Difference between saturator and exciter

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
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KVRAF
2124 posts since 4 Dec, 2011 from Brasília, Brazil

Post Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:01 pm

Maybe a noob question… but what's the difference between these two?

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KVRist
392 posts since 24 Aug, 2004 from under the big oak tree

Post Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:20 pm

Simplest form is that saturators deal with mid to lower frequencies and Exciters deal with the higher frequencies. I am sure techies here will elaborate on this.

KVRist
155 posts since 29 Jan, 2013

Post Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:28 pm

There isn't a huge difference between the two. A saturator is a low level distortion while an exciter is the same process but applied only to the high frequencies. Try it for yourself. Download VoS Thrillseeker XTC. Drop it on a track and wind up the drive until the output peaks into the red occasionally. Your sound will now probably be fuller and more authoritative-typical saturation. Next, boost the high end hard and wind down the mix control. Does it sound more present and a touch more special? That's a typical Aphex exciter sound. And that's more or less the whole story (but feel free to try cranking the low or mids instead for another flavour of badass).

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KVRian
1265 posts since 29 Apr, 2012 from Paris

Post Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:40 pm

I would say that an exciter will add harmonics (odd or even) to the signal, while the saturator will add distortion to the signal. These two processes are not necessarly the same while they can bring a similar effect. I'm not sure about the fact that it's only about bandwidth...
For example the BX Saturator adds distortion (on the whole frequencies) while some Variety Of Sound products add 2nd or 3rd order harmonics.

KVRist
155 posts since 29 Jan, 2013

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:39 am

@Endor-808, I'm afraid you're getting all mixed up in terminology there. Both saturation and exciters add harmonics to a signal BECAUSE they are distorting it. Whack a load of signal into either and you will hear them move into overt distortion (frequency dependent or otherwise) and see an increase in higher order harmonics.

A saturator will add some combination of 2nd and 3rd order harmonics (odd/even: the exact blend will define the character of the saturation). An exciter will add harmonics to a specific frequency range of a signal (technically that is exactly what the Aphex Aural Exciter is doing-granted there will be other effects involved like phase warping at the HPF cutoff frequency but the basis of an exciter is frequency specific distortion).

KVRer
15 posts since 30 May, 2013 from Kings Langley, UK

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:46 am

theodore_whitmore wrote:There isn't a huge difference between the two. A saturator is a low level distortion while an exciter is the same process but applied only to the high frequencies. Try it for yourself. Download VoS Thrillseeker XTC. Drop it on a track and wind up the drive until the output peaks into the red occasionally. Your sound will now probably be fuller and more authoritative-typical saturation. Next, boost the high end hard and wind down the mix control. Does it sound more present and a touch more special? That's a typical Aphex exciter sound. And that's more or less the whole story (but feel free to try cranking the low or mids instead for another flavour of badass).
Those were my thoughts upon reading the thread title.
Maybe I'll give that plug-in a try, thanks for the recommendation.
I am a fan of the Aphex Exciter, also.

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Banned
10240 posts since 12 Mar, 2012 from the Bavarian Alps to my feet and the globe around my head

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:00 am

Doesn't a Saturator introduce more IM distortion than an Exciter?

That's why I like the approach of Mr. Goldberg with his "Stateful Saturation"... :wink:

I'm dreaming of a Saturator where I can control which and what kind of harmonics I introduce...

KVRAF
21375 posts since 26 Jul, 2005 from Gone

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:02 am

If you're saturated then you're obviously very excited... :shrug:

:hihi:

KVRAF
2069 posts since 5 Oct, 2005

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:11 am

Don't excite things too much or you'll get saturated prematurely.

KVRAF
6139 posts since 26 Sep, 2003 from right here, as you can see ...

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:50 am

an exiter in terms of what it used to be is actually an high frequency extender, based on a sidechained and highpassed signal, which then is being distorted with a certain shape/curve, then mixed back to the dry signal, while the dry signal is shelfed down in scale at the same frequency, typically coupled with the mix knob. over the times, there have been some exiters for the bass range, too, which more or less work the same way.

a saturator, as we know them from plugins, as there is no dedicated analog hardware that does saturation exclusively, sadly is nothing else than a specially curved distortion on the whole signal (which actually doesn't cut it, compared to analog saturation, for various reasons).
it can sound good in some way though...

both, the exiter and the saturator have in common, that _ideally_ you _wouldn't_ perceive the saturation applied as audible distortion at all, which is what i've yet to see/hear in any saturator plugin up to date.

the term "saturation" or "saturator" was invented in the digital times actually. it is refering to the fact that analog has a "grey zone", a sweetspot in gain amplifying, where these subtle effects come to life automatically (there's actually way more to good sounding saturation than applying a shaper curve, there's frequency dependant phase-missalignments, noise interharmonics, etc, that actually does a good saturation).
in digital this isn't the case. 0db is 0db on a 16bit converter. whatever goes over 0db will be distorted by truncating the signal portion that shoots over. this simply sounds awful, for the most part. with higher resolution converters you may shoot over 0db, but exept theres no clipping, nothing further is happening with the signal exept getting louder. this is where analog differs greatly. so if you would have wanted to have that kind of analog automatic saturation in the digital realm, which was present in analog consoles, compressors, eqs and whatnot, you'd have to add it manually. this was the reason the first saturator plugins saw the light of the plugin-day.
nowadays everyone uses the term "saturation" for a special kind of distortion being applied that is actually audible as such. there's whole musicstyles that are based on this. but if you want to hear really good saturation, listen to david bowies "let's dance" or "china girl", or to paul hardcastles "just for money - the great bank robbery" - you won't notice any audible distortion at all, but the signals, especially the drums really sound bigger than life. granted, the mixes don't hold up to modern mixes in terms of frequency balance and loudness, but the individual signal quality itself is greatly influenced by analog saturation.

note that there's only one saturator close to analog saturation, which is bootsies stateful saturation, which goes into that direction, and these are by far the best plugins when it comes to modelling any kind of analog saturation. the other one to be mentioned is the cl1 by artsacoustic (which isn't an isolated saturator), but here you could call me biassed, as i do work for artsacoustic and am affiliated with them.


well, i hope this explains it a bit...
regards,
brok landers
BIGTONEsounddesign
gear is as good as the innovation behind it-the man

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KVRAF

Topic Starter

2124 posts since 4 Dec, 2011 from Brasília, Brazil

Post Thu Jun 06, 2013 12:31 pm

wow, great explanations here :)

thanks guys.

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KVRian
881 posts since 8 Aug, 2011

Post Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:35 am

Tricky-Loops wrote:Doesn't a Saturator introduce more IM distortion than an Exciter?

That's why I like the approach of Mr. Goldberg with his "Stateful Saturation"... :wink:

I'm dreaming of a Saturator where I can control which and what kind of harmonics I introduce...
Melda Msaturator has controls I did'nt see anywhere else. Check the demo I find it very usefull on certain sounds.
Win 7, 64Bit, 16 Gig RAM, Intel i7 Quad 3.9, Reaper 5.965, Steinberg MR816x

KVRAF
29954 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Sun Oct 15, 2017 3:43 am

brok landers wrote:an exiter in terms of what it used to be is actually an high frequency extender, based on a sidechained and highpassed signal, which then is being distorted with a certain shape/curve, then mixed back to the dry signal, while the dry signal is shelfed down in scale at the same frequency, typically coupled with the mix knob. over the times, there have been some exiters for the bass range, too, which more or less work the same way.

a saturator, as we know them from plugins, as there is no dedicated analog hardware that does saturation exclusively, sadly is nothing else than a specially curved distortion on the whole signal (which actually doesn't cut it, compared to analog saturation, for various reasons).
it can sound good in some way though...

both, the exiter and the saturator have in common, that _ideally_ you _wouldn't_ perceive the saturation applied as audible distortion at all, which is what i've yet to see/hear in any saturator plugin up to date.

the term "saturation" or "saturator" was invented in the digital times actually. it is refering to the fact that analog has a "grey zone", a sweetspot in gain amplifying, where these subtle effects come to life automatically (there's actually way more to good sounding saturation than applying a shaper curve, there's frequency dependant phase-missalignments, noise interharmonics, etc, that actually does a good saturation).
in digital this isn't the case. 0db is 0db on a 16bit converter. whatever goes over 0db will be distorted by truncating the signal portion that shoots over. this simply sounds awful, for the most part. with higher resolution converters you may shoot over 0db, but exept theres no clipping, nothing further is happening with the signal exept getting louder. this is where analog differs greatly. so if you would have wanted to have that kind of analog automatic saturation in the digital realm, which was present in analog consoles, compressors, eqs and whatnot, you'd have to add it manually. this was the reason the first saturator plugins saw the light of the plugin-day.
nowadays everyone uses the term "saturation" for a special kind of distortion being applied that is actually audible as such. there's whole musicstyles that are based on this. but if you want to hear really good saturation, listen to david bowies "let's dance" or "china girl", or to paul hardcastles "just for money - the great bank robbery" - you won't notice any audible distortion at all, but the signals, especially the drums really sound bigger than life. granted, the mixes don't hold up to modern mixes in terms of frequency balance and loudness, but the individual signal quality itself is greatly influenced by analog saturation.

note that there's only one saturator close to analog saturation, which is bootsies stateful saturation, which goes into that direction, and these are by far the best plugins when it comes to modelling any kind of analog saturation. the other one to be mentioned is the cl1 by artsacoustic (which isn't an isolated saturator), but here you could call me biassed, as i do work for artsacoustic and am affiliated with them.


well, i hope this explains it a bit...
Hm, that's gotta be the most technically sounding esoteric explanation i ever read. :hihi: Also, you say that there's "only one saturator close to analog saturation". Did you try them all or what?
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

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KVRAF
3229 posts since 12 May, 2011 from Everywhere and nowhere, baby

Post Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:11 am

I just googled this subject for more info and saw that there is a thread on KVR from 2013 - oh wait, it's this one! :D
BitChute
SoundCloud
What is life without a little whimsy?

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KVRAF
3229 posts since 12 May, 2011 from Everywhere and nowhere, baby

Post Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:19 am

Googly Smythe wrote:I just googled this subject for more info and saw that there is a thread on KVR from 2013 - oh wait, it's this one! :D
I found this, (old) post, too, on the UAD site. http://www.uaudio.com/webzine/2007/may/index2.html
This is the pertinent bit:
Pioneered by Aphex in the 1970s, exciters are used to add "sparkle" to a track. The most common implementation is to have a highpass filter which feeds a clipper or saturator. The saturator produces new harmonic content that is related to the content coming through the highpass filter. The saturated signal can be post-filtered to emphasize harmonics in a particular frequency band. The highpass filter can also be tuned. In order to reduce sum- and difference-frequencies generated by the saturation, the signal can be separated into sub-bands that go through separate saturators. Saturated signal outputs are mixed in parallel with the dry signal, allowing the desired amount of harmonics to be mixed in. Some exciter-type devices are implemented as linear systems, rather than using saturators. These devices delay low frequency energy relative to the highs, which can cause a perceptual increase in high-frequency energy without changing the equalization of the signal.
What's in a name? Saturation would sound as sweet if it were called Exciting. (Sorry, Will.)
BitChute
SoundCloud
What is life without a little whimsy?

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