Ronan Macdonald roughs up beats with digital distortion
Last issue, we saw the ways analoguestyle distortion can be brought to bear on drums, to make them dirtier and more energetic. This time, we turn our attention to digital distortion: that is, bit depth and sample-rate reduction. There are countless plugins for this job – many dedicated entirely to those processes, others incorporating them as part of a broader creative remit.
Digital distortion – particularly dropping the bit depth – is about as riotous as effects get, so be careful with those controls, lest you blow your speakers, ears and/or mind; and exercise taste and aesthetic judgement when appraising the sounds you’re making. A good general rule with any distortion or saturation-based effect is to set it where you think it sounds right, then back it off a touch. Unless, of course, your goal is total decimation – in which case, have at it!
In this tutorial, then, I’ll be messing up my 808 loop from last time using Native Instruments’ Dirt, Togu Audio Line’s TAL-DAC and FabFilter Saturn. These can all be substituted with any bit depth and sample-rate reduction plugins you like, as assuming any peripheral controls ( jitter, filtering, etc) are zeroed, and disregarding any circuit modelling that might also be playing a part, they should all sound the same, what with both processes being entirely mathematical in nature.