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Creative clipping?
Old 31st December 2010
Creative clipping?

I've found myself over-driving various devices around the studio, clipping percussion transients for a little extra top-end harmonic content (or just obliterating drums/room mics/lo-fi-fx mics) adding fuzz-bass during the mix, etc. A lot of times I'm setting up a parallel track for the clipping.

How often do you reach for hard/soft clipping as an effect? What do you find you're using? Solid state? Tube? Hardware or software? Favorite tracks that use clipping and distortion as an effect?

Note: I'd like very much not to let this thread turn into a "clipping the converters for loudness" OR a "why is it clipping" or the like, as there are MANY a thread that already touch on this.
Old 31st December 2010
Lives for gear
Mardi Gras's Avatar

I have digital clipping on almost all of my channels. Gives it I really good sound.
Old 31st December 2010
Gear Nut
yahman1254's Avatar

I think the sound of floor toms and even high toms can be really cool with a bit of clipping. Trent Reznor used a smashed + slightly clipped floor tom sound on some of his Ghosts album and I loved it. I am a drummer btw.

it can make for a very cool experimental sound on drums i think.
Old 31st December 2010
Lives for gear
black dog gtr tone is a classic example of overdriving a line amp
Old 31st December 2010
Registered User
Distortion FX are all essentially clipping, and any guitarist knows the beauty and value of clipping ... multiple stages of clipping in fact. Many other sources benefit greatly from distortion fx - from mild to harsh. It's a huge complex world of choice ... from soft saturation, overdrive, distortion, fuzz, 2nd order harmonics, 3rd order harmonics, crossover distortion ... tubes, transistors, tape, transformers ... take your pick.

Certainly some sounds benefit from the cleanest signal path. My theory is that sounds that contain complex overtones may not benefit from generating any extra harmonics. Cymbals, acoustic guitars, pianos, etc

Other sounds that lack harmonics might benefit greatly from added harmonics. Bass guitar, soft vocals, etc

And then there is the whole personal taste asthetic, genre, etc. Distortion can tend to makes sounds "angry" - which may not be the vibe you are going for. On the other hand, certain soft euphonic distortion fx can add glowing warm fuzzies, which might be just what you are missing ...

Maybe i've gone OT here ... perhaps you just meant harsh digital clipping, which tends to put a square wave onto any signal ...

I think of clipping as being Very Fast Limiting. Sometimes when you are trying to limit a sound, the faster the limiting the better. And sometimes clipping sounds better. Especially worth trying with drums.

No doubt you will hear some righteous indignation from people who "never clip anything, ever" because "clipping sounds like ass"... or whatever. I think it's a case of semantics ... because most audio professionals DO understand the value of distortion or saturation in the right place ... it's just hard to define where that right place is ...
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