Brainworx bx_saturator is a mid and side saturator that allows for separate adjustment of distortion in the center and sides of the mix. A lot of control is packed into this compact plugin and there’s plenty of power in it to, interestingly enough, cleanly increase how loud the mix is perceived to be without clipping, as well as do harsher things, if intended.
bx_saturator V2 includes your typical bypass, undo/redo, and A/B/C/D snapshots. The different sections can be automated as well for changes throughout a song. Below this toolbar lies the master section, for controlling the overall XL (how much distortion is added) of each of the broken down sections, as well as the overall Drive (how much the signal is distorted). This keeps the ratios of the individual XL/Drive controls consistent, so these can be changed for overall mix adjustments. An XL Active button can be engaged/disengaged from here, as well as Auto Soloing can be enabled or disabled.
The main focus of the plugin is the individual controls for a high and low end of both the mid and sides of a stereo signal (keep in mind that this plugin can be run as a mono plugin as well, but that doesn’t take advantage of the middle and side processing that the plugin offers!). The auto solo function is fantastic for setting the plugins parameters to taste quickly. The section that you are working on will be auto soloed so you can hear your adjustments alone, while the auto solo function is engaged in the master section. A pre/post gain, a drive (with a few different modes) and XL control is available in each section.
The different drive compensation modes will keep the levels from varying greatly and should be toyed with for what sounds best to your ear. From my own experimentation, the material you’re working with may call for a different mode. In the center of the plugin is crossover frequency faders – from here you can control at which point hi and low switch over for the mid and side separately. A cool addition to the plugin is the Mono-Maker control. This will make lower frequencies mono at the point chosen by the user.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much bx_saturator V2 could add to a mix when used appropriately. After applying it to the master fader, I made some slight increases to the XL controls, and right away things started popping out in the mix. The mix I was working on suffered from a weak snare with not enough body, and just adding a touch of the XL and drive to the mid low gave it much more power, and gave the bass an extra kick as well. The key to saturation is knowing when enough is enough and not going overboard. If you’re looking to go dark and gritty, you could do this as well! Every application can call for different settings.
Adding the plugin to individual elements to a mix was great to experiment with as well. A vocal having trouble punching through a already busy mix got a boost with a bit of hi end saturation and let it sit on top of the supporting instruments where it should be. With so many options for use, it’s easy to add this to your collection of key plugins for sweetening up a final mix or gritting up individual instruments. Use with taste!