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Distortion and Overdrive advice for Reaktor design


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There are a few Distortion / Overdrive creations in the premium and essentials library for Reaktor 3.05, but I want to build the one that all others are judged against.

I don't want to build something as comprehensive as Geek FX. I just want to build a really beautiful distortion and overdrive effects instrument that people can use as an effects unit or as an add on for their other creations.

So why am I telling you this? Well the truth is, I don't really how to do it. So I thought I'd ask a couple detailed questions. If you can answer one question, and someone else can answer another, perhaps all the answers will fall into place.


Question one:

What is the real difference betweem Overdrive and distortion?

I know on my gear they sound a very different. I beleive that when these terms are used as interchangeable, it's wrong. They're two different things.

The answer that I've found is:

Overdrive: (soft clipping) where the gain is inversely proportional to the input signal level.


Distortion: (Hard Clipping)

Usually marketed as "distortion", where the signal level is restricted within a range.

Are these definitions accurate? If not, what are the accurate definitions?


Question Two:

What modules are best suited in Reaktor to emulate the above? Saturators, Clippers, Choppers, Mirrors, Rectifiers? Which for which?

Which current reaktor ensembles, instruments or macros do you believe have the best implementations of Distortion and Overdrive.


Question Three: Multiband distortion?

I've read the only way to get digital distortion to sound like a decent analog stomp box is to use a Multiband distortion. Do we need a multiband overdrive as well? How exactly does a multiband distortion work? Do we use bandpass filters to divide up the signal and process the results through seperate od's and distorts and then mix them back together? Do we mix them back equally, or do we allow user adjustment of that?


Question Four: Filters?

I've been told that one of the keys to make guitar amp heads is the use of high pole filtering. My guess is that they're used in to create a multiband distortion. Am I wrong?


Question Five: EQ?

Well I know that EQ is a critical aspect of getting the right guitar sound out of a sound box. What kind of EQ should I be looking at for this bad boy.


Question Six: Intermodulation distortion. (quoted from a webpage)

"Again, by its nature, overdrive will produce intermodulation distortion when two or more notes are played together. For just two notes played, intermodulation distortion produces an additional note with a frequency of the difference between the original two notes. For chords, where up to 6 notes are played, the combinations of note pairs can produce an unrecognisable mess of distortion.

On the other hand, this is actually desirable in musical styles which use mainly power chords, because in this case, the intermodulation distortion adds a note which is tune with the chord."

Do we have to do anything in Reaktor to get intermodulation distortion? Or will the appropriate module (clipper?) module take care of this for us.


Question Seven: Compression

Does compression play a significant role in the sound of a distortion / compression pedal?

Is there a hidden compression that results in the characteristic of the sound to give it Crunch. It's possible to create distortion with the some compressors. Would we be able to do the same thing in Reaktor, and if so, would it differ in anyway than the distortion available to us through simple modules.

If stompbox dist/od pedals do use compression, what should the settings be in the ideal reaktor distortion implementation?


Question Eight:

What am I forgetting and missing? What else should it be doing to be the ideal dist/od box. Nnot reverb or delay, just dist/od and maybe eq, I'm not building a multieffect. I just want to build a top notch od/distortion that can compete with pedals and other plugins.

I don't play guitar, and I don't own a marshall stack. I mainly use od /distortion for my vocals, and sometimes keys and drums. I used to mix a lot of guitars down, and I'd often wind up using three different FX boxes in a chain to get a decent guitar sound. I learned than that the subtle differences between dist/od units was as important different as the difference between casios and kurzweils to synth players. I'd like to be able to start processing guitars again, and have all my hardware fx processors free to do other things, and let the beast called Reaktor do all the work.

BTW: I'm looking for mean Distortions. I'm not trying to build a unit for jazz or progressive rock. I want to build a distortion worth of Industrial/metal bands like Bile or just for absolute intense noise like Merzbow. The kind of noize and distortion that has tunable flavor. Just like all of Cevin Key's distortions have a certain Identifiable characteristic.


If you can answer any of these questions or if this post would be better off in a different forum, please copy it there and let me know. Thanx!


[ 02-12-2002: Message edited by: DasKreestof ]

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It would be a good idea to post this up on the Craig Anderton SSS forum up above, as Anderton is a well-known distortion expert, and created one of the classic multiband distortion units the QuadraFuzz.


Although I've done a number of Reaktor ensembles and used them quite a bit, I've never done a distortion unit...on purpose, that is, ruined two sets of cheap multimedia speakers in pursuit of other sounds, though. All of the modules you mentioned above can make destructive noises in the right context, no worry.


Well, looking forward to your ensemble.



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