Saturation, compression and reverb

Following on from the previous post, here are some tools I use:

Saturation

Voxengo Voxformer – Great for adding “hair” to a sound. It’s a very dry  scratchy sound, so too much can sometimes make a sound pretty gross, but just a little bit often is enough to add some life and colour to a boring clean sound.

Magix Am-phibia – A lovely thick solid sound, especially with the two adjustment controls under the advanced panel. Coupled with a VERY gentle compressor and some VERY interesting EQ and exciter options, this is simply a great tool for locking down a sound.

Magix Am-track – The tape saturation module here is great for smoothing out a sound. I tend to use it more like a coloured limiter that behaves in interesting ways when pushed hard.

Occasionally I’ll overdrive other plugins (such as Stilwell Oligarc or Audio Damage Dr Device and Rough Rider) for a saturation effect, but this is on more of a “most songs” basis, rather than “most tracks”.

Compression

Magix Am-track – This is my primary compressor. The modern mode is great for basic dynamics control. It does exactly what it’s told to, with the exception that it never sounds nasty. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow it never sounds nasty – even at extreme settings. Sometimes it’ll sound inappropriate, but never nasty. The vintage mode is particularly good for adding some vibe to drums and percussion – it tends to shape the envelope more than control dynamics.

Audio Damage Rough Rider – For when I need something extreme, this is what I reach for. It pumps and breathes easier than almost anything else I’ve tried. While Am-track never sounds nasty, Rough Rider almost never sounds nice. It doesn’t even have a neutral default setting – the plugin starts smashing the audio as soon as it’s plugged in. The top-end roll off is good too, it often makes the audio sound more solid and compact. When I’m applying this kind of compression, a little colouring doesn’t really bother me. If it’s too much, I’ll usually boost the top end going into the compressor. While the frequency response is flatter that way, it’s still far from neutral and the built-in clipper does interesting things to the boosted top end before it’s rolled off…

Occasionally I’ll use other compressors, such as those Voxengo Voxformer (for convenience) and Magix Am-phibia (for something special).

Reverb

IK Multimedia CSR – What can I say? I love it. Feels just like it should. The hall and plate are my favourite at the moment. I’ve got several of my own custom presets that I use about 90% of the time (often tweaked slightly for the song). If I’m doing something more conventional (such as Erin Shay’s A Day Too Long), I’ll start with one of the factory presets and adjust it for the song. At the moment I’m rolling all the sibilance off the top, creating a darker sound that sits easily in the background without drawing too much attention to it.

-Kim.

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