Micro Review: FabFilter Saturn FabFilter Saturn: Next Generation Multiband Distortion As you're reading this, I can already feel your eyes rolling the back of your head whilst thinking "Great, another distortion plugin." Quite frankly, I would probably feel the same...except that FabFilter Saturn is anything but "another" distortion plugin. Upon opening Saturn, you're greeted with a beautiful, well laid out interface. The top half is where you visually define your bands (up to 5) by simply clicking to set a handle and dragging left/right + up/down. The intensity of red hue in the band will change depending upon the amount of intensity per band. Clicking on each band's handle opens up it's own set of independent (per-band) controls for feedback, dynamics, drive, tone and modulation. In other words, you can sculpt each band to your own sonic specifications. To add, each band contains its own mute/solo functions so you can hear what's going on within each defined band. And of course you can define the type of distortion you want from a variety of choices ranging from subtle tube to apocalyptic filth. Each distortion type (16 total) is unique and definitely has its own character. You can hear that FabFilter spent a good amount of time fine tuning their distortion algorithms due to how beautiful and (dare I say) analog they sound. All these creatively inviting features are amazing...but only the tip of the iceberg. Modulation & Other Goodies In typical FabFilter fashion, there's an amazing set of modulation options available at your disposal by clicking on the modulation tab. The mod matrix itself contains 50 (50!!) slots, with XLFOs, EGs, XY controllers, envelope followers and MIDI sources. The actual assigning of mod sources to targets couldn't be easier–simply click-drag-drop your source to your target (similar to Massive) and define the +/- polarity in the matrix. And speaking of the mod matrix, while browsing presets you'll quickly notice that active modulation is illuminated within the matrix when active, so you can quickly view what is causing the movement. It's these small touches that really make Saturn a convenient piece of kit. You can also setup your channel mode to Mid/Side which is certainly a welcomed bonus. Furthermore, FabFilter adds an A/B (copy+paste) option to the interface so that you can A/B two of your settings so you can hear and determine which is better suited for your task. Throw in the optional interactive help menu (which creates a "tool tip" bubble when hovering over a component of the interface) and the 150 stunning presets that showcase Saturn's wide range of applications and what you end up with is the most comprehensive multi-band distortion unit on the market. My Take Obviously, the prime multiband distortion unit often mentioned by producers is Ohmicide. Don't get me wrong, Ohmicide is good unit. My gripe with it, however, is that the interface seems a bit dated and "clunky" for lack of a better word. Yes, it's capable of adding filth, but in my opinion, it doesn't even come close when compared to Saturn in terms of tone, settings and mod options to name a few. While Saturn isn't exactly the cheapest plugin on the market ($164), but Saturn offers limitless sonic possibilities to the user. Those of you with student/teacher ID's can take advantage of their 50% education discount. Product activation is easy unlike some developers (ahem, Waves), CPU is quite light, and FabFilter offers a generous 30-day fully functioning trial of Saturn, as well as all of their products. FabFilter plugins/instruments are truly something to behold in terms of both sonic quality and UI aesthetics. All too often developers designing their interfaces can either go overboard with visuals (see SugarBytes Cyclop) or can completely underwhelm (see 75% of Waves plugins). FabFilter has combined the best of both by using their taste for visual design with functionality of the unit as a whole. There is a method behind every component found within a FabFilter plugin/synth, and for that reason I'm quickly becoming a huge fan of their products. In the coming weeks I'm sure I'll be purchasing/reviewing more of them...their EQ & Compressor are looking mighty tempting... Rating: 5/5 Amazing user friendly, aesthetically pleasing GUI with amazing high-quality sound and endless modulation options. Saturn is the new king of multiband distortion.