The Right Flavour
Distortion comes in many forms and flavours, and can be used with a wide range of sources. Drums work especially well, whether across individual elements…
…or across a group of them.
For a more controlled form of distortion you might consider a plugin like Audio Damage’s Kombinat Dva, which splits the signal into different frequency bands and processes them separately:
Sometimes an effect such as this can be used across a whole mix:
Alternatively, try mixing a dry signal together with a heavily distorted version, either using a plugin’s built-in mix control or by setting up your DAW for parallel processing:
You can even create two distorted copies of a mono signal and pan them in opposite directions:
A Crushing Blow
So far we’ve mainly been discussing analogue-style distortion effects. Digital distortion is equally interesting, especially when the distortion is achieved by ‘tct crushing’ – reducing the bit depth or sample rate of a digital signal to achieve the effect of lo-fi digital systems. Bit rate reduction is capable of generating some seriously nasty inharmonic nastiness if pushed far enough:
Bit depth reduction narrows the dynamic range and at lower values turns the audio into a heavily stepped mess – perfect for unruly distortion.
Most bit crushers also allow you to reduce the sample rate, which decreases the frequency range of the signal and generates aliasing effects – again, this offers plenty of creative scope for truly dirty signals: