Distortion FX

Distorition: The Definition

When a sound is compressed to the point that it just can’t take it any more or raised in volume until it starts clipping and producing noisy artefacts – that’s distortion.

distortionThis often makes some convenient side effects – Increased sustain from the compression (very useful for live instrumentation) and more harmonic overtones being added to the sound.   Not to mention the extra dirtiness and edginess that is inherent with distorted audio!

Distortion effects units have been used for years now, giving a musician control over how much grit to add.   Distortion plug-ins brought things up to the next level, providing unparalleled ease with which to mangle your sounds!

Distortion device knobs and features

Distortion devices vary widely, but here are some of the more common parameters…

Gain – How much distortion is applied or how hard the source sound is overdriven.

Type & Mode – The algorithm used to apply distortion.

Levels Clipping and Foldback – How much the wave forms are folded back to achieve different levels of clipping.

Dry or Wet – This controls what percentage of the output from the unit has the effect applied and what percentage is the original source sound.

Techniques you might find useful


Synth that sound almost like a guitar

Get yourself a pad that starts with a clicky attack, perhaps due to a filter envelope allowing the high end in for a few milliseconds at the start.   Apply tube distortion to get some convincing distorted guitar!

Making your beats sound dirtier

Adding or mixing in a small amount of distortion to your percussion can give it a lot more harmonic content, character and punch!

Harsh sounding vocals without needless screaming

If your vocals need that filth but your vocalist is a bit of lame, throw a decent amount of distortion on them and done