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Saturation Tips For Your Mixes

Saturation is an awesome tool for achieving warmth and punch in a mix. Sometimes a saturation plugin does what an EQ couldn’t do in a million years. I usually add a little saturation a lot. So I add very subtle saturation along my mixes elements and it all builds up and creates a lush sounding colorful feeling mix.

I always add generous saturation to my bass guitar if it is weal sounding in my mix. I throw on a nice saturation plugin, dial it up until the signal is destroyed, then play it along with the rest of the song and dial back the wet / dry knob until it fits nicely put retains power in the mix.

I sometimes put very light tape saturation on the master fader. This can be dangerous in some ways but it does spice up your mix and makes everything sound a lot more potent. To do this, I put a saturation plugin on the master fader, dial in the knobs until I hear really nice crispiness and warmth, but very subtle, then I dial the wet / dry knob to about 50% – 60%. This makes sure that warmth is still there but at the same time it makes sure it doesn’t overpower the mix.

How I Use Saturation On Drums
For drums, saturation is such an awesome tool. It can really depend on what kind of drum sound your going for rather than the sonic greatness of the mix. Sometimes I may compress the living sh*t out of my drum overheads and add loads of compression to get a nice old Beatles sounding drum vibe.

For snare sounds, I almost always use a good bit of saturation. It just makes the snare jump out and drive your whole mix forward. First I throw on a saturation plugin, (Camel Phat is a great free one that I always use on snares) then I dial in the knobs until I get a really low fi sounding sound, nearly like an electro tom sound. And I fiddle around until I get a lot of body on the snare too, then I dial back the mix knob until I have a great balance of the processed and original snare sound. It’s always great to do this whilst the snare is playing along with the rest of the track.

Using Multiple Types Of Saturation And Multiple Plugins
Although I am a firm believer that you can get a great mix with just stock plugins, It is great to own a few saturation plugins and I’ll tell you why.

Each plugin will have it’s very own sonic signature. So sometimes it is good to use multiple plugins in your mix so each element has its own unique sonic imprint that separates it from the rest of the mix.

Thankfully, a lot of DAWs these days may come with multiple stock saturation plugins for free. Also, some saturation plugins have different types of saturation algorithms you can choose, so make the most of that.

So in conclusion I hope this article has expanded your knowledge of using saturation in a mix. Always remember to use my tips as guidelines and to use your ears to get the sound you want to get in your mix.