Difference between saturator and exciter

VST, AU, etc. plug-in Virtual Effects discussion
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KVRAF
3229 posts since 12 May, 2011 from Everywhere and nowhere, baby

Post Sun Oct 15, 2017 4:23 am

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

Post Mon Oct 16, 2017 9:55 pm

chk071 wrote:
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?
esoteric? yeah, right... :roll:
on your question - not all, but i tried a lot, and in 30 years i also was forced to work with analog gear a lot.
regards,
brok landers
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KVRAF
2170 posts since 30 Aug, 2004 from Lancaster, UK

Post Wed Jul 25, 2018 7:41 am

nvm
Last edited by SparkySpark on Mon Sep 20, 2021 2:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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KVRAF
4026 posts since 26 Nov, 2015 from Way Downunder

Post Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:45 pm

So the difference is that an exciter is only adding harmonics to the high frequencies? What if you took a multiband saturator and only effected the high band?

In my plugin list I put exciters, saturators, distortions and waveshapers in the same folder :)

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fmr
KVRAF
10536 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Wed Jul 25, 2018 12:53 pm

I was reading a few days ago about something called a "presence filter" (which happens to not be a filter, after all, but a signal booster, in the region of the 2kHz-4kHz). Would you call that an exciter? Or what is that?

I think that the name "Presence Filter" doesn't make any sense.
Fernando (FMR)

KVRAF
4026 posts since 26 Nov, 2015 from Way Downunder

Post Wed Jul 25, 2018 2:06 pm

Well EQ curves are essentially "filters" so it kinda makes sense, although I typically associate "presence" with higher frequencies than 2-4k (upper midrange-ish?). Presence to me is more like 5-6K.

KVRAF
3448 posts since 2 Jul, 2005

Post Wed Jul 25, 2018 5:55 pm

Exciters add distortion (harmonics) to only one part of the frequency spectrum.
Don't F**K with Mr. Zero.

KVRer
10 posts since 6 Dec, 2017

Post Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:34 am

Yesterday I used an exciter for the first time. Izotope Ozone's exciter.

If exciters only process the upper part of the frequency spectrum then why does the Ozone exciter (which is multiband) allow you to apply the effect to the whole spectrum and different amounts in different bands?

If someone could explain, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

KVRer
26 posts since 12 Jul, 2015

Post Mon Sep 20, 2021 4:09 pm

The world is saturated with excited maniacs.

KVRAF
4026 posts since 26 Nov, 2015 from Way Downunder

Post Mon Sep 20, 2021 6:03 pm

Audio Assassin wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 9:34 am
Yesterday I used an exciter for the first time. Izotope Ozone's exciter.

If exciters only process the upper part of the frequency spectrum then why does the Ozone exciter (which is multiband) allow you to apply the effect to the whole spectrum and different amounts in different bands?

If someone could explain, it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Because for all intents and purposes, exciters and saturators are the same thing: subtle upper harmonic distortion.

KVRAF
4970 posts since 17 Dec, 2009

Post Mon Sep 20, 2021 11:49 pm

MogwaiBoy wrote:
Mon Sep 20, 2021 6:03 pm

Because for all intents and purposes, exciters and saturators are the same thing: subtle upper harmonic distortion.
Well, historically speaking, saturation is only one part of the exciter, or not even one.
The eponymous Aphex Exciter adds a frequency specific phase shift.
The Dolby system type A NR that was used as an exciter had some dynamic thing going on. i think it's 4-band split compression - but in parallel, so it doesn't add that many harmonics as much as being a parallel compressor. :wink:
I use the Type A preset in u-he Satin constantly, i'm not sure if it's really 4-band split compression in parallel, but it works well. (It does something dynamic tho)

It's true recently that any waveshaper calls itself an exciter nowadays, but i still think it's inaccurate - exciter should do something to the high end, but not only distort. If it only distorts, it's a saturator.
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KVRer
10 posts since 6 Dec, 2017

Post Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:22 am

Thanks guys.

Regarding the exciter in Izotope Ozone, I've been applying it from around 2khz upwards to avoid distortion of the bass and mid range.

KVRist
182 posts since 31 Aug, 2020

Post Wed Sep 29, 2021 6:49 am

OTT works as an exciter with the highband upward compression

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