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Add harmonics but preserve dynamics
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Nut
Add harmonics but preserve dynamics


I need a plug-in that can add harmonics and/or grit and dirt to a sound but without being dependent on dynamics and affecting it.
Saturation and Distortion add harmonics content based on input level and at the same time "compress" the sound.
I want an effect that is not dependent on input gain and maintain dynamics.


Last edited by bebbo; 3 weeks ago at 10:17 PM.. Reason: Title correction
Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear
thismercifulfate's Avatar
I don't think what you want is possible. Adding distortion/harmonics to any track will increase its perceived loudness. You can of course reduce the output volume to compensate, but the you can't really get around the fact that it will in one way or the other reduce the dynamics. Perhaps using distortion in parallel (which I employ on drums and bass all the time) can give you greater control and minimize the effect, as the source track will be left intact, but even that won't ignore your input levels or not affect dynamics.

My guess is if you could find out a way to apply distortion to a track that wasn't affected by its dynamics it would sound super un-musical. Maybe simply adding white noise to your track will give you that effect.
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Nut
Why super unmusical?

Let's take this example:
You have a drum machine track with a tom fill, some hit are louder other are quieter.
If you apply a distortion unit, like decapitator, louder hits are going to be distorted and quieter are going to be left untouched more or less.
Instead if you take the original tom sample and distort it and then use it as the sample for the tom fill, all the hits louder and quieter are going to be distorted regardless of their level. This is not going to sound unmusical.

While this route is feasible for midi tracks is not doable for audio tracks.
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Nut
I know that's the reason why I am talking about adding harmonic and unharmonic content instead of distortion and I am saying that the 'standard' way of doing it is distortion that unfortunately lead to compression.
I suggest reading up on my original post.
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Nut
Apparently they claim to do what I am talking about.

"Contrary to many distortion effects, Faturator will preserve the dynamics of your sound and work its wonders on it regardless of input gain."
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Addict
Bouroki's Avatar

IIRC Metric Halo Character has a button that does just this.

Try the saturation modes in SlickEQ GE as well - they don't affect dynamics and don't compress.

The transient shaper from Auburn Sounds also has a level independent saturation.

Finally try some enhancer/exciter type plugins like Toneboosters Enhancer.
Old 3 weeks ago
You could split your signal and send an aux to whatever distortion box you'd like and mix in to taste. You could even ride the return or dynamically effect it in other ways.
Sounds like parallel is the the way to go.
Old 3 weeks ago
Indeed Faturator by Kilo-hearts was first on the market to do it I believe. We rediscovered the idea in Auburn Sounds Couture: (of course thinking it was a world-first )

Distortion-that-preserve-dynamics preserve large scale dynamics, the finer resolution dynamics do get flattened of course.

How useful is that? You tell me. If you counted on saturation to flatten dynamics and peaks, this might be disappointing.
I find it is nicest for voice and subtle saturation settings, also you get back the freedom to gain-stage differently. You also get that whatever the input gain, it will never be "too far" into saturation ; it is just exactly the same added harmonics a bit like FM would do.
Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear
EvilRoy's Avatar

Not sure about SW, but how about layering in something that uses additive synthesis, ala Kawai K5000? 128 sine wave harmonics with all sorts of level/filter/mod options. I think this can also be done in Logic's Alchemy or maybe a B3 plug? Harmonics are different than grit and dirt. Not sure how one would get distortion without using distortion.
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Addict
Pali's Avatar

Softube Harmonics has a separate knob for dynamics, so you can add harmonics and even have greater dynamics.
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Nut

Try Reviver: Adds 2nd and 3rd harmonics
Old 3 weeks ago
Gear Nut

Then add Digital Grimebox
Old 3 weeks ago
Lives for gear

Do a little more saturation than you think you need and then just use the mix knob or put it on a parallel track. Best of both worlds...
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