What Is Sub-Bass? Unraveling the Depths of Low-End Frequencies

Unleash the power of sub-bass frequencies. Dive into the depths of low-end impact and create music that shakes the ground. Get the lowdown now!

Ever wondered what makes your speakers thump with power and your heart skip a beat? Sub-bass is the secret ingredient behind that mind-blowing low-end experience in your favorite tunes. Are you ready to dive deep into the realm of earth-shaking frequencies? Let’s unravel the mysteries of sub-bass together!

What is sub-bass? Sub-bass refers to the range of frequencies below the ‘typical’ bass range in a song, usually ranging from 25 to 80Hz, and it plays a crucial role in reinforcing the low-end, providing a harmonic foundation, and adding that unmistakable thump to your favorite tracks.

What is sub-bass?

Sub-bass refers to those deep, rumbling frequencies that exist below the ‘typical’ bass range in a song, typically ranging from 25 to 80Hz. It’s like that earth-shaking bass drop that makes you involuntarily nod your head and feel the music pulsating in your chest.

A black audio speaker on a table. Source: pexels
A black audio speaker on a table. Source: pexels

Now, you might be wondering why sub-bass is such a big deal. It’s not just about making your speakers thump or impressing your friends with powerful beats. Sub-bass plays a vital role in music production. It’s like the sturdy foundation upon which a song is built. It reinforces the low-end, giving it that extra oomph and creating a powerful sonic impact.

Think of it as the glue that holds the entire track together, ensuring that every element of the mix is balanced and cohesive. Without sub-bass, the music might feel lacking, like a party without the bass drop that makes you lose your mind on the dance floor.

My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

What is sub-bass? Unraveling the depths of low-end frequencies | 717qmgla7zl. Ac sl1500 | audio apartment
My favorite MIDI keyboard (at the moment):

AKAI Professional MPK Mini MK3

I’m loving the AKAI MPK Mini MK3 for its compact design and the range of controls. It’s one of my essential tools. The velocity-sensitive keys and MPC-style pads are great for making beats, while the thumbstick and knobs give me precise control.

What is the difference between bass and sub-bass?

Sub-bass and bass are like siblings but with slightly different roles in the music world. While regular bass (or mid-bass) is designed to be audible on most systems and adds depth to the overall sound, sub-bass takes things to a whole new level.

Sub-bass focuses on those ultra-low frequencies that you might not consciously hear but you can definitely feel. It’s the secret ingredient that elevates certain genres like dub, reggae, dubstep, drum & bass, garage, and house, giving them their signature earth-shattering sound.

So, remember, sub-bass isn’t just about being loud or overpowering; it’s about creating a visceral experience that resonates with the listener. It adds depth, impact, and that gut-wrenching feeling that makes your music truly come alive.

A dj mixing music in a festival. Source: unsplash
A dj mixing music at a festival. Source: unsplash

What are the notes and song keys for sub-bass?

Now that we understand the essence of sub-bass, let’s talk about the sweet spots when it comes to those low frequencies. When crafting your sub-bass lines, you want to hit the right notes to create that perfect low-end foundation. So, which notes and song keys should you focus on? Here’s the inside scoop:

  • Good sub-bass notes: Aim for notes between F0 and A0 in the sub-bass range. These frequencies provide a solid and impactful foundation for your track.
  • Song keys: For songs with heavy bass, you’ll often find them in keys like F Minor, F# Minor, or G Minor. These keys naturally lend themselves to deep, resonant basslines that’ll make your speakers shake and rattle.

Here’s a fascinating data table that showcases popular song keys and their corresponding sub-bass frequencies:

Song KeySub-Bass Frequency Range (Hz)
F Minor43 – 88
F# Minor46 – 92
G Minor49 – 98
C Major32 – 65
D Major36 – 73
E Major41 – 82
A data table showing the sub-bass frequency ranges for popular song keys.

Remember, finding the right notes and keys for your sub-bass is all about setting the stage for the head-bobbing and foot-tapping experience you want to deliver to your listeners.

What are the types of sub-bass?

Now that we’ve got our notes and keys in check, let’s dive into the different flavors of sub-bass sounds. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to sub-bass, so let’s explore some of the popular types:

1. Clean sine sub

This one’s for the purists. The clean sine sub provides a focused and pure sub-bass sound, perfect for creating a smooth, rumbling foundation.

2. 808s

Ah, the iconic 808s! These babies have been shaking sound systems since the dawn of hip-hop and beyond. With their characteristic punch and weight, 808s add an undeniable presence to your sub-bass.

3. Saturated/soft square subs

Looking for warmth and roundness? Saturated or soft square subs got you covered. These sub-bass sounds add a touch of character and harmonics to your low-end, creating a rich and pleasing texture.

How do you layer sub-bass?

Now that we’ve got our sub-bass notes and sounds dialed in, it’s time to take it up a notch and explore the art of layering sub-bass. This technique allows us to create a robust and dynamic low-end that shakes the ground beneath our feet. So, how can we achieve this? Let’s dive in!

By sidechaining the sub-bass to the kick drum, we ensure that these two essential elements work together seamlessly…


One of the most common and effective techniques in layering sub-bass is sidechaining. By sidechaining the sub-bass to the kick drum, we ensure that these two essential elements work together seamlessly, creating that signature thumping sound. Here’s how it works:

  1. Set up a sidechain compression plugin on the sub-bass track.
  2. Use the kick drum as the sidechain input to trigger the compression.
  3. Adjust the attack, release, and ratio settings to create a pumping effect, allowing the kick to cut through the sub-bass.

Phase Cancellation

When it comes to layering sub-bass, we need to be mindful of phase cancellation. This phenomenon occurs when two or more audio signals are out of phase and interfere with each other, resulting in a loss of volume or even cancellation of certain frequencies. To avoid this sonic collision, keep these tips in mind:

  • Check for phase cancellation: Use a phase meter or your ears to identify any frequency cancellation between the sub-bass layers. Adjust the phase or timing of the layers to align them properly.
  • EQ for clarity: Use EQ to clean up any overlapping frequencies between the sub-bass and other elements in the mix. Cut unnecessary frequencies to create space and ensure clarity.

Here are more tips when using sub-bass:

Do experiment with different sub-bass sounds to find your unique signature.Don’t overpower the mix with excessively loud or dominating sub-bass.
Do consider the song’s key when crafting your sub-bass lines.Don’t neglect checking your mix on different audio systems to ensure the sub-bass translates well.
Don’t neglect to check your mix on different audio systems to ensure the sub-bass translates well.Don’t forget to listen for phase cancellation when layering sub-bass with other elements.
Dos and don’ts of using sub-bass

We want our sub-bass layers to work harmoniously, not engage in a chaotic clash. By sidechaining and addressing phase cancellation issues, we can achieve a powerful and well-defined low-end that elevates our music to the next level.

If you want even more great tips and information, watch this video called “What is the Sub-Bass?” from the Groove3 YouTube channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions about sub-bass? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.

Can sub-bass be heard on all speaker systems?

While sub-bass frequencies can be felt more than heard, it’s essential to have a speaker system capable of reproducing those low frequencies accurately. High-quality subwoofers and club systems are designed to handle sub-bass effectively, delivering that earth-shaking experience. However, smaller or low-quality speakers might struggle to reproduce sub-bass frequencies with clarity and impact.

Do I always need to sidechain the sub-bass to the kick?

Sidechaining sub-bass to the kick is a popular technique, but it’s not a hard and fast rule. Sidechaining helps create that pumping effect and ensures the kick cuts through the mix. However, it’s a creative choice, and you may decide to use sidechain compression sparingly or not at all, depending on the style and vibe you want to achieve in your music.

What can I do to avoid phase cancellation when layering sub-bass?

Phase cancellation is a tricky issue that can arise when layering sub-bass sounds. To avoid this problem, there are a few important tips to consider. First, it’s crucial to check for phase cancellation by utilizing a phase meter or relying on your own ears. If cancellation is detected, adjusting the phase or timing of the sub-bass layers becomes necessary to ensure proper alignment. Additionally, employing EQ techniques can be helpful in eliminating overlapping frequencies and establishing a well-balanced mix by creating space for each element.


Bass-ically, understanding sub-bass is crucial for any music producer diving into the depths of low-end frequencies. It’s the bass-ment for creating a solid foundation, delivering impact, and making your music resonate with listeners. Thanks for joining me on this sonic adventure. Remember, the world of sub-bass is ever-evolving, so keep experimenting, keep learning, and keep the bass bumping!

And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below. I read and reply to every comment. If you found this article helpful, share it with a friend, and check out my full blog for more tips and tricks on music production and audio engineering. Thanks for reading, and may your sub-bass be deep and mighty!

Key takeaways

This article covered the topic of sub-bass and its significance in music production. Here are some key takeaways:

  • Sub-bass refers to the range of frequencies below the ‘typical’ bass range in a song, providing a powerful low-end impact.
  • Sub-bass and regular bass (mid-bass) have different roles, with sub-bass focusing on ultra-low frequencies that can be felt rather than heard.
  • Ideal sub-bass notes are between F0 and A0, often found in song keys like F Minor, F# Minor, and G Minor.
  • Types of sub-bass sounds include clean sine subs, 808s, and saturated/soft square subs.
  • Layering sub-bass involves techniques like sidechaining, checking for phase cancellation, and using EQ to clean up the mix.

Helpful resources

Image Andrew Ash
Written by Andrew Ash, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Andrew, and I'm relatively new to music production, but I've been learning a ton, and documenting my journey along the way. That's why I started this blog. If you want to improve your home studio setup and learn more along with me, this is the place for you!

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Edited by Nick Eggert, Staff Editor

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