If you’d like to learn more about saturation and distortion, here is a free recording of a live, in-depth workshop I’ve given on the topic. Next time your mid-range bass needs help creating that ‘wall of sound’ style drop or full section, put the Waves GTR Amp on a send-return bus, select the preset ‘Bass Mo-Town – Below & Above’ and dial in the send to taste. Given the price, I think it offers enough versatility to cover much of the same ground as a pair of Distressors. If the Sound Toys Decapitator had a younger brother (aside from the Radiator) the URS Saturation tool would take the cake. So you want a copy of a copy, because you used emulation of a copy. A lower used cost VCA type compressor that I personally like that has some range of use (the Distressor is known for its range of usage) is the Urei LA-10 / LA-12 / LA-22 (single channel / dual channel / dual channel with sidechain EQ filter included). Not much to explain here – just turn the knob way up until you reach the desired effect. Assuming sound-choice and other processing is in place, this should be a nice energy layer. Real Mix Example: 21st June 2016 #2. And there you have it — 20 Saturation Plugins for electronic music, and some specific examples as to how to apply them. That said, this plugin really is amazing, and super affordable. The Distressor is a VCA circuit type compressor. It can produce a huge variety of analogue-style saturation… What makes the Twin-Tube unique is the dual knobs – one for Saturation and one for Harmonic overtones. No, indeed it isn't either of those. Thanks ! With another simplistic interface, don’t over-think this plugin. If you’re like me – this plugin most likely has fallen into the ‘I own it, I use it, but have no idea what I am doing with it’ category at some point. Its quite an annoying myth and interesting how it can be seeded. If you are looking for some extra loudness in your overall mix, slap the sausage on your master, and don’t touch it again. Is there a certain setting on the Distressor you like? Most avid UAD users will likely talk about how great it sounds on guitars, but the warm, crunchy distortions I’ve been achieving in my bass sounds is what makes this thing so special. There is something about the smoothness with which the URS Saturation plugin works that directs me towards using this thing on Synths – anything that sounds overly digital. The Saturation Knob is an extremely powerful one-knob saturation tool and a great alternative to the Sausage Fattener, the Waves one Knob, or even the Decapitator for those on a budget. Bonus: try the Noveltech Vocal Enhancer for a slightly brighter more vocal-ready color! Slap on the Saturn, select the preset ‘Best Of – Back in the Day’, set the mix somewhere between 20-30%. It's mix feature simplifies parallel comp setups for busses. This thing sounds great on vocals – the next time you want that distorted vocal effect in your track, try the One Knob Driver. At the end of the day, this plugin is great for subtle drive and weight on a master or group channel. There are exceptions and overlap so that's why it's just a general rule, you can get specific by looking at individual unit details like range of attack times. The Sausage Fattener is actually part saturator, part compressor, part limiter. Apply on a drum bus for ultimate punchiness. When building your Audien style super-saw stack, isolate a single note lead playing the main melody. Slate Dragon can do Distressor and 1176 and everything in needed. Ever throw some drum fills into your mix and find they just sound dead, dull and boring? Pick ONE element in your mix that needs some attention. Remember, saturation is defined as ‘additional harmonic frequencies’ so it is quite versatile. Turn down the mix if needed – this usually groups my drums very nicely. This monster emulates a 1970’s distortion. The Saturn has some really powerful presets emulating some crunchy amps and tape saturators. Fabfilter Pro-C 2. There are much better, less metallic distortion and fattener plugins out there, but at this price, it can’t be beat. However, if you happen to write a cool ambient melody, try recording your voice 3 times (keep one take in the middle, pan one hard left, pan one hard right), and apply the Redopter on the group with plenty of reverb. Sometimes, a sub can sound great completely clean. Instead, dial in some subtle drive (maybe 3-4), switch the style to the EMI (E) setting, set the mix between 70-80% and listen to your vocal gain new clarity, edge, and brightness as it starts to cut through the mix. You can try other VCA compressors to see if it fits your budget / needs but they will still have their own voicing. So with that in mind, here are my favorite 20 saturation and distortion tools, paired with a real-mix-example which demonstrates how I might use each plugin. OTT is a multiband upwards/downwards compressor made by Xfer Records. Use these two together in small amounts, and you have a very versatile plugin. Real Mix Example: new and improved 1176 as there was a few year gap when 1176's were not made and that gave rise to the EL8. If you have a lead that sounds generic and very ‘preset’ like – try adding some URS saturation for analogue warmth and tonality that feels and sounds expensive. Real Mix Example: Other times, it needs some extra dirt to sit right in a mix. Or, play around with the super powerful presets. It can be anything – vocals, percussion, a lead synth, even a bus or group – throw on the Noveltech Character and turn up the character knob. It can be very useful to thicken up a sound and squash it just right when used it in subtle amounts! So my question is, guys, is there any good alternative that would be less expensive than that and almost as satisfying ? The Redopter is potentially the most underrated plugin on this list. With six vintage pre amplifier algorithms, two analog tape saturation algorithms, and two transformer core saturation algorithms – this is one powerful little plugin. While there are some great videos that might help you wrap your head around it here and here. The people I saw likening them to distressors on gearslutz I think were dealers. Buying used will stretch your budget the furthest and will let you "kick the tires" of canidates with likely only losing shipping costs if you decide to resell a unit that is not right for you. Honestly, this plugin sounds way too good to be free. No guarantees, but what you might be left with is a beautiful, almost British and worldly sounding vocal. Anyone who has ever tried to undertake the creation of huge Audien-like super-saws will know that the Maserati is part of the puzzle. I haven't found one yet and if you are looking for a piece of hardware that replaces the plugin you are using of a Distressor, then I'd probably just get the Distressors. Liberally open the cutoff slightly over the course of a build or break – I’ve yet to come across a plugin that sounds quite as nice. Just a friendly reminder that political discussion, (including "offhand" and 'sideways' commenting) is. Well, I have a Dragon and a couple Distressors. Amazing subtle saturation with added movement, or as Klanghelm calls it – liveliness. There is a loose general rule that you can associate the sound / function of a hardware compressor by it's circuit type which generally is about how fast or slow the compressor grabs. Have no idea about it being like a Distressor, but is a wonderful sound shaper. This breaks a lot of production ‘rules’ but can add some extra edge and loudness to your mix. Dave Derr, whom I had the privilege to talk to for this article, is the creator of the Distressor. I discovered the Reviver when one of my Masterclass students suggested this as an alternative to the famous Oxford Inflator. In short, saturation is THE most effective way to add analogue edge and warmth to your music – often meaning the difference between sounding digital, flat, & dead, versus analogue, warm & alive. In your next future-house production, try adding the Camel Crusher to your top hollow-bass layer, set the preset to ‘British Clean’ and turn the master mix-knob down to 30-45%. Nothing like a distressor, though, but very flexible in its own right. When it comes to saturation and distortion, you’ll want to save this preset. Camel Audio seems to have fallen off the map, but at one point, this was a free plugin, so if you do some digging you can find it somewhere on the inter-webs. This is pretty much the BEST saturation plugin in the game. Tweak the bands until they match a reference track both in color and energy. Try this baby on lead sounds – synths, guitars, saxophones, vocals – whatever. Absolutely love the bass amps in there. Just insert it on your master channel before the limiter and leave it alone. When you buy products through links across our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. The Dragon can get pretty close to that Distressor saturated sound. Well, what's already been said - if you want Distressors, get Distressors. Despite the single control – yes there is only one knob to turn – this plugin offers some versatile distortions at a fairly reasonable price point. Keep the Maserati on the clean setting, and try generously dialing in the presence – this should add some crisp, guitar-like over-tones to an otherwise digital synth layer. If that is the sound you like, why do you want an alternative? On top of that, the dry-wet knob gives you ultimate control, no matter how far you push your sounds. The reason this plugin exists – it’s sole purpose on earth – is for you to TURN UP THE HEAT. I can't think of another comp other than the Dragon that is this. Sure, you can saturate your music to add warmth, depth, and character – but you can even add some movement to your saturation with the ridiculously cool and powerful DRIFT control. If you are looking to make a trance 2.0 bass, something distorted and appropriate for Anjunabeats or Enhanced, apply the Ohmicide and select the Bass #4 preset. On your drum bus, or main loop – select the ‘DR – Bringing Out The Room’ preset, turn up the Character setting to about 40% (still more warm than sizzle), and turn the Drift knob up to 75-80%. Maybe that’s because it emulates the classic hardware Minimoog almost perfectly. Each hardware compressor will bring it's own thing to the table and thats why you see racks of them used by the big boys. 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