Types of Saturation
Mainly, there are three types of saturation in music.
1. Tape saturation
-Tape saturation refers to analog tape recordings where the
sound of audio recorded through tape recorders is emulated by plugins on digital
soundtracks. The idea of tape saturation in the audio is to create an 'analog warmth' to
2. Tube Saturation
- As the name suggests, the sound of tube amplifiers emulated
on the digital audio recordings through plugins is tube saturation.
3. Transistor Saturation
- The plugins used for emulating the sound of audio run
on a transistor-based circuit.
The emulation of sound through these types of plugins makes the sound come alive and
gives harmonic sound and warmth to the track. Many mixing engineers and music
professionals use this technique to create a musical
Top Saturation Plugins to try yourself
1. Decapitator by Soundtoys
Decapitator plugin by Soundtoys has taken inspiration from a variety of devices that are
widely used by groups of professional music mixing experts to 'warm-up' sounds at the
recording or the mixing stage. Decapitator has five analog saturation models that can add a
great character to every soundtrack that passes through it. Many professionals describe it
as one of the top saturation plugins available.
Decapitator also works as a handy drum processor. At one end of the dial, boost up a drum
sound in a very natural and engaging way.
- It is easy to use and the saturation effect is great.
- The automatic linking of Drive and output gain controls when setting up a Decapitator is
very helpful for mixing engineers.
- Five detailed models of analog saturation is a big plus.
2. iZotope's Trash 2
Trash 2 is primed for a new era of audio mangling, distortion, and experimentation with the
latest features, sound quality, and support for modern formats. The visual display is
redesigned which looks quite good and sounds amazing. Trash 2 provides a collection of
individual audio processors, with six modules namely ‐ Distortion, Trash, Delay, Dynamics,
Convolve, and two separate filters.
Apart from these six multi-effect modules, Trash 2 also offers 60+ distortion algorithms,
100+ presets, a multiband waveshaper, and much more. For mixing engineers, it is not just a
best saturation plugin but also a complete sound design tool.
- The broad range in distortion sounds
- New and updated Equalization filters
- The convolution is expanded with powerful waveshaper
- The filter-modulated presets are less.
- No panned split routing available.
3. Saturn 2 by Fabfilter
The Saturn 2 is an amazingly effective distortion and one of the best saturation plugin,
thanks to its easy-to-control user interface.
With Saturn 2, FabFilter introduced additional features such as new distortion styles, great
modulation UX, and much more. FabFilter has carried out sonic improvements that give smooth
and subtle tube-style saturation to incredibly bright amp-style simulations.
A great UX element of this saturation plug-in is a traditionally designed frequency
analyzer, with low frequencies on the left and higher frequencies on the right. Saturn 2
allows to set up and control of up to six bands at a time. All the parameters are in
real-time so it's easy to keep a track of what's going on with the track.
Overall, it's a great saturation and distortion plugin with a great visual treat with its
GUI and offerings on the sound effect features. This plug-in has much to offer to music
producers and composers, from typical analog sounds and functions to advanced and
- Attractive and amazing GUI
- Best saturation effects
- Great from the point of sound effects
- Automation and control elements are excellent
4. Oxford Inflator by Sonnox
Oxford Inflator brings presence, and warmth to your tracks while providing additional room
to complete with the subtlety and sound of key tube systems. Oxford Inflator is popular
among mixing engineers as it makes just about any source sound more vibrant.
This plugin adds loudness of your tracks without the loss of quality or reduction of dynamic
range. It is a multipurpose tool as music producers use it to produce louder mixes than you
thought possible without overloads or compression pumping and add warmth and character to
mixes such as acoustic and jazz.
- Provides presence and tube-like warmth
- Provides virtual headroom above digital maximum
- Direct and band-split modes
- Simple user interface for intuitive control
5. UAD's Studer A800
The Studer A800 is a plug-in that has the unique ability to "glue" your mixes by providing a
rare combination of warmth, air, and punch. It feels like recording to 2" analog tape when
you use this saturation plugin. The important point here is that the A800 plug-in is an
authentic model of a Studer tape machine; so while it can be used on busses or master faders
to get the 'tape' sound, it's also more powerful for its cumulative effect.
- Flexible to use, can be considered in one of the best saturation plugins
- GUI is attractive and indulging
- The noise and hum are controllable
- Wide potential to use it subtly or hard, based on what track demands.
- There are only four tape formulations.
We discussed the top 5 saturation plugins along with its pros and cons. The saturation effect by
these plugins is truly commendable and a sweet treat for the music lovers. Apart from these 5
plugins, there are many more saturation plugins available.