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Best Distortion Plugins 2024

Distortion plugins are powerful tools in music production that alter the waveform of an audio signal, adding character and warmth to the sound. They work by adding gain to the audio signal, causing the peaks to compress or clip, which results in added harmonics and a smaller dynamic range. Distortion plugins can be used intentionally to create a variety of effects, from subtle warmth to aggressive hard clipping. They can be applied to vocals, guitars, drums, and other instruments to enhance their character. There are many types of distortion plugins available, each offering unique features and effects.

Minimal Audio Rift 2.0

Minimal Audio Rift 2.0 is a powerful and creative distortion plugin that offers a wide range of sonic possibilities. It is characterized by its modern, unashamedly digital distortion character, which sounds wonderful and is more flexible than a circus contortionist.Rift 2.0 is not just another distortion plugin; it’s a comprehensive tool that can totally transform sounds. It offers powerful processing options and a flexible modulation system. However, it’s worth noting that its advanced view has a steeper learning curve and it’s not light on CPU use.

One of the standout features of Rift 2.0 is its ability to handle digital distortion. Unlike traditional distortion plugins that focus on emulating vintage circuits and amps, Rift 2.0 embraces the digital realm. It offers a collection of digital parameters that can artfully distort your signals, creating a larger than life power and bite that only digital distortion can bring.

The distorted signal produced by Rift 2.0 is unique and can be tailored to your specific needs. It offers a variety of distortion styles, allowing you to choose the one that best fits your sound. Whether you’re looking for a subtle, warm saturation or a harsh, gritty distortion, Rift 2.0 has got you covered.

One of the key features of Rift 2.0 is its phase distortion. This feature allows you to alter the phase of your audio signal, creating a unique, distorted sound. This is particularly useful when you want to add a bit of edge to your sound without making it sound too harsh or abrasive. Rift 2.0 also offers dynamic saturation. This feature allows you to add warmth and character to your sound, making it more interesting and complex. The saturation knob is easy to use and offers a wide range of control, allowing you to dial in the perfect amount of saturation for your sound.

Minimal Audio Rift 2.0 is a versatile and powerful distortion plugin that offers a wide range of features and capabilities. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced producer, Rift 2.0 can help you create unique, distorted sounds that stand out in the mix.

FabFilter Saturn 2

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 2024.

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 2024.

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.

AudioThing Wave Box

AudioThing’s Wave Box is a dynamic waveshaper plugin that stands out for its ability to craft a wide spectrum of distortion effects, from subtle warmth to aggressive hard clipping. At its core, Wave Box features two separate waveshapers, Curve 1 and Curve 2, which can be mixed and modulated to create complex, evolving textures.

One of the key features of Wave Box is its envelope follower, which allows the plugin to respond dynamically to the amplitude of the incoming signal. This makes it particularly effective for adding bite to basslines, guitars, and rounding off peaky signals. The envelope follower can be used to modulate various parameters within the plugin, ensuring that the distortion reacts in real-time to the performance.

Wave Box also includes a convolve module, which can be used to blend the processed signal in creative ways. This module adds another layer of versatility, enabling users to convolve the distorted signal with additional waveforms or impulses, resulting in unique and rich harmonic content. The plugin’s ability to handle both symmetrical and asymmetrical distortion is another highlight. Symmetrical mode generates odd harmonics, while asymmetrical mode generates even harmonics, offering a wide range of tonal possibilities. This dual approach to waveshaping allows for a broad palette of distortion styles, from tube-like saturation to more extreme digital effects.

The saturation knob on Wave Box is a straightforward control that adjusts the level of saturation applied to the signal. This single knob can take your sound from a gentle presence enhancement to a full-on, hard-clipped distorted signal, providing a quick and effective way to dial in the desired amount of distortion.

Despite its power and flexibility, Wave Box maintains a user-friendly interface, making it accessible to both novice and experienced producers. However, it’s worth noting that the plugin’s depth and control can lead to the creation of sonically unappealing sounds if not used carefully. It encourages experimentation and rewards those who take the time to explore its full potential.

AudioThing Wave Box is a versatile and powerful distortion plugin that offers a wide spectrum of distortion effects, from dynamic saturation to hard clipping. Its envelope follower and convolve module add to its creative potential, making it a valuable tool for producers looking to add character and movement to their sounds.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a distortion plugin?

A distortion plugin is a software tool used in digital audio production to alter the sound of audio signals, adding harmonic content and creating a “gritty” or “dirty” effect.

How does a distortion plugin work?

Distortion plugins work by altering the waveform of an audio signal, adding harmonics or changing the shape of the wave to create a distorted, “gritty” sound.

Why use a distortion plugin?

Distortion plugins can add character and warmth to a sound, making it more interesting and complex. They can also help certain elements of a mix stand out, such as a vocal track or a guitar solo.

Can distortion plugins be used on any instrument?

Yes, distortion plugins can be used on any instrument, including vocals, guitars, bass, drums, and synthesizers. However, the effect will vary depending on the characteristics of the instrument and the specific plugin used.

What is the difference between distortion and saturation?

While both distortion and saturation alter the sound of an audio signal, they do so in different ways. Saturation adds harmonic content to a sound, making it warmer and richer, while distortion changes the shape of the waveform, creating a “gritty” or “dirty” effect.

How to choose the best distortion plugin?

The best distortion plugin depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the type of sound you want to achieve, the features offered by the plugin, its ease of use, and your budget.

What is multiband distortion?

Multiband distortion is a type of distortion where the frequency spectrum of the audio signal is divided into multiple bands, and distortion is applied separately to each band. This allows for more precise control over the distortion effect.