Review: BASE by Spinnin' Records
BASE is a new plugin by Spinnin' Records that synthesizes kick and bass sounds. The interesting part is that the kick and bass are linked together in terms of volume, spectrum, and timing. Technically BASE doesn't do anything that you couldn't already do if you currently have a way to make both kick and bass sounds already, it just saves you a ton of time and gives great sounding results out of the box. BASE is available now from Spinnin' Records for only €29.99, and there is a 14 day free trail to check it out.
Let me explain. Often in electronic or dance music you will side chain your bass with your kick drum, so that every time your kick drum hits the bass drops in level. There are two main reasons you'd want to do this, one is that it allows the kick drum to stand out in the mix, and the other is that it just sounds cool to make your track 'pump' in this way. To achieve this you first need your kick track and your bass track. Then, put a compressor on your bass, select the kick drum as the side chain, and dial in your attack / release knobs to achieve the desired effect. Often its a pain to get perfect results since compressors typically have their attack/release knobs in ms and not something useful for this application, like 1/8th notes or 1/16th notes.
BASE simplifies that whole process to 1 synth plugin with an incredibly simple interface. Of course you don't have as much control over the raw sounds as you would doing everything manually, but the focus of BASE is making your life easy. Open the plugin, select your raw sounds, dial in the timing of your side chain and bass length and you have a solid foundation for your dance track.
How Does BASE Sound?
I think BASE sounds great. There is a diverse selection of kick and bass sounds (100 presets), and the minimal knobs available on the plugin give you enough control to dial the sound to exactly what you're looking for. The plugin's focus is really on simplicity and saving time, but it really does work and sound very good.
Check out this video I made exploring the sounds of BASE:
At first when I used the plugin I thought I had found some weak points about it. 1: what if I want to side chain something else off of just the kick drum, and not the bass? 2: what if I want to process my kick and bass sounds separately? 3: What if I want to use the sounds i'm using for my bass and kick without the link feature? Spinnin' Records has some great solutions for those problems, and the answer is the 'Split MIDI' and 'Split Audio' functions. Split MIDI allows you to trigger the kick and bass parts independently by dividing your keyboard into sections that trigger either. Split Audio allows you to route the audio of the kick and bass separately, so that you can process them separately or side chain something else off of just the kick sound.
Note that if you want to use the Split Audio feature you should check that your DAW is supported, but it seems like every major DAW except Garage Band is supported (and thats because Garage Band doesn't support multi-out instruments, not the fault of the plugin).
There aren't any true downsides to this plugin. Personally I would have liked there to be an advanced tab to control the synth parameters for the kick and bass, but again the focus here is really about simplicity and time-saving.
Everyone who makes electronic or dance music should check out BASE and see if its for them. At only €29.99 and a 14 day free trial, its hard to find anything to complain about. Within about 10 seconds you can load up this plugin and have your entire kick / bass foundation figured out for your track, making it perfect for beginners or pro's in a time crunch. Some pro's might be fast enough at setting up side chains and fine-tuning them to care about BASE, or they might be too particular on how they like it to sound, but for the rest of us we just want something that sounds bangin' so we can focus on the rest of the track.