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Best Distortion Plugins 2023

Over the last few years, distortion has become popular in music production. People appear to have grown tired with high-fidelity recordings, but who can blame them? It’s easier for home producers to generate art out of noisy recordings if they sound more lo-fi. You’ve come to the right place if you’re seeking for a warm, warped texture. Here are the best distortion plugins for 2022 in a nutshell.

FabFilter Saturn 2

This plugin, like other FabFilter plugins, is a parameter powerhouse. “Is that all?” you’ll undoubtedly think when you look at the user interface for the first time. However, as you begin to add modulations, link parameters, and add bands, you’ll realize how versatile the hardware emulation sound design can be. The sophisticated algorithm in the plugin simply adjusts to whatever you add to it, and the outcomes will be different everytime you need them to be.

FabFilter is one of the world’s leading boutique plugin manufacturers for any music producer. Their feature-rich plugins produce incredible sound. The Saturn 2 is the pinnacle of the Saturn line, delivering everything from gentle softness to the craziest multiband guitar amp distortion for electronic music.

The Saturn 2 offers a remarkable 28 different distortion genres, all inspired by the retro sound of tubes, tape, transformers, and guitar amps. Each of the up to six bands can have its own distortion style, with distinct controls for feedback, dynamics, drive, tone, and modulation.

The FabFilter Saturn 2’s excellent distortion effect may be simply tweaked for amazing results. With built-in XLFOs, EGs, XY controllers/sliders, envelope followers, and MIDI sources, virtually infinite modulation options of the crossover frequencies, dynamics, band levels, and tone controls are possible. Modulation has never been easier with drag-and-drop capabilities and a 50-slot modulation matrix! Because it’s capable of modest saturation and optional linear phase processing, the plugin also performs well in the mastering chain. Warm up the master channel without distorting critical phase relationships or waveform features.

The Saturn 2 features interactive MIDI Learn, undo/redo, and A/B switches, Smart Parameter Interpolation, “Help” documentation with interactive tips, sample-accurate automation, double-click text entry of parameter values, and more, in classic FabFilter flair. The distortion pedal plugin comes with a variety of distortion settings that can be applied lightly or to extremes. The Subtle modes, for example, sound incredibly transparent and can even be used to add coloring to a mastering chain. On any instrument, the more overdriven textures will sound amazing. The plugin sounds clean and precise overall, with no unpleasant distortion artifacts.

Saturn 2 by FabFilter is ahead of its time. It’s incredible how versatile distortion plugin is and how many different things music producers can do with it. It’s a multi-band swiss-army knife with not too high system requirements as well as a distortion plugin. This is unquestionably a must-have addition to your toolkit at this price point. This is the Best Distortion Plugin in 2023.

iZotope Trash 2

iZotope Trash 2 is possibly the most innovative distortion/saturation plugins on this list. It can be used in a variety of situations and spans from minor to tremendous distortion, with almost every sonic possibilities in between. Over 60 types of distortion models are included in the plugin’s 4-band dual-stage distortion signal pipeline (in addition to the user-definable graphic waveshaper option). Trash 2 offers quick sonic alteration thanks to powerful filtering and dynamic effects.

Trash 2 from iZotope goes above and beyond with over 60 distortion algorithms and an integrated convolution engine. The master compressor plugin has a two-stage approach to multi-band distortion, allowing you to add two separate distortions per band. The waveshaper can be used to fine-tune the distortion or to generate completely new sounds. There are also two effects, two filters, and two modulation options in the plugin.

You can utilize the convolution module to make individual portions sound a lot different, the plugin sounds especially nice on drums. That is, unless you intend to use the plugin sparingly. For snarling bass, razor-like synthesizers, and screaming guitars, you can produce unbelievably gritty textures. With over 300 presets, the plugin makes it incredibly simple to access any of those sounds.

For years, iZotope has been producing excellent plugins, and this is no exception. Trash is a highly adaptable distortion with just the perfect amount of extras. It’s unquestionably a must-have addition to your collection. This is the Best Distortion VST Plugin in 2023.

D16 Group Devastor 2

Devastor 2 is the follow-up to D16’s initial SilverLine Collection FX Plugin, Devastor. Devastor is a deceptively basic Multiband Distortion Unit that produces amazing results. It’s an improved version of the distortion unit seen in Phoscyon, with complete multiband processing control. This takes its audio manipulation powers to a whole new level!

Devastor 2 is a three-band distortion plugin from D16 Group featuring separate signal flows for each channel. The plugin allows you to create distortion in nine different ways and filter the signal in a variety of ways. The Dynamics Flattener functions as a simple compressor, while the Diode Clipper elevates this plugin to one of the best distortion plugins.

Between its filters and diode-clipper, the plug-in offers nine possible connection topologies. Filters can handle the signal before or after it is sent into the diode-clipper, and some configurations even allow the filters to act in tandem with the clipper, substantially expanding the sound palette available.

Devastor’s filters aren’t the typical peaking EQ found in multiband distortion units; instead, they’re analog synthesizer-style filters (low pass, high pass, bandpass, and band reject) with customizable resonance and cutoff characteristics. As a result, Devastor’s sound is one-of-a-kind. Simply listen to the factory content for yourself!

The Devastor 2 is propelled by the Diode Clipper’s sound. Preamp, Threshold, Shape, and Clip are the four controls, and there are six possible clipping curves. The nine topographies, in addition to the clipper, allow you to further experiment with how different paths will sound. You may switch between soft and harsh, wide-sounding clipping with this plugin.

Devastor 2 is a powerful plugin with a variety of sound choices. The plugin’s unique blend of clipping and filtering gives it a distinct personality that sets it apart from the competition. It’s a unique-sounding distortion that could be a terrific addition to your arsenal.

Soundtoys Decapitator

Decapitator is ideal for adding character to any track or instrument in your mix, with five different analog saturation models to pick from. There’s also a modelled tone control to sculpt the saturated sound, as well as a mix control to blend in some dry signal for parallel processing without the need for routing and sub-mixes. When you combine all of this with the versatility and dependability of a Soundtoys plug-in, you’ve got the best of both analog and digital in one indispensable effect.

Given its incredible adaptability, Decapitator is a rather simple hardware-modeled tube distortion plugin. This plugin will give your music the distortion they require, from subtle saturation to dramatic breakup. The Decapitator adds character in 5 different genres, bringing the best analog distortion to the digital domain. Using the Mix knob, users can process distortion in parallel with the original dry signal. The following are the five styles:

A: based on the Ampex 350 tape drive preamplifier

E: inspired by Chandler/TG EMI’s Channel

N: input channel modeled after the Neve 1057

T: based on the triode setting of Thermionic Culture Culture Vulture

P: based on the pentode setting of Thermionic Culture Culture Vulture

These analog distortion types feature a natural-sounding shifting response, similar to that of true analog hardware. The Punish button can be used to take any of the genres beyond conventional distortion, adding an extra boost of gain for extreme results. To truly dial in the exact saturation/distortion for each recording in any setting, use analog-modeled tone control, low cut, and high cut filters to shape the contour of the distortion.

Output Thermal

Thermal from Output is a simple distortion plugin with a powerful set of parameters. Thermal goes much beyond mere distortion with its built-in effects. The plugin comes with a large number of presets that it provides you based on the input content. The circular XY graph that balances whatever effects are given to the two knobs on the right-hand side of the GUI controls all sounds.

Thermal makes sounds that are far more bizarre than its minimalist interface could ever convey. It’s easy to get lost with over 250 presets and over fifteen custom distortion kinds. Thankfully, Output has made Thermal so user-friendly that creating mind-bending distortion effects is a breeze.

Thermal is a must-have plugin that can easily handle your most severe distortion requirements. Don’t be deceived by the interface’s simplicity. You’ll find a golden world of modulations in the parameters panel that no other plugin on our list has exhibited. This is an excellent addition to your collection.