Recording - June 2016 - 22

I grew up playing electric guitar, and for me
a good guitar tone was just as important as the
playing itself. The interaction between playing
dynamics and tone was essential, and this
practice carries over to my use of distortion in
mixing. Even on instruments other than guitar-
including and especially vocal tracks-I love a
tone just on the edge of breaking up, where
louder, more dynamic passages are distorting
audibly but softer passages are cleaner. Gain

Figure 2: Softube's Saturation Knob plugin-sweet, simple, and free.

Figure 3: The RedLightDist distortion plugin
bundled with PreSonus Studio One. Note the
Mix wet/dry control in the bottom right.

Figure 4: Studio One's Channel Editor
routing view.
22

RECORDING JUNE 2016

structure and dynamics, and how the recordings respond to both over time, are
essential to dial in a sound like this. You have to "hit" the distortion generator with
just the right amount of gain, and the results can sound exquisite when done right.
Parallel processing: it's not just for compression any more
So what are the best ways to accomplish this in a mix? Occasionally it makes
sense to put a lot of distortion onto a sound as an intentional effect, but for
warming up clean tracks without the obvious characteristics of distortion being
discernible, we will usually opt for parallel processing. This approach, as with
compression or other effects, maintains the integrity of the original signal, but
enhances its tone by providing additional harmonic content tucked in just the
right amount with the original signal.
The simplest way to achieve this technique is to set up an effects bus, and route
any audio that needs warming up to that bus. Sometimes it is just one track, or
you can send multiple tracks to it. One up-and-coming DAW is in large part based
on this concept. Harrison MixBus (shown in Figure 1 and reviewed September
2015) began with the full-featured, open-source Ardour DAW, but Harrison was
the first to integrate extensive expertise with analog and digital mixing technology
to create a platform with this sort of tone-enhancing distortion built into the DAW.
While sometimes parallel distortion works well alongside parallel compression-
or even sometimes with both compression and distortion in the same bus chain-it
is important to distinguish between the sounds of distortion and compression, as
well as how compression and distortion interact with one another. For instance, if
you hit a distortion plug-in before a compressor, there will be a wider dynamic
range to explore a wider range of saturation than if you compress it first, which
makes for a smaller dynamic range and more consistent saturation.
Many classic compressors add quite a bit of their own distortion, which is a
big part of their tone and hence their mystique. For many years, to warm
things up I'd turn to a parallel compressor, but these days I'm more likely to
turn to parallel distortion.
Once you have the tone and amount of saturation dialed in, you can then
sculpt it a bit with EQ. I will nearly always use both a highpass and a lowpass
filter; the harmonics I am looking for are usually in the midrange more than
anything, though this can vary. In most cases we are after a smoother distortion, not a harsh, ugly tone (though this is, of course, subjective!).
If the tone seems harsh no matter where the gain is set, then one solution is
to notch out offending frequencies. These are often caused by comb filtering
from poor room acoustics present during tracking, since they are often much
louder than other frequencies and will therefore trigger distortion sooner. In
other words, they are adding additional harmonic content to already problematic frequencies. Get rid of them with a narrow, steep EQ cut before the distortion plug-in, and often the resulting distortion will sound much smoother.
This method of using a bus for the parallel distortion effect is necessary with
plug-ins that don't have a wet/dry control, one (free!) example of which is
Softube Saturation Knob (see Figure 2). I also will sometimes use guitar amp
simulation plug-ins of one type or another on the bus to achieve the distortion I
am looking for.
Dirty it in the mix
A second way to add parallel distortion is to simply use a distortion plug-in
that has a wet/dry mix control. SoundToys Decapitator is a popular choice
here, and I also like the RedLightDist plug-in that comes with PreSonus Studio
One (see figure 3). With plug-ins like this, I will begin by setting them to 100%
wet to dial in the tone I want to add.
Here, selecting the type of distortion (most plug-ins offer multiple types of saturation), manipulating the drive and gain structure, and also the lowpass and
highpass filter combination, allows me to get very close to what I want. Shown
here is a 3-stage op amp solid state distortion, which is more subtle than a
tube setting. Try the different types to get a feel for what the track needs, and
fine tune to taste.
Once I have the distorted signal dialed in, I then back off to 100% dry to
reset my ears for a bit. Finally, I slowly increase the wetness, adding distortion
to fill out and fatten up the tone to taste.
Studio One's Channel Layout
As a heavy user of PreSonus' Studio One DAW, I'm very excited about a
third option to achieve parallel distortion introduced with version 3.1 (3.2 is current as of this writing and is reviewed elsewhere in this issue). The new
"Channel Layout" feature allows me to dial in any combination of series and/or



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - June 2016

Contents
Recording - June 2016 - Cover1
Recording - June 2016 - Cover2
Recording - June 2016 - 1
Recording - June 2016 - 2
Recording - June 2016 - 3
Recording - June 2016 - 4
Recording - June 2016 - 5
Recording - June 2016 - Contents
Recording - June 2016 - 7
Recording - June 2016 - 8
Recording - June 2016 - 9
Recording - June 2016 - 10
Recording - June 2016 - 11
Recording - June 2016 - 12
Recording - June 2016 - 13
Recording - June 2016 - 14
Recording - June 2016 - 15
Recording - June 2016 - 16
Recording - June 2016 - 17
Recording - June 2016 - 18
Recording - June 2016 - 19
Recording - June 2016 - 20
Recording - June 2016 - 21
Recording - June 2016 - 22
Recording - June 2016 - 23
Recording - June 2016 - 24
Recording - June 2016 - 25
Recording - June 2016 - 26
Recording - June 2016 - 27
Recording - June 2016 - 28
Recording - June 2016 - 29
Recording - June 2016 - 30
Recording - June 2016 - 31
Recording - June 2016 - 32
Recording - June 2016 - 33
Recording - June 2016 - 34
Recording - June 2016 - 35
Recording - June 2016 - 36
Recording - June 2016 - 37
Recording - June 2016 - 38
Recording - June 2016 - 39
Recording - June 2016 - 40
Recording - June 2016 - 41
Recording - June 2016 - 42
Recording - June 2016 - 43
Recording - June 2016 - 44
Recording - June 2016 - 45
Recording - June 2016 - 46
Recording - June 2016 - 47
Recording - June 2016 - 48
Recording - June 2016 - 49
Recording - June 2016 - 50
Recording - June 2016 - 51
Recording - June 2016 - 52
Recording - June 2016 - 53
Recording - June 2016 - 54
Recording - June 2016 - 55
Recording - June 2016 - 56
Recording - June 2016 - 57
Recording - June 2016 - 58
Recording - June 2016 - 59
Recording - June 2016 - 60
Recording - June 2016 - 61
Recording - June 2016 - 62
Recording - June 2016 - 63
Recording - June 2016 - 64
Recording - June 2016 - 65
Recording - June 2016 - 66
Recording - June 2016 - 67
Recording - June 2016 - 68
Recording - June 2016 - 69
Recording - June 2016 - 70
Recording - June 2016 - 71
Recording - June 2016 - 72
Recording - June 2016 - Cover3
Recording - June 2016 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202108
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202107
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202106
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202105
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202104
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202103
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202102
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202101
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202007
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202006
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_20205
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202004
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201904
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201903
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/musicmaker/musicmaker/recording_201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201804
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201704
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201703
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201604
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201603
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201602
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201601
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201504
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201503
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201502
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201501
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201405
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201404
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201403
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201402
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201401
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201312
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201311
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201310
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201309
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201308
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201307
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201306
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201305
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201303
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201302
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201301
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201212
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201211
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201210
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201209
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201208
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201207
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201206
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201205
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201204
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201203
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201202
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201201
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201111
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201110
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201109
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201108
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201107
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201106
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201105
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201103
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201004
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_201001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_200912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_200911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/recording_200910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/musicmaker/nxtd
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com