around with the LFO Rate, the Filters Cutoff, and the Reso. It made for a good sound so i went with it.

    #)Samples! Samples are great fun. I love them, and i do tend to overdo them a bit, but I try and restrain myself. Bear in mind that one or two words have alot of power in them. Its quite traditional in dubstep to have the sample, then the loud drop almost straight after it. Make sure you get your timing right. Professional artists will hardly ever put a sample of someone talking in the background in a song. Lots of times they will stop the whole song and put the sample in and start it up again. Cockney Thug is a good example of this.
    As for where to get your samples from, well like i said anywhere and everywhere. When your watching a film, listen out for a good sample. Or TV, or other songs, or anything. There is a couple of guys called Cassetteboy who made a living producing albums of just cut up samples. They are bloody funny. And the best thing is, you can use them for free, as they stole them in the first place. So go for it.

    #)Producing. There is a general rule of thumb that you keep your bassdrum at 0db, your Snare at 5db, and your percussion and highhats at -10db. I dont follow this amazingly well, but sort of. Its all a question of what sounds good. Im still learning about producing, But so far using a multiband compressor and a limiter is working pretty well. Also i try and isolate sounds so that they all have their own band of frequency, for instance, my bassline might be coming in at 40-300Hz, so I'll whack an EQ on the bassline and limit it to just that. And if my bassdrum clashes I might whack it up to 350Hz, and EQ that too. It takes practice and I dont actually see immediate results on my machine to be honest with you, but I think it helps to keep it sounding good on other equipment, mp3 players, cd players, or even if you get big, Radio. But its not too much to worry about, if you do get big your music will be produced by a professional in a studio before it goes into the shops.

    #)Find some good synths. Theres a Producer Masterclass on youtube by Rusko, which i was amazingly excited to find. In there he mentions alot of good tips but he also mentions that he uses Albino 3, which is outstanding. I've also got Hydra, which isnt as veritile at all, but can still be quite dirty (listen to the bassline in my song Sandwalker for a little demo of the Hydra synth, the high pitch pad-like noise was Albino)

    #)Learn how to use Synths inside and out. You can spend ages really getting to know a synth. I still dont know what everything does on it. Its good to learn how the ADSR works, the waveshape, the LFO, and the filters. And thats probably all i know. But there is so much more on the high end synths. I think its just a question of fiddling around. But still i am trying new things and going 'oh wow thats a cool effect' which i've never used before. Just by chance. For instance, on the song No Regrets, I've used a Mod Envelope to alter the pitch, which is why the synth goes down a bit after a certain amount of time (its only like 10ms or something short like that, but noticeable). I didnt know that up until a week ago. So im still learning! But fiddle around.

    #) Be Selective about what songs you 'release'. I've got so many songs half or nearly made on my computer. But i dont like to release them until I really like them. Its that moment when you play it back and go 'wow! its all come together'. Theres like 2 or 3 i've got almost ready to go, but im not putting them out there until I really like them. But you wouldnt believe the amount of crap i've made. There are some songs on my computer that I would be so embarresed to show anyone, they are that bad. But its all a learning process.

    Anyway i've sort of run out of things to say. If anyone wants any help with Cubase, i dont mind helping, Not that i know it inside out, but i've learnt lots in the past year and its good fun.

    Go produce!

  2. 211864
    SuspektNumber1 : Tue 14th Apr 2009 : 13 years ago

    nice tutorial type thing bro
    in alot of depth i need to take more time to figure everything out to make proper dubstep one day it will be my time :D

  3. 182704
    Chud37 : Tue 14th Apr 2009 : 13 years ago

    Lol. I reckon you'll get there if you really want it, but yeah, music certainly does require alot of time and effort. Snot easy! :) But it definitely gets easier the more you learn.

  4. 290382
    theNomaly : Mon 17th Aug 2009 : 12 years ago

    Chud37 said: "Things like fruity loops and magix music maker are all very well and good, but they dont produce the results and the versitality that the pro's use."

    Really? Here's what Skream, a pioneer of Dubstep had to say:
    "I only use FL Studio [fruity loops] and a lot of software plug-ins and stuff. Just anything I can make a bassline on, really. The thing is that everyones a bit prejudiced when it comes to Fruity Loops. Because it is so simple people seem to have a problem with it. But why? If I can do in that what some people can do in Logic, then why not? Its my little playground that I know like the back of my hand, so why not? I can do the same with it what a lot of people can do in Cubase and Logic."

    source: Red Bull Music Academy interview, Melbourne 2006

    I appreciate your advice, but I just wanted to let you know of this.

  5. 60800
    jahknow : Tue 18th Aug 2009 : 12 years ago

    Skream can suck it.

    I'm a Chud fan since way back. Dude you're rockin' it. I'll be back to add more in a bit.

  6. 208277
    Optym : Sun 23rd Aug 2009 : 12 years ago

    Thanks for the quick tutorial. Dubstep is a genre I've been toy'n with and to afraid to share my results, but like you stated lots of practise and knowing your software/ hardware inside out really helps

  7. 60800
    jahknow : Mon 31st Aug 2009 : 12 years ago

    Imma list some of my favorite artists that weren't in Chud's post, just for your listening pleasure. As Chud says there are lot's of different styles of dubstep. Everything from raw raw reggae style dubs (6blocc, tes la rok, osc and noah d, l-wiz, and rusko) that use very distinguishable skank style rhythms in there tunes. This keeps a cut time 140 bpm moving a bit clickier and has a bit of 1-2-on 3 style snare clap usually.

    There are lot's of dubsteppers leaning towards what I consider ambient style dubs. Burial and Kromestar come to mind. This style usually uses lot's of space and reverb, long evolving dark pads and drum kits that are very non-traditional.

    Then there is a whole onslaught of what I consider heavy metal dubstep. Raging deep dark synths accented by dark and often angry samples. Alot of these tunes are using altered basslines that emulate vocal wave shapes so that the bassline is literally popping out of the speakers and talking to you. Formant synthysis, organ bass waves, deep cutting sawtooth wave forms, all very typical in that raw heavy screaming dubstep.

    There are some artists out there who actually are pushing dubstep out the door so to speak and combining the techniques of dubstep production back into there root genres like DnB, UK Bassline and wonky. Thias isn't as easy as you'd think as dubstep has it's formats and general production 'rules' so to speak. Artists like Zed Bias and El-B have take dubstep 1 further to include what is 'danceable dubs' in a heavier groove based house style dub.

    So here's a list of artists to check out:

    bass clef
    big ben and macguyver
    black canvas
    duke spook
    jack sparrow

    that should get you started... ;)

    Look beyond Skream and Benga please. There are top notch producers out there that have taken to whole other levels. Don't get me wrong, the grandfathers of dubstep are still hot, but you'll get tired of listening to midnite request line after about the 5th me.


  8. 241372
    celestial1157 : Mon 31st Aug 2009 : 12 years ago

    i love dubstep forums.

    chud, i feel what your saying about taking your time on dubstep beats and all, but in a sense i do have to agree with TheNormaly, because i honestly use strictly fruity loops. HOWEVER, i use only vst plug ins for my bass, rhythm and effects (the few that i have).
    im not saying what you have to say isnt right. what im saying is im taking both sides of this.

    i have done PLENTY of research on dubstep. finding how it all came about, the pioneers of dubstep, almost everything there is to know. but that doesnt mean i can make good dubstep beats, cuz im FAR from where i would like to be.

    chud, this tutorial forum will be very helpful to me. ive read some things i kinda knew and alot of things i didnt know.

    for anyone who wants to talk dubstep more, hit me up on any of these. ill be glad to discuss dubstep :)
    AIM - idiotboi1157
    email -

    p.s. thanks for the new artists to check out Jah, i been wantin more dubstep

  9. 60800
    jahknow : Tue 1st Sep 2009 : 12 years ago

    and is you want dubstep. You can find Jah on souldseek as jahknow.john

    I have 10,000 + dubstep tunes alone, not including traditional dub, reggae, bassline, wonky, trance dubs etc. I gots lots.

  10. 241372
    celestial1157 : Tue 1st Sep 2009 : 12 years ago

    my man jah!
    always comin thru!!
    yeah ill deff check that out cuz me and my friend are always competing to see who has the most dubstep.
    ill deff beat him now lol

  11. 332116
    MrMoski12 : Mon 14th Dec 2009 : 12 years ago

    good tutorial man im just starting to use FL studio and want to experiment with some dubstep sounds, nice one!

  12. 312046
    Unknown User : Tue 15th Dec 2009 : 12 years ago

    also a bit of special k dont hurt either

  13. 359472
    TST : Sat 13th Feb 2010 : 12 years ago

    The Sound Tutors Dubstep workshop - Ableton side chain techniques

    I've been noodling away and just finished my 13 part tutorial series on Dubstep bass using NI's Massive synth.

    It also uses Ableton Live 8 and another series I have made covers a lot of useful information regarding side chain compression and sub bass.

    The Sound Tutors Dubstep workshop

    Video 1: Intro & promotion video (2:30)
    Video 2: Getting started (2:26)
    Video 3: Setting the tone with Oscillators, Amp ADSR & the Modulation oscillator (8:15)
    Video 4: Voicing and pitch options (5:55)
    Video 5: Signal Routing, Filters, Effects and Noise (8:13)
    Video 6: Envelope and LFO modulation (7:04)
    Video 7: The Performer (2:55)
    Video 8: Modulating the modulator (2:53)
    Video 9: Automation (3:39)
    Video 10: More modulation uses for animated tone (1:45)
    Video 11: Creating the sub bass to go with the mid hi bass (6:11)
    Video 12: Technique in practice - example one (5:01)
    Video 13: Technique in practice - example two (5:20)

    Sub & sidechaining techniques for Ableton Live 8

    Sub & sidechaining techniques for Ableton Live 8 part 1- key and timing
    Sub & side-chaining techniques for Ableton Live 8 part 2- Layered and filter side chaining


  14. 111346
    Planetjazzbass : Sat 13th Feb 2010 : 12 years ago I am reading through this great thread on a subject I know bugger all about in the great place we call Looperman..when I come across your post....and a link for donations for your work...this totally goes against the whole idea of this place, it's FREE need to understand this place a little better before you take it upon yourself to openly promote your doubt others will have their say

  15. 64965
    DonnieVyros : Sat 13th Feb 2010 : 12 years ago

    TST- While I appreciate what you are trying to do here (helping others out of the goodness of your heart). Please keep in mind that there are rules here. Take note of the second to last rule of the 'Forum Posting Guidelines'-

    *Do not post ads / affiliate links / try and sell things. If you want to advertise here contact us.

    Also, from experience I can tell you that advocating (or fishing) for donations actually has the opposite effect (it causes people to feel less inclined to do so because of the pressure you put on them from the get-go). Secondly, doing so all random and out of the blue like you did makes you seem shady. It's oft better to come into a place and establish yourself before going into such bold announcements. Who is more trusted, the friend or the stranger, savy?
    Sorry if it seemed like I was comin down on ya, but the rules are the rules (and sound advice is sound advice). Don't let this discourage you. Go out and mingle it up in the mix a bit mate. We're pretty friendly folks here. Lates!


  16. 359472
    TST : Mon 22nd Feb 2010 : 12 years ago

    @ D_Avg and planetjazzbass

    Sorry if I have rubbed you up the wrong way, as you can tell by the fact I've done these I am a nice guy.

    The production of these took quite a long time so the donationware element had to be added so those who feel they want to pay for the education can.

    I understand the forum rules thing though, and sorry if my post seems out of the blue, it wasn't as the videos were created in response to this and some other forum posts without any definitive answers covered.

    Sadly I don't post on forums much these days as I don't have time, but I'll try to keep an eye on whats going on here as there's always something new for us all to learn.

    All the best and no offense intended :)

  17. 316780
    Apieceoftofu : Thu 25th Feb 2010 : 12 years ago

    what a pleasant conversation... anyway thanx for the thread. I had no idea bout the decibal level guidlines for kick and snare/clap and hats. Ill keep that in mind next dubstep track. Thanx brah!

  18. 568455
    dubmask : Sun 20th Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    If you are willing to create real dubstep and not only some wobble music you have to search for more deep atmosphere like burial, ital tek and not to forget dubmask ;-) -- check it out and you will see that dubstep is not only about making aggressive music...

  19. 558898
    Skyhunter : Sun 20th Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    Hahahahaa totally laughing at the "pro's don't use Fruity Loops"

    Does anyone even know who Spor is? He's like the god of DnB, the master of dirty basses.

    Yea. Spor only uses Fl Studio.

  20. 268784
    3n0 : Sun 20th Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    thats one looooong post...a whole book!!!

  21. 636839
    simmerdown : Sun 20th Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    dubmask, great stuff yours...checking ital tek too (i dont get out much, lol)

    and yes, Burial, what is there to say?

  22. 673599
    Metabolic : Sun 20th Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    i never liked fruity loops too much it felt too schooly/childlike if ya catch man dift, no offence to u fruity fans

    i reckon iv cracked the ways of producing good dubstep (finally)

  23. 337508
    subSpace : Mon 21st Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    fruity loops 9 is good for producing dubstep just recently i have produced some great dubstep tracks like my recent called

    (ROBOTIC INVASION)but the tips are cool though it does not matter what daw you use in any sense it comes down to the artist and what they know best

    BASSHUNTER used fruity loops 9 for his track called (NOW YOUR GONE)

    my bit of advice is do not make dubstep or any genre till you understand the concept and theory. my preferred Dubstep artist of choice would be scream, nero, chase and status and subfocus and dj fresh.

    i will admit though that i am taking a great liking to dubstep you tube is a great source for dubstep making and also ableton tutorials damn ableton does so much i love ableton live 8 fl9 and reason


    RoLLaGeE ;-)

  24. 636839
    simmerdown : Mon 21st Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    one of the tenants of dubstep (nothing in stone of course) , is a certain simplicity, fl obvoiusly works i think that is what skream started with and maybe still uses

    keeping things simple in ableton is hard bc it is so great, and awesome,

    that'll help no one, i know, but i felt like typing, lol

  25. 180667
    Tiltedbeats : Mon 21st Mar 2011 : 11 years ago

    Hell yeah boi @ skyhunter.

    Spor spor spor all tha way... Fl rep all day ahaha.
    My fav from him is As Dust Falls.

Posts 1 - 25 of 32

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