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Best saturation/distortion/destruction hardware Dynamics Processors (HW)
Old 2nd August 2016
  #1
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Vilddyr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Best saturation/distortion/destruction hardware

Hi.

I want to start a collection of analog saturation and distortion tools. From super subtle and high end, to super gritty, cheap and nasty.

Please hit me with recomendations to check out! In all price ranges, as long as you can recommend them!

Regards, Tor
Old 2nd August 2016
  #2
Here for the gear
 

First that comes to mind is the Thermionic Culture Vulture. The moog ladder 500 module is excellent for more than just synths. Then on the more subtle side of things there is the RND 542.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #3
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chrischoir's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vilddyr View Post
Hi.

I want to start a collection of analog saturation and distortion tools. From super subtle and high end, to super gritty, cheap and nasty.

Please hit me with recomendations to check out! In all price ranges, as long as you can recommend them!

Regards, Tor
A neve mic pre is as good as it gets. Drive the input all the way up and attenuate the output. It will give you tons of analog saturation.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #4
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Chris Wilson's Avatar
Rockruepel Comp.one in Rupel mode

Hendy Amps Anolog Stage
Old 3rd August 2016
  #5
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Thread Starter
Didn't know about the ruepel mode... Interesting! !
Old 3rd August 2016
  #6
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DougS's Avatar
 

Chandler REDD47 preamp.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #7
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bgood's Avatar
Been using the warm audio tone beast for this a lot lately...

Put some great nos ge tubes into a art mpa ii and it's very tubey as a distorted flavor... And two channels!
Old 3rd August 2016
  #8
Gear Maniac
Overdriving a Pre sure can be great, but the thing with all the saturation boxes is that you have much more control over the amount of saturation and the tone (filters, etc.).
I know these boxes:
Thermionic Culture Vulture. Nothing sounds like it. My favorite distortion box.
Overstayer M-A-S for more elegant and subtle + Mixbuss-Magic. I guess the Saturator is great, too.
DIYRE Colour. Very good. And cheap. And you have a lot of different distortion types with all the cards. The 15 ips card is great on drums.
RND 542. Cool, but for me too expensive for what it does.
Amtec DST-5A. Also cool, but the overall sound didn't speak to me.
Chandler Zener in THD mode. Besides being a fantastic comp, the Zener also has a very nice distortion.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #9
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Thread Starter
Yeah, Im really not looking for preamp saturation, I know every preamp can do that with varying results. I am interested in dedicated boxes. The overstayer stuff looks interesting. Have the Zener Limiter already, but I cant use that in THD mode, since the limiter is the most beautiful thing ever invented
Old 3rd August 2016
  #10
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There's also the Looptrotter. Cheap, and quite simple, but maybe it can do something?

I am looking at the Black Box Analog HG2 as the "high end" precise saturation unit, but I would like some stuff with more chaos and attitude as well
Old 3rd August 2016
  #11
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Love my UBK Fatso
Old 3rd August 2016
  #12
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vilddyr View Post
I am looking at the Black Box Analog HG2 as the "high end" precise saturation unit, but I would like some stuff with more chaos and attitude as well
You can't go wrong with the Culture Vulture or i guess the Overstayer Saturator then. Attitude, quality and you really can get chaotic.
And also check the DIYRE stuff.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #13
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Thread Starter
Actually I was not so fond of the culture vulture. It seemed like a neither-nor unit to me. Not really RMS increasing saturation like the Hg2, and neither a really good sounding destruction box (to my preference). And as all other thermionic gear, I found the built quality insulting given the price tag. Sorry, I don't mean to bash it, but I was just really disappointed.

The only one I have heard that had the best of both worlds was the Vertigo Sound VSM-2, but that is out of my price range

Quote:
Originally Posted by cracki View Post
You can't go wrong with the Culture Vulture or i guess the Overstayer Saturator then. Attitude, quality and you really can get chaotic.
And also check the DIYRE stuff.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #14
Amtec DST-5A is really fun!!!
Old 3rd August 2016
  #15
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vilddyr View Post
Actually I was not so fond of the culture vulture. It seemed like a neither-nor unit to me. Not really RMS increasing saturation like the Hg2, and neither a really good sounding destruction box (to my preference). And as all other thermionic gear, I found the built quality insulting given the price tag. Sorry, I don't mean to bash it, but I was just really disappointed.

The only one I have heard that had the best of both worlds was the Vertigo Sound VSM-2, but that is out of my price range
Ha, we are all so very different. I LOVE THE CULTURE VULTURE.
So, maybe you should check out the Amtec which i didn't like that much.
(I also don't mean to bash Amtec. He makes great stuff. I have an Amtec 099 which is one of the best comps i own)
Old 3rd August 2016
  #16
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GreenNeedle's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vilddyr View Post
Hi.

I want to start a collection of analog saturation and distortion tools. From super subtle and high end, to super gritty, cheap and nasty.

Please hit me with recomendations to check out! In all price ranges, as long as you can recommend them!

Regards, Tor
Buy 2 or 4 of these
Vintage Ampex 601 Tube Preamplifier with Output Transformer ACDC 15385 6852 | eBay
and use them on a send. They are easy to calibrate and sound ****ing great, Gritty and beautiful on drums. But tubey and slammy on anything. There are permanent part of my set up. And....CHEAP.
Be sure to ask if they have the ampex input transformer though, apparently those were a hot item for a while.
It is the one on the far left front looking down from the top.
You should be able to find these for under $200.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vilddyr View Post
Hi.
I want to start a collection of analog saturation and distortion tools. From super subtle and high end, to super gritty, cheap and nasty.

Please hit me with recomendations to check out! In all price ranges, as long as you can recommend them!
Regards, Tor
This is perhaps more to do with the distortion side of things rather than saturation, but I like using things like guitar and bass amps, various guitar pedals and so on to add different character to things. Not a new approach given how a lot of folks in the 90s would run things like drums or acoustic guitars through distortion pedals (sansamp classic is a big favourite and a very nice box), you can get all kinds of fun sound by either reamping things, or taking a microphone and directly running it into a guitar amp or preamp. I've had great results using a dynamic mic into a crappy solid state bedroom guitar amp, using it as a layer of distortion to blend in with the other drum mics.

Literally anything can work for that sort of thing. Any pedals you come across by BOSS, Electro Harmonix, DOD, Dunlop, Proco, MXR... too many to name. I'm a big fan of the Proco RAT pedal for all sorts of stuff, but you could easily google lists of classic guitar pedals and youtube their sounds. All kinds of fun to be had. Most of the responses so far seem to be recommending rackmount processors, limiters, preamps and so on, but you can pick up a decent overdrive or fuzzbox for 50-100 euros or so.

Happy to recommend pedals if you have more specific needs.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #18
Gear Nut
 

As the designer and maker of the Amtec gear, I can tell that the DST-5A is on the opposite side of tonal spectrum from the Culture Vulture. The CV overdrives tube amplifier stages, whereas the DST-5A uses precise diode and transistor clipper and is more "technical". Horses for courses. The DST-5A can be used very gently to increase RMS level or can be brutal. Some of our clients prefer more organic sound and choose our LLI-5A low-level interface module with the T.Over overdrive pedal, which we also make under the brand Tonee. But the DST module may suit you. Here are some presentations:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOP_hqSvBrQ
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCozO1ULJQ8
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zi9ZI1TDFG0

PS. Cracki, I'm very glad you like the 099!
Old 3rd August 2016
  #19
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Elysia Karacter
Old 3rd August 2016
  #20
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Every Culture Vulture demo I've heard I felt like it made everything sound worse. I still want to like it though. If anyone here has a demo of a synth or bass guitar running through it I'd love to hear it.
Old 3rd August 2016
  #21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mixwell View Post
Amtec DST-5A is really fun!!!
Yeah I have a pair on a subgroup and they sound great for grit.

The Thermionic CV works okay although I'll probably let mine go soon....

Blasting stuff through pedals and amps/speakers seems to be the best though if you want depth, space and solidity.
Old 4th August 2016
  #22
Gear Nut
 
c0rtland's Avatar
Preamp saturation. as far as the neves go I only have the 1073lbs and I like those for this but I actually like the saturation on the ma5's more. I need to try my ez1073's for this... The m72s has awesome distortion. I also LOVE altec 1567a's grit. And +1 for Ampex 601's.
Compressor distortion. 1176's distort nicely. The overstayer sfe is wicked. The thd setting on the chandler tg1 is wonderful. Fatso/distressor duh, I prefer the fatso for this task though.

I have my eye on the overstayer saturator. I can never have enough distortion. Ha!

There are probably infinite more options for you but I own these units so I can comment on my experience with them. Also, when I'm reaching for these I'm usually running drums, bass, Vox, or acoustic.

Most of the time when I want vocal distortion that is noticeable I reamp through an ac15.

Have fun!
Old 4th August 2016
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by c0rtland View Post
Most of the time when I want vocal distortion that is noticeable I reamp through an ac15.
It's a classic amp. I've got one in my possession that an ex-bandmate left here while he's living abroad. They're great on acoustic guitars, all kinds of organ/keyboard/synth sounds, drums, glockenspiel... anything that needs rounding out or livening up etc (besides being great for playing guitars through!). Not such a big fan of the reverb though - too 'sproingy' and splashy, but occasionally cool on backing vocals.

Lower-gain, old-skool amps are generally more useful and interesting for running non-guitar signals through than high-gain ones. I've gotten interesting sounds out of reamping drums through bass amps too.
Old 4th August 2016
  #24
Lives for gear
If you want a large selection of that flavor. Get a radial or millinia re-amp box and a tons of stomp box's. The guitar world intersects with mixing that way.
Old 4th August 2016
  #25
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Vilddyr's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Lots of great suggestions...! The reamping thing is something i will explore!

For now i am primarily looking at stuff that is stereo or linkable in some way.

Anyone know of other devices than the VSM-2, that can do band specific distortion?
Old 4th August 2016
  #26
Gear Nut
I use 2 DIYre Colour's before API550/Smart C1LA mainly as a drum bus with subtle to gentle distortion.

If i need more distortion i use stomp boxes like the pigtronix disnortion trough a radial extc.
Old 4th August 2016
  #27
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string6theory's Avatar
+1 for running signal thru guitar pedals, amps & such.

Slap an AT line to hi-z adapter on a balanced line cable off the console aux send and experiment!

A pair of Sansamp PSA 1s is also an indispensable studio tool set.

Beyond those, driving a 1073, 1084, meq1-nv and even UA 6176 can blend a cool flavor with the right source.

I'm really interested in trying out a SF Creamer or variant at some point as well, for some more high-end tube flav.

I really liked the Boiler I used for a brief time many years back.


Last edited by string6theory; 29th October 2016 at 07:56 PM..
Old 4th August 2016
  #28
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Toni-P's Avatar
Lets see :-)

Looptrotter Monster - Total destruction possible, but doesnt have to be
Overstayer Saturator - Creative saturation unit
Overstayer Stereo Voltage Control - Could quite possibly create a black hole, but does not have to
Overstayer Stereo Field Effect - Very nice tool to destroy audio, but does not have to
Standard Audio Level-Or (500 series, little beasts) Spits out straight dirt!
Looptrotter Emperor - Interesting distortion unit.
Little hidden gem would even be the SPL Transient designer. When you push it it sounds like a decapitator on steroids.
Old 4th August 2016
  #29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vilddyr View Post
Anyone know of other devices than the VSM-2, that can do band specific distortion?
Not off the top of my head. That would be a device much less common than all the other funky little toys out there you can get hold of cheaply.

However, you might be able to get a similar sort of effect quite easily by copying the signal to another track, high and low-passing the signal you wish to process - basically eq-ing so you have only the frequencies you wish to process, sending those to a distortion/overdrive/compression/saturation device, and then blending that track with the original clean signal. You should have plenty of control that way. You could do this multiple times with multiple frequency bands if you needed to.
Old 4th August 2016
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toni-P View Post
Lets see :-)
Looptrotter Monster - Total destruction possible, but doesnt have to be
Overstayer Saturator - Creative saturation unit
Overstayer Stereo Voltage Control - Could quite possibly create a black hole, but does not have to
Overstayer Stereo Field Effect - Very nice tool to destroy audio, but does not have to
Standard Audio Level-Or (500 series, little beasts) Spits out straight dirt!
Looptrotter Emperor - Interesting distortion unit.
Little hidden gem would even be the SPL Transient designer. When you push it it sounds like a decapitator on steroids.
Jeez... these units are between 1-2 grand each!! Do people really spend that much on just distortion and saturation? I'm sure they sound great and all, but coming from a guitar/bass playing background the number of individual effects units, multiple distortions, and even seperate amps that can all be bought with that kind of money, I'm not sure how I'd ever justify the cost to myself even if I had that kind of money to spend.

Is this really how the other half live?
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