Ways to Use Saturation in a Mix
There are multiple different ways you can use saturation, regardless of the type of saturation you choose. Some forms of saturation may be more suitable for specific sound sources than others, so experiment.
1. Make Your Basslines More Audible
Many basslines that have been synthesized are built off of a sine wave While this creates low-end that is big, full, and round, your bassline may lack upper harmonic content
The reason upper harmonics are important is that they can be heard on smaller playback devices like cell phones and laptops. Your brain is capable of using these upper harmonics to create a phantom fundamental frequency that may not be audible on the speakers you're listening to.
2. Make Your Drums More Aggressive
Saturation can be applied to individual drums, or drum busses, to make them sound more aggressive. The distortion a saturator applies can make your drums sound dirtier, and grittier, while the compression it applies can tame transient material.
One of the exciting side effects of applying saturation to elements in your mix is that it can increase perceived loudness without increasing signal level.
3. Thicken Specific Frequency Ranges
A multiband saturator, like FabFilter's Saturn, is capable of selectively, applying saturation to different frequency bands. You're able to thicken frequency ranges that you want to emphasize and draw more attention to.
Experiment with Saturn's different saturation algorithms, to find the one that suits the source material best.
4. Tame Top-End Harshness
Saturators allow you to tame top-end harshness and can come to the rescue when working with sizzling cymbals, vocals, and guitars.
It's often easier to deal with harshness using a saturator than it is using a multiband compressor or dynamic EQ. The distortion a saturator applies can mask piercing frequencies, which is a solution different than frequency attenuation.