808: Signature Series by Acolyte
“Sub Frequency perfection is the heart of every jaw-dropping track.”
One of the top obstacles we face as producers today is dialing in a mixdown so that the bottom end punches through hard without being squashed or overpowering our tracks. Often frustrating is the fact that perfecting the fragile sub and low bass frequencies is a top priority when producing Bass and Dance Music since we absolutely need that low end to drive the energy of the dancefloor.
Part of the solution to this problem is to use and create the best quality sounds possible, spending the time to either hunt down top-notch samples or learn how to tighten up our synthesis and sound design skills. Then there’s the issue of fitting these sounds into a production and polishing the whole track down into a professional sounding and commercially viable master, and we all know the struggle of trudging through hours of YouTube or forking over a decent chunk of change to get this issue sorted out. Fortunately Acolyte’s 808: Signature Series offers producers a unique opportunity to sharpen their production skills and add some seriously awesome sounds to their collection at the same time, and at a surprisingly low price considering the value of the pack as a whole.
“We can’t imagine any serious producer not having this.”
The 808: Signature Series is a unique combination of a soundbank, a preset pack, and an educational resource. Personally, my favorite part of the pack is that there is a built-in feature that essentially custom molds the entire product to your unique production needs, but I’ll save those details for after I lay out the downloadable contents of the pack.
Fifty presets for Xfer’s Serum Wavetable Synthesizer exhibit Serum’s outright power beautifully with each one being thoughtfully designed and fully macro routed for quick and easy modulation. Aside from having a wide variety of sounds that hold their own well enough to be used immediately, users can expect to discover plenty of insight by studying the mechanics of each patch. One detail that I found particularly enlightening when I opened this pack was breaking down what the macros were doing on some of the presets, I had a blast figuring out how these sub-centric sounds can be manipulated while remaining clean and powerful. Another neat little touch that I found helpful is that each patch is named after a well-known artist, making it easy to pick through the list on the fly and get as close to your final sound as possible before making adjustments.
Also included in the pack are twenty-five wavetables to feed your Serum oscillators, each one being very well suited for high-quality sub synthesis. From interesting and unique single cycle waves to fully morphed tables, there is definitely not a shortage of incredibly useful material to work with. Unlike some wavetable collections which feature a low percentage of gems, the 808: Signature Series does away with the “fluff” and serves as a go-to source for building your low frequencies.
One Hundred 808 samples and fifteen bonus sub fills make up a substantial portion of this pack. Expertly crafted 808 inspired sub bass in a variety of flavors, some common qualities that stand out among the selection are rich textures, interesting aural movement, and powerful clarity. There are plenty to choose from and I’ve noticed that it’s common to find more than one candidate that could work well in a given situation. I enjoy being able to A/B between two or three awesome sounds to start from rather than being forced into a surprise sound design session because I have one decent choice that’s not quite hacking it.
Another obvious benefit to working with audio files is the ability to drag and drop, stretch, pitch, reverse, et cetera; some producers even have a preference for working in audio as much as possible. Audio also gives a visual representation of the sound as well, although a wave’s appearance is irrelevant when physically experiencing the sound, it is still useful for comparison and visualization purposes. A technique that I have picked up recently is to grab a sample that has an exciting element like a timbre or groove and use that sample as a reference to build my own sample featuring the original element. With these 808’s, I like that I have an excellent quality starting point and solid material to reference my own creations on both audibly and visually.
Ableton Live Sub Racks
Racks are one of the coolest and under-discussed features of Ableton Live, and the racks in this pack are simple but effective tools that are ready to go with minimal adjustments. Five racks in total give you a couple different options in terms of processing and flexibility, but all five are aimed at cleaning up your sub and lower bass regions, helping you to open up space for both your bass and the rest of your track to breathe while remaining clear and present. Similar to the way presets can be dissected to pick up techniques, these effect racks also provide an educational element to start applying to your production.
Gold Serum Skin
With Serum’s relatively new support of custom skins has come a plethora of designs that add a little extra spice to your DAW and allow producers to personalize their synthesizing experience. The Gold skin included in the 808: Signature Series is a smooth, classy design reminiscent of a vintage analog synth, perfect for adding that extra bit of bling to your project.
The Secrets and Science of Sub Frequencies PDF
This is where the 808: Signature Series really starts to come together as a whole, as this document formally introduces an educational element to the pack. Without giving away too many secrets here I can say that this is something that I wish I had been able to get ahold of a long time ago. Briefly summarized are the critical bits of information needed to maximize the potential of a mix by paying attention to details that can be damaging to low frequencies. Not only is this important information, but it is laid out in a format that is thorough yet referenceable. It is really awesome for a resource like this to be included in a soundpack of this caliber, which considerably adds value in time saved researching and experimenting. Considering that the last piece of the pack is a series of five (5) one-on-one lessons with a member of the Acolyte team, the Secrets and Science PDF is a great place to start reigning in your low end and prepare to start really shaking things up with the help of a mentor.
Mono e Mono
At Acolyte some of the questions we hear the most are:
‘Why are my tracks not as loud as professional tracks’
‘Everything gets duller / quieter when I turn up my low end how do I stop this?’
‘I’m using great sounds, but how can I achieve a professional mix-down that is label worthy?’
And last but not least:
‘How do I make the perfect 808, one like from like [Insert Track]’
I have seen more and more opportunities popping up lately to buy video series’, pay subscription fees, or pay to attend classes that teach techniques to boost your quality of production to a more professional level. Many of these opportunities are extremely well designed in terms of quality and content, however there are obstacles that some producers face such as pricing, scheduling, and finding the right resources for their individual needs. As an artist who has utilized a wide variety of the resources available for learning production, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from the 808: Signature Series lessons but my experience far exceeded what I was ready for.
Having a personal mentor is one of the best ways to become great at anything quickly, and getting some time and individual attention from an experienced, knowledgeable artist is no exception. These lessons offer an opportunity for more than just feedback on your tracks, focusing on the low-frequency areas, how they may be affecting your mix as a whole, and how to hone in on problems and solve them efficiently.
Some of the most common questions I see throughout online production communities are related to low-end issues, and often times newer producers aren’t even aware that these are in fact problems on the low end. Getting really familiar with the concepts needed to effectively wield massive sub is a relieving box to be able to check off your to-do list as a producer. The 808: Signature Series really steps up to the plate and offers a huge head start on this front, going beyond the traditional boundaries of a sample pack and individually ensuring that you get the most out of your new toys.
After going over everything included in the pack, it’s hard to believe that everything is included for just under $60 (the pack goes for $57). Every once in a while I come across a pack that catches my attention and fills a major hole in my sample library, 808: Signature Series is that pack at the moment and has managed to sneak into every one of my projects ever since I picked it up.
“Producers at Trap Nation, Circus Records, and Trap & Bass are already using these sounds every day in their productions.”