Clippers can make elements of your mix edgier and more aggressive sounding without adding complex processing to any given track.
Tools like JST Clip are developed to clip the peaks of your audio in a more natural and pleasant-sounding way than traditional digital clipping does. At the same time, there’s an important distinction between compressors and clippers, as a standard compressor isn’t as likely to deliver an aggressive sound as a dedicated clipper.
In the case of JST Clip – the controls have been drastically simplified to what you need to control in a clipper plugin. The end result is harmonic saturation and dynamic control ready to find a home in any professional mix.
Here are 5 ways we’re using JST Clip to change how we mix:
1. Clipping Our Snare
By adding JST Clip to a snare track, we’re able to make our snare pop out of the mix – even if it’s already close to peaking. By clipping the transient peaks, we’re able to increase the perceived loudness of the snare without harsh digital clipping.
For even more aggressive processing, try stacking a few clipper instances on the track.
2. Clip Vocals For Presence
To increase the presence of your vocal in a mix, you’ve got plenty of options. But if you’re looking for a quick way to make your vocal jump out, reaching for a clipper is a great way to get there.
By clipping your vocals, you’re adding much desired saturation to the track.
This technique can also effectively warm up a bland vocal if you’re working with a less-than-ideal preamp on the way into your DAW.
If your interface supports low-latency processing, adding a clipper to your vocal track during recording can be a great confidence boost for a singer. By clipping their vocal, you’re adding some aggression and bite that could put them in the mindset to deliver their best performance possible.
3. Thrash Your Toms
The toms in a drum mix are always hit or miss in tracking sessions. You sometimes get engineers that focus on dialing in each tom independently, checking the phase between them, and making the slightest changes to mic placement to get the perfect tom sound.
On the other hand, you have the engineers that barely touch their tom mics in favor of overheads. Some engineers will flat out admit that there aren’t enough tom fills in a given song to justify the time it takes to dial them in perfectly.
All in all, your job in the mix is to make the best of these toms, even if there’s only a split-second fill coming out of a bridge.
Clipping can be a quick solution for underwhelming tom recordings. By adding a clipper, you can bring out the attack and body. If you take advantage of the Mix knob, you can even bring some of the original tone back in for a more natural result.
4. Bus Processing
Who says you need to limit your clipping to just individual tracks?
Some of the best clipping results can come from bus processing, especially on drum or vocal subgroups.
By routing your busses through a clipper, you’re able to get unique results that can’t be found on individual tracks. The plugin ends up getting triggered by peaks as a group, meaning anything that crosses the threshold (even if it’s the combination of multiple instruments) will create saturation on everything in the group.
You can imagine this processing can get convoluted and busy if you have too much routed to a bus, but there aren’t any rules in music. Try JST Clip out on a few of your busses in your next mix and make your own decision on where it works and where it doesn’t.
5. Special Effects
Nobody said clipping has to be limited to music. Things like gunshots that have especially high SPLs have to be recorded with special microphones. Unfortunately, their dynamism excludes them from a lot of audio processing techniques for fear of increased noise floor.
Clipping is a tool that can be used to tame things like blasts to bring them down to a level that’s easier to process.
Furthermore, clipping can be used to sweeten or enhance the natural aggression of a special effect. It can be just what you need to make your special effect samples stand out from the competition.