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Soundtoys decapitator

 
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62strat
audio school


Joined: 04 Dec 2014
Posts: 1
Location: United States

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 11:11 am    Post subject: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

Hello all,

After listening to some of my mixes, a good friend of mine recommended that i purchase Decapitator by Soundtoys. He said my mixes were too "pristine" and need more harmonic distortion. So, I trust him and picked it up. Once I got through the iLok rigmarole, I was up in running.

I performed a few test mixes with this. I feel like it has a lot of potential, but I just need to really learn it. I have a question for anyone who uses this plugin:

I notice that as I turn up the Drive knob, there's a threshold where pretty much nothing happens (the signal remains unchanged), and then all of the sudden the signal is clearly distorted, as if I'm running the track through one of my Tube Screamers or something. It sounds really awful. Once its distorted, i've never heard anything worse in my life. I've cycled through every one of the alphabetical algorithms, and I actually prefer the Chandler setting the best.

My question is, since it sounds horrible distorted, I'm thinking I should always keep the knob to the left of that threshold where things get distorted. But is it actually doing anything on that setting?

What I mean to say is, if I keep the drive knob so low that it's not actually distorted, is the plugin doing anything at all? Is it still adding harmonic distortion? I put the decapitator on a bunch of tracks on a setting just south of the distortion effect, did a test mixdown and I don't hear anything different between that mix and one without the plugin. So, if it's not doing anything before it gets distorted, then there's no point in running the plugin, since it's taking up clock cycles and memory

But if i turn them all up to just the point where it's distorted, then the mix sounds like dog crap because it sounds like i'm running everything through a stomp box.

And to be clear, I'm not running it on "everything". I'm sticking with electric guitars, vocals, kick and snare, bass, and organ. Everything else (cymbals, piano, acoustic) is clean.

I'm also not using any presets, just running it in its default mode. Not a fan of presets.



I guess you'll want to know some of my equipment:
Computer: Core i7, 8 gb mem, windows 7
A/I: Focusrite Saffire Pro 40
Cubase 5
Monitors: KRK VXT 4

thanks again Smile
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Nick Sevilla
speech impediment


Joined: 03 Mar 2008
Posts: 4453
Location: Los Angeles California USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 05, 2014 10:59 am    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

This is why I don't use decapitator.

When trying to add mininmal saturation/ harmonics, I like these:

http://www.ursplugins.com/ursSAT.html

and

http://www.waves.com/plugins/nls-non-linear-summer#classic-console-sound-with-nls

and even the Avid HEAT, but for that one you need a TDM system.

These don't destroy, and you can hear them working pretty much when you insert them.

Cheers
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nicholasdover
audio school graduate


Joined: 12 Aug 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Bristol UK

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 4:02 am    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

Try putting drive at just 1 or 2 and mix at 2 over whole mix in mode E - it does a definite lift/push which I really like. Subtle, but bypass toggle and you feel it. I end up doing this on loads of mixes that want a dash of grit then push mix up for more rather than drive.
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permanent hearing damage
suffering 'studio suck'


Joined: 09 Oct 2003
Posts: 491
Location: philly

PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:46 am    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

nicholasdover wrote:
Try putting drive at just 1 or 2 and mix at 2 over whole mix in mode E - it does a definite lift/push which I really like. Subtle, but bypass toggle and you feel it. I end up doing this on loads of mixes that want a dash of grit then push mix up for more rather than drive.


seconded! not sure what kind of stuff you usually working on, but for almost all the heavy/noisy rock stuff, this plug is all over my drum bus and 2 bus. hell, i've even used it on folky and country projects.

just so we are clear, you are not turning the 'punish' button on are you? that is noisy as hell and definitely does not sound like the kind of effect you are after

also, make use of the filters and/or the tone knob if you are getting too much fizzy top end
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JWL
deaf.


Joined: 02 Apr 2006
Posts: 1869
Location: Maine

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 2:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

Softube Saturation Knob is free and useful:

http://www.softube.com/index.php?id=satknob
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joninc
carpal tunnel


Joined: 09 Jun 2003
Posts: 1693
Location: canada

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 5:40 pm    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

this is a great plug in - listen to BROTHERS by the Black Keys for great usage (masterfully mixed by Tchad Blake).

I don't think you can just throw this on a clean mix and expect it to do something
magical though. you gotta find the right spots for it.

i love using it as a filter on overly bright sources to darken and thicken. drum buss maybe - kicks and snares and basses and gtrs for sure. thin synths yes!

think of it as a tone shaper - you don't have to make ripping fuzz with it.

a little dab'll do ya!
Razz
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btswire
gettin' sounds


Joined: 24 Oct 2003
Posts: 103
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 7:09 pm    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

I've been playing with the Metric Halo character demo. I've found that having multiple instances of the plugin just shy of where it starts breaking up can help tubify things nicely, but not in a way that hits you over the head. Was doing this in the "Soft Sat" mode. Anyone else doing this with saturation plugins in series?
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SpencerMartin
gimme a little kick & snare


Joined: 27 Feb 2015
Posts: 78
Location: Akron, OH

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 4:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

Learning the feel of how to use saturation in mixing is a lot like the early (yet perpetually ongoing) phase of learning to effectively use compression, or any other tool for that matter. It takes some time to develop not only the sense of how and why to use it, but most importantly, the ability to hear how it can be something beneficial to reach for on a given source before it's even there. And just like any other tool, it can have multiple uses - it's important to know what you want to accomplish with it before throwing it on things and cranking up the Drive knob! With the Decapitator in particular, these uses could include:

-Excitement
-Brightening
-Darkening
-Fattening
-Taming transients
-Gluing
-Making something bigger
-Making something smaller
-Creating a more narrow/focused frequency range/tone.

Blatant distortion/saturation is really just one possible use, and is probably not exactly what your friend thought your mixes could benefit from. Really, the Drive knob provides just a fraction of the plug's overall utility. The plug can also work super nicely as a character EQ with the tone knob and pass filters - the thump/steep settings can be very useful to help exaggerate the corner frequencies.

+1 for Brothers! That album has a very special place amongst my playlist of highly regarded reference tracks.
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btswire
gettin' sounds


Joined: 24 Oct 2003
Posts: 103
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 5:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

Any particular suggestions for darkening and fattening?
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SpencerMartin
gimme a little kick & snare


Joined: 27 Feb 2015
Posts: 78
Location: Akron, OH

PostPosted: Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Soundtoys decapitator Reply with quote

btswire wrote:
Any particular suggestions for darkening and fattening?


The cool thing is you can accomplish multiple things on that list at once with this plug. For darkening/fattening:

On a vocal, I'd try turning the mix knob completely to 'wet' (default setting), using the 'T' (tube) emulation setting, bringing up the drive just a bit to taste, turning the tone knob to the left and also using the steep setting on the low pass and bringing that down quite a bit. The fatness comes from the drive, and the darkening comes from the low pass and tone knob (both, or either one). You can do this as drastically as you like since you're set to hear the 100% wet signal, so make it super blatant! Then, go back to 100% dry. You should notice that it's relatively more "boring" sounding. While the entire mix is playing, mix in a bit of the 'wet' signal to taste. (You should also initially create your processed sound, and do most processing in general, in the context of the mix. Bonus points for doing it at a lowish volume. If it sounds exciting/interesting while quiet, it'll sound even more so at a louder volume.)

For drums, I like to use an entirely separate bus rather than use the 'mix' knob. Route your drum bus to a second bus, pre-fader. Only listen to the second bus, 100% wet. Use a considerable amount of drive and test the different letter "flavors" - I generally always start with that. Again, use the tone knob and lowpass filter to make it as dark as you want (oftentimes only the lowpass filter is necessary). Also, a lot of the sometimes excessive kick drum distortion can be mitigated by using the high pass filter too. Start with your Decapitated drum bus all the way down and slowly bring it up, combining it with the dry drums while the whole mix is playing back until you're happy. If the drums are too loud now, group the two busses and bring them both down a bit while preserving the ratio.

Your goal is to make it darker, but to avoid mud, you might want to use the highpass filter as well. Those pass filters really help harmonically saturated sources from taking up too much space in general and are really super important features, in my opinion.

Also, BIG DISCLAIMER: This plug adds some significant subharmonics to pretty much everything, regardless of the source. The high pass filter doesn't remove them. You may want to follow it up with a separate EQ to filter the lowest of the lows.
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