Who uses a 'crush' or 'smash' bus track? What plugin?

I’ve been experimenting with sending sterile clean perfectly groomed church choir singers into a nasty ass distortion plugin like the SoundToys Devil-Loc deluxe, Empirical Labs Distressor, or Slate Monster.

Instead of trying to tune the return, I just leave it on a bus with an EQ before, and an EQ after, and use my aux sends to roll the source into it.

Kick drum -> 2 bus
Snare drum -> 2 bus
Overheads -> 2bus
Choir -> 2 bus

Kickdrum aux send -> Crush bus (fader stays at unity) -> 2 bus
Snaredrum aux send -> same
Overheads aux send -> same
Choir aux send -> same

I realized that once you have some basic EQ on that crush bus, it doesn’t give a rip what you throw at it, so it can actually be counter-productive to set up a dedicated parallel crush track for every individual source. This is also better (for me) than instating 10 instances of a DevilLoc on every single instrument then using the wet/dry because this thing generates noise cumulatively like the tape saturation and summing sims. Its just a hell of a lot easier for me at the end of the day, to balance one source fader + an aux send to one plugin, than to manage 10 of them.

What plugin do you guys use to smash the hell out of stuff?

I have been using the manic compressor by boz digital but i don’t know that i am getting the distortion that you are looking for. It has been a while since i have done any mixing though so i can’t remember.


UAD Fatso

Waves CLA 1176 but will try UAD or NI 1176 and Cubase 9 1176 ALL Buttons in.

Same here (surprise surprise).

If I want to use it as distortion, I’ll just bring the attack and release down to 0, or very near zero for a lighter distortion. Then EQ and blend to taste.

I would actually prefer to have a plugin with 3 parallel paths. One for compression, 2 for distortion. All 3 paths would have pre and post EQ.


Cool. Hey all 5 of you - @bozmillar, @SoundCandy, @AJ113, @ColdRoomStudio, @redworks what else do you guys do before and after the compressor?

Andrew, are you using all 3 buttons in, with the warmth ramped up to 7? How hard are you hitting it?

Aj, that’s a really interesting choice. I wouldn’t have thought of using a relatively clean comp for this. Are you using it in limiter mode?

Boz, I was don’t have a copy of the manic yet…I was thinking about the features in it, and possibly running a multi-band saturation plugin either before or after it. One of the things that makes a Distressor great for a crush track is the distortion is already parallel with a blend knob, and it has also has a built in side chain EQ.

Chris, interesting you mention the 1176. I grabbed the Slate VMR to try the Slate version to see what it sounded like, then remembered he doesn’t give you an all buttons in option haha. So I grabbed the Monster, since it’s a full nuker 1176 style compressor, in permanent all button mode. But its more extreme. It worked well.

I haven’t spent enough time experimenting with the crush track in depth to know what works best for myself yet. I’ll probably end up throwing 3 different chains on the same aux track, then using the console to activate/deactivate them quickly to do side-by side comparisons. Cool stuff guys.

Well, I don’t use it in the way you describe in the OP, I don’t use sends, everything is inserted. You asked what limiter we use so I replied. As far as I am aware Elephant has no mode other than ‘smash the crap’. It’s marketed as transparent and I guess it is if you don’t go crazy but like anything else, turn it up to 11 and you’ll get your distortion. Especially good on bass guitars and vocals. I don’t usually parallel either, I think it’s overrated as a technique.


I explained it here, with some audio examples:

I assume you mean limiter?

EQ (31 band graphic)
Mild compression
Reverb glue (sometimes)

UAD one does an All buttons in by “Shift Click” :slight_smile: The NI has an All buttons too.

On my Stereo Crush on that channel im not doing anything else to it. Sounds Great.

If I want compression, it’s normally UBK-1, Molot, Waves SSL Channel (now that I have it for $29 or whatever it was), or ReaComp. It kind of depends on what I’m going for. Sometimes I need an over-accentuated transient and sometimes I need something to lift the low-level stuff. Sometimes it’s both so I’ll set up a couple different busses and blend them.

If I want distortion/clipping, it’ll be one of the UBK Omega Plugins, UBK-1’s saturation section, Melda’s MLimiter, Softube Saturation Knob, or one of Reaper’s saturation plugs.

I’ll often EQ some top out before the distortion/compression. I’ll also try to pre-EQ out some resonances the distortion or compression brings up.

One thing that’s yielded some good results for me has been using a transient designer in harmony with my processing on these busses. If I’m trying to bring up the low-level stuff, I’ll decrease the transients a little and lift the sustain a little before hitting my compressor/distortion/clipping. If I want to accentuate the transient and smack, I’ll go through the compression then add a transient designer with increased attack after it.