Analog Clipping Distortion

Discussion in 'Production' started by thedjnifty, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    Ez people, so I've got a bassline which I wanna straight up clip to get that old school authentic distortion, which doesn't sound too bad when just running the level hot digitally in Cubase, but I imagine if I could recreate this effect in the analog world it would sound a lot better...

    I've got a DBX 266XL compressor, so I'm thinking if I run the signal from Cubase very loudly through this, I might get that nice clipped analog distortion that I'm after...

    Am I right in thinking this? Or will I actually just risk blowing up my compressor and probably won't get any nice results out of this method? Maybe recording hot to tape would be a better and safer option?

    I've also got a Mackie 802-VLZ3 mixer, but this doesn't have those typical Mackie mixer faders and I'm worried if I run a really hot signal through this it'll just do damage to it, as I'm guessing it's not really built for running signals hot through it like some of the other Mackie mixers...

    Anyone shed any light on any of these ideas? I would just go for it but the last thing I wanna do is damage any of my equipment because I don't really know the risks!

    Cheers!
     
  2. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    you almost certainly dont mean ''clipping'' - i'd recommend using a proper plugin for distortion and ''hot'' signals, something like Antares Tube will give you an analog(well close as you will get without a rack of tubes) distortion, it has 2 settings, one subtle and warm, one disgusting and crunchy, then compress however you like.

    Also could try something like the API2500 thrust circuit, it'll make mince meat out of your sound if you let it, but it'll do wiv style

    If you do actually clip the signal, you are risking damage to your audio hardware, the DBX might be able to handle it, but clipped sub/bass freqz are an efficient way to destroy amps and speakers
     
  3. lostnthesound

    lostnthesound Burns Easily in the Sun

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    ^ This.

    Also, if you a tape/saturation plugin (ex u-he satin, waves Kramer Tape, vintage warmer) increase the input and then lower the input to equal values. For example, if you dial in +6 for the input then make sure the out put is reduced to -6. Essentially you're "driving" the input for warmth while reducing the output to prevent clipping.

    Cheers.
     
  4. Serum

    Serum Well-Known Member

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    With the exception of distortion units, no gear was built for distortion. That shouldn't stop you doing it anyway.
     
  5. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    I definitely mean clipping! I've only just realized simple clipping was the key to a lot of the bass distortion you'd hear on old jungle tracks (and a lot of old Dillinja tracks - which also kind of explains why his mixes came out so loud).

    Prime jungle example is on DJ SS - Lighter when that main bass drops http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lMn5LcOd7l4&t=1m38s

    I've got a similar bass running out of Massive and I found the other day just clipping the signal on the mixer track and letting it run clipped through the master achieves a really similar kind of distortion when layered up with your drums again after. On it's own the distortion doesn't sound great but the upper harmonics created in the bass by the clipping just seem to create that authentic old school distorted sound when layered with drums which kind of mask the cheapness of the sound of the bass clipping.

    I just imagine this would sound even better if I could recreate it by clipping the signal through analog gear instead.

    But thinking about it this probably won't work through the dbx compressor as even if I have the threshold at 0 the signal will just be compressed eventually rather than clipped...

    But I'm guessing the Mackie mixer will be somewhat built to handle clipped signals without doing any damage to it, so I think I'll try my luck running it hot through that. :)

    Big ups!
     
  6. Serum

    Serum Well-Known Member

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    Use the output gain on the DBX for distortion after you've compressed, or just bypass the compression altogether an just use the gain on its own.

    To distort with the mixer you use the gain on each channel then use the volume slider to bring it back to a reasonable level.
     
  7. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    Nice one man will definitely give this a go, fingers crossed I get some nice results!
     
  8. miszt

    miszt BASSFACE Royale

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    the problem with clipping is mainly in the sub region, pure square waves, which is what a clipped signal is, in the sub region can destroy speakers instantly

    the distortion you hear in a clipped signal, can be done in a controlled way, thats what distortion plugins do, and its what happens when you drive analog gear hot; digital signals dont run ''hot'', they are either clean or clipped, the distortion that you hear from a ''hot'' digital signal, is almost certainly either from a plugin (which obviously its not, coz you'd know about it), or your D/A converters being unable to convert the volume level of the original 32bit signal in your DAW, into whatever bit rate it runs at (24bit, probably) and then into analog signal, without distorting it, this kind of distortion is never going to come close to the distortion you get from a hot analog signal, and leaves you open to uncontrolled pure square sub frequencies.....the harmonics you are looking for are not in the sub region (even tho the source may be a sub freq signal), they are much higher up, so theres no reason to resort to that kind of distortion

    as suggested however...use the DBX to boost the gain, it will do a better job than your D/A's at distorting the signal without messing it up i'm sure...unless you got a cranesong DA/AD in your setup...still, be careful of ending up with pure square sub freqz
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
  9. thedjnifty

    thedjnifty Well-Known Member

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    Nice one mate, I'm only looking to clip the signal a little bit and it won't be for a particularly sustained about of time as my bassline decays pretty quickly but I'll have a go with the compressor / mixer and see what happens :)
     
  10. Optimal Prime

    Optimal Prime Specialising in the arts and crafts of Drum & Bass

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    I few months ago I came across this page that I've been meaning to try out myself but haven't gotten round to doing so yet, and it might be up your street, plus it's quite inexpensive. It shows you a way of overdriving the heads of an old cassette player in order to achieve some impressive analogue style overdrive.

    http://blog.dubspot.com/analog-distortion-on-a-budget-cassette-overdrive-technique/

    There are a couple of video examples on here where the guy is hooking up his hardware drum machines and synths to his dual cassette deck via one of those car tapes with the audio input, then routing the output of the tape back into his phone to record the signal. As he overdrives the input, it starts to introduce very nice analogue type results.
     
  11. cele

    cele Well-Known Member

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    1. clip the signal
    2. highpass it
    3. layer it with the original signal
    4. ???
    5. profit

    not sure but seems like that should work ?_?