Distortion is the modification of an audio signal. The modification changes the waveform of audio. People usually avoid distortion, but in some cases it may be desirable. Musicians and mixing engineers use distortion as a musical effects, especially for guitars.
Different distortions have varying audibility levels. You can also define distortion as information either lost or added relative to the original signal.
“Harmonics are probably one of the most important aspects of music—another word for them is distortion. The human ear loves to hear overtones, and the human voice can create complex harmonics.” — SOS UK, Secrets Of The Mix Engineers: David Pensado
Main Categories of Distortion
Linear—the change of the output signal is proportional to the input
Nonlinear—the change of the output signal is not proportional to the input
Sub Categories of Distortion
Amplitude Distortion—happens when the output amplitude is not a linear function of the input amplitude
Harmonic Distortion—adds overtones that are whole number multiples of a sound wave’s frequencies
Frequency Response Distortion—happens when different frequencies are amplified by different amounts in a filter
Phase Distortion—the input signals are not amplified with the same phase shift, hence making some parts of the output signal out of phase with the rest of the output
Distortion Devices in Ableton
Fortunately Ableton have a number of excellent plugins for modifying the sound.
My favourites are Saturator and Overdrive. Saturator can be very complex and detailed in Waveshaping algorithm.
Saturator is a versatile waveshaper effect. It can add bite, punch or warmth to the sound from soft richening to wild chaos.
The Saturator can be used in simple and complex ways. The mode depends on the selected algorithm.
Overdrive is a distortion effect that is similar to classic guitar pedals used by guitarists.
This effect mimics the low-resolution sound quality of older computer based systems like Ensoniq Mirage, Fairlight CMI or the Commodore-64.
This effect applies tube saturation. It has an envelope follower for making dynamic tonal variations related to the signal.
Three tube models, A, B and C, provide a range of distortion characteristics known from real amplifier tubes.
This effect that emulates the sound and character of seven classic guitar amplifiers. Amp uses physical modelling technology.
I enhanced the kick to be louder and fatter. The soft sine curve is a gentle tool for this.