Output Substance Review – A New Breed Of BASS!


Output Substance
  • Sound
  • Features
  • Ease Of Use


Substance stands out from the instrument crowd in providing potential for eclectic bass as well as the proven sounds that create the foundation of your music.

– 3 sound sources, lots of possibilities
– Very playable presets
– Fun macros

– Some unnecessary skeuomorphism

Output is an adventurous company creating a unique niche of excellent Kontakt libraries (see our Output Exhale review) and fx plugins that suit the contemporary music writer. Its latest addition is Substance – a library focused on the bottom end of sound creation.


Output’s GUI scripting is excellent as usual – visually dark with muted red blue and yellow colour bars to dictate which layer you’re working with.

There was a bit of skeuomorphism which I found a little distracting, with fake knobs and oscilloscopes. I kept trying to click them. But hey, I’m just a curmudgeon.

Output managed to put a LOT of information and options in a small space, without making it seem cluttered. In keeping with the Output family, presets are encased within the script; a box of descriptive terms helps you filter down to the sound you need. Looking for Dirty, fat analog sound design? a few clicks give you the closest options out of the hundreds of presets. It’s an efficient way of preset hopping.

At the top of the window are 6 tabs, which take you to different elements of the library.

You’re presented with the main window in the first tab. There are 3 slots to be filled from a choice of 9 nicely contrasting categories, from the standard sub synths to Low Brass, Bass guitar and impacts. Each of the categories has 9 different source sounds. There’s a variety of analog, digital, and acoustic instruments to choose from. Once the source is selected, you can adjust the volume of each layer, flick between sources of each layer, and adjust the macros (more on that later).
The next two tabs help shape the fundamental sound. The edit tab provides parameters to adjust envelope, pan, tuning sample start of each layer. I loved the 3 options for mono to stereo spread, which help narrow and focus the bass.

Clicking the advanced button gives you access to the key range of each layer, enabling different tones in different keyboard areas. I particularly liked the relative button on glide, which alters the time taken to glide depending on how far apart the notes are.

The EQ tab has a comprehensive 3-band EQ per sound source, and a global EQ. The settings on the EQ’s can be copied and pasted to other sources to speed up the process.

I kept coming back to these pages, especially in the mix, as positioning the bass in the soundstage and the spectrum is so important in music.

Getting it slightly wrong can make music sound wooly or can take the energy out of other instruments. Output in these two tabs provides plenty of parameters to help shape the bass you want.


Filter tab gives you access to 10 different filters; each source with its own filter and envelope. There’s also a high and low pass global filter. The FX tab gives access to 6 different effects per source, from pitch, delay, reverb, motion, compression and distortion. 4 global FX complete the tab.

Rhythm and Macros
These two tabs bring the sounds to life. The 4 macros are a fantastic design by Output as seen in their other libraries.

You can assign 6 of almost any parameter in Substance to each Macro. This enables the potential for significant tonal, rhythmic and timbral change with the movement of one fader. Multiply that by four, and you have a very powerful sound design machine!

Whatever tab you have selected, you click the macro button, and hover over the parameter you want to change; click, and its done! very efficient. This is my favourite element of Output’s libraries.

The rhythm tab provides all the automatic modulation of Substance. This is where the Dubheads get their wobble on. Assigning movement to several areas of each source, as well as globally; including volume, filter freq and res, and distortion.

The movement can be a wave shape LFO from preset waves, or a wave you draw yourself, or from a step sequencer with preset or custom patterns. If that’s not enough, there’s a flux parameter, which modulates the modulation! Of course, this is accessible by the macros as well, so you can control the amount of movement with a fader.

Just next to the Macro button is an arpeggiator, with several patterns to choose from, and gate and swing amounts.

Substance is another fantastic library from Output. The word I’d use first to describe the library is Layers.

The 3 sound sources combining to create a single instrument provides a lot of scope for sonic interest. I love the possibilities of blending analog, digital and acoustic bass sounds together.

This blend between acoustic and digital a theme that traces through all of Output’s libraries, and it’s still a very fresh sound. The editing tools help to sculpt the sound within the soundstage and frequency range, which is so important for that end of the spectrum.

The breadth of sounds it can make is also fantastic, making itself useful for a wide range of styles, from IDM to Sounddesign. You can spend hours creating and shaping your own sound, or quickly pick from among 300 very playable presets.

Substance stands out from the instrument crowd in providing potential for eclectic bass as well as the proven sounds that create the foundation of your music.

Price and Availability
Substance costs $242/238€ (approx.) and you can find more info here.
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