One of the blog readers asked if I have a go-to distortion plugin for mixing bass. So, in today’s post, I want to share a list of some of my favorite bass distortion and saturation plugins.
Using distortion on a bass sound will help it to cut through the mix. Distortion adds rich harmonics that will help the bass to be audible on small speakers and multiple other sound devices.
Distortion and saturation are really important tools, especially for low-end instruments such as kick and bass. They bring life to any digital bass recording (or synth bass).
Here’s a list of the best bass distortion and saturation plugins.
The FabFilter Saturn can become both a distortion and saturation plugin, or even go to extreme distortion such as overdrive or fuzz.
Since it’s a multiband distortion plugin it is very flexible. It has multiple features, including modulating any parameter on the plugin to add movement and excitement to your distortion effect.
FabFilter Saturn delivers from a warm tube or tape saturation to the wildest multiband guitar amp effects.
You get a great sound, tons of control, and an easy-to-control GUI.
FabFilter Saturn can also be used for color enhancement on a digital recording, sample, VST, etc. to add some attitude.
Camel Audio – Camel Crusher
The Camel Crusher is a free distortion unit. One of the oldest distortion plugins in the industry.
It has an easy-to-use interface and simple design to help you achieve your desired results much quicker.
Camel Crusher has 2 characteristically different distortion sounds that can be blended to create a variety of textures and tones.
The biggest downside is that the plugin will not work on modern DAWs because it hasn’t been updated in many years. But it's been the secret sauce for many well-known mixing engineers and still worth using.
Waves GTR3 Amps
The Waves GTR was designed to be used on electric guitars, however, it has a powerful set of tools that can be used for processing and re-amping a bass sound.
GTR features 3 different types of amps. Which are clean, drive, high-gain, and bass amps. You can also play around with the bass cabinets and microphones to get a great bass tone.
You get the very best vintage and contemporary amps – in the box!
However, Waves needs to do some serious updates on this plugin because it’s too old. Still sounds amazing on bass though, and can be a great tool to add some weight on a thin bass sound. Can also be great to shape the tone of the bass to fit the mix and cut through.
iZotope Trash 2
The Trash 2 is also ancient, it’s one of the oldest creative distortion plugins.
This is a Wave-based distortion plugin, the Waveshaper allows you to design your unique distortions using algorithms and distorts up to 4 frequency bands.
You can shape the distortions using sophisticated filtering and dynamics effects.
It’s a high-class distortion model plugin that also offers onboard effects like echo, slapback, as well as spatial simulation. But the delay module could be better and more useful with added controls.
Ohmicide Distortion by Ohm Force
From slight dirt to pure destruction, Ohmicide is one of the best sound killers.
Thanks to the new interface and multiband-band capabilities Ohmicide now delivers a whopping 111 types of distortion.
This plugin works great for getting a bass to cut through a mix or to take on a particular character and prominence.
One of the most versatile distortion plugins. Thanks to the addition of new algorithms, Ohmicide can produce from classic to extreme harsh tones, helping you find the best distortion settings for any type of bass.
Tube Amp by Voxengo
If you’re still confused about what distortion sounds like then use the Tube Amp by Voxengo. Since it’s aggressive you’ll know immediately how distortion sounds.
It produces a mild “warm” overdrive to a fuzzy distortion, not for the faint-hearted.
This is a very simple plugin but one of the most powerful distortions because it has built-in oversampling, mid/side processing, multi-channel operation, filters, etc.
You can even do parallel distortion by using the Dry/Wet knob. For a free plugin, this is a contender for the best free distortion plugin.
Lovend by Analog Obsession
The LOVEND is designed for instruments that have a weak low-end.
This plugin was created to add weight to any sound that needs some bass enhancement. It is recommended to use lower frequencies for bass (60Hz, 80Hz, and 100Hz).
This is a simple plugin and doesn’t have that many features. But if you’re working on a project that has a weak bass sound then the Lovend can save the day.
Download Lovend by Analog Obsession
Reddi Tube D.I. Box by Kush Audio
The Reddi Tube emulation just sounds amazing on low-end sounds such as kick, bass guitar, or synth bass.
Very useful when you want to bring up the attack and punch on bass since it’s a Tube. Great for making bass translate well on various sound devices.
It can also be used to add weight through its bass knob. This will make the bass sound thicker, not louder.
Well designed to get the bass to fit in the mix with less processing and fuss.
These distortion plugins are usually what you see used on most great-sounding mixes, including those that get commercial success.
This means these plugins have been trialed and tested for you to be rest assured that you’re using the best distortion or saturation plugins every time you mix a bass sound.
I believe it’s important to note that the type of distortion I’m talking about in this tutorial is analog musical distortion, not digital or any type of unwanted clipping. This is the distortion or saturation you get when a sound is recorded through various pieces of analog gear.
The goal is to use these plugins to emulate the analog warmth and rich harmonics you get when recording and mixing with analog hardware.
If you would like to share some of your favorite bass distortion plugins then please leave a comment below.