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 Saturn by FabFilter is a Virtual Effect Audio Plugin. It functions as a VST Plugin, an Audio Units Plugin, a VST 3 Plugin, an RTAS Plugin and an AAX Plugin.
Saturn
Product Saturn
Developer FabFilter
Price (MSRP)
€129 / $154 / £99
Type / Tags
Plug-in, App & Soundware Format(s)
Effect(s)     
Operating System Availability
Operating
System
Latest
Version
Download Released
 
1.18
 
  Download Released
System Requirements
32-bit: Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP
64-bit: Windows 10, 8, 7 or Vista (x64)
VST 2/3 host or Pro Tools
 
1.18
 
  Download Released
System Requirements
OS X 10.6 or higher
AU or VST 2/3 host or Pro Tools
Intel processor
Miscellaneous Information
Copy ProtectionSerial Number

FabFilter Saturn is a multi-band distortion and saturation plug-in featuring a great variety of distortion styles from subtle tape simulation to full-on multi-band guitar amp mayhem, combined with endless modulation options and a streamlined, uncluttered interface.

FabFilter Saturn offers a wide range of high-quality distortion models from subtle, clean and warm tube or tape saturation to fully overdriven vintage guitar amp simulation. Additional creative distortion styles let you time-smear, stretch, crush, rectify and clip your sounds in inspiring and unexpected ways. Create up to six bands with individual feedback, compression/expansion and tone controls to give each part of the spectrum the warmth and color it needs.

To bring even more life and depth to your sound, engage FabFilter Saturn's extensive modulation section. By applying subtle modulation to crossover frequencies, dynamics, band levels or tone controls, you can add unique definition and flavor. With practically unlimited modulation sources from XY controllers and programmable step sequencers to any type of MIDI data, the creative possibilities are endless.

The user interface makes FabFilter Saturn look deceptively simple, showing only the controls that you are actually using at the moment. The entire modulation section is hidden by default, resulting in a friendly interface that invites you to explore the essential controls and the included factory presets. When you need to look "under the hood", a single click expands the modulation section, letting you easily add modulation sources and create modulation connections via drag-and-drop. This combination of features makes FabFilter Saturn powerful and flexible, yet ultimately accessible for everyday use.

Key features:

  • Sixteen different distortion styles, from subtle tube and tape saturation to heavily overdriven guitar amp models, time-smearing and bit crushing.
  • Multi-band processing (up to six bands).
  • Per-band drive, mix, feedback, dynamics, tone and level controls.
  • Optional HQ mode (8x oversampling).
  • Mid/side processing.
  • Interactive multi-band display.
  • Easy-to-use interface with FabFilter's innovative what-you-use-is-what-you-see concept.
  • Normal and wide interface layouts, with an option to show or hide the modulation section at the bottom.
  • Endless modulation options, with all the 16-step XLFOs, XY controllers, envelope generators, envelope followers and MIDI sources you will ever need.
  • Easy drag-and-drop modulation with 50-slot modulation matrix.
  • Modulation source signal visualization.
  • Over 150 factory presets included.
  • Stereo and mono plug-ins available.
  • All the usual FabFilter features you've come to expect: perfectly fine-tuned knobs and controllers, interactive MIDI Learn, undo/redo and A/B switch, Smart Parameter Interpolation for smooth parameter transitions, an extensive help file with interactive help hints, sample accurate automation, SSE optimization, and more.

System requirements for FabFilter Saturn are either Windows 7, Vista, XP, SSE-capable processor, and a VST 2/3 host or Pro Tools, or Mac OS X 10.7, 10.6, 10.5 or 10.4, Intel or PowerPC processor, and an Audio Units host, VST 2/3 host, or Pro Tools. Both 32-bit and 64-bit hosts are supported.

Latest User Reviews Average user rating of 4.50 from 2 reviews

Reviewed By rosko12
January 16, 2014

Every now and then I feel the urgent need to review a plugin. I can't explain it...

Saturn is one of the best multiband distortions out there. Two others worth mentioning are Kombinat (Audio Damage) and Ohmicide (Ohm Force). With Saturn the big win is the interface. You get the basics real quickly, and some ridiculous sophistication is tucked away just in case you need it.

The default option is just a straight up distortion unit with a dynamic control, post-eq and feedback. You then add however many bands you need. Only problem is you sometimes get a bit confused about what bands you're altering (since you can only see one control set at a time). There's a good range of distortion varieties, sixteen in fact. I wish FF provided a bit more detail about how they calculated each distortion (ie a waveshaper graph). But no I guess that's up to the nerds to try and figure out themselves. You also get a good spectrum analyser - you can move the multiband bars around on the actual analyser which is a big pro.

As with many of the FF plugins you get a standard set of modulation options - in this situation they are well beyond what any sane person could possibly require in a distortion unit. I doubt many people are going to use the LFO's. The follower strikes me as pretty useful however.

What I'd really like to see FF do (by the way) is update the XY pad to include a space where the user can type in a description of the macro. It's a pain in the butt trying to remember what all the sliders do especially when you have sliders connected to sliders.

-----------------

Here's a couple more things I noticed sometime later...

* There's a further hardclip at 0db, regardless of where you set the input or output, or any other knob. Not sure why this would be desirable. Haven't noticed this on any other FF plugs.

* Saturn seems to be geared towards fairly gentle analog emulations. If you want brutal clipping you can try turning the input up and the output down. Or get a different plug.

* It adds a tiny amount of white noise to everything. Maybe they thought this was more analog. IMO if folks want white noise they can add it themselves.

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Reviewed By Sendy
August 5, 2012

A bit expensive, but worth every penny. The only way to improve this, is to add mute and solo options to the bands... wait... they did that! NOOO! ANOTHER 10 out of 10! WHAT A WORLD!

If you're like me you buy lots of plugins. Not stupid amounts, but there's a steady trickle. Many of these are bought for entertainment value, out of curiousity for a new feature or technique... some might inspire you a bit or give you new ideas, others might be a version of something else but just done better, but how much of it actually changes your workflow and the quality of your music or satisfaction with your sound to a noticable degree?

Demo this plugin. Aimlessly fiddle with it on a drum or bass track and know that without even trying, you've made your track sound better. Now learn how to use it a bit... BOOM! You need it! This is not a "want" plugin, it's a "NEED!" plugin! I lasted an hour of demoing before I gave in, can you beat my score?

I'm not hugely into saturation effects, and a lot of my prior experience comprised ending up with something so subtle I couldn't notice the difference, or something that sounded overcooked at best and horribly goofy at worse. Saturation effects are about taking the sound of stuff and giving it "good tone" - whatever that is! It's a bit of a dark art subject to hype, black box products, scams and misinformation. "Good tone" means both improving the impact of a musical part, as well as making it fit with the others, and that's where Saturn becomes a Miracle Machine in my opinion.

If it's gone over your radar, Saturn is a multiband saturation unit, specializing in subtle to mild distortions which generally aim to sweeten what's there rather than create new material and avenues. Each band can choose the type and balance of saturation, from warm tapes to broken tubes to various amp types. You have a lot of options - how dense the saturation in a band is, how much it's mixed in with the dry, the stereo balance (in L/R or the INVALUABLE M/S mode) and the overall output level. On top of that, each band has a simple dynamics control, which with one knob can take your band from "either max volume or quiet" to "short punchy bursts of sounds on the dominant transients" and anything inbetween. Following this, each band ALSO has it's own 4-band post-EQ, so you can, for example, turn up the treble of the distortion happening in the BASS, without turning up the treble of the actual dry signal passing over that band!

What the above comprises is a revolutionary amount of control wrapped up in an easy and intuitive GUI. Sound-wise it is spot on, too, and will deliver all of the attitude, warmth, crispiness and depth you need to make your tracks larger-than-life.

On top of this, some creative effects are thrown in. Each band has an adjustable feedback knob with variable delay. I don't use this much, but it's capable of some wild sounds. There are also 3 creative (or destructive rather!) effects available in each band. These are a rectifier (choking, spluttering octaved effect), a samplerate/bit crusher (for digital dust and sparks) and a spectral blur, which when applied in small amounts creates chorus and reverb illusions, and in large amounts will turn any sound into an ambient void allowing travel to alternate dimensions. (YMMV)

On top of that, on top of that, an easy-peasy modular control system with LFO's, envelope followers, MIDI input, and everything else you might need ties it all together. Even without this extra environment, this is an amazingly powerful tool and sounds alarmingly professional. But when you add this modulation, so you can do stuff like alter a band's spectral position with an envelope follower or alter the M/S balance of a band via an envelope, you really do have enough fuel in this thing to take you to Saturn!

I use this mainly on drums and bass at the moment, but basically it can improve almost anything that needs to be upfront and "present". Given it's creative potential, no doubt it could also do a thing or two with pads and stereo-manipulated soundscapes, but beefing stuff up is where this thing comes into it's own.

You'll find this doing the work of an EQ, compressor, stereo imager AND distortion some days, and in a way that's much more integrated and useful than using several separates would probably afford. I'm never looking back.

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Discussion

Discussion

Discussion: Active
ariston
ariston
6 August 2012 at 4:59pm

Sendy, this is one of the few plugins that really DESERVE a frakking 10. My demo period lasted a couple of days, and after fighting it and fighting it ("not another sat unit, come on, you don't need it"), I succumbed. Saturn is now residing in the box labelled "not even from my cold, dead hands will you pry these".

Nice review, as usual. ;)

sazb30
sazb30
7 August 2012 at 8:04am

nice informative well-written review Sendy, cheers! Just picked this up in the FF sale but haven't had time to play with it yet... can't wait!!

ObsoleteAcc99
ObsoleteAcc99
7 August 2012 at 8:20pm

Good review. Saturn fully deserves a 10 in every way, i agree :)

JeffSanders
JeffSanders
7 August 2012 at 8:38pm

I agree on all counts, Sendy.

Sendy
Sendy
10 August 2012 at 7:18pm

Thanks for all the nice comments about my review. I really felt this plugin deserves a 10 and a review on this site, but not only that, a good explanation of WHY it ends up on ALL my tracks!

DuX
DuX
13 August 2012 at 5:03pm

Yes, it is [b]that[/b] great. I've just discovered it recently when I was looking for great saturation/distortion plug-ins. One of the best, if not the best, there is. Price is a bit steep, though, but when you realise how much you've been using it, and you will, then it doesn't look so steep any more.

milosh_
milosh_
14 August 2012 at 10:55am

great review!

I have to say that Saturn is really great and use it more and more often! :)

Resonator63
Resonator63
12 September 2012 at 10:40am

I'd give it an 11!!!

Great,well thought out review Sendy

soulkisser
soulkisser
20 January 2014 at 12:18pm

Saturn gets 10 from me also.

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Saturn

Average user rating of 4.50 from 2 reviews

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