Old 08-30-2016, 01:04 AM   #1
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Default Saturation and harmonics

Hello!

What is your approach and tools for saturation and harmonics?
Wide-band, multi-band, pre/deemphasis, type, wetness?

I'm not sure on this subject.
I hear use of bitcrushing, trashing and overdrive,
and I'm often thinking "This is not for me/ my taste".
Yet, tube, transformer, console-emu, adding weight here and there, softening transients -all those things I like.
Is it much about the amount of harmonics?
Or is it very different styles?

I tend to use/like Sknote Strip and Mjuc. I like the Rocket > Impetus and ThrillseekerXTC,
but I'm looking for more understanding on this subject
and maybe some new tools/workflow.

Thanks!
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Old 08-30-2016, 04:36 AM   #2
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It's more about the proportion of even to odd harmonics, as well as the severity of clipping.

Bit crushing is all about quantisation noise and aliasing, which is a different beast.

Sometimes I band limit the distortion input if I'm going parallel, but it depends on the material.

I recently got SoundToys on sale, which includes the infamous Decapitator, but if I hadn't I would probably go for SDRR for a multi-purpose distortion box: http://klanghelm.com/contents/products/SDRR/SDRR.php
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Old 08-30-2016, 07:26 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judders View Post
It's more about the proportion of even to odd harmonics, as well as the severity of clipping.

Bit crushing is all about quantisation noise and aliasing, which is a different beast.

Sometimes I band limit the distortion input if I'm going parallel, but it depends on the material.

I recently got SoundToys on sale, which includes the infamous Decapitator, but if I hadn't I would probably go for SDRR for a multi-purpose distortion box: http://klanghelm.com/contents/products/SDRR/SDRR.php
Thanks!

I've tried the SDRR and heard the Decapitator,
but didn't really like the sound of either..
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:08 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Sun View Post
Thanks!

I've tried the SDRR and heard the Decapitator,
but didn't really like the sound of either..
You can get a whole range of sounds from them. Maybe you just needed to play around a bit more? Especially when distorting a source in parallel, you can add some very subtle "hair" to the sound without having to run it through a compressor emulation or similar.
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:27 AM   #5
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Here's an interesting outlook on the subject:
http://www.farmelorecording.com/in-t...sonic-varnish/

G-sun,
I like to add layers of harmonics in similar ways to what you're saying and not in the overt ways that you also seem to dislike.

It starts at tracking. I will track through analog gear, tubes if possible, and transformers. At mix, I'll add more. I start with console emu. ITB I like API EQ's. ITB compression is buss compression first. This will almost always be something with "mojo". It's these little moves that add to the overall picture.

Lots of plugins do something. It's the cumulative effect though.

I have a buddy who got a Culture Vulture... it's crazy awesome. I don't have the Decapitator, but I understand that it has an emulation of the CV. I've heard that when it works it sounds great. He lives with the CV on his mix buss. It just barely working, but I recall that when he flipped it to standby I said: hey... what happened? The weight and body that it brought was fantastic.

Those emotional reactions are what I go for. I want it to be a subtle "UMPHH" that you just don't want to live without.
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Old 08-30-2016, 08:31 AM   #6
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Imho, SDRR is more on the "tube, transformer, console-emu, adding weight here and there, softening transients" side of things than "bitcrushing, trashing and overdrive"...
Of course, it can bitcrush and push things up to eleven, but it's not really a sound mangler (like, for instance Audio Damage Kombinat DVA or many others), and the real place where it shines is adding transparent saturation and its console mode.
So, maybe indeed that ""This is not for (your) taste"... and that's ok

You can try Rob Papen RP Distort which is rather cheap and give you a wide arsenal of tools. But expect plenty of nasty sounds and dirty shaping of your incoming material

Also, FXPansion Maul should give you a good insight of the distorsion's sonic territories...

I might also suggest you to try Audio Assault HeadCrusher, which seems to be somewhat a Decapitator clone and is very versatile.

When it comes to distorsion, it's easy to overdrive things too much and overlook the power of proper gain staging.
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Old 08-30-2016, 02:00 PM   #7
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With 8 plugins in it, my Saturation folder is the biggest I've got installed. Besides being quite subjective and the clearly different plugin types (like tape sat), I don't think there's a one size fits them all -solution, some plugins fit some sounds while others sound crap. Maybe saturation is harder to get right in digital, idk.

I like the JS Saturation (Loser), and here's one free worth checking out:

http://finecutbodies.com/?p=sound

Softube Saturation Knob is also decent.
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Old 08-30-2016, 06:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Sun View Post
What is your approach and tools for saturation and harmonics?
Wide-band, multi-band, pre/deemphasis, type, wetness?
Hi Geir, may I ask what you find about these plugins that make you like them?

Does it make a significant difference, and if so, how would you describe what it is?

Just curious.
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:39 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpanderson80 View Post
Here's an interesting outlook on the subject:
http://www.farmelorecording.com/in-t...sonic-varnish/

G-sun,
I like to add layers of harmonics in similar ways to what you're saying and not in the overt ways that you also seem to dislike.

It starts at tracking. I will track through analog gear, tubes if possible, and transformers. At mix, I'll add more. I start with console emu. ITB I like API EQ's. ITB compression is buss compression first. This will almost always be something with "mojo". It's these little moves that add to the overall picture.

Lots of plugins do something. It's the cumulative effect though.

I have a buddy who got a Culture Vulture... it's crazy awesome. I don't have the Decapitator, but I understand that it has an emulation of the CV. I've heard that when it works it sounds great. He lives with the CV on his mix buss. It just barely working, but I recall that when he flipped it to standby I said: hey... what happened? The weight and body that it brought was fantastic.

Those emotional reactions are what I go for. I want it to be a subtle "UMPHH" that you just don't want to live without.
Thanks!
Yes, this is a little similar to what I think.

I'm building a pair of MP566 tube preamps, that I hope will give a good hardware flavor when tracking. But, something wrong still, so haven't been able to test them yet.
Need to play a little with my Xpressor warm button as well.
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sinkmusic View Post
Imho, SDRR is more on the "tube, transformer, console-emu, adding weight here and there, softening transients" side of things than "bitcrushing, trashing and overdrive"...
Of course, it can bitcrush and push things up to eleven, but it's not really a sound mangler (like, for instance Audio Damage Kombinat DVA or many others), and the real place where it shines is adding transparent saturation and its console mode.
So, maybe indeed that ""This is not for (your) taste"... and that's ok

You can try Rob Papen RP Distort which is rather cheap and give you a wide arsenal of tools. But expect plenty of nasty sounds and dirty shaping of your incoming material

Also, FXPansion Maul should give you a good insight of the distorsion's sonic territories...

I might also suggest you to try Audio Assault HeadCrusher, which seems to be somewhat a Decapitator clone and is very versatile.

When it comes to distorsion, it's easy to overdrive things too much and overlook the power of proper gain staging.
Yes, listening some more to the SDRR,
yes, maybe I should spend some euro here.

Headcrusher sounds interesting sometimes as well,
and there's the free one
I'm a little careful about spending right now,
at least until I know I'll be using it much.
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noise_construct View Post

I like the JS Saturation (Loser), and here's one free worth checking out:

http://finecutbodies.com/?p=sound

Softube Saturation Knob is also decent.
Thanks!

La Petite Excite: Nice one
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:51 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod View Post
Hi Geir, may I ask what you find about these plugins that make you like them?

Does it make a significant difference, and if so, how would you describe what it is?

Just curious.
MJUC: Besides being a really good compressor, it has this cumulative effect, taming the top a little.
Sknote Strip: Gives some nice character from time to time
The Rocket: Thickens
ThrillseekerXTC: I use this in stead of eq some times.
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:56 AM   #13
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I guess I'd really like to have more precise control over the eq for the added saturation, or maybe multiband.
Then being able to choose type of saturation.

I can use JS splitter, or HoRNet Graffio maybe (yet the demo is really not what I'm after)
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Old 08-31-2016, 05:57 AM   #14
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I like La Petite Excite, but in fairness harmonic distortion is only a small part of what an exciter does.
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Old 09-06-2016, 03:58 PM   #15
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I use saturation, distortions etc to color the sound, or lift up harmonics so they sound in tune ( or tuna ). sometimes I press hard, sometimes softly. However one thing I haven't figured out yet, is how to do parallel aux fx with saturates and not have a phase issue, so i tend to hammer original tracks. XD
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Old 09-06-2016, 10:16 PM   #16
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I suck, I'm still using the stromrecordingstudios 32 bit free one
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Old 09-06-2016, 11:47 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikComposer View Post
or lift up harmonics
Can you explain this to me?
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Old 09-07-2016, 06:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by G-Sun View Post
Can you explain this to me?
Amplifying even harmonics can give a "lift", or add some hair to the air of an instrument.

Words are useless at describing it really, but valve (tube)-type saturation effects amplify even harmonics, which can sound very pleasant and not at all like distortion at conservative levels.
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:17 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Judders View Post
Amplifying even harmonics can give a "lift", or add some hair to the air of an instrument.

Words are useless at describing it really, but valve (tube)-type saturation effects amplify even harmonics, which can sound very pleasant and not at all like distortion at conservative levels.
Ok, thanks!
What's your usual tool?
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Old 09-07-2016, 07:26 AM   #20
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Quote:
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Ok, thanks!
What's your usual tool?
It really depends, I've got a ton of stuff that adds harmonics. Years ago I often used Voxengo's free tube amp plugin, these days I tend to use Decapitator in parallel (mix knobs are the greatest ) or Slate's Revival (which was free, if you had iLok, not sure if it still is). But it could be anything that emulates valves, or even different kinds of harmonic distortion emulation but each will give it's own flavour depending on the mix of odd and even harmonics.
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Old 09-08-2016, 12:42 AM   #21
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I generally do it at track level using a tape/valve sim plugin from P&M. Nothing special, just adds a bit of hair. But lately I have been experimenting with Softube Saturation Knob on the mast bus and it does add a bit of excitement, but you only need a touch of it. You can set it to focus on the low, mids or highs I tended to use it in the flat setting after some experiments. Stillwell Bad Buss Mojo is good too though I have no idea whay it's doing - I just fiddle about with it and it sounds good. A/Bing is critical - very easy to overdo it - I tend to get it sounding good then dial it back till I just notice it using the wet/dry knob. 80% seems a golden number.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:38 AM   #22
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I try to figure out where the harmonics are going to be in a song, based on key and chord, and start my EQ there to try to get ahead of the amplitude bump.
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Old 09-08-2016, 09:50 AM   #23
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Quote:
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You can get a whole range of sounds from them. Maybe you just needed to play around a bit more? Especially when distorting a source in parallel, you can add some very subtle "hair" to the sound without having to run it through a compressor emulation or similar.
Sometimes what you're looking for isn't the fundamental sound saturating, but the reflections/reverberation from it saturating a room. Put distortion on the reverb for that (or a band of it).

I can dial in just about any distortion need with Decapitator too FWIW. It's a bit of a buggy plugin but very useful.

I've used it for a live distortion box for guitar too and it's a blast! Assign that 'punish' button to one of your midi floor pedals.
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:03 AM   #24
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Demoed MMultiBandSaturator
Seems like a useful tool for what I want.
Just need to wait for that 50% off.
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Old 09-14-2016, 07:03 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
Sometimes what you're looking for isn't the fundamental sound saturating, but the reflections/reverberation from it saturating a room. Put distortion on the reverb for that (or a band of it).
Never tried that... interesting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by serr View Post
I can dial in just about any distortion need with Decapitator too FWIW. It's a bit of a buggy plugin but very useful.
No sign of bugginess over here with AU version.
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Old 10-09-2016, 12:04 PM   #26
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An Interesting approach is to double and folder the track for distortions.
Then just set up some guitar amp,exciter,JS 3x3eq compress and hard EQ, splite bands sometimes.

Then I have more control in what the hell I'm doing... or not.. especially
in the lows...

As serr says, "reflections/reverberation" gives tremendous impact to the body of the track, and its presence along the mix.

Another exotic method to sat and dist is use ReaFir compressor rate to bring up some harmonics. not the easiest to use but powerful.
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Old 10-09-2016, 01:36 PM   #27
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I got the upgrade to Melda's Free bundle while back, and found this powerful saturator hiding under the title MLimiter:

https://www.meldaproduction.com/MLimiter

You can dial in the amounts of harmonics per order with a selection of saturation modes, and come with all the great Melda stuff like auto gain compensation, upsampling, M/S processing etc etc. I geeked out with oscilloscope and freq analyzer testing my various saturation plugins and dumped most of them, since this one can do what they did and more.

No idea why it's called Limiter tho.
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Old 10-10-2016, 12:56 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noise_construct View Post
I got the upgrade to Melda's Free bundle while back, and found this powerful saturator hiding under the title MLimiter:

https://www.meldaproduction.com/MLimiter

You can dial in the amounts of harmonics per order with a selection of saturation modes, and come with all the great Melda stuff like auto gain compensation, upsampling, M/S processing etc etc. I geeked out with oscilloscope and freq analyzer testing my various saturation plugins and dumped most of them, since this one can do what they did and more.

No idea why it's called Limiter tho.
Yes, I noticed this one.
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Old 10-10-2016, 11:40 PM   #29
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OT, but just wanted to state that Meldaproduction plugins are all topnotch.
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Old 10-11-2016, 12:24 AM   #30
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Quote:
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OT, but just wanted to state that Meldaproduction plugins are all topnotch.
Well, interface is a little technical to me,
and I was indeed looking at that multiband saturation plugin.
Yet, I'm a little unsure if it's what I'm after,
and if I'll use it much.

Maybe I should try out that limiter first a little,
and see if it works for me.
Would like to have good control over where I add weight/saturation in the harmonic spectrum though.
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Old 10-15-2016, 12:17 PM   #31
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all i can say is use the least amount of plugins possible in the master chain ,and only those of highest quality...

every plugin processing will degrade your sound which on a track bus isnīt a problem but on the masterbus it is huge problem.

maybe only saturate single tracks in your mix instead of the master.
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Old 10-16-2016, 02:34 AM   #32
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if that was true, no one would use anything on the master bus
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Old 10-16-2016, 07:33 AM   #33
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if that was true, no one would use anything on the master bus
"least amount" != 0 ...

maybe i didnīt word it correctly->
i am saying he should apply plugins to the masterbus with CARE.

especially since the he doesnīt seem to know what he wanna do with his sound. going for cleanness and mildly saturating sound from there(track by track or band by band ) is an approach which yields results especially for non pros like most of us here.

putting too much processing on the master is gonna introduce *unintentional* muddiness and smearing.
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Old 10-25-2016, 12:27 AM   #34
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if that was true, no one would use anything on the master bus
Well, it's not advisable to use any plugins on the REAPER master, but for different reasons- they don't benefit from anticipative processing.

That said, digital saturation on the whole mix might not produce stellar results, but this is something for everyone to decide for themselves.

Obviously saturation degrades the signal and makes it unclean, that's the essential function of the plugin.
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Old 07-23-2017, 03:24 AM   #35
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bumping an old(er) thread to share some JS saturations i made...
these are very simple/basic functions, nothing that i "invented", i just implemented them in a simple way.
they are "modular"...meaning you can mix and match them however you like to build your own more "complex" saturations.
they all have input & output gain (w/agc) and are "calibrated" to 0 dBFS. The input gain serves as a "drive" to control the saturation amount.
they do not clip at 0, but they can get pretty ugly over 0 (the tanh function has quite a bit of headroom over 0, though)
anyway, maybe someone can find these useful or fun or whatever.
there is no oversampling, so high(er) sample rates are better if aliasing is a concern.


functions are...#2 harmonic, #3 harmonic, sin(x), tanh(x), ratio clipper, rectifier. and a DC generator in there to add a +/- bias if needed.
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File Type: zip modular_sat.zip (5.0 KB, 54 views)
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Old 07-24-2017, 01:00 AM   #36
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I'm finding a special mojo with a little chain built from JS plugs. Basically an emphasis saturator.

Using the para-q eq, with it parameter linked to another instance afterward, emphasis de-emphasis pretty straightforward.

The trick is to parameter link the "waveshaping distortion" with volume compensation. Holds loudness nearly perfectly constant from 0 to about 80%. That last 20% still gets out of hand, but I rarely want crushing demolition of sound. Having loudness constant allows me to really dial in the amount of hair I want to add.

I'll also use Softube's Saturation Knob. Love it too.

Beyond that, I try to add a little touch (maybe 10%) of saturation from the JS saturation plug at every instance of anything. EQ. Delay. Compressor. Whatever. Just a kiss.

And a preamp plug everywhere I'd actually find a preamp. Give it about 6dB gain, and a corresponding volume compensation.

All the little stages add up into a delicious sound I've got quite a few people digging on.
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Old 07-24-2017, 12:15 PM   #37
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And a preamp plug everywhere I'd actually find a preamp. Give it about 6dB gain, and a corresponding volume compensation.
A little detail, please? What kind of preamp plug and define "everywhere I'd actually find a preamp."
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Old 07-24-2017, 12:23 PM   #38
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I should be the buzzkill for a moment...

Most people who hear about and use saturation in a DAW use far too much because they expect to turn it on and hear it like they'd hear any other effect. I'd posit, that if it is easy to hear, it's too much in contrast to trying to recreate what made it popular to begin with.
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Old 07-24-2017, 02:37 PM   #39
bezusheist
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Originally Posted by karbomusic View Post
I should be the buzzkill for a moment...

Most people who hear about and use saturation in a DAW use far too much because they expect to turn it on and hear it like they'd hear any other effect. I'd posit, that if it is easy to hear, it's too much in contrast to trying to recreate what made it popular to begin with.
I think a lot of gear emulations exaggerate the saturation aspect. (if you cant hear it, you won't buy it...)
(guitar/bass efx aside.)
that does not help the situation, nor do their marketing tactics.

I don't always use saturation, but when I do, I use tres equis...
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Old 07-24-2017, 03:07 PM   #40
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I think a lot of gear emulations exaggerate the saturation aspect. (if you cant hear it, you won't buy it...)
I came close to mentioning "in order to sell the plugin"

A good example of not doing that per se is Nebula. Grab one of their (or third-party) painstakingly crafted preamp channel emulations, throw it on a track, what do you hear, absolutely nothing - most people probably think it's broken. Until you put it on pretty much every single track and so on which is still very subtle in the grand scheme of things. People like Rupert Neve went to extreme lengths to rid their gear of this 'goodness' and the extreme subtlety (or complete lack of it until pushed hard) is the result.


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I don't always use saturation, but when I do, I use tres equis...
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