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Logic Pro X Quick Tips Using Clip Distortion

Logic Pro X Quick Tips Using Clip Distortion

Using the Clip Distortion plugin in Logic Pro X is a great way to add dirt and attitude to your mixes and track.  Mastering In Logic gets dirty with this great often underused plugin!

There’s two parts to this here’s Part 1!

Here’s Part 2!

If you’d like to read the transcript from the videos you can find it below!

Logic Pro X 

Quick Tips – Clip Distortion

Welcome to’s quick tips.  No nonsense random tips that I think you might find useful? Maybe.

Have you ever wondered how producers and mixing engineers get depth and space in their tracks?  Distortion used in the right way can add something to almost any source.

We all know it sounds great on guitars but it can be applied to pretty much anything, drums, bass, keys, vocals, strings you name it.  So in this LPXQT I’m going to talk about Logic’s Clip Distortion plugin, how to use it, how to apply it and how to get great results from it.

Plugin In Brief

In a nutshell this plugin does one thing, it adds distortion by clipping the signal with the drive dial.  The more you increase the drive the more distortion.

You have an Input and Output to balance the audio signal. A high and low pass filter which filters the distortion, a Symmetry slider which essentially changes the characteristic of the distortion, a mix dial which blends the original and processed signal and after the mix dial there’s a basic EQ section which consists of a LP filter and High Shelf which can be boosted or attenuated.

So that’s the dials done let’s talk about how we use it.

It’s important to understand the signal flow.

The signal is split in two.  The unprocessed signal runs straight to the mix dial and the processed signal goes through the drive dial, on to the filter and symmetry section and then to the mix dial where you blend the signals and process both together if you need to with the EQ section.

This is important to understand especially when you use the mix dial to blend the original and processed signals because if you filter out too much of the top end with the LP Filter dial you’ll be filtering out the top end of the original signal too and you might not want to do that, say if you were processing an entire drum loop.

So the filter section in the middle of the plugin where the graphic display is is where you filter and shape the distortion the amount of which is set by the drive dial.

Got it?  Ok good!

How to add subtle depth to drums with the bus

So the first thing I want to show you is Clip Distortion to enhance a drum bus or entire drum kit.

I’ve loaded drummer and stuck with the first preset and loop.  The loop isn’t important what is the end sound.

Noticed I’ve used a send, the reason is I want to make use of the EQ section but not filter the original drum sound.  If I placed the plugin on the insert and drop the LP Filter to 1kHz I’ll lose the top end.

Yes I could use the mix dial but I’d still be filtering the original drum sound if it was placed on an insert.

Let me show you what I mean.

I want to add some upper-mid range depth and get the drums to be a bit more punchy.  I’m going to really dial in the Drive, filter the top and bottom of the drive signal and use the symmetry slider to find the harmonics that will create a bump in the mid and upper-mid range and give the loop a bit more life.  Finally I’ll blend the plugin back in with the send dial.

Notice there’s more energy and it’s a bit more gritty and animated.  Because I’ve gone crazy with the drive the bus dial is really low.  The idea here is to add a tiny blend that will be enough to add to the sound.  You don’t really notice it’s there but you definitely notice it when it’s not there.

How to add harmonics to bass

For the bass I want to enhance the top end by adding some harmonic distortion and then boost it with the shelf from 11k up.

I’ve placed this one directly on the insert and mixed it low; I’m not losing the original bass so having it on the insert is just fine.

When solo’d it will sound a bit much but combined with all the instruments it will blend perfectly.  Trust me!

For the Tone and Clip Filter I’ve removed the low end and left the top in tact because that’s the area I want to agitate with distortion.

To get the right harmonic distortion I simply moved the symmetry slider until I found the sound I wanted.  I was aiming for something gritty and hard and found it around –10%.

Thickening the Keys

For the keys I want to thicken the sound with Clip Distortion in the low-mids.  For this one placing the plug on the insert didn’t work I couldn’t blend the sound properly.  Turning the mix dial up pushed the original signal too far back in the mix therefore a bus send worked much better.

Let me show you what I mean with the plugin on the insert.

To help bring out the low-mid warmth I dialled in quite a lot of drive moved the symmetry slider around until I found a warm harmonic distortion and then used the Tone and Clip filters to filter out the low and high frequencies.

This gives a much fatter sound without getting in the way of other tracks.  Because it’s on a send it can be blended to taste without losing the punch of the original transients.

Let’s A/B the part and then hear it with the whole mix.

How to create movement with Clip Distortion

So for this sound I’m going to create some mid-range distortion and movement by automating the filter and symmetry section.  This will do two things the mid-range boost will fill out the mix and the automation will help to keep the part evolving over time.

All I’m going to do is automate the slider with Latch and Touch to change the distortion characteristic and then tease up the Clip filter to brighten the part every now and then.

Because automating the symmetry and filter controls it causes unwanted volume changes so I’m going to add a compressor to hold the part in place.  I’ve set the compressor so it’s constantly compressing the signal and moving with the part.

The Final mix sound

Understanding how to get the most out of your plugins is key to creative, full and balanced mixes.

I hope this has given you food for thought in adding some Clip Distortion to your own mixes and that you create some great sounding music taking these ideas and making them your own!

Happy mixing and mastering!


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