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  • Use/amount of saturation

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    Hello all,

    I've been browsing the forums but couldn't really find an answer to my specific question about the use of saturation.

    While I have understood the effect of saturation and what it does in terms of adding analog warmth to the tracks by simulating tape or tube distortion and adding harmonics, I wonder, if, for example I'm mixing a classical piece (only strings for example) with 2 first violin sections,  2 second violin sections, violas, celli and double-basses and so on, and I already did the right eq-, compression- and reverb-decisions, would it be more logical to add some gentle tape saturation (for example Magneto II) on every single section or later on the strings mix bus. (Wow, that was a long sentence 😕)

    I assume that doing it per track allows more control over the affected frequencies per section but the distortion effect would cumulate over the sections, not to talk about further saturation effects on other instrument groups. In the case of saturating the mix bus, there would only be one distortion effect that wouldn't cumulate. What do you think? Would you rather use it on the strings bus or on the different sections?

    Another point is, that I would also think of using some tape saturation on other sections as for example the woodwinds or drum sections (taikos & co.). If I would do it seperatly for every instrument section, it would get too much in the end. Not to speak of the increases dynamics, such a saturation would bring with.

    How do you deal with the amount of saturation? How much do you apply and when do you know, you found the right proportion for your mix / bus? In my case, I trust my ears and try to set the amount, that it just becomes perceptible rather than audible. But then again, I have no clue about the frequency range to apply the saturation. The motto "If it sounds right, it is right" is hard to apply with the use of saturation, as in my opinion, it shouldn't be "audible".

    So,

    1. In case of the strings mix, where would you put saturation on, on the differents sections or on the strings mix bus?
    2. On what instruments groups in general would you apply saturation? (Only talking about classical instruments, not synths etc.)
    3. How much saturation would you apply and when do you know, it is just fine? Which frequency range would you apply it on? Would you rather use tape or tube saturation?

    I am grateful for any advice. Thank you 😃

    Christian


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    Welcome Christian,

    that's some serious stuff for a first message! 😄 ... I like that.

    There are no hard rules, and actually "It depends!" would be the only serious answer, without running into the danger to misguide you.

    But I'll try it nonetheless:

    @Another User said:

    Which frequency range would you apply it on? Would you rather use tape or tube saturation?
     

    Personally I tend to use tube-like saturation (even harmonics) on tuned instruments with not-too-distinct attacks, and tape saturation (odd harmonics) on percussive material to tame their atttacks and make them appear fuller, but thats a starting point rather than a rule. In the end, I'm using something in-between more often than not. 😉

    HTH,


    /Dietz - Vienna Symphonic Library
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    Hi Dietz,

    it's my first official post, yes, but surfing and browsing through these posts for years now, I am more the reticent kind of person. 😉 But now, that I have the opportunity, let me just say, that your products are world class - all of them. They are incredibly flexible and so high-quality. I want to thank you also for your quick reply in this topic - enlightening, as always.

    @Another User said:

    Personally I tend to use tube-like saturation (even harmonics) on tuned instruments with not-too-distinct attacks, and tape saturation (odd harmonics) on percussive material to tame their atttacks and make them appear fuller, but thats a starting point rather than a rule. In the end, I'm using something in-between more often than not. ;-9

    Well, I didn't know about the even and odd harmoncis. Makes sense to use the one on tuned instruments and the other on percussice material. As the tape saturation also adds energy in low registers, this indeed seems to be a good choice for percussions.

    Just one last question for this topic: How about the frequency range of the applied saturation? Is there some sort of no-go for -let's say- deep or sub frequencies or maybe other frequencies, or do you apply it on the whole spectrum? Some plugins have an inbuild high- and lowpass-filter for that porpose. As the tube saturation mainly creates harmonics in upper octaves, I could imagine that there should'nt be too many problems with the lower registers?

    The tape saturation does also affect the lower registers, as it seems to create subtle playback disortions over the whole frequency spectrum; I could imagine, that this could also affect deep registers - but the longer I think about it, that hasn't necessarily be to the worse. What do you think?

    Christian


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    Great discussion! I am still wrapping my head around saturation - and find it interesting that you can use the same tool of adding harmonic content to achieve seemingly opposite goals, to either calm a shrill element in the upper bands or push up the power of other elements (like bass).  

    I have been struggling with a VSL Bb trumpet (muted) lead on a jazz track, trying to tamp down the shrillness in some areas of the track so it will sit properly in the mix (register dependent it seems, and we are NOT talking ff, just mf at most). So far I have used a combination of light saturation and dynamic EQ ... on top of a tweaked Vienna Suite Pro EQ preset for the instrument of course 😉... getting there ...

    Such mixing discussions are much appreciated 👍

    Cheers,

    Craig