Best Saturation Plugins in 2023 for Music Producers
Harmonic distortion is one of the most important effects since the first analog tools were introduced. Unstable circuitries introduce distortion to the incoming signal which is utilized in modern-day music as a means to add flavor to various different sounds. Overdriving the built-in tubes and transistors can cause heavy distortion but it can also add the right harmonics to your incoming signal making it sound pleasant, warm, and bright. The best saturation vst plugins in 2023 for music producers are listed down below.
Best Saturation VST Plugins in 2023 for Music Producers
- SoundToys Decapitator
- Output Thermal
- FabFilter Saturn 2
- XLN Audio RC-20
- Minimal Audio Rift
- SSL Fusion Vintage Drive
- SSL Native X Saturator
- Waves Factory Cassette
- Softube Tape
- Waves Magma Tube Channel Strip
1. SoundToys Decapitator
This saturation vst plugin is designed for every sound engineer to add all of the imperfections of analog gear to your sounds. Give your sounds more body, add warmth, give them an edge, create your own signature sound, or pull some elements out of the mix with this unique analog saturation modeler. Definitely one of the best saturation plugins in 2023.Buy Here
2. Output Thermal
Dial-in new and unique distortion sounds with this multi-band distortion unit. Go beyond every other distortion vst plugin as thermal contains several engines, each with analog and digital distortion algorithms. Use the waveform display to your advantage and create sounds nobody ever heard before. Thermal is one of the most creative saturation vst plugins and can add some amazing textures to your sounds.Buy Here
3. FabFilter Saturn 2
FabFilter’s catalog is specially built to break the boundaries whereas the Saturn 2 is the flagship of their distortion tools. Saturn 2 contains a clear visualizer that can be divided into 3 bands for different treatments. Scroll through several presets categorized on drums, allround, FX, mastering, saturation, sequence, various, and many more to find the perfect setting for your sound.Buy Here
4. XLN Audio RC-20
The RC-20 is already well established in the mixing category of music production. Add imperfections to any sounds with just 6 knobs and tweak the sound even more by changing the different types of each knob. Use it to add more character, warmth, air, and space to your sounds. If you are looking for adding vintage flavour to your sounds this is one of the best saturation vst plugins for that purpose.Buy Here
5. Minimal Audio Rift
Rift is a multiband hybrid distortion plugin. You can send any combination of distortion, feedback, and filtering through the multi-band crossover to keep the effect exactly where you want. Physical modelling feedback and advanced morphing filters make Rift much more than another multi-effect plugin. The plugin has over 30 distortion types and up to 6 stages of processing. The plugin comes in loaded with 300+ high quality presets.Buy Here
6. SSL Fusion Vintage Drive
It has a distinct and highly desired sound character inspired by the vintage SSL Fusion stereo outboard hardware processor. The plugin features a unique, non-linear saturation circuit that gives your mix added strength and cohesion. The plugin features 2 knobs for DENSITY and DRIVE that interact to produce harmonics, soft-clipping, and natural compression. The additional knobs provide control over input volume, output volume & the mix percentage. A great thing about using plugins from a tech giant like SSL is that it comes loaded with presets from world-class producers and engineers, including Adrian Hall, Alan Moulder, Caesar Edmunds, Charlie Holmes, Michael Brauer, Romesh Dodangoda, Sean Divine and Wez Clarke. Fusion Vintage Drive is a bit expensive as compared to other plugins on the list but the immaculate quality justifies the price tag.Buy Here
7. SSL Native X Saturator
Another beast from Solid State Logic. It simulates an analogue circuit and adds distortion in the form of either 2nd order valve style, 3rd order transistor style, or a combination of the two. The distortion is minimal at low drive settings and can give a subtle warmth to assist sounds fit in a mix or a little extra edge to help instruments stand out in a mix. As drive levels rise, so does the amount of distortion until significant distortion happens at high drive levels. The main features provided are the Harmonics control which selects 2nd or 3rd-order distortion or a blend of the two, a Drive control sets the drive level, a Depth control the amplitude of the distortion and a Shape control adjusts whether the distortion has smooth or hard edges. A Headroom button provides an additional 6dB of headroom for creating heavily boosted/distorted signals without digital clipping. A great saturation plugin to add analog warmth.Buy Here
8. Waves Factory Cassette
Cassette is a saturation plugin that replicates the classic sound of analog cassette tapes and players. It has been meticulously designed through a thorough examination of numerous audio signals recorded onto actual tapes, providing an authentic replication of the original equipment’s sound and behavior. The graphic interface is also modelled after a cassette tape. The plugin includes 4 sections:
- Tape: enable or disable each step of the processing.
- Stability: Control how the Stability parameter in the front panel works internally. Includes “randomness” in order to make things unpredictable and analog.
- Extra: More of what makes a cassette sound like a cassette. Including the innovative “Re-Cassette” parameter.
- Artifacts: Control how the Artifacts parameter in the front panel works internally. Includes “Random Snap” for simulating the tape being caught momentarily causing pitch instability.
9. Softube Tape
Tape is a plugin that incorporates three diverse tape machine simulations in one tool. Type A emulates the classic Swiss high-end reel-to-reel machine, prized for its accuracy and linearity. Type B, on the other hand, provides a more vibrant sound, modeled after a transformer-based machine that enhances the low end with added warmth and richness. Lastly, Type C is modeled after a British tape machine with a distinctive vintage character. Softube Tape is light on the CPU and has quite an intuitive interface so it wont take you long to get most of this saturation plugin.Buy Here
10. Waves Magma Tube Channel Strip
The Magma Channel plugin replicates the sound and circuitry of select vintage valve tube hardware, using Waves’ True Valve Modeling technology. The Magma Channel plugin only features a minimal number of straightforward knobs for drive and saturation, as well as equalization controls for lows, mids, and highs, as well as for compression and expansion/gating. These knobs have been carefully calibrated to provide optimal results no matter the setting. This Magma Tube Channel Strip is ideal for use with vocals, instruments, or even entire mix busses.Buy Here
Read next: Best Mastering Plugins for Music Production
Image Credit: Softube