Noise, Saturation and Distortion; Some of the Biggest Tools You Have to Sculpt and Enhance Audio
Sound Design

Noise, Saturation and Distortion; Some of the Biggest Tools You Have to Sculpt and Enhance Audio

Matthew Vere
Matthew Vere

When working with harmonics, you need to be delicate about the processing you apply. Any large EQ moves will ruin the totality of the sound.  The best way of working with them can be using a tool like SigMod by Nugen Audio to split the signal into multiple chains to process individually.

Distortion is the alteration of the original shape (or other characteristics) of something. Audio distortion refers to any defamation of an output waveform compared to its input, such as:

Clipping

Harmonic Distortion

Intermodulation Distortion (mixing phenomena)

Types of Saturation:

Even and Odd Harmonics

Full Saturation Harmonics

Clipping Harmonics = Square wave from clipping (overdriving the amperage capabilities of the circuit). Clipping harmonics can also look like Sawtooth waves from overdriving the speed capabilities of a circuit. This is why some people buy old gear, overdriving a signal through, to capture the natural distortion from these circuits.

Saturation = Even and odd harmonics

Clipping = Full spectrum saturation

Noise = Full spectrum frequency content

MV: This is what people when they say they “like the sound of clipping’. The addition of harmonics is better controlled with saturation and distortion plugins, rather than merely on the fader.