Tips for Using Distortion in a Mix ft. SoundToys Devil Loc and Avid Lo-Fi
Another one I’m going to talk about is a free plug-in called Lo-Fi that’s in Pro Tools. So anyways, I’ve got a track. I’m going to play a little bit of it. Probably this pre-chorus and part of the chorus, and then I’m just going to kind of go through various things. Drums, guitars, vocals, keyboard stuff, and just kind of show you guys some different ways I’m using distortion.
So hopefully you learn some stuff. Here we go.
So this is the pre-chorus.
Kind of pop, country, indie, gritty, kind of weird sounding track.
So okay, let’s take a look at distortion on vocals, which is a great way to create contrast between sections. I really like this plug-in. It’s got a crush, which is sort of like a compression kind of style.
It’s got crunch, which is going to give you crunch, and then a lot of times when you crunch things up, it’s going to get really bright, so you can roll on the darkness, and the darkness almost acts as a low-pass filter, kind of rolling off some highs.
The slow and fast release times as well is great. You can kind of play with those depending on the sound source, and then it’s got a mix knob which is awesome.
The only thing I don’t like about this plug-in is I really which there was an output gain. Like a trim knob or something. Just because this thing gets really loud, really fast and you kind of have to do some fancy gain staging to keep things from getting too crazy.
But anyways, how about on this — there’s like, a little rap section in the verse.
Right. So here’s a lead vocal.
[vocals with Devil-Loc]
It’s super subtle. Again, the mix is on like, one and not even a half.
[vocals with Devil-Loc]
Just gives it a little more grit. Kind of puts it a little more up front. Makes it a little more aggressive. Seeing as it’s a rap section, I felt like it fit.
Then it cleans up as soon as it hits the pre-chorus.
Then I also have it, say there’s an ad-lib vocal down here we can check it out on.
Again, super subtle. This mix is a little harder. Settings are a little different here.
Okay, and just adding some grit. Allowing things to cut through, and contrasting other cleaner vocal parts.
Cool. So that’s vocal land.
I’ve got it on I think some guitars as well. So here’s what…
This is with it.
[guitars with Devil-Loc]
Alright. Here’s without it.
[guitars without Devil-Loc]
Just giving it more grit and balls and everything else.
You can check out the settings here.
This is awesome for electric guitars, just beefing them up.
Okay, so let’s talk about Lo-Fi. Lo-Fi is great on lots of things. I have it on some ukuleles and banjos.
Again, this thing works — the key to Lo-Fi is running it really subtly, so you’re looking at like, 0.3 distortion and saturation. Those are pretty much the two controls I play with most of the time. If I really want to get crazy, you can put a sample rate and sample size and stuff like that.
But you’re usually dealing in like, 0.2, 0.3, 0.1, and I kind of think of the distortion knob being brighter, the saturation knob being darker.
Just giving it some subtle distortion so it can cut through. Same thing with the banjo.
[ukuleles and banjos]
Which is like, a programmed banjo, so anything to kind of help make it sound a little weird.
[ukuleles and banjos]
Is going to help that thing sit in the mix better.
Cool. Then also, Lo-Fi — man, I’ve been using it on all kinds of stuff lately.
Some background vocals. Yeah, these woahs.
[background vocals with Lo-Fi]
I’m at like, 1.0 on distortion, which is pretty intense for my purposes.
Pretty cool. Then also, on drums, Lo-Fi is awesome. I have it on kick drums…
[kick drum with Lo-Fi]
Again, it’s all incredibly subtle.
[kick with Lo-Fi]
Go to these stick things…
And then I’ve got it on what else… These little clicky clicky, ticky ticky things.
Ah! My mouse just went crazy. Here we go.
[clicky clicky, ticky ticky things]
Just kind of really helps those things come through, I think.
I’ve got on some toms in the bridge.
Let’s see which one of these we’re looking at.
Again, just giving it a little more grit to cut through.
Hi-Hats, tambourines, it’s awesome on percussion stuff.
1.5 on the distortion.
Um… Then we’ve got some other hi-hats somewhere in here.
Which is like, super saturated and distorted.
So yeah, I mean, this thing can obliterate things super quick if you’re not careful. Also, you can put these things on delays, reverbs, effects sends, which I don’t have a lot going on in this session, but you can get really creative with this stuff when you use it subtly. Really kind of helps you shape things, and anyways, I hope this helps you out.
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