Top 10 Saturation Plugins For All Producers

Are you looking for a saturation VST plugin that will take your music to the next level? Look no further than our top 10 picks, perfect for drums, vocals, mastering, basses, and 808s! These plugins have been tested and found effective in creating high-quality sounds with rich harmonics. These VST plugins easy to use and integrate into your projects, so that you'll be able to create sounds that reflect your unique style easily.

What is Saturation?

Before diving into our top 10 picks, let's first discuss saturation; What is it, what it does, and how does it affect the audio?

Definition: Saturation is the process of inducing harmonics, mainly using but not necessarily, analog circuits, tapes, tubes etc.

In the current music production scenario, where most work is done in digital workstations, saturation adds the natural character and harmonic richness of analog hardware to your sound, thus making it an irreplaceable unit in modern music production.

Difference between Distortion and Saturation

There is a fascinating relation between audio distortion and saturation. Both are from the same audio processing class, coexisting while simultaneously doing different works. And this difference is becoming more evident as we develop more complex waveshapers and enhancers.

The primary job of both distortion and saturation is the same - To enhance the audio. But how they do it, is a bit different. These are the main difference between distortion and saturation-

Saturation is primarily analog oriented, and it simulates the analog behaviour of classic hardwares. 

Distortion can be analog as well as digital.

Saturation primarily works on harmonics; the term used for this is harmonic saturation. It is soft and subtle. Due to harmonic saturation, the waveshape changes. 

While distortion works mainly on the waveshape and corresponding changes can be seen in the harmonics.

Distortion is much more violent and sensitive than saturation.

Although there are differences, distortion and saturation can be considered in the same class. Because at the end of the day, both add harmonics, change waveshapes, and distortion is just a extreme case of super saturation.

Types of saturation

Although there are many types of saturation plugins available in the market, in the end, these are some of the most used units.

  1. Transistor-based saturation
  2. Tube-based saturation
  3. Tape based saturation
  4. Vacuum Tube-based saturation

All the saturation types can be further divided on the basis of decay time, even or odd harmonic saturation and more.

Top 10 Saturation VST plugins

Now that you have understood the alpha-beta of audio saturation, it's time to tell you our top ten picks for the best saturation VST plugins.

T RackS Saturator X by IK Multimedia

The Saturator X comes with ten analog saturation modes, each having its character, waveshape and harmonic content. Each mode is accurately modeled after classical devices like Tape, Tube, transformers and transistors. This saturation plugin is ideal for sound design, mixing and mastering.

Best Distortion and saturation VST plugins 2022 - Saturator X by IK multimedia

Features

  • Ten classic saturation modes.
  • Inverse gain link for constant gain.
  • VU meter
  • Oversampling
  • Plugin Bypass
  • Brickwall Limiter

Price and Demo

From their official website, you can buy IK Multimedia saturator for just €79.99. There is a free trial available for this plugin.

Learn more about T RackS Saturator X

 

SSL Native X Saturator by Solid State Logic

Saturator X by SSL is one of the most sorts after saturation and distortion plugins. It can add a gentle analog colour as well as a full overdrive to sound. It emulates a transistor style distortion effect. 

Best distortion and saturation VST plugins 2022 - SSL Saturator X

Features

  • Control over the distortion character.
  • Valve and transistor emulation
  • Soft as well as overdrive option
  • Wet/Dry Mix control
  • A/B comparison
  • 2nd or 3rd order distortion
  • Headroom option(6dB) for preventing sound from digital clipping.

Price and Demo

You can purchase SSL Saturator X from the official website of Solid State Logic for just $119.00 or as a subscription bundle for $14.99, which includes every SSL plugin. You can also download the demo version from SSL's official website.

Learn more about SSL Saturator X

Thickify by Rocket powered sound

Thickify is one of the simplest yet the best saturation plugin in the market. The plugin can instantly add colour and harmonic richness to the sound. It has its saturation model that sets apart the sound.

Thickify by Rocket powered sound - Best saturation plugin for fat sounds

Features

  • Control the amount of even to odd harmonic ratio(colour)
  • Automatic gain compensation
  • Variable slope
  • 2-4x oversampling for clear distortion and tonality.
  • Soft analog overdrive

Price and Demo

You can download a free demo of the plugin from the official website of Rocket powered sound. The full version of the plugin costs $39. The plugin is available in VST and Audio Unit formats for Windows and macOS.

Learn more about Thickify

 

Decapitator by Soundtoys

 Decapitator by Soundtoys is one of the favourite saturation plugins among producers. The plugin features multiple saturation circuits, emulating amps like Ampex 350 tape drive preamp, Neve 1057 input channel, Chandler/EMI TG Channel, Thermionic Culture Vulture triode, & Thermionic Culture Vulture pentode. This plugin instantly makes your mix complete and together.

Best distortion and saturation vst plugins - Decapitator by Soundtoys

Features

  • Frequency filter
  • Tone enhancer
  • Thump for adding extra punch around the low cut.
  • Drive
  • Overdrive as Punish
  • 5 analog saturation models.

Price and Demo

You can buy Decapitator from the official website of Soundtoy and get a 30 days free trial. The plugin is available for Windows and Mac operating systems in VST, AU and AAX formats.

Learn more about Decapitator

Ozone 9 Vintage Tape by iZotope

If you're a fan of vintage audio, then you'll love ozone nine vintage tape from iZotope. This tape has a warm, analog character that makes it perfect for capturing the sound in the finest detail. Its unique saturation and distortion effects will give your recordings a unique charm that will truly stand out from the crowd.

Top 10 distortion and saturation effects - Ozone 9 vintage tape

Features 

  • 7.5 IPS setting; Non-linear saturation mode with emphasis on low-mids.
  • Inspired by the innovative Studer A810 tape machine.
  • Continuous Bias control allows for precise tuning of frequency and distortion response.
  • Control over even harmonics.

Download and Demo

iZotope Vintage tape is included in the Ozone 9 Advance bundle. You can get a trial or buy the full version from the official website of iZotope

Learn more about iZotope Vintage tape

Waves Abbey Road Saturator

Best distortion and saturation VST for windows and mac - Abbey road saturator by waves audio

If you are looking for a distortion and saturation plugin in a budget range, the Abbey road saturator is the best choice for you. Abbey road saturator is a premium saturation and distortion plugin created by Waves audio in collaboration with Abbey Road Studios.

Features

  • Emulates the saturation chains of Abbey Road Studios.
  • Pre-input excitation feature
  • Pre and post EQ
  • Mid-side processing for a better saturation
  • Dry/Wet control plenty of presets by Grammy-winning engineers.

Price and demo

You can buy Abbey Road saturator from the official website of waves audio for just $29.99. The company also provides a free demo for the plugin.

Waves Abbey Road saturator is available for both Windows and macOS. 

Learn more about Abbey road saturator

bx_saturator V2 by Brainworx

bx_saturator V2 is one of those rare saturation-distortion VSTs that gives the freedom of both multiband and mid-side processing. You can split your audio into different frequency bands and process them separately, offering a wide range of creative options to mix, master and design sounds.

This plugin is good for introducing saturation and distortion, glueing, and wider stereo image.

bx_saturator V2 - best mastering saturation VST effect plugin

Features

  • Mid-side processing with separate control over mid-side gain for input and output
  • Multiband saturation and distortion
  • Perceived loudness control without audio clipping
  • Separate option for master drive
  • Clear phase response for both low and high frequencies.

Demo and Price

You can try bx_saturator V2 in demo mode for 14 days. The plugin is available for sale on Plugin Boutique for just $199.

bx_saturator V2 is available for both Windows and macOS.

Learn more about bx_saturator V2

Berzerk Distortion by Waves Audio

Berzerk is not your regular day distortion; this plugin packs some serious punch when it comes to creative distortion. The most notable features of this distortion plugin are fat sounds, high-intensity overdrive and big sounds. Overall, it is a great plugin for making creative sounds with a unique timbre. This plugin is perfect for electronic dance music.

Berzerk by waves audio - Best distortion plugin for EDM music producers

Features 

  • Ten distortion models
  • Mid-side processing
  • Pitch and speed control for creative sound design
  • Randomize distortion shape
  • Temperature control
  • Lots of great presets

Price and Demo

You can buy Berzerk from the official website of waves audio for just $29.99. The company gives a free demo plugin and is available for both Windows and macOS.

Learn more about Berzerk

Fab-filter Saturn 2

Saturn 2 is the dream plugin of any sound designer or producer. Although the plugin has one of the best distortion and saturation modes, what sets it apart from other effects of the same class is its capability to modulate any parameter within the plugin using LFO, XLFO, Envelops, Midi or XY controllers, making it ideal for complex sound design and live performance.

FabFilter Satern 2 - Best saturator distortion for sound design

Features

  • 28 distortion models
  • Multiband distortion extending upto six frequency bands
  • Mid-side processing
  • Up to 32x oversampling
  • A/B testing
  • Modulate any parameter within the plugin.
  • Direct automation(without midi routing)
  • Interactive user interface
  • Wide range of professional presets
  • Multiband tonal control and tone shaping
  • Dynamic and Feedback control
  • Dry/Wet control
  • Unlimited modulation possibilities

Price and Demo

Fabfilter gives a 30-day free trial for Saturn 2. You can purchase the plugin from their official website for just $129.

Saturn 2 is available in VST, AU, AAX, and Audiosuite formats for Windows and macOS(64-bit only).

iZotope Ozone Exiter

iZotope exiter is a multiband saturation and distortion plugin that adds a beautiful character and analog warmth in sounds. The plugin features four bands with the best saturation modes viz Tape, Tube, Retro, Analog, Warm, Triode and Dual-Triode. The plugin has one of the best peak saturation that can be used for mixing, sound design or mastering. 

iZotope Ozone Exiter - The best distortion saturation plugin for mastering

Features

  • Modelled after real circuit
  • Multiband distortion and saturation
  • Mid-side processing
  • Frequency filter
  • Advance harmonic and frequency analysis
  • Intelligent frequency splitter
  • Separate Dry/Wet control for each band.
  • Independent gain control for left and right channels.

Price and Demo

You can buy iZotope exiter as a collection bundle from the official website of iZotope. The plugin is available in VST, AU, and AAX formats for Windows and macOS. You can also get a free demo trial for the plugin.

Learn more about iZotope Exiter

Conclusion 

Thanks for reading! Our top 10 saturation & distortion plugins are the perfect tools for producers looking to get the most out of their music. With these plugins, you'll be able to create sounds that are unmistakably your own, and that will help your music stand out from the crowd.

 


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