Mark Bass Super Synth Sound Samples and Patches



Here are some sound samples recorded with my Mark Bass Super Synth bass synth processor. Click the cgraham.com logo above for links to my other pages.

This pedal provides a fairly basic synth effect using what appears to be a sawtooth waveshaper (it's not tracking pitch based on the fact you can feed it pretty much any signal and it will shape it while retaining characteristics of the original signal) and a simple envelope filter. There are three (3) oscilators and an envelope filter you can configure, and separately a digital octaver with three simultaneous -1/-2 octave down and +1 octave up options.

Even thought he pedal has a lot of features offered, it's seemingly crippled by seemingly arbitrary limitations imposed as follows:

  • Your input signal will ALWAYS bleed through, there is no way to definitevely run a 100% wet signal. This is more noticable on some patches than other.
  • There are only 9 synth and 3 octave presets that can be saved at any given time. I have no idea why there is such an annoyingly small number of presets available, or why they are forcibly grouped as they are.
  • There is only a single sawtooth waveform provided. None of the typical square, PWM, sine, triangle, etc. oscilator voices are provided at all.
  • There are 7 non-editable factory oscilator settings, and only 1 user configurable oscilator setting. And only 3 of the factory oscilator settings provide a raw sub-bass synth oscilator, the rest are all octave-up sounding oscilators. Note that you can in fact use the 1 user configurable oscillator uniquely on each and every patch - you're not forced to configure a single user oscillator and then reuse that. The manual and reviews I've read were not perfectly clear on that point.
  • My biggest grip is with the envelope filtering. It's frustrating to work with and always wants to push the filter cutoff into very high frequencies. I struggle with filter re-triggering specifically due to the way the Filter Dynamic setting controls the responsiveness of the filter retriggering and peak cutoff simultaneously. Thus to increase sensitivity for retriggering (good) you unfortunately have to simultaneously increase peak cutoff (often bad or undesirable). Thus there's no way to implement good attack/decay filtering that focuses on a low cutoff and low filtering depth with responsive retriggering as the Filter Dynamic always pushes cutoff too high.
  • There's no direct controls for down swept filtering. However, you can apply an Attack=0, Cutoff=Some Low Value, and a high Envelope setting which will cause the filter to more or less instantly start at a high cutoff and drop towards the lower cutoff, with the speed controlled by Decay. However, you have to keep the previous comment in mind. In order to have good filter retriggering you have to set a high Filter Dynamic which then pegs the cutoff in the high spectrum which then limits your abiility to get thick, low, fast downsweep synth bass tones. It's seriously annoying and limits the usefulness of the pedal, in my opinion.
  • All of the detailed programming must be done via USB using the Mark Bass editor software. You can see this as a pro or a con, many see it as a con as there's no way you can edit patches on-the-fly at band practice or live. Note that the software has some quirks but is usable and reasonably intuitive for people that know synth programming, but the software itself is fairly limited in functionality. For example, no way to save presets to external files that you can share, and no way to open any preset files even if you could share them. At least that I can figure out.
  • When blending multiple oscilators there is an unwanted (in my opinion) phasing applied. Minimally what may start as a thick single voice oscilator becomes a thinner, higher voiced multi-oscilators. Worse is if you try to set a mildy detuned dual-oscillator you get a horribly annoying mid-tempo LFO phase or ringmod like waver occuring which causes an audbile modulation to both volume and oscillator voicing, sometimes the rate of that phasing/whatever changes based on the pitch of your note, hence my mention of ringmod.
  • No ADSR filtering functionality provided, just basic attack/release envelope based filtering.
  • No external control over cutoff frequency, thus no manual, slow filter sweeps. It's pure envelope based. No LFO options, either.

The overalll performance and usability of the software, once you get comfortable with the USB editor software, is pretty good. Some very good sounds are possible as long as you work within it's capabilities. But for the price tag and all of the potential the pedal has based on it's available features and parameters it seems like the manufacture has fallen short of what it should be able to provide, in my opinion. Released in 2009 the Super Synth is marginally better, if at all, than the Korg G5 which came out in the 1990's. That's 10+ years of electronics advancement and I still only have limited functionality and 9 presets to save to. It's hard to fathom. In fact the Korg G5 provides pure envelope filtering, formant styple filtering, expression control over cutoff, downswept filtering, and better envelope detection. Though it has it's share of pros/cons like any other product.

Some tips on using this pedal:

  • The input gain affects sensitivity, but also the strengthy of the constant clean blend. You can lower input gain and  decrease Note On values to maintain synth triggering but reduce the clean blend volume.
  • The software requires you to specifically click the Synth tab before clicking Connect. Poor software design, in my opinion, and it confounds nearly every user.
  • The software requires you to press-and-hold a preset location, then click STORE, then once again press the preset location. Otherwise it will report SUCCESS! but fail to store the preset. Horrible, convoluted, software design.
  • On most Windows computers you can access the preset files in the following location: C:\ProgramData\Markbass\Markbass Pedal Controller\Presets\
  • On a Mac they're stored in Library: Application Support: Markbass: Markbass Pedal Controller: Presets: Synth.

Honestly, after trying what I believe to be just about every bass synth pedal product on the market except the AKAI Deep Impact I thought this product had the most potential due to it's newer calendar release date, the fact it includes a software editor, and that it has 3 oscillators. Unfortunately it seems arbitrarily crippled by way too many restrictions and/or poor implementation of parameters/features. Apparently I'm still waiting for someone to create a product that has excellent mono bass tracking, but provides truly top notch synth voices and filtering options. I need the tracking of the Korg G5 but the feature set of the Roland GR-55 dual PCM engine with beat synced LFO available with the filtering, and assignable expression control. And a killer USB or MIDI editor app that lets me load and share patches with other users.

After spending a couple hours with the Super Synth, at the time I write this in June 2011, if had to choose a single synth effect pedal I'd probably still choose the Korg G5. It's more intuitive and easy to use and easier to coax good sounds out of. I want to prefer the Super Synth as it's smaller and currently in production in case repairs are needed. But the envelope filter triggering and lack of defined downsweep knocks it from the top. 

If Mark Bass happens to read this here is what you can do to make this pedal instantly more usable and flexible:

  • Significantly improve the ENVELOPE FILTER retriggering and tracking. I absolutely hate the Filter Dynamics functionality as it horribly jacks the cutoff extremely high and ruins my ability to generate any type of thick, fat filtering.

My quick review of the unit:

  • Pros: Less expsensive than some comparable products like the Octavus Squeezer; includes a factory provided editor application that works over simple USB; provides pretty good tracking performance with only minimal glitching after setting gain and note on parameters to your instrument; smaller footprint than the Korg G5; three (3) modern sounding oscillators with unison/detune/octave shift functionality.
  • Cons: Filtering is frustrating to work with and always pushes me to either play very s-l-o-w and d-e-l-i-b-e-r-a-t-e-l-y or have the cutoff always dancing in the high range; only 9 synth presets; multi-oscilator tones sound thin or have annoying phasing issues; envelope filter options pretty much force you into using up-sweep filters and/or fitlers with high cutoffs thus it's difficult to get thick, low, fat synth bass tones from this unit; portamento is flakey and I cannot apply it consistently - sometimes it sweeps between the notes, most of the time it does not; uses a 12VDC 500ma power source which means you cannot power it from a typical pedal board multi-power source; odd issue with the way the footswitchs are implemented - you have to press-then-release the pedal to actuate the effect instead of the typical press-and-the-effect-is-instantly-activated as seen with nearly every other piece of equipment in history; the included software has some poor programming such as pressing STORE TO PEDAL to save your preset, getting a success message, but it not actually storing the preset. That's seriously bad programming. There is no company, or even 3rd party, hosted site for downloading or sharing patches. All you get are the 12 factory presets. And no ability to instantly toggle between them, you're stuck cycling linearly from low-to-high-and-back through the presets which seems to make bopping between presets mid-song difficult.

Conclusion:  For the sounds it can do, it sounds really good. But the pallet of deep bass synth sounds are fairly limited and it simply does not track envelope on fast notes well.  I mostly hate it more than love it and always find myself at the KORG G5.
Mark Bass Super Synth



MP3 Patch Settings (unzip to your presets folder) Description Instrument Used Interface Used Notes
Factory and custom oscillator Lakland Duck Dunn P bass fingered GT-10B USB BOSS GT-10B used as a clean interface for recording (no effects), Super Synth is in the GT-10B FX LOOP. I recorded a dry loop in the GT-10B, ran that into the Super Synth, and changed the oscillator sounds using the editor software (since I had to have it open to create and store the presets). I cycle through the seven (7) factory oscillators with no filtering (Cutoff=max, no resonance nor envelope applied), then through four (4) custom user oscillator using a semitone detune for that "unison" sound at 3/7/9/17 semitone differential.  You can hear the phasing issue I've described in many of the oscillator sounds. Often "unison" can sound like this, but it shouldn't when you have two voices in the same octave shifted equally in semitones, at least in my opinion.
n/a
9 custom presets Lakland Duck Dunn P bass fingered GT-10B USB BOSS GT-10B used as a clean interface for recording (no effects), Super Synth is in the GT-10B FX LOOP. I recorded a dry loop in the GT-10B, ran that into the Super Synth, and changed the presets using the editor software (since I had to have it open to create and store the presets). While some of the patches sound decent I'm decidedly unimpressed overall.
Fat, quick downswept synth bass Lakland Duck Dunn P bass picked GT-10B USB BOSS GT-10B used as a clean interface for recording (no effects), Super Synth is in the GT-10B FX LOOP.  Live playing of 8th notes at 144 BPM which is demonstrating the absolute maximum speed (at least by me) of a fat, quick downswept bass synth tone when Filter Dymanics = 0, which is what you really need to do in order to generate those fat downswept tones. I had to heavily palm mute while playing extremely hard pure downstrokes to control both the note on and off in order to get the envelope filter to trigger. And even then I couldn't do it consistently for a long time. And my hand is really tired now. :)   While it sounds decent it's totally unusable in a live scenario, it's too difficult to play consistently like this. Maybe at 100 BPM it would be usable in this manner?
n/a All custom presets n/a n/a Here are ALL of the custom presets I've made as of June 10, 2011.  This includes the patches in the "9 custom presets" sample above, and more. I couldn't recall which 9 presets I used or I would've extracted them into their own separately downloadable package.


 

Last updated 07-23-2011  

 

 
 
 

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