MainStage's Distortion FX
In this blog post, we're going to dig into the MainStage/Logic distortion effect... if you're a guitar player, you may be a bit familiar with distortion... but stay tuned, because you might just learn something anyways.
First, there's the Bitcrusher FX:
This plugin gives you downsampling and hard digital clipping options. The visual display gives a great reference for how it's affecting the smoothness of your original tone.
Tip: the "Mode" options drastically alter the character of the distortion. Try all three to get a feel for what they offer!
Second, Clip Distortion:
The Clip Distortion attempts to mimic tube and valve type overdrive/distortion by running your single through an input low pass, a drive section, and a high pass section and combining it with your original signal.
TIP: I've found that this FX is better when blended lightly into the original signal. Experiment with the mix knob if it's not sounding "real" enough.
This plugin emulates transistor based "hard clipping" distortion. It's relatively simple lay out makes it a useful tool to quickly add grit but it tends to be a bit over the top in my experience. Experiment with busing this effect out to tone it down.
TIP: the "Level Compensation" option means that it will keep your signal output level as you add distortion. Useful if you don't want to have to make constant volume adjustments.
Fourth, Distortion II:
This guy emulates the distortion circuit from the classic Hammond B3. Basic Pre, Gain, Tone Knobs allow you to easily dial in that sound. Great if you're using a third party organ plugin or if you want to impart some of that character to a synth pad.
TIP: Pulled directly out of the MainStage help guide, here's a break down on the three types of distortion this plugin has-
Growl: Emulates a two-stage tube amplifier similar to the type found in a Leslie 122 speaker cabinet, which is often used with the Hammond B3 organ.
Bity: Emulates the sound of a bluesy (overdriven) guitar amp.
Nasty: Produces hard distortion, suitable for creating very aggressive sounds.
This one operates virtually identically to the "Distortion" plugin but with a warmer character designed to emulate FET distortion/drive circuits. More useful when you're trying to thicken up a patch or add just a bit of warmth.
Sixth, Phase Distortion:
This one is super weird. It is set up like a modulation FX but the modulation is actually controlled by the input signal. This makes for some really wonky out of phase FX. To be quite honest you never know what you're going to get out of this one until you put something into it.
Definitely fun to experiment with!
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