Aug 14

Faturator by Kilohearts: for when clean won’t cut it

Faturator is a saturation distortion plugin by Kilohearts that allows you to introduce a lot of aggression and bite to whatever you feed it. There is the potential for real sonic mangling here, but it’s also possible to apply the effect in more subtle shades.

If you’re interested in the musical applications of the plugin, the review below does a far more eloquent job of walking you through its potential in genres such as dubstep than I ever could, but what does the plugin offer the sound designer?

 

The first thing to comment on is the interface. What I really like about all Kilohearts’ plugins is the minimalist interface. There are never many controls, but the controls that are there allow for a wide range of possibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I love plugins with lots of controls too, there are many occasions when having a lot of breadth as well as depth is a real plus, but sometimes you want to get straight to the point, to achieve the result you’re looking for with a minimum of time and effort. Here we have a plugin that allows just that, plenty of depth with no distraction.

 

The controls

First, there’s the ‘Drive’ knob. The higher you turn this, the more aggressive the distortion will be. Here’s a 68 HZ sine wave, a pure tone, fed through the effect, starting at 0 drive, gradually increasing to 30%, then opening all the way out to 100%. Nothing pure about this tone now…

 

To up the anti a little further, we also have a ‘Fuzz’ knob, which, in the words of one reviewer, adds crackle and brightness to the distortion. Even with the drive at 0%, the fuzz will have a substantial effect on the audio as this example, using the same sine wave, demonstrates…

 

Even with these simple waves in these simple examples, it’s easy to see how Faturator could be used to create sounds that represent energy – the growl of a transformer, the hum of a power line etc. The sounds you’ve just heard remind me a lot of sounds it’s possible to record using an electromagnetic pickup coil held against various pieces of electrical apparatus.

The ‘Colour’ knob once again has an effect on the audio even if no other controls are manipulated. Without interacting with the ‘Drive’ or ‘Fuzz’ controls, it seems to act as a resonant filter and has a range of 50-2000 Hz.

Here’s what it sounds like on a saw wave…

 

If you want things wider, there’s a ‘Stereo Turbo’ parameter. This bipolar control allows you to introduce a tiny delay to either the left or the right channel, which gives a sense of stereo width. As always with such processes, watch for mono-compatibility when experimenting.

Crucially, there’s also a ‘Mix’ control, which allows you to have your cake and eat it by mangling the wet signal, but then dialing it back by keeping some of the unprocessed signal mixed it. Distortion in parallel like this is really useful and gives more precise control over the nature of the final sound.

Faturator is really great for reinvigorating an already processed signal. That’s the first application I used it for and I was able to achieve some great results with a minimum of fine-tuning.

I had created a number of glitchy sounds from a recording of a dawn chorus using an excelent and highly configurable plugin called Cryogen by Glitch Machines. This yielded audio with lots of great little snippets in it – bleeps, bloops, power-ups, power-downs, UI elements, retro game tones etc. However some of them were a bit too glitchy, with too many pops and clicks. Us sound designers, being a fussy bunch, will only accept clean dirt most of the time.

I removed the clicks using RX de-click by Izotope, but, while doing a great job of removing the clicks, even when they were very severe in some cases, it either left the audio sounding muffled, dull and lifeless or replaced the clicks with a light dusting of fuzz, which had to be removed with eq, which also left the sound muffled, dull and lifeless. In short, By the time I’d done all the clean-up, some of the sounds had lost a lot of their appeal, but I didn’t want to give up on them. I needed a way to reintroduce higher frequencies, to make the sound less flat. Enter Faturator.

Here’s a clip showing the journey from the original, Cryogen-processed sound to the finished result that three such sounds took…

 

Accessibility to the Visually impaired

All aspects of this plugin are accessible except the presets. Given the plugin’s ease of use, I haven’t found myself missing them all that much.

To summarise, Faturator is a great tool whose power is right there at the surface. You don’t have to dig for it and can get good results pretty quickly. It’s flexible without being overwhelming, with enough light and shade about it to satisfy most tastes from those looking for something warm to something molten.

Faturator can be purchased, either as an individual plugin, or as part of one of Kilohearts’ bundles, from their website.

About The Author

Justin Macleod is a sound designer based in the UK who runs SkyClad Sound. You can check out his sound effects here at zapsplat.com and follow him on Twitter @SkycladSound