4 Ways to Use Distortion In Pro Tools
As someone that lives and breathes those heavy distorted guitars and vocals, I'm usually at a loss to describe why I actually like it and why I don't. Distortion is a wild beast, a collection of added harmonics into your already awesome signal. Why would you use it? apart from it making everything sound better, it increases a signals harmonics to give it a more present feel in a mix.
I use distortion on guitars, bass drums and even vocals. that's right vocals! the use of parallel distortion can bring your vocals right up front within your mix. Today I've used sine waves and a previously recorded bass track to demonstrate the many ways you can use distortion through a sound source. Here are 4 ways you can fuzz up a sound.
#1. Sine Wave Digital Clip
First up I distorted a sine wav at 1kHz by increasing the gain of the track by 20.3dB. This created a clipping of the signal which is mostly undesirable when distorting an instrument that begins with many more harmonics. In this case it didn't make me feel that uncomfortable because I was simply introducing more harmonics into one frequency. When you do this on a vocal, it will cause sounds that could only be desribed as audio hell.
Clipping a 1kHz sine wave added harmonics that doubled in speed as they approached 3kHz. This is interesting from a mix perspective, that if you keep raising the gain of your instruments, you may be pushing out harmonics from other elelments of your track.
#2. Sans Amp Harmonics
The Sans Amp increased the mid-high frequencies and added extra detail in the highs. The result was a more pleasant sounding harmonic distortion. The harmonics seem to boost then drop as they follow the intervals down from 1kHz to 10kHz and just drop out after 10kHz.
#3. Bass Compression Distortion in DAW
Adding gain to the compressed 202Hz sine wave added some random harmonics that didn't seem to follow any progressive increment of speed or octave. I was really interested in how wide the bandwidth on some of the harmonics was, and could only thing that it must be because of the slower travelling waves found around 200Hz. There is still a huge spike at 1k, but the frequencies being affected the most are mostly around 200 to 300Hz
Compression test from 200Hz distorted the mid frequencies