Distortion: Tips & Discuss

Discussion in 'Production' started by moriaty, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. moriaty

    moriaty Active Member

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    Right.
    Taming distortion has been my Achilles heel for a while now.
    Its good fun smashing the fuck out of drums and synths and laughing hysterically at the ridiculous results, but when it comes to making a tune out them the laughter soon turn to tears.
    Anyway, i'll throw some ideas on the table and id like to hear your comments on them, and even more id like to hear new ideas.

    -use more instances of the same distortion plug in with lower settings than one slammed to fak.
    -Learn the different types of distortion, and figure out which one to use for each desired effect.
    -If you've found a setting that works well, try it as a send too. Distortion is basically a form of compression, and parallel processing works equally well on it.
    -EQ EQ EQ! Dont be afraid to go mental with cuts. Whilst distortion sweetens the right frequencies, it also adds loads of junk. This may not be obvious when auditioning the specific part on their own, but the junk will eat loads of space when combined with the rest of the tune.

    I always stick an eq before and after the distortion. On the pre i tend to lightly boost the frequencies i want to be prominent, and lower everything else. The post eq is less of a routine, as it really depends on the material. If i want to bring out some subtle harmonics with a nice tube or saturation i'll pretty much copy the post eq and adjust. If im going to town with a huge reese and a dirty unit, eg D16's Devastor, i'll do more drastic cuts with the post eq, where i'll attenuate large frequency sections, with scope once again to bring out the sweet spot of the sound.

    Something ive been thinking off lately is that its a mistake to try to find that one good setting on a distortion plug, as more than often that will be a compromise. I find this especially challenging on evolving sounds, eg 303s and arpeggios that can radically change their timbre with filters, or a long swelling reese. Some distortion settings will give a nice mid range when the sound is in the "closed" phase, but when its filter opens the highs become ear splitting.
    So i was thinking of copying the channel of the sound im working on, with the same plugs, find a setting for each state of the sound, and then crossfade between the differently processed parts. This could be a nice way of making a sound evolve even further than the usual attack/decay and filter automation.
    but yeah, like i said, havent actually attempted this yet, so i may be talking bollox, but i can feel in my gut that that's the way forward.

    soz for the rambling, hope that made some sense. If some of it didnt, let me know and i'll try to re word it.
    Looking forward to hearing some comments and new advice (y)
     
  2. higgsy789

    higgsy789 Compress...whatt!!

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    I know what your on about im always having trouble with distortion it annoys me so much, I think its because i dont do enough EQing i just crank it up and hope for the best :p

    As for the evolving sounds, I was thinking of using something like EQ with some automation on a high shelf or something to make it less harsh, im not sure if it would work or not im probably just chatting bollocks.
     
  3. kama

    kama benkama.net

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    In those ear-pearcing cases it could be useful to assign a limiter after the distortion, as it's hard to go wrong limiting a distorted signal, even if you go brickwall on it. Maybe. Never went that far myself, I've always gotten to restrain those sounds some other way like tweaking the sound source or whatever.

    I've also gotten nice results with using a few different dist pluginst with milder settings, as they tend to colour the sound slightly different - or split the signal with a pre-fader/pre-FX send and bandpass them 1 octave apart (like 200Hz ---- 400Hz) to really bring out the harmonics.

    edit: Also remember to listen to the distorted element against everything else in your tune - forgetting this leads to tears like GorDo said. It may sound big n fat n heavy n all that but when you declick the solo button..... I've fallen in this pit many a time. The same goes for eq'ing, compression and... well, most things really. The Big Picture, you know.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2009
  4. Ketz

    Ketz Thinkin outside the box..

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    for me personally i mainly use distortion on synths (reeces in particular) - tape distortion always gives a nice texture to a basic reece sound although can make the whole thing sound a tad too fuzzy / grainy and messy in the mid range (even on relatively low settings), tape distoration followed by a sharp mid cut on the EQ gives a nice growl - works for me

    but the golden rule with distortion as u guys have already pointed out is: less is more
     
  5. logikz

    logikz I Am Not The King Staff Member

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    chorus and filtersweep before distortion. and after. thrice.
     
  6. Urn

    Urn New Member

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    well, im am a metalhead with studio and concerts experience, and i still cant get to work a cool dist in my FL studio projects. it just doesnt sound right, the way all metalheads used to...
    so i would appreciate if you guys could post project bones with cool distorted instruments.
    in exchange i can provide my expeience in making fat metal distortion )
     
  7. logikz

    logikz I Am Not The King Staff Member

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    i could post an example, yeah, ill try and bring it tomorrow, but urn, you should know that when we talk about metalheadz on this site its got nothing to do with heavy metal music, so the distortion were seeking is quite different from the one you want, this is drum and bass mate
     
  8. Mattix

    Mattix Sub Focus anyone?

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    i don't really use any distortion on my drums. tend to use it when experimenting making new sounds as find it can usually beef things up. Cheers for all this though fellas...some good info from yall!
     
  9. logikz

    logikz I Am Not The King Staff Member

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    i think one of the most exciting things in life right now is my new compressor which ive got a valve pre-amp before in the signal chain, so i got one mental compressed crazy one channel, one channel at 100% gain mixed in slightly and one dry, all with different eq, its so awesome i could die
     
  10. CH3SH

    CH3SH CH3SH - Naphalm Audio

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    I find it easier to split the initial sound into 3
    Run 1 straight, and 2 through 2 different types of distortion
    1 occopying the low end,
    The other the higher end
    Whilst you straight one sits snugged in the middle
    Dont forget to eq it all
    And alter the volumes according to ear and distance =D
     
  11. RevTech

    RevTech Butthole=output transduce

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    I EQ out the bass before distortion then with EQ after it put it back in, don't want to distort the low frequencies.
     
  12. MARLZTAH

    MARLZTAH ++DuB PrOFesSoR++

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    you will end up distorting them more this way

    to keep the low frequencys clean.... split the audio signal across two channels, on one channel low pass the frequencys to wish to keep clean and on the other high pass the rest of the frequencys and distort this channel
     
  13. kama

    kama benkama.net

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    hah so you didn't go with the 3630 after all i guess... i congratulate you on that my brother.
     
  14. logikz

    logikz I Am Not The King Staff Member

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    oh but i did, i got the 3630 after the amp in my signal chain and it is amazing. i think its a lot to do with the amp being there.