Saturation is the heart and soul of analog recording and mixing—from the subtle soft clipping of a tube preamp, which adds warmth and pleasing harmonics to a drum or vocal part; to full-blown console distortion that makes a synth, bass or guitar part ‘sing’ in the mix.
Modeled directly from time-proven saturation chains at Abbey Road Studios, Abbey Road Saturator provides inspiring saturation and distortion unlike any other device. The plugin offers two versatile desk distortion flavors: the crunchy tube REDD sound, and the rounded solid-state TG12345 tone—with the sophisticated input, gain and output stages of both consoles calibrated to perfection by Abbey Road’s engineers.
But it doesn’t end here. Abbey Road engineers were known to experiment endlessly with the wealth of original EMI gear at their disposal—pushing the equipment to its limits and reaching “happy accidents.” Abbey Road Saturator captures the very happiest of such accidents.
In 1962, EMI Central Research Laboratories patented a tape noise reduction system called the TG12321—a “compander” that compresses on input (encoding) and expands on output (decoding).
The first generation of pop engineers at Abbey Road discovered that using the encode-only part of the process resulted in a beautiful high-frequency emphasis that added air and excitement and helped instruments cut through the mix: a secret weapon in the studio. Pioneering Abbey Road engineers, including Peter Bown and Geoff Emerick, were fans of using the TG12321 is this unusual way.
Abbey Road Saturator models the original TG12321 unit, feeding into the REDD or TG desks, for a one-of-a-kind excited saturation effect.
The plugin also gives you flexible control over the Compander’s crossover frequencies, allowing it to focus in on different ranges depending on the source material: lower settings will be at home on bass and kick drums, higher values will afford unmistakable shine to vocals. The added phase knob causes the saturation to work in parallel, dramatically altering the personality of the distortion harmonics.
Abbey Road Saturator also sports unique M/S processing, letting the distortion apply either in stereo or to the mid or sides separately. Activate this beast on drums, drive the centered kick and snare into beefy levels, and leave the sides (overheads and cymbals) clean and sparkling.
From subtle harmonic enhancement that helps any instrument poke through a mix, to powerful distortion effects that strip an instrument of its original character and create an entirely new beast—Abbey Road Saturator is a singular twist on what we know saturation and distortion plugins to be.