Creative Ways To Use Saturation

Saturation is perhaps one of the most diverse and powerful tools in a music producer’s toolbox. Each saturation plug-in and hardware unit brings their own unique tones to the table and offers a great deal of variety.

Want to add more harmonic content to a track? Try a saturation plug-in! Want to thicken up a vocal that sounds a bit thin? Try a saturation plug-in! Want to add just a little bit of character to a sound? Try a saturation plug-in! Want to make a track sound incredibly distorted and overblown? You get the idea.

Since saturation is such a versatile tool, that means it would be perfect for sound design sessions, right? Right! Let’s get into a bit more detail on ways to creatively utilize saturation to come up with interesting sounds.

Parallel Saturation

First up is parallel saturation, which can be achieved either by placing a saturation plug-in on an aux/send track or by using the mix control on a saturation plug-in.

Parallel saturation is a particularly great tool because it gives you the ability to push a saturation plug-in to its limits, all without having to worry about whether your dry vocal is being negatively impacted by the extreme saturation. You can even filter and EQ the saturated signal if you find that it’s clashing with the raw vocal!

Saturating Drums in Parallel on a Send

Use cases for parallel saturation include subtle effects like thickening up a synth track, but can also include more extreme ones like adding a bit of white-noise-type distortion to a snare drum to give it more bite. Go give it a try!

Multi-Band Saturation

Multi-band saturation is another type of saturation, except this one involves saturating different parts of the frequency spectrum by different amounts!

Let’s say you’re working on a synth sound that could use a boost in the high-end. Instead of going for a high-shelf boost with EQ, try using multi-band saturation to saturate only the high end! This is a great way to introduce some tonal variety into your mixes and switch things up a bit.

The McDSP FutzBox Plug-In

Want to delve into the world of saturation even deeper? Check out the McDSP FutzBox plug-in, which offers all sorts of tools for tonally shaping your saturation effects, such as a noise generator, a huge selection of SIMs (Synthetic Impulse Models), various distortion modes, filtering and EQ, and a gate!

The McDSP FutzBox Plug-In

Armed with over 160 SIMs to make your source sound like it’s being run through everything from a phone speaker to a vacuum tube, alongside 10 different distortion modes, the possibilities with the FutzBox are endless.

What Does It Sound Like?

To get an idea of some of the sounds that FutzBox brings to the table, we’ve included some audio clips of FutzBox being used on a snare drum sample down below. If you like what you hear, you can use the settings in the FutzBox screenshot above to dial in the same exact effect that you hear in the “Engaged” clip!

Pay special attention to the way that FutzBox adds some pleasant top end to the snare that sounds a bit like a bottom snare mic. This is all thanks to the “Nuke” distortion mode. Lastly, notice the length and width that FutzBox adds to the snare, which helps it sound bigger overall!

Want to check out FutzBox for yourself? Try out a free 14-day, fully functional FutzBox trial here.

As always, we hope you learned something new! Be sure to sign up for our newsletter below to stay up to date on all things McDSP. We’ll see you next time!