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Mixing with Saturation ? Plugins ? Theory ?

nuyo

Active Member
I heard a few people talk about using Saturation for Mixing. I experimented with some of the Soundtoys Plugins.
I noticed that the sounds get more consistent like I used Compression. Some of their Plugins have multiple Saturation Modes.
Some of them make things more harsh and some of them sound more musical.

I also heard someone say that Saturation is the better way for getting rid of ringing tones and harshness ?
This sounds strange to me because I always thought that Saturation is the same or similiar to distortion ?
 

PeterN

Senior Member
Saturation is a very versatile mixing tool. It can give you more headroom, shape transients, act as an eq for taming frequencies, glue things together, add color, etc. Just seach youtube for some useful videos.

Yea, and it can also make things sound unnatural and disturb a mix. Would be cautious to only praise saturation. Apologies, had to throw in a negative opinion for the balance.

Have done a number of mixes where I need to go back and trace some weirdness - say, one you had a break and succeeded in objectifying your track - sometimes the weirdness is the saturation plugin.

Now its on the list of main suspects. Gullfoss is also on it.
 
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nuyo

nuyo

Active Member
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Yea, and it can also make things sound unnatural and disturb a mix. Would be cautious to only praise saturation. Apologies, had to throw in a negative opinion for the balance.

Have done a number of mixes where I need to go back and trace some weirdness - say, one you had a break and succeeded in objectifying your track - sometimes the weirdness is the saturation plugin.

Now its on the list of main suspects. Gullfoss is also on it.
Gullfloss never worked for me. You can get better results with Surgical EQing (3 or 2 bands) and some Saturation.
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
Reminds me of this thread:

 

jcrosby

Senior Member
Yea, and it can also make things sound unnatural and disturb a mix. Would be cautious to only praise saturation. Apologies, had to throw in a negative opinion for the balance.

Have done a number of mixes where I need to go back and trace some weirdness - say, one you had a break and succeeded in objectifying your track - sometimes the weirdness is the saturation plugin.

Now its on the list of main suspects. Gullfoss is also on it.
If saturation falls into the category of "main suspects" that frequently 'disturb' a mix this seems to point to questionable gain staging.

Unless you're using a plugin with variable input gain, saturation plugins by their very nature behave differently depending on the level you drive into them. Too much level and you can easily wind up with mud, greater loss of transient detail than you'd ideally try to achieve, etc.

That isn't to say it'll work on everything. But with good gain staging and some tasteful choices you can often get away with putting saturation on most things if that's the vibe you're after.
 
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vitocorleone123

Senior Member
Unless it’s an audible effect you’re going for, you should barely hear saturation, if at all. Very light saturation can provide a more dynamic signal because you don’t have to feel like it needs to be compressed as much - it also can help the compressor not work as hard and reduce any chance of pumping. A lot of time should be something you kinda “feel” rather than hear. Depending on the track, saturation may not be the correct tool.

Also, Gullfoss is very easy to overdo. However, having the live and mastering versions now help.
 

Alchemedia

Decomposer
Saturation is like a performance enhancing drug--it's for cheaters.
Why would you say that? It's another ingredient in the art of mixing and mastering and requires a discerning ear. How is that "cheating"? I suppose you consider EQ & compression cheating also?
 

Trash Panda

Clueless nitwit
Saturation is like a performance enhancing drug--it's for cheaters.
You appear to be lost. I think this is the thread you’re looking for. ;)

 

Dirtgrain

Active Member
You appear to be lost. I think this is the thread you’re looking for. ;)

Ya, was intended as a joke and reference to that. My apologies on going off track.
 

NekujaK

Searching for the Lost Chord
The main thing saturation does is add harmonics to sound. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not, and it often depends on the type of harmonics being added.

At the end of the day, your ears will tell you what you need to know. In mixing there aren't any blanket rules about what you must or must not do. The only hard and fast rule is that whatever you do, it should sound good, at least to you. So throw saturation on some tracks - if they sound better to you, keep it in. If not, forget the saturation.

If you go to FabFilter's site and look up Saturn (their saturation plugin), they've got a really good video that explains exactly what saturation does and how it affects sound. It's one of the best videos I've seen on the subject, with clear, illustrative, and useful examples.
 

obey

New Member
To my understanding saturation is a combination of soft knee compression and harmonic distortion (different types emphasize different sets of harmonics) which brings out more helpful frequencies from the signal as well as helping bring up lower signals through gentle compression. It's a tool like any other but it's a very powerful one when used tastefully.

Ex. The tube saturation that creates warmth people love has a stronger second order harmonic emphases in the saturation and that gentle soft knee compression that comes with it helps round things out and fill up the signal.

This is my understanding, anyway. I'm happy to learn if I'm wrong!
 

jason.d

Active Member
The main thing saturation does is add harmonics to sound. Sometimes that's a good thing and sometimes it's not, and it often depends on the type of harmonics being added.

At the end of the day, your ears will tell you what you need to know. In mixing there aren't any blanket rules about what you must or must not do. The only hard and fast rule is that whatever you do, it should sound good, at least to you. So throw saturation on some tracks - if they sound better to you, keep it in. If not, forget the saturation.

If you go to FabFilter's site and look up Saturn (their saturation plugin), they've got a really good video that explains exactly what saturation does and how it affects sound. It's one of the best videos I've seen on the subject, with clear, illustrative, and useful examples.
Well said.

I’ve used FF Saturn on some instruments and it can really help excite the sound, and this really helps when you’re trying to pump some life into samples. And of course, any saturation plugin should do.
 
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