Saturation often brings about misunderstanding of inexperienced tips for mixing vocals engineers. Sometimes it is caused by an overload effect which you can witness in case of incompetent use of plugins. It’s hardly fair as saturation if used right allows you to add “analog” sound to a mix. Most of saturation plugins are quite simple in use but the most important thing in use of the effect to understand the principle of its work. Let’s take a look at the process in details and analyze several examples.
Step 1. What is saturation like?
The process that is based on analog essence of sound is called saturation. When mixing engineers used a tape and high levels of recording, they received squeeze of a certain kind which was called tape saturation. When the tape was played back in such a way, the sound level reached 0 decibels (and in some cases it exceeded this rate) and clipped what was called “soft clipping”. As a result, there was small signal overload indicating natural compression and specifications of sound limiting. It was used by engineers as an instrument in certain elements of the mix.
As a rule, in digital systems everything is a lot more strictly with that what exceeds the point in 0 decibels. It is considered to be hard limiting. Everything that is outside these limits brings about distortions. By all means, it’s not a problem for DAW with which practically all mixing studios are equipped since the algorithm of soft limiting on masterbus is implemented in many of them.
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