audio damage Dent 2 distortion Eventide fabfilter Izotope Kombinat Tri Korg MS-20 MangledVerb OTO Buiscuit popular saturation Saturn Softube Trash 2 Unfiltered Audio

Sound Design Techniques & Tools Series: 10 Key Ways To Shape, Stretch And Transform Your Audio, And The Best Plugins For The Task: Part 2 – Distortion

Continuing our Sound Design collection, in Part 2 we’re wanting on the many sides of distortion for sound design functions: from delicate warming up and saturation to guitar amp results, parallel remedies and full crunchy bit-crushed obliteration. Dive straight in under.

In case you missed it, you possibly can compensate for Part 1 – Delay right here, which also consists of an intro to the collection..

Part 2: Distortion Results In Sound Design

Distortion effects are a core studio course of that can be applied to virtually any signal, from vocals and lead synths to atmospheric pads and particularly drums, in multiple alternative ways, depending on whether you want their presence to be noticeable or not. In sound design conditions, distortion can be utilized to both enhance a supply sound or utterly change it past recognition.

Distortion sometimes does two things to a signal: it successfully compresses the waveform, looping off the peaks for that square-waved chew. Nevertheless it additionally enhances and provides to the harmonic content material present within the unique sound, making it seem (and truly be) extra “upfront” and aggressive when it comes to its frequency stability. All of this provides up to distortion = some combination of more detail, and extra chew.

Whenever you need to modify the frequency stability and add life and presence to a sound, your first thought may be to insert an EQ and immediately increase the excessive frequency vary. But attempt experimenting with including a distortion plugin as an alternative, and setting the important thing controls (Drive, Tone, Input and Output Achieve) to generate further harmonics within the higher frequencies, which may present that additional presence you really needed in a extra characterful and thrilling approach. That is primarily what an exciter processor like Waves Aphex Classic Aural Exciter does, but you possibly can achieve something comparable with many various distortion varieties.

It may be helpful to think about “sound designed” sounds as being constructed up of a number of totally different layers of discreet sounds and processing levels. And as with most features of sound design, distortion is usually best when applied very selectively to specific parts of a ultimate sound. So, attempt applying distortion to solely one in every of three “Sub”, “Body” and “Top” layers of a kick drum, perc or snare sound. In case you don’t have separate sound layers to work with, attempt utilizing a multi-band distortion unit corresponding to FabFilter Saturn to realize the identical thing: set a band, distort it, and sweep it across the frequency spectrum till you discover where it really brings out probably the most fascinating chew or character.

In addition to distorting specific “vertical” layers i.e. at sure frequencies, you can even experiment with distorting totally different “horizontal” elements of a sound i.e. at sure points over the period of the whole sound in time. The most blatant method here is to isolate or even add an entire new transient assault portion to a sound after which distorting it for additional definition and chew to mark the beginning of each word or hit. However you can also attempt fading in or out, or both, a distorted copy of the sound sooner or later during its full envelope period: in impact, modulating the distortion impact for extra movement inside the sound. This may also be achieved successfully by combining distortion in a sequence with an auto- or step-filter, perhaps an LFO or envelope generator plugin such because the CableGuys stuff, or some other modulation effect. So much of sound design is about imbuing your sounds with life and movement, at each degree, and this can be a surefire option to incorporate that.

What is usually referred to as “bit-crushing” often involved a mixture of both bit reduction and sample price discount. The aliasing artifacts you get from bit-crushing effects can add large character and originality to a drum package or bass or synth sound, or at more excessive settings be the source and inspiration for totally new sound design parts, so don’t be afraid of dialing these two controls all the best way right down to where the sound is nearly only a square-waved “blip” before progressively dialing back up to find a cool last setting. You may discover a really distinctive glitchy squawk that can be resampled for layering with drums for additional chew or time-stretched or massively reverbed into an unique drone or pad instrument.

Keep in mind that distortion may be best when used as in “parallel”. Just as with parallel compression, this is once you combine the effected signal with the original, and lets you dial in far more excessive distortion settings whereas retaining the relative definition and dynamic range of the unaffected sound.

Distortion doesn’t should be applied to the supply sound immediately. Attempt including distortion to effects sends akin to delay and reverb: it will assist further separate the send effect from the original sound, and supply a distinctly totally different character.

Along with the above, all the time think about where distortion will go in the results chain order on your sound design processing. Whether or not you place some saturation, aggressive fuzz, or digital crushing earlier than or after the delay, refrain, pitch-shifting, reverb, phasing or anything in your processing chain, can dramatically change how all the plugins work together with the supply sound and with one another. Mess around with reordering your chains for some fascinating variations on your favorite processing mixtures.

Distortion is available in many various flavours, from tape and tube saturation to guitar amp simulations, strong state circuits and fashions of lo-fi digital hardware. And not every plugins interpretation of “tape distortion” may have the identical color or character; some plugins and settings might be simply the factor on your drum sounds, others for parallel processing synths or saturating complete sub-mixes of designed layers to assist tie all of them together. Under are a few of the greatest options out there, my personal favourites for sound design work, for you to check out and uncover what works greatest on your type and strategies.

The Best Distortion Results Plugins For Sound Design: Roundup Record

With 10 totally different distortion or “Clipper” modes that run the entire gamut of distortion varieties and characters — Onerous/Delicate Clip, Wavefold, Overfold, Harsh Fold, Distortion, Tube, Tape, Gloubi, & Cubic — to not mention 6 distinct bit-crushing algorithms, Dent 2 is the stuff of a sound designers fever dream.

Yes there are a variety of superior features which can be overkill for much less skilled customers, however get your head around these and also you’ll have the ability to exert a ridiculous amount of control over how you distort and modulate your alerts. And even with the number of choices obtainable, Unfiltered Audio plugins appear designed to allow and encourage the consumer to experiment without overwhelming you.

And if all else fails, simply maintain hitting the Randomize Preset button: good for sound design periods where producing glad accidents is a part of the enjoyable and sometimes where the beginnings of the perfect concepts and sounds come from.

Plus with each purchase of Dent 2, you also get its little brother, Indent. Take a look at the video under which properly explains the variations and key features.

Out there for: Mac, PC | VST2, VST3, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Alliance.


While not each nice plugin is essentially a “must-have” for everyone by any means, iZotope’s Trash 2 is one of a few plugins of any sort that we think about nearly compulsory for any self-respecting sound designer.

Why? It’s supreme versatility. Whether or not you’re going for calmly saturated “burnt edges” otherwise you need to set your sound on hearth (metaphorically-speaking), Trash 2 may be the sonic equivalent of a warm hug or a can of gasoline.

Like most of iZotope’s plugin instruments, it takes a reasonably novel strategy to GUI, function set and workflow, that includes a collection of switchable filters, multi-band dynamics, wave shapers, LFOs, envelopes, and even delay alongside the distortion algorithm sections. It’s a bit like having a channel strip plugin devoted to distortion, which is ideal for creating and simply managing distinctive multi-stage distortion remedies inside a single interface for sound design tasks.

The Preset class names offer you a reasonably good concept of the range of attainable mangling: from Delicate and Utility to Percussive, Heavy, Aggressive, Basic Textures, Edge and Experimental.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST2, VST3, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.


Like their superior Blackhole reverb plugin, MangledVerb is predicated on a selected preset configuration from one in every of their hardware effects models, on this case the H9 Harmonizer (and in addition the Area reverb stompbox).

MangledVerb is at its core a reverb plus distortion algorithm, however the vary and malleability of the consequences goes far past that straightforward description, enabling some very unique sounds to be created with relatively few tweaks. All the controls are introduced for max velocity and effectiveness, and the standout performance function is the Ribbon management, a sweepable section across the underside of the plugin GUI that can be used to control a number of parameters on the similar time — all the time a surefire method of arising with dramatic and dynamic sounds with plenty of movement and liveliness.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique; additionally out there as a part of the Anthology XI bundle.


As referenced in the intro ideas and as you’ll discover from the number of plugins in this article, with the ability to apply distortion to particular person frequency bands — having “multi-band” operation — is likely one of the most useful elements of a terrific distortion plugin for sound design functions.

Kombinat Tri has three bands (hence the identify), and a clear, high-contrast and galvanizing GUI that makes it straightforward to work with shortly and successfully. While it won’t have quite as many bells and whistles as a Trash or Saturn, there’s quite a bit to be stated for a comparatively streamlined strategy to multi-band processing, and in its worth range it’s utterly unbeatable for high quality sound results and its means to ship your sounds off in sudden and galvanizing directions.

Additionally see: Grind, also from Audio Injury, is a wavetable distortion processor that may actually put your sounds via the proverbial wringer.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.


Softubes plugin emulation of the highly-prized OTO Machines Biscuit hardware digital bit-crushing field is on the market for both UAD and native plugin codecs, so everybody can now get hands-on with what was fairly a limited run of the original unit.

The prime section is the distortion module, featuring Drive and Clock controls and eight buttons that actually symbolize every of the eight “bits” you could toggle on/off to vary the character of, or “Biscuit”, the crushing impact. The distortion can get fairly wild with this configuration, so the distortion module additionally contains a resonant multimode filter mannequin, inspired by the Korg MS-20 filter, that is superb, very rich and authentically “analogue”.

In the decrease module, you’ll be able to interact considered one of four “Brain” effects: Wave Shaping, Delay, Pitch Shifting and Step Filter. With these comparatively simple controls, it’s an awesome intuitive efficiency device — it was initially developed primarily for DJs and electronic music performers — and this also makes it good for designing unique processing and effects on the fly.

Out there for: Mac, PC | UAD, VST2, VST3, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.


Probably probably the most flexible distortion plugin on our listing right here, Saturn combines most of the features we’ve already mentioned above in the signature Fabfilter interface that makes the processing as simple, complicated, fast, or detailed as you need to be. While the character of the sounds we generate with Saturn is distinct, like all nice processor or instrument, the audio quality of the outcomes can also be second to none.

With utterly versatile multi-band operation, you possibly can create as many separate bands and modulation sources (XY pads, XLFOs, multi-stage Envelope Followers and Turbines) utilized to as many various parameters as you are feeling the necessity for. The out there distortion Fashion algorithms range from familiar Tape, Tube and Amplifier models, to more overt artistic effects types like Smudge (a stuttering-stretching impact) and aptly named Destroy. Beneficial.

Obtainable for: Mac, PC | VST, VST3, AU, AAX

BUY NOW by way of Plugin Boutique.

Keep tuned for the subsequent elements in this collection, all coming over the subsequent couple of weeks, for a lot of more ideas and inspiration.

For more distortion plugins and inspiration, also take a look at our articles on 5 Of The Best Guitar Amp Sim Plugins And How To Get Nice Tone With Them and The 10 Best Artistic Filter Plugins In The World. Several of the plugins featured in this article are also part of a number of the Best Music Production Plugin Bundles.

And as ever, depart a remark under together with your favorite sound design methods and effects, and the tools you employ to create them!

For a definitive collection of ideas and methods for enhancing your music to knowledgeable degree – from advanced compression methods to shaping and putting your sounds in the combine with appropriately utilized reverb and fine-tuned EQ changes – don’t overlook to take a look at our Ultimate Guides e-book collection:

Ultimate Guides Complete Bundle v2016

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