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Do You Use Analog Saturation?

Do you use an analog saturation plugin? If so, which one do you like?

And, do you just apply it to the master at the end, the stems, or to individual tracks for more specific adjustment?
 

rudi

Member
I use the Waves Kramer Tape Stereo plugin on either the full mix or just the strings. I first became aware of it when watching an Alan Meyerson master mixing video:



(the video is worth watching in its entirety if you get the chance)

It adds a nice subtle saturation that makes the mix sound warmer and more organic. It can also help glue a mix and make it more cohesive when you use different libraries.

It is also very reasonably priced especially as it is often on sale :)
 

shawnsingh

Active Member
I think a lot of people are going to say: use it on a single track for creative sound sculpting, and use it on a mix bus or stems for glue and to add an overall grit or warmth to the master.

There's more - saturation is also a secret weapon to deal with peaky dynamics that are hard to compress effectively. Or both together too - a little bit of transparent saturation just before a compressor will shave off peaks which then can let you push that compressor even harder without getting artifacts. Applies to both single instruments and full mixes.

But there's a catch - saturation is a nonlinear distortion effect. It will distort differently when a guitar plays a chord instead of a single note. If you push the saturation really hard on a bus mix, it can end up sounding bad because the distortion starts crossing between sounds within the mix, which is usually not what people want. If you feel the need to push bus mix saturation really hard for loudness, but you don't want the distortion, you can try to put saturation on specific targeted elements instead.
 
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Akarin

pragsound.com
Part of my setup is NLS on each track and True Iron on my group busses as well as on my mix bus followed by J37. Why? Because I like how it sounds :)
 

poetd

Active Member
J37 > Kramer (imo).
Have both but tend to use a touch of J37 on the mixbus depending on the track.
For individual tracks SDRR is my go to, very flexible and an absolute steal for what Klangelm are asking for it.
Decapitator sometimes works a bit better on certain bass tracks, but I'll reach for radiator as often, the whole Soundtoys bundle is a marvel.
 

Markus Kohlprath

Active Member
The best I came across till now is aroma by ploytec. Somebody in the forum mentioned it and I tried out. I bought it despite it’s relative high price. It’s very good in bringing warmth and clarity.
 

Akarin

pragsound.com
Is this the NLS summing plugin from Waves or is that something different?
It is. NLS channel on each track and NLS bus on the mix bus. The Spike version works great with both orchestral and hybrid. The two others are a little bit too strong.

This is one that uses NLS and True Iron with J37 as described above:

 

Rob Elliott

Senior Member
The best I came across till now is aroma by ploytec. Somebody in the forum mentioned it and I tried out. I bought it despite it’s relative high price. It’s very good in bringing warmth and clarity.
What's your opinion of its effect on sampled strings. Warmth/clarity without the brittle/harse?
 

Markus Kohlprath

Active Member
What's your opinion of its effect on sampled strings. Warmth/clarity without the brittle/harse?
Well it has 4 different so called „flavours“. They are called a bit unorthodox: salt, pepper, sugar and chilli. And the amount of impact can be dialed in very smoothly. With two different wheels. You can get very different results with those and have to experiment. For warm saturation it’s more sugar, clarity is chili to my ears. Salt is more the guitar distortion type and pepper I can’t describe yet. All can be mixed together or used alone. So Warmth/clarity without the brittle/harse can be achieved very well I would say. It just sounds very musical and subtle to my ears provided its not overdosed which is always something to watch for of course. I’m no saturation expert so somebody might give a better, more accurate description.
 

Gerhard Westphalen

Scoring Mixer
I normally use something like VTM on busses and then other Slate color plugins on individual tracks like solo instruments that I want to bring forward. Don't really use them on individual orchestral parts.
 

ChazC

Cryogenically frozen in 1986 and just thawed out
I use NLS on most of my tracks and busses every project. I generally use the SSL (Spike) but for aggressive tracks such as guitars and heavy synths the EMI (Mike) adds a nice grit when you dial it up past 6-7. I actually bought NLS as soon at it was released (before Waves started all these rock bottom sales) so paid around 150USD for it and even at that price it’s still the best value for money plugin I’ve ever bought.

I also use Kramer and J37 tape now and again and I just got hold of IK’s new Tape Machines so I’ll be trying those out of my next couple of projects.

Before NLS was released I used to use McDSP’s Analog Channel when I was on Pro Tools over some tracks & they’re certainly worth a look as alternatives but as with everything McDSP (except Futzbox) they very rarely get used here nowadays.

Actually, thinking about it I’ve never actually tried Cubase/Nuendo’s in-built channel strip saturators - might have to give those a look too.
 

MichaelVakili

New Member
Usually in most of my projects I use IK multimedia saturator, Decapitator or Trash, but I never apply them on busses. The only exception I make is to gently saturate /or use slight stereo imager/ on reverb busses.
But I generally dislike to treat instruments as a whole. On my master I would avoid any saturation, other than EQ shape, gentle compressor and limiter - I see no reason to add any other stuff. Still, you can always add a sparkle, just don't overdo it ^ _ ^
 
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