Distortion Module

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Fig 1.0 Distortion Module Diagram

The Distortion Module allows you to brighten up a signal using a variety of techniques, such as clipping, saturation, and wrapping.

Contents

Working with the Distortion Module

When to Use Distortion

Distortion can be used if you want to take a signal and make it sound brighter, low fidelity, or louder. While distortion can be used on any signal, it will often sound much better if the signal has a few strong harmonics or partials in it. If these harmonics are raised to a louder volume than the rest of the signal, then they will be subjected to more clipping, resulting in a more focused sound.

This is why it is often better to couple a distortion module with a series of filters or equalizers. The filters / equalizers can be placed both before and after the distortion module, and by manipulating their settings, you can achieve a sound which resembles that of a real world tube amplifier, or a guitarist's distortion pedal.

How to Use the Distortion Module

The AudioGL Distortion Module is a bit different than most distortion units, in that it allows you to introduce a variety of different distortion types into your signal simultaneously.

Many times, you will only require saturation, or perhaps clipping. The wrappers (Sawtooth, Triangle, Sine), on the other hand, have a very intense sound, and should only be used certain situations. An example usage of a wrapper would be to place it directly after an oscillator in your signal path, and to apply the 'distortion' parameter lightly. This will take the output of the oscillator, and morph it into an entirely different sound.

To introduce a type of distortion, simply raise the level of it's parameter (Clipper, Saturation, Quantization, Sawtooth, Triangle, Sine). When you lower the parameter level to '0', it will be turned off. By default, the Saturation parameter is turned up when you create a new distortion module.

The first three parameters of the Distortion Module (Gain, Distortion, Symmetry), are used to control the distortion types. All of the different distortion types will be affected equally by these three parameters. For example, when increasing the 'distortion' parameter, the saturator will become more intense, and the wrappers will generate higher frequencies.

By default, the 'symmetry' parameter is snapped to '0'. To move this parameter around, simply disable it's Y-Snap in the popup menu. This parameter can make some incredibly interesting noises, but they can be a bit unruly.

Connecting the Distortion Module

The Distortion Module provides two typical AudioGL audio connections, which follow typical audio connection rules.

The Distortion Module can be used in Feedback Loops, as described in the Connections article.

Parameters

Parameter Range Description
Gain
-39.5 to 24

This parameter controls the level of the incoming signal before it is distorted. Leave this parameter at a level of '0' if you want the level to remain unchanged. Increasing or decreasing the gain will affect the amount of distortion applied to the signal.

Distortion
0 to 1

This parameter controls how intense the distortion effect will be. This parameter is applied to all of the distortion types available in this module.

Symmetry
-0.92 to 0.92

This parameter will set the signal off-axis before it is distorted. The end result is a harsher overall sound.

By default, this parameter is locked to '0'. Simply disable the Y-Snap in the Parameter Mode popup menu, in order to use this parameter.

Clipper
0 to 1

This parameter controls the amount of 'clipper'-type distortion to be sent to the module's output.

With this type of distortion, signals will simply be clipped when they exceed a certain threshold level. This results in a relatively harsh, yet musical, sound.

Like all of the distortion types, lowering this parameter to a level of '0' will cause the distortion type to shut off. This can be used as a technique to conserve CPU.

Saturation
0 to 1

This parameter controls the amount of 'saturation'-type distortion to be sent to the module's output.

A saturator is designed to emulate the distortion found on analogue tape reels. When recording to magnetic tape, loud signals are managed in a much different way than they are in the digital realm. A digital system will simply clip the signal after a threshold is reached (see the 'clipper', above). Magnetic tape, when confronted with a loud signal, will reach a threshold where no more information can be recorded. The end result is a pleasing form of distortion, which is useful in a wide variety of applications.

Quantizer
0 to 1

This parameter controls the amount of 'quantizer'-type distortion to be sent to the module's output.

This distortion type is similar to that of a bitcrusher. Applying the quantizer will lower the sample rate of the signal.

Sawtooth
0 to 1

This parameter controls the amount of 'sawtooth'-type wrapping to be sent to the module's output.

This distortion type will create a sawtooth-wave signal. The frequency of the sawtooth signal will be determined by the amplitude of the incoming signal and the level of the 'distortion' parameter.

Triangle
0 to 1

This parameter controls the amount of 'triangle'-type wrapping to be sent to the module's output.

This distortion type will create a triangle-wave signal. The frequency of the sawtooth signal will be determined by the amplitude of the incoming signal and the level of the 'distortion' parameter.

Sine
0 to 1

This parameter controls the amount of 'sine'-type wrapping to be sent to the module's output.

This distortion type will create a sine-wave signal. The frequency of the sawtooth signal will be determined by the amplitude of the incoming signal and the level of the 'distortion' parameter.

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