Layering

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Jagwah
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Joined: 16 Jan 2015

Post 28 Jan 2022

I am keen to learn more about layering but I am not finding decent tutorials that cover it well.

I am specifically interested in layering big dubstep bases. They tend to include a big sub bass, mid range and high range.

Could it be as simple as EQ boosting and cutting and shelving to make them fit together along with some kind of glue effect? And a general sense of what feels right and beats well together?

If there is more of a technical aspect I'm really interested in learning about it but like I said I'm just not finding any in depth tutorials on this. Please paste any links you might have on decent tutorials or share your experience / knowledge if you can.

Cheers!
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

rootwheel
Posts: 267
Joined: 21 Aug 2021

Post 28 Jan 2022

Jagwah wrote:
28 Jan 2022
I am keen to learn more about layering but I am not finding decent tutorials that cover it well.

I am specifically interested in layering big dubstep bases. They tend to include a big sub bass, mid range and high range.

Could it be as simple as EQ boosting and cutting and shelving to make them fit together along with some kind of glue effect? And a general sense of what feels right and beats well together?

If there is more of a technical aspect I'm really interested in learning about it but like I said I'm just not finding any in depth tutorials on this. Please paste any links you might have on decent tutorials or share your experience / knowledge if you can.

Cheers!
Hey Jagwah - I use a lot of layering in my music. I never followed any tutorials, I just experimented a lot with trial and error. I often will use a Group Mix Bus and send three or four instruments which are playing the same part to it. I will usually use EQ on each of the original channels to make each one target a different part of the frequency spectrum and then put a glue compressor on the Group Bus. That's about it, sometimes I'll tweak attack and release times on each instrument to improve the blend and bring out the sustain better from one part.

Eventually I end up with something that sounds like one instrument and is greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes I'll tweak the ReGroove on the MIDI lanes if I want the parts to not be completely locked in to each other (this works well for fattening the impression of snares/claps so they don't all trigger with the exact same timecode)

I hope that helps...

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Jagwah
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Post 04 Feb 2022

rootwheel wrote:
28 Jan 2022
Hey Jagwah - I use a lot of layering in my music. I never followed any tutorials, I just experimented a lot with trial and error. I often will use a Group Mix Bus and send three or four instruments which are playing the same part to it. I will usually use EQ on each of the original channels to make each one target a different part of the frequency spectrum and then put a glue compressor on the Group Bus. That's about it, sometimes I'll tweak attack and release times on each instrument to improve the blend and bring out the sustain better from one part.

Eventually I end up with something that sounds like one instrument and is greater than the sum of its parts.

Sometimes I'll tweak the ReGroove on the MIDI lanes if I want the parts to not be completely locked in to each other (this works well for fattening the impression of snares/claps so they don't all trigger with the exact same timecode)

I hope that helps...
Thanks that's really good advice. I can see how tweaking the Regroove Mixer or even individual envelopes of the sounds can be very noticeable. It's going to take some time to get a good feel for this but I will keep at it, cheers! :mrgreen:
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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QVprod
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Post 04 Feb 2022

Can't speak specifically for dubstep, but layering is not that complex. Idea is you use sounds that compliment each other. In other words, you don't combine 2 sub basses. There are bass sounds that have more mid rage than low end. EQ can also be used to make things fit better. Everything else is tweaking to taste whether you add compression, saturation, or an overall EQ.

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nooomy
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Post 04 Feb 2022

Jagwah wrote:
28 Jan 2022
I am keen to learn more about layering but I am not finding decent tutorials that cover it well.

I am specifically interested in layering big dubstep bases. They tend to include a big sub bass, mid range and high range.

Could it be as simple as EQ boosting and cutting and shelving to make them fit together along with some kind of glue effect? And a general sense of what feels right and beats well together?

If there is more of a technical aspect I'm really interested in learning about it but like I said I'm just not finding any in depth tutorials on this. Please paste any links you might have on decent tutorials or share your experience / knowledge if you can.

Cheers!
I think the main thing about layering is about having different sounds that compliment each other. Start with just two sounds one low freq and one high freq. The high freq sound should be wider than the low freq.

If the sound needs EQ booting and cutting i would just try to look for another patch or sound. A low pass on the low freq sound and a high pass on the high freq sound should be enough.

At the end of the chain there should be a compressor with a slow attack and release that merges the sounds together. Im usually pretty aggressive with the compression when it comes to layering, usually around -8db. But its a matter of taste and the sounds you are after.

This is not something you can just learn through a video,

You just have to put down the work and find what fits your style and sounds. learn through doing! I mean you can make a huge sounding layered bass that sounds awsome alone. But when you put it in the mix it sounds like shit. Play around and listen to how it sounds in the mix!

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BRIGGS
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Location: Orange County California

Post 04 Feb 2022

Band pass filters work great, in this case. You might even try the EQ mode on the vocoder, for weirdness. Comb filters are fun, too. : )

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Jagwah
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Post 10 Feb 2022

QVprod wrote:
04 Feb 2022
Can't speak specifically for dubstep, but layering is not that complex. Idea is you use sounds that compliment each other. In other words, you don't combine 2 sub basses. There are bass sounds that have more mid rage than low end. EQ can also be used to make things fit better. Everything else is tweaking to taste whether you add compression, saturation, or an overall EQ.
Thanks you are quite right. I wonder how many of us put off doing things because we think they are complicated and need a great deal of commitment. After some experimenting I realise it's just not that difficult. More a matter of experience and gaining a better ear for it.
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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Jagwah
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Post 10 Feb 2022

nooomy wrote:
04 Feb 2022
Jagwah wrote:
28 Jan 2022
I am keen to learn more about layering but I am not finding decent tutorials that cover it well.

I am specifically interested in layering big dubstep bases. They tend to include a big sub bass, mid range and high range.

Could it be as simple as EQ boosting and cutting and shelving to make them fit together along with some kind of glue effect? And a general sense of what feels right and beats well together?

If there is more of a technical aspect I'm really interested in learning about it but like I said I'm just not finding any in depth tutorials on this. Please paste any links you might have on decent tutorials or share your experience / knowledge if you can.

Cheers!
I think the main thing about layering is about having different sounds that compliment each other. Start with just two sounds one low freq and one high freq. The high freq sound should be wider than the low freq.

If the sound needs EQ booting and cutting i would just try to look for another patch or sound. A low pass on the low freq sound and a high pass on the high freq sound should be enough.

At the end of the chain there should be a compressor with a slow attack and release that merges the sounds together. Im usually pretty aggressive with the compression when it comes to layering, usually around -8db. But its a matter of taste and the sounds you are after.

This is not something you can just learn through a video,

You just have to put down the work and find what fits your style and sounds. learn through doing! I mean you can make a huge sounding layered bass that sounds awsome alone. But when you put it in the mix it sounds like shit. Play around and listen to how it sounds in the mix!
Yes I am hearing a lot about width in tutorials I am watching lately. The general idea being wider at the top and in the middle and solo on the very bottom.

I agree you just got to put in the work, I have done a little and already starting to get a good feel for it. Yes the mix must be considered as well or it's kind of pointless. Cheers.
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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Jagwah
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Post 10 Feb 2022

BRIGGS wrote:
04 Feb 2022
Band pass filters work great, in this case. You might even try the EQ mode on the vocoder, for weirdness. Comb filters are fun, too. : )
Thanks dude I have found bandpass filters work really well. I can still have the big layered sound but using band pass filters I can cut out a huge amount of deadweight in there. Even using bandpass filters quite aggressively on each element I'm still able to build a big layered sound it's been quite interesting.

I'm a longtime fan of comb filters, I will definitely check out vocoders EQ that sounds interesting, cheers big ears :)
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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Jagwah
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Joined: 16 Jan 2015

Post 10 Feb 2022

Jagwah wrote:
10 Feb 2022
nooomy wrote:
04 Feb 2022

I think the main thing about layering is about having different sounds that compliment each other. Start with just two sounds one low freq and one high freq. The high freq sound should be wider than the low freq.

If the sound needs EQ booting and cutting i would just try to look for another patch or sound. A low pass on the low freq sound and a high pass on the high freq sound should be enough.

At the end of the chain there should be a compressor with a slow attack and release that merges the sounds together. Im usually pretty aggressive with the compression when it comes to layering, usually around -8db. But its a matter of taste and the sounds you are after.

This is not something you can just learn through a video,

You just have to put down the work and find what fits your style and sounds. learn through doing! I mean you can make a huge sounding layered bass that sounds awsome alone. But when you put it in the mix it sounds like shit. Play around and listen to how it sounds in the mix!
Yes I am hearing a lot about width in tutorials I am watching lately. The general idea being wider at the top and in the middle and solo on the very bottom.

I agree you just got to put in the work, I have done a little and already starting to get a good feel for it. Yes the mix must be considered as well or it's kind of pointless.

Also having a look at multiband compression, it's very popular in serum and seems to be a bit of a staple of these big layered sounds even if it is not a great method, I will soon see how useful it is to me.
Cheers!
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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avasopht
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Post 10 Feb 2022

I'd say that some instruments seem to work uber well for layering basses.

Maelstrom has a hell of a lot of great textures, as does that free randomizer RE (with the brown background).

A couple of months ago I also found the Korg Prophecy kicks ass for layering as well.

I'll even go as far as to say that the thinnest sounding patches tend to layer exceptionally well, maybe even better than those rich maelstrom textures.
---

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Timmy Crowne
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Location: California, United States

Post 10 Feb 2022

The above comments are spot-on. I’d only add that I try to determine why I want to layer in the first place. What am I trying to accomplish? Two sounds layered won’t necessarily feel bigger or more interesting, especially if their envelopes are too similar (e.g. layering a sub bass underneath another synth bass may be indistinguishable from enabling a low octave oscillator on the patch or simply boosting the lows with EQ.)

I find that the most interesting combinations come from variance over time. Imagine routing two sounds through a crossfader and changing the blend dynamically with automation or an LFO. That way, the overall sound (or each note) evolves over time. This happens naturally when two instruments play in real life. The discrepancies in timing, amplitude, pitch, timbre and noise content create a lot of variety that enriches the sound.

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FGL
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Joined: 23 Jan 2015

Post 10 Feb 2022

What kind of layering? If you want to make a Sample-Instrument with layered Samples or Synth you can also use Kong for this. But you could also do it direct in the Song and chance slightly over time.
But the main advices here are true, mainly it is just experimentation. I have a special template for layering Instruments that records the several sources through a special Mastering-Channel into one Track inside Reason and then bounce this in to Audio files from where I can do testing and chop the Audio before bouncing to Disk.

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Jagwah
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Post 25 Feb 2022

avasopht wrote:
10 Feb 2022
I'd say that some instruments seem to work uber well for layering basses.

Maelstrom has a hell of a lot of great textures, as does that free randomizer RE (with the brown background).

A couple of months ago I also found the Korg Prophecy kicks ass for layering as well.

I'll even go as far as to say that the thinnest sounding patches tend to layer exceptionally well, maybe even better than those rich maelstrom textures.
I remember wayyy back people talking about Malstrom for layering I must try it out.

I've been enjoying layering Europa with Serum wavetables, along with a few Algoritms. Been refining a Combinator template for it:
JAG - READY TO ROCK COMBI 5.0.zip
It's been very interesting experimenting and seeing how just a few thin layers can seem quite large, cheers!

Timmy Crowne wrote:
10 Feb 2022
The above comments are spot-on. I’d only add that I try to determine why I want to layer in the first place. What am I trying to accomplish? Two sounds layered won’t necessarily feel bigger or more interesting, especially if their envelopes are too similar (e.g. layering a sub bass underneath another synth bass may be indistinguishable from enabling a low octave oscillator on the patch or simply boosting the lows with EQ.)

I find that the most interesting combinations come from variance over time. Imagine routing two sounds through a crossfader and changing the blend dynamically with automation or an LFO. That way, the overall sound (or each note) evolves over time. This happens naturally when two instruments play in real life. The discrepancies in timing, amplitude, pitch, timbre and noise content create a lot of variety that enriches the sound.
Yes, I've seen movement mentioned a lot especially when dealing with something like a full spectrum dubstep bass, it's important and happens in quite a few ways. Cheers for the crossfader idea that's one more way I haven't yet thought of and should set up easy in a combinator!! :thumbup:

FGL wrote:
10 Feb 2022
What kind of layering? If you want to make a Sample-Instrument with layered Samples or Synth you can also use Kong for this. But you could also do it direct in the Song and chance slightly over time.
But the main advices here are true, mainly it is just experimentation. I have a special template for layering Instruments that records the several sources through a special Mastering-Channel into one Track inside Reason and then bounce this in to Audio files from where I can do testing and chop the Audio before bouncing to Disk.
That's a cool set up! I am mostly interested in layering modern dubstep type basses. I agree it's a lot about experimentation, it wasn't as difficult as I expected once I got it underway, cheers!
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:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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BRIGGS
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Location: Orange County California

Post 12 Apr 2022

Jagwah wrote:
10 Feb 2022
BRIGGS wrote:
04 Feb 2022
Band pass filters work great, in this case. You might even try the EQ mode on the vocoder, for weirdness. Comb filters are fun, too. : )
Thanks dude I have found bandpass filters work really well. I can still have the big layered sound but using band pass filters I can cut out a huge amount of deadweight in there. Even using bandpass filters quite aggressively on each element I'm still able to build a big layered sound it's been quite interesting.

I'm a longtime fan of comb filters, I will definitely check out vocoders EQ that sounds interesting, cheers big ears :)
:lightbulb: Recently, I've been using the SSL Channel EQ rack extension's LP and HP filters. They are great for letting a sound live in it's own space. That EQ, is just so handy! :puf_smile:
r11s

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selig
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Location: The NorthWoods, CT, USA

Post 12 Apr 2022

As a general rule you have two approaches to layering - layer by frequency or layer by time. Layer by frequency is more common, where you create (or find) patches with the specific band quality and fine tune them to work together. This includes process like finding a bass with great low end and a bass with great top end and 'fitting' them together. Layering by time would be adding the attack of one sound to the sustain of another. Combining them works too, like adding high end attack sounds to low end sustain sounds.
You can also have overlapping frequencies too, you don't have to be 'absolutist' with the approach, like layering acoustic and electric piano together or any unison instrument layer.

Deep dive - if you want to get down to the core of the subject, study classic orchestration to understand where the common concepts of doubling/layering are used to create 'new' textures from existing instruments. Some combinations stood out over time such as flutes and oboes, violins and violas, french horns and trumpets, flutes and violins, etc. Sometimes these are layered in octaves, which is another area to explore. Layering is also common through the big band period and into rock/pop music, it is an essential part of arranging instruments IMO, no matter the genre/style/instruments.

TL/DR: layering is a classic arrangement technique that can be applied to synths as easily as orchestral interments.
Selig Audio, LLC

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Jagwah
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Post 22 Apr 2022

BRIGGS wrote:
12 Apr 2022
:lightbulb: Recently, I've been using the SSL Channel EQ rack extension's LP and HP filters. They are great for letting a sound live in it's own space. That EQ, is just so handy! :puf_smile:
They look really smooth but at AUS $250 to upgrade I may be on R10 for some time.
selig wrote:
12 Apr 2022
As a general rule you have two approaches to layering - layer by frequency or layer by time. Layer by frequency is more common, where you create (or find) patches with the specific band quality and fine tune them to work together. This includes process like finding a bass with great low end and a bass with great top end and 'fitting' them together. Layering by time would be adding the attack of one sound to the sustain of another. Combining them works too, like adding high end attack sounds to low end sustain sounds.
You can also have overlapping frequencies too, you don't have to be 'absolutist' with the approach, like layering acoustic and electric piano together or any unison instrument layer.

Deep dive - if you want to get down to the core of the subject, study classic orchestration to understand where the common concepts of doubling/layering are used to create 'new' textures from existing instruments. Some combinations stood out over time such as flutes and oboes, violins and violas, french horns and trumpets, flutes and violins, etc. Sometimes these are layered in octaves, which is another area to explore. Layering is also common through the big band period and into rock/pop music, it is an essential part of arranging instruments IMO, no matter the genre/style/instruments.

TL/DR: layering is a classic arrangement technique that can be applied to synths as easily as orchestral interments.
Thanks Giles always great to get your input on something like this.

I like how we can add another layer of depth by using the layer of timing, to have a big layered bass with some elements hitting immediately and others easing in or out adds so much to the overall picture. It's nice to know we can have overlapping frequencies instead of getting too caught up there, I was really surprised how much I could cut out of individual elements using BP filters when layering, still leaving a big sound with a lot of room for other elements.

I never thought of looking at orchestras to learn a thing or two here, going to listen and try and decipher some layered instruments. I bet there are certain combinations that are tried and true and used often. It makes me wonder if for a recording a sound engineer would attempt any frequency mixing at all.

Cheers! :puf_smile:
:reason: It's all about the plo, yo.

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