Softube Saturation Knob has been around for a long time, but that doesn’t make it any less great than it was when it first came out. This plugin from Softube is easy to use, sounds great, and best of all, it’s totally free.
Softube Saturation Knob Plugin Features
Possibly one of the simplest saturation plugins available, its name really says it all. It has one main Saturation dial. Turning clockwise, it goes from ‘off,’ to adding a bit of color, to full-on distorting whatever signal you’re running through it.
Saturation Knob also comes with three switchable modes depending on the source material and the desired effect:
- Keep Low: focuses distortion on the mids and highs to keep the low-end intact. For instance, if you want to squash a drum loop but leave the kick drum out of it, Keep Low mode lets you do just that.
- Neutral: will saturate the full frequency spectrum.
- Keep High: focuses distortion on the lows and mids to keep the high-end relatively clean. Try this mode to beef up a bass guitar or synth line while leaving the upper harmonics untouched.
Softube Saturation Knob works great for anything you’d regularly use saturation on. If you’re an EDM producer and want to smash a drum loop to pieces, this plugin can do it. If you just want to add some harmonic goodness to a vocal or another instrument, it can do that as well. Like any quality saturation plugin, its uses range from subtle to extreme—it’s equally at home as a distortion plugin as it is a mix enhancer.
It is a free plugin, but you’ll still need a license to use it. Just create an account with Softube and you’ll be able to add it to your cart and checkout for a complimentary license.
Why do we love saturation plugins?
Saturation plugins are the secret weapon of tons of world class mixers, partly because they recreate many of the desirables sonic characteristics of analogue tape recording. Adding harmonics and distortion is pretty obvious to most of us, but another way to describe this is that saturation increases the perceived loudness of a signal. It can actually clamp down on and control peak levels on a loud instrument with a lot of transients.
When you turn up the drive on a plugin like Softube Saturation Knob, you’ll hear a level boost. But when you check peak values, they can be quieter than they were without saturation engaged. The plugin is squashing the peaks while adding richness and body to the rest of the signal. So not only does it add a nice color to the sound, but it also sort of works as a dynamics processor at the same time.
Plus, we all love the dirtiness it adds. That’s the sound of pretty much every analogue recording ever made. You’ll find lots of plugins that mimic tape or tube saturation because that’s a sound our ears have come to know and love.
- SEE ALSO: 5 Saturation Mixing Tricks
- SEE ALSO: iZotope VocalSynth 2 Overview
- SEE ALSO: UA Console Application Explained
Free Saturation Plugins: Honorable Mention
Klanghelm IVGI is another awesome free saturation plugin. It can deliver subtle saturation, right at home on the mix bus. But it’s also capable of dense and dirty distortion effects to spice up single tracks. IVGI reacts dynamically to the input signal. Even the modeled fluctuations react dynamically and also change depending on the drive setting, so that it doesn’t get in the way of the sound.
Additionally, IVGI features a Controlled Randomness, which determines the internal drift and variance inside the unit. It contributes to the liveliness and realness of IVGI’s saturation character.
Softube Saturation Knob: Conclusion
When it comes to free saturation plugins, Softube is usually near the top of the list. The company makes truly amazing software, so don’t be fooled by the simplicity (and cost) of Saturation Knob. If your mixes are missing that extra bit of spice, try experimenting with saturation to bring some extra flavor to the table.