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.
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.
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".
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.