>Step by step

En­hanc­ing drums with ana­logue-style dis­tor­tion

Computer Music - - Dr Beat -

1 Here’s the sort of thing that comes to mind when one thinks of ana­logue dis­tor­tion, shown us­ing NIs’ Dirt stomp­box-style plugin. This is full-on over­drive, turn­ing a drum loop into a dark mon­ster. This de­gree of sat­u­ra­tion is at the up­per ex­treme of the ef­fect, and you’ll rarely want to go quite this far.

2 At the other end of the scale, adding just a touch of sat­u­ra­tion in­vari­ably makes drums – and, in­deed, any­thing else – sound warmer and more present. Here, In­ferno CM is fat­ten­ing up my kick drum nicely with its mic preamp em­u­la­tion, while u-he’s Satin tape sim is bol­ster­ing the bus in Vin­tage Tape mode at 15ips.

3 There are, of course, many points in be­tween th­ese two ex­tremes, but you can also shape and hone the ef­fect in de­tail by ap­ply­ing it in a par­al­lel con­fig­u­ra­tion, thereby blend­ing the crunch and bite of dis­tor­tion with the dy­nam­ics and es­sen­tial char­ac­ter of the dry source sig­nal.

4 To do that, set your plugin up for heavy dis­tor­tion, then sim­ply bal­ance its wet/dry mix con­trol if it has one. If it doesn’t, or if you want to process mul­ti­ple chan­nels by vary­ing amounts, run it on an aux­il­iary send/re­turn bus. Don’t go over­board with the wet sig­nal – the idea is to en­hance, not pun­ish the sound.

5 Mod­u­lat­ing with an en­ve­lope fol­lower is a great way to add tran­sient in­ter­est while keep­ing the sus­tain por­tion clean. Here, FabFil­ter Saturn’s en­ve­lope fol­lower mod­u­lates the Drive con­trol, ap­ply­ing dis­tor­tion to the kick drum at­tack, then re­duc­ing the amount as the sig­nal level drops in the sus­tain phase.

6 For the last word in sat­u­ra­tion con­trol, though, multi­band dis­tor­tion is king. Saturn is one of the best multi­band dis­tor­tion plug­ins, and here I’m us­ing it on the mas­ter bus to di­vide my drum loop into low, mid and high fre­quency bands, and process each one with its own in­de­pen­dent dis­tor­tion setup.

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