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Saturn 2


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Saturn 2
Favorite Saturation/Distortion - Best Audio and MIDI Software - KVR Audio Readers' Choice Awards 2023
What is it?
Operating System Availability
Operating System Latest Version 
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
System Requirements
macOS 10.12 or higher (64-bit only)
AU or VST 2/3 host or Pro Tools
Intel or Apple Silicon processor
License & Installation Method
Voucher / Code for redemption on other website
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Saturn 2

FabFilter Saturn 2 is a major update to the award-winning multiband distortion and saturation plug-in. Saturn 2 sees a top-to-bottom interface redesign for even greater ease of use and visualization, as well as a host of new features and improvements, including 12 new distortion styles, a radically overhauled and expanded modulation system, enhanced envelopes, linear phase processing, and a pristine new 'Superb' High Quality mode.

Beautiful new interface with modulation visualization

Saturn 2 looks better and flows faster than ever. The darker color scheme makes the plug-in easier to look at for extended sessions, and four interface size options and a stunning full-screen mode enable adaptation to any workspace. Modulation is now comprehensively visualized at both source and target, too, with color-coded collars and tracks on knobs and sliders animating in response to modulation input, the source flow area giving an eye-catching overview of all mod signals, and indicators on controls and bands showing which parameters are being modulated at a glance.

More distortion types

Saturn 2 almost doubles the number of distortion styles on board from 16 to 28. 'Subtle' versions of the Tape, Tube and Saturation styles provide low-intensity warming, while four new British (Rock, Pop) and American (Tweed, Plexi) Amp styles perfectly model well-known guitar amplifiers, three Transformer styles (Subtle, Gentle, Warm) open up abrasive new possibilities, and the Foldback and Breakdown FX styles reshape and mutate sounds beyond recognition, the latter combining down-pitching with heavy distortion.

Big modulation changes

With virtually no limit placed on the combination of 16-step XLFOs, Envelope Generators, Envelope Followers, XY Controllers and MIDI sources that can be used in a preset, Saturn has always been serious about creative modulation, and Saturn 2 takes the whole system to the next level. Curve the Envelope Generator's Attack, Decay and Release stages for a smoother or more aggressive response, activate the Envelope Follower's new Transient detection mode to tightly track drums and percussion, and route discrete band inputs to both Envelope sources as triggering signals - pulverize hi-hats to the rhythm of the kick drum, for example. The XY Controller's new Slider mode, meanwhile, slims it down to vertical-only operation, and the XLFO benefits from legato MIDI triggering and targeting of the Frequency Offset and Balance parameters for modulation. And with custom naming of individual mod sources now possible, users can customize their Saturn 2 presets for effortless navigation.

Mastering grade saturation

The new 'Subtle' saturation types make Saturn 2 the mastering engineer's secret weapon, bringing enlivening presence and fizz to final mixes. In order to meet the exacting demands of such mission-critical application, the band crossovers now offer a choice of 6, 12, 24, 36 and 48 dB/octave roll-off slopes, the new 'Superb' High Quality mode switches the plug-in to 32x oversampling for almost total elimination of aliasing, and the Linear Phase option ensures maximum coherence for the crossovers and High Quality modes.

Key features:

  • 28 diverse distortion styles, from warming tube and tape saturation to screaming American and British guitar amps, Transformers, bit crushing, smearing, rectification and more.
  • Up to six separate processing bands, with variable crossover slopes: 6, 12, 24, 36 and 48 dB/octave.
  • Independent Drive, Mix, Feedback, Dynamics, Tone and Level controls for every band.
  • Two High Quality modes for 8x and 32x oversampling.
  • Regular stereo and mid/side processing.
  • Intuitive interactive multiband display.
  • Powerful, flexible modulation system: drag and drop as many 16-step XLFOs, XY Controllers, Envelope Generators, Envelope Followers, Sliders and MIDI Sources as needed.
  • Full visual feedback of modulation via parameter animation and 'source flow'.
  • Linear phase mode for mastering applications.
  • Four interface size options and full-screen mode.
  • Carefully curated factory preset library for amp modeling, coloration, lo-fi degradation and FX.
  • All the usual FabFilter features you have 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 are either Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP (32-bit and 64-bit) and a VST 2/3 host or Pro Tools, or Mac OS X 10.8 or higher (64-bit only) with Intel processor, and an Audio Units host, VST 2/3 host, or Pro Tools.

{See video at top of page}

User Reviews Average user rating of 4.50 from 2 reviews Add A Review
Saturn 2

Reviewed By oskroskroskr [all]
January 16th, 2014
Version reviewed: 1.13 on Mac

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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Saturn 2

Reviewed By Sendy [all]
August 5th, 2012
Version reviewed: 1.01 on Windows

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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