Plugin Boutique takes a look at some of the best distortion and saturation plugins available at its store.

For many years, distortion was the enemy of mix engineers in search of the cleanest possible mix. Imperfect analogue circuitry and limited hardware often led to a loss of signal fidelity and waveforms being chopped off abruptly, resulting in harsh, warped sounds. With the advent of digital music production tools, a lot of that character and noise was lost, meaning producers these days are keen to add distortion back into their mixes all of a sudden.

Saturation, a more delicate form of distortion that smooths transients and adds harmonics, should be a weapon in every producer’s mixing arsenal, whether you need to add midrange presence and sparkle or a stylish lo-fi effect. More intense distortion effects can be used to degrade sounds and add grunge and aggression. Whatever you’ve got planned for your mix, you’ll need the right plugin for the job, which is why we’ve rounded up the best distortion and saturation plugins on Plugin Boutique.

Whether you want to gently chisel some life into your sounds, or hit them with a sledgehammer, these 9 plugins will help you get the job done: Arturia Dist COLDFIRE, Soundtoys Decapitator, Minimal Audio Rift 2.0, XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color, Cableguys DriveShaper, D16 Group Devastor 2, Heavycity Fury, Softube Harmonics, and FabFilter Saturn 2.

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