Pro Audio Files

How to Use Parallel Distortion in a Mix

What’s up guys, welcome to another video. Today I’ve got kind of a combo mixing technique and plug-in review.

I’ve got a distortion plug-in from Waves, the new Manny Marroquin signature series here. I’ve got his Driver plug-in, which is one of the coolest drive/distortion plug-ins I’ve ever used. I’m a big fan of SoundToys, and this is very versatile too, just like that, with a couple of different options on it.

We’ll kind of go over those controls, but the mixing concept would be like, parallel distortion to sort of enhance your drums.

So let’s just listen to this drum loop. I’ll mute the parallel distortion.


Right. Pretty clean, punchy. But say if we want to add some grit to it, it would sound like this.

[drums with distortion]

Gets a little meaner sounding, and you’ll hear that this is something — I hear a lot of distortion on the radio these days, and used in very creative ways I think on a lot of stuff. A lot of bit crushing and techniques like this.

Let’s play the loop and I’ll bypass the parallel distortion channel a couple of times so you can hear the difference, and then I’ll walk you through how I set it up.

So here we go.

[drums with distortion and without]

Cool. Okay, so basically how it works is I’ve got all of my drum tracks here, and then let me expand this. If you notice, I’ve got sends going to an aux down here. This drum distortion aux, where I’ve got our plug-in, and if we solo it, this is what the distortion channel sounds like.

[distortion aux]

Which is pretty gnarly, pretty nasty, pretty mangled.

This is a pretty cool plug-in. We’ll go over some controls here. The bottom row, you’ve got input control, and then you have an EQ section. So you can roll in and out bass, you can boost or cut some mids, and then its got a little frequency select knob for that, as well as treble, so you can really kind of shape the sound of the distortion and the drive to your liking.

Then it’s got a low pass filter too, because a lot of times, like if you listen, things will get pretty crazy.

[distortion aux]

So you can tame that really high stuff, which is cool, and then of course you have output. Now here’s where things get pretty cool. You’ve got attack and release settings.

[distortion aux]

So right now, attack is down all the way.

[distortion aux]

It just gets really responsive I think to the transients. Then it also has a release side as well. So it’ll hang on to the transients a bit more.

[distortion aux]


Help you shape it tonally.

Then of course you have this main drive knob to take in as much or as little as you like.

[distortion aux, adjusting drive]

And then the really cool thing is you can mix the clean signal versus the distorted signal, which is cool. It’s what you have these two little sliders up here for.

[distortion aux]

So the left side would be your direct sort of clean signal.

[distortion aux]

Then you can blend in the overall distortion level here on this right slider, which is pretty cool.

[distortion aux]

Then they have meters on the left and right.

[distortion aux]

Or I’m sorry, no, those meters don’t correlate with the direct or distortion levels, they correlate with input and output, but that’s the plug-in. It sounds really cool, I like it.

[distortion aux]

But anyways, once you have the distortion on this separate aux, you can just blend it in.

[drums and distortion]

And this concept can be used on guitars, it can be used on acoustic drums, it could be used on vocals, it could be used on keyboards or pianos…

I did a really cool thing with an upright piano and we didn’t use a distortion plug-in, but we reamped it through a little tube amp to put a little grit on it, and it ended up sounding really cool.

So you can apply the concept to a lot of stuff, it’s pretty cool.

So yeah. Parallel distortion. Just run it in parallel with your unprocessed buss, and blend it in to your taste, and things get a little bigger, a little fuller, and a little grittier. So it kind of helps stuff cut in the mix a little better.

So try this out. Check out this plug-in. He also has a delay plug-in. Sort of a tone shaper, which has to do with parallel compression I think, or compression in general. Then has a de-boxer, de-esser thing, and a reverb too.

They’re all pretty cool and unique. I just have this one right here today. So check it out and you know, thumbs up the video, subscribe if you haven’t subscribed already, we put out videos every week, Tuesdays and Fridays. Like us on Facebook, and we will see you in the next video. Thanks, guys!




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