modeling the distortion in Thrillseeker VBL

It’s so important to get the non-linear modeling right if we would like to have a sort of analog feel in the digital domain. I can’t stress this ever enough since it still seems to be a common practise in todays audio plug-in design to just throw in a static waveshaper, oversample it and hope this will make everything alright. Not! Even worse, in a recently released plug-in I saw the static waveshapers curve not being continuous again and I’m not going to talk about the sound.

But what should one expect to hear if the analog modeling is just done right? Only by driving the gain of the unit but way before we notice the obvious distortions there appear different by-products caused by circuit side-effects. Depending on the actual device, circuit and components, it might be that the signal starts just getting thicker and more mid-focused, as an example. Or, the signal might appear much deeper and bigger in other cases.

Whatever it might be in particular, I do call this the “Mojo” of the device – it’s not the primary intention of the device but turns out to be a sort of an added sugar. Such effects are highly frequency, transient and gain structure dependent and this is what makes the processed signal to be much more vibrant and alive. Furthermore, the obvious harmonic distortions are not introduced abruptly but they emerge gradually.


  1. Well, in the beginning I imagine they would have designed and manufactured units to be as ‘clean’ as possible. But they were up against it and artifacts slipped through. All good. Today in the digital domain, it still seems to be early days for the kind of modeling of the side effects that were inherent in those earlier ‘systems’. And still the punters want ‘transparent’ along with ‘mojo’. 😉

    I tend to use more of the Dynamics range of Bootsy plugins as opposed to EQ or Saturators, though obviously the line does blur. What they do, for me, when they work well, is subtle, but I wouldn’t want to put a name on it. ‘Mojo’ works for me, and the Bootsy plugins certainly have that already. So I’m really looking forward to this one.

    • And have you ever heard the stereo image of the NSEQ?

      • That wider stereo might be the delay between the signals or something like that, if you wanted mojo you could perhaps add different thd to mid/side signal or introduce some subtle delay to side signal in parallel or something like that. :p

  2. >> “it still seems to be a common practise in todays audio plug-in design to just throw in a static waveshaper, oversample it and hope this will make everything alright”
    What specific plugins did you mention (if it’s not a top secret)?

  3. Cant wait to hear it!

  4. Screenshots! We want GUI screenshots!!

  5. Interesting read, as usual !

    Could you just say a recent plugin released by which manufacturer ?

  6. PASCAL Philippe says:

    Before looking at what methods most devs use to create distortion, i was expecting some kind of “voodoo”, like randomness on multiple stages, capacitive memory like real caps and more.
    I was totally blown away when i realized most devs use static waveshaping stages with lookup tables (meaning : fixed values, not real time calculated) to ease CPU.
    Of course, some devs replaced lookup tables by real computing, but it changed nearly nothing. It eats up CPU but still sound “static”.

    Saturation is the most spread sound treatment (included in virtual EQs, compressors…not only saturators/distortions) but still less than ideal. Thanks to static treatment in most of them 😀

    For now, my only two loves in the mixing plugin world are VOS and Nebula 😉
    Because “they are ALIVE !”

  7. Can’t wait to try out the VBL! How’s it coming?

  8. tbh i really dont care how long it takes. you sir, are the man….thank you for everything.


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