Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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dusty4444
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Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 2:53 pm

Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by dusty4444 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:39 pm

Saturation ?

Someone on a earlier post of mine said something interesting. Sometimes Saturation can make something sound like it hitting hard on the low end when its really not . So my question is Saturation does Saturation actually makes your kicks ( 808's ) hit harder or is it something that just makes it sound distorted for that cool 808 solid kick sound . Like I notice there is a certain point on the Ableton Saturation Drive knob where it drives so hard it sound flat. I had this problem once with my Electribe Drum Machine. Once recorded it sounded like it was banging but it wasn't if that makes any sense at all. Thanks




-ermac4482

Artcutech
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by Artcutech » Sun Aug 19, 2018 6:18 pm

I’m using analog emulation to saturate everything lightly, it’s has this harmonic effect when distorting lightly that adds color and depth to everything, in the digital world stuff sounds really flat so saturation plug-ins when used with taste give an analog sound. I personally have used Abletons saturator only a couple times and didn’t really like it but yes, saturation does change the sound and makes it sound like it does! Saturate everything lightly.

There are some amazing saturating plug-ins, from console strips, to tape, to single band saturation to others.

Fab filter Saturn is also good but different

Stromkraft
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by Stromkraft » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:33 pm

dusty4444 wrote:Saturation ?

Someone on a earlier post of mine said something interesting. Sometimes Saturation can make something sound like it hitting hard on the low end when its really not . So my question is Saturation does Saturation actually makes your kicks ( 808's ) hit harder or is it something that just makes it sound distorted for that cool 808 solid kick sound . Like I notice there is a certain point on the Ableton Saturation Drive knob where it drives so hard it sound flat. I had this problem once with my Electribe Drum Machine. Once recorded it sounded like it was banging but it wasn't if that makes any sense at all.
Saturation is divine. As with anything else, like Habanero, it can be overdone, but when it's just right it's the blissful, final touch on the creation.

Saturation is also psycho-acoustics and proper scientific experiments (nighties) have shown people perceive controlled saturation as "louder" than what it is measured in dB SPL.

You need to know what you're doing, just as with compression. It's not a magic formula haphazardly added without active listening. It's when it's "invisible" saturation is at its best, i e when you think it's not active until you turn it off and you wonder what happened. So think subtle!

These are some good general starter videos on the subject, provided you're open to extracting core ideas from other DAWs:
Make some music!

Stromkraft
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by Stromkraft » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:35 pm

dusty4444 wrote:Once recorded it sounded like it was banging but it wasn't if that makes any sense at all.
You overdid it. Dial back.
Make some music!

pottering
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by pottering » Sun Aug 19, 2018 8:11 pm

Not 100% sure, but from my observations:

Saturators add harmonics in higher frequencies, so indeed it "make something sound like it hitting hard on the low end when its really not".

Saturators are distortion, can't have saturation without distortion. But most saturators add a very subtle distortion, so people think of it differently from "DISTORTION!!".

That Drive knob literally rises/lowers the input gain before the distortion.

The distortion has a threshold where it starts clipping, so with you had a sound with decay, that decay may be risen until it hits the threshold and it is clipped.

So the more you rise, the longer part of the decay is clipped at the threshold (becomes like a sustain/hold stage), killing a transient on certain conditions.

Even if you disable Soft Clipping in Saturator, your DAC converter will clip at 0 dBFS, so you will hear the same effect if you crank up Drive, even though Live can record sounds above 0 dBFS.



Live's Saturator is pretty good, it is very clean (you can test it with a pure sine wave and Spectrum or Span, zooming in the higher frequencies, almost no aliasing, except with the Waveshaper mode), IMO it compares well with Saturn ($154).

You just have to be careful with the Soft Clipper, which does clip (duh), and the Waveshaper mode, which is really more distortion than "saturation", gotta keep really low values in Waveshaper, like 3% Curve 1% Damp.

At high Drive/gain values with the Soft Clipper, and with higher Curve/Damp values Waveshaper, then you do get digital distortion and aliasing.

If you put Saturator in a Rack, macro the Curve and Damp parameters, then constrain the macro's Min/Max range to low values (I use 0-6% for Curve, 0-3% for Damp), then you can even use Curve, Damp and Depth to control the odd and even harmonics rate.


[EDIT:] I believe it is the Soft Clipper that is behind most people's perception of Saturator having a "bad sound".

doghouse
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by doghouse » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:53 pm

Stromkraft wrote:Saturation is also psycho-acoustics and proper scientific experiments (nighties) have shown people perceive controlled saturation as "louder" than what it is measured in dB SPL.
This is how the "Big Bottom" feature in Aphex exciters works. By increasing the low-order harmonics of low frequency notes, our ears hear the additional harmonics as if there is also more fundamental, giving the sound of boosted bass without any EQ and without requiring more amplifier power.

In the Aphex design, the original signal is split into two bands, one high pass filtered and one low pass filtered. The low pass output is saturated and then mixed back with the high pass filter output.

Stromkraft
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by Stromkraft » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:15 am

One can note that which harmonics, how much of them and how they behave during processing renders very different results. Which is one reason why it makes sense to speak about distortion, saturation and excitement of harmonics as different methods.

"Distortion" also means any deviation from the original signal and most of those possible we don't regard as being "musical" distortion. Clipped signals is a first step. Digital clipping doesn't yield the same results as analog clipping as analog circuits behave differently when overloaded.

My collection of saturation and distortion plug-ins in use are growing, not to mention all those that have those as a part of the treatment they do. They all sound different even if they have something in common.
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Stace30
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by Stace30 » Mon Aug 20, 2018 3:07 pm

Thanks for the links Stromkraft. Very handy.
Live 10 Suite 10.6, M4L, MPC TOUCH MPC software v2.4, Reason 4, Komplete 11, i7 Laptop, 12g Ram, Win 10, Adam A7's & Genelec 8010's - Joined Forum in 2006.

dusty4444
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by dusty4444 » Sat Jan 05, 2019 1:55 pm

Stromkraft wrote:
dusty4444 wrote:Once recorded it sounded like it was banging but it wasn't if that makes any sense at all.
You overdid it. Dial back.

Yeah your totally right. I feel like saturators are cool just need to find that happy medium with them. Thanks for that reply .

doghouse
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by doghouse » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:01 pm

Like many effects, if you can hear it then you probably have applied too much of it.

oratowsky
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by oratowsky » Sat Jan 05, 2019 10:39 pm

really good technique on 808 bass drums is extreme distortion (gain/drive high) and then mixed in only like 30-40% wet.

Then you can hear the note of the 808 better but you keep the sub layer that provides rumble and weight.

jlgrimes
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by jlgrimes » Thu Jan 10, 2019 2:43 am

dusty4444 wrote:Saturation ?

Someone on a earlier post of mine said something interesting. Sometimes Saturation can make something sound like it hitting hard on the low end when its really not . So my question is Saturation does Saturation actually makes your kicks ( 808's ) hit harder or is it something that just makes it sound distorted for that cool 808 solid kick sound . Like I notice there is a certain point on the Ableton Saturation Drive knob where it drives so hard it sound flat. I had this problem once with my Electribe Drum Machine. Once recorded it sounded like it was banging but it wasn't if that makes any sense at all. Thanks




-ermac4482

It depends on the Saturation effect.

In general Saturation adds upper harmonics, which can make your base sound louder (or more audible on weak systems) but you can overdo it and make bass wimpy as it could add too many harmonics which can lose/drown out your fundamental tone.

Some Saturator effects does so many things though (eg cut bass, increase bass), it is hard to generalize.

jlgrimes
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Re: Saturation -Does it add power or does it sound like it does

Post by jlgrimes » Thu Jan 10, 2019 2:52 am

dusty4444 wrote:
Stromkraft wrote:
dusty4444 wrote:Once recorded it sounded like it was banging but it wasn't if that makes any sense at all.
You overdid it. Dial back.

Yeah your totally right. I feel like saturators are cool just need to find that happy medium with them. Thanks for that reply .

Wet/dry mix is your friend.

I often go crazy on the drive and use maybe like a 1-2% wet effect. Creates a cool buzzing sound. I just use wet/dry to sneak it in to make it sound like speakers are overloading a bit.

What's also cool is layering 808 with a Square, Saw, or Triangle Wave. This sounds similar to distortion but also can create a cool buzzing tone.


The main thing is deciding if you want "clean" bass or "dirty" bass. Similar to an electric guitar.

Some songs need to be clean. Others need dirt. And when I mean clean, you can still use distortion, Saturation, just less of it and it shouldn't be too audible.

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