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There are lots of saturation plugins out there on the market today that promise to add analog warmth, dynamics, and tone to your tracks. Most of these are emulations of tape machines, cassette players, tube preamps, speakers, and other aged equipment, all with various controls for wow and flutter, triode/pentode operation, etc. The ultimate aim of these saturators is to make vocal and instrument tracks sound more “vintage” by adding a bit of pleasant dirt and low-end to the mix. What if all of that could happen in a single-knob interface? That is the goal of the plugin I’m reviewing today, Audified VocalMint Saturator. Let’s see how this one knob stacks up against the competition.
Audified VocalMint Saturator has a monochromatic medium-gray look with a touch of shadow on its one knob. Around the volume knob is a cyan line that shows the current saturation level. Behind the Audified logo is a menu with zoom controls, a settings menu, and a bell icon to show notifications from the developer. Simple, elegant, and functional.
You wouldn’t think there would be a whole lot of features to discuss with a one-knob plugin, and you’d be mostly right. VocalMint Saturator has one big knob that controls (surprise!) the amount of saturation. There is also a zoom control, which was nice since the default size was a bit tiny for my aging eyes.
One feature that I was very pleased to see was a calibration control for setting the plugin’s “sweet spot.” This allows you to set the analog zero, which affects how much breakup is in the saturation at different settings. The calibration control ranges from -24db to 0dB and defaults to -9dB. This feature is also in Audified ToneSpot Voice Pro, which I reviewed a few months back.
One function that isn’t in VocalMint that I would have liked is the ability to save presets for later use. Though it only has one knob and the calibration control, I would like to be able to quickly recall settings that worked on other tracks, but unfortunately don’t have the option with this plugin.
I tried out VocalMint Saturator in a number of use cases, including vocals, acoustic guitar, electric bass, and drums. All of these resulted in a pleasant saturation that went from just a touch to gritty and hyped in the bass frequencies. For each use, there was a sweet spot that I could easily find on the dial. When adjusting the big knob, however, a little goes a long way, and I found myself wanting to save presets to use later.
The application where VocalMint stood out above all the others was when I used it for plain speech. I recorded a sample, then as I played it back I adjusted the knob until my voice, which isn’t all that unpleasant to begin with, became downright attractive. Setting it at about 70% gave me a clear, present bass and lower-midrange as well as an extremely pleasant but not overpowering breakup in the upper-mids. I instantly wished I had something more important to say.
As I worked with different sources, I found myself wanting to use the calibration quite a bit – probably far more than the developer anticipated. I would have really appreciated having a calibration knob so I wouldn’t need to repeatedly dig into the menu to adjust it. Of course, that would take away from the one-knob motif, but there are plenty of two-knob plugins out there as well, right?
Hear it in Action
I recorded two samples of Audified VocalMint Saturator in action, and also included dry samples for comparison. First up, here’s VocalMint when used for plain speech:
Next, here’s VocalMint on a male vocal track:
Audified VocalMint Saturator Review – The Bottom Line
In terms of value, Audified VocalMint Saturator is priced comparably to saturation plugins from a number of other developers. VocalMint is decidedly a unique animal among the competition and offers a different twist on saturation. That, paired with the variety of use cases I found, means that its retail price is totally fair in my opinion.
When I saw that Audified’s new VocalMint Saturator was a one-knob plugin, I expected to be underwhelmed by a dearth of control. That was definitely not the case, as that one knob, especially when paired with the calibration feature, has a wide range of uses. I feel like having VocalMint Saturator in my toolbox will expand my tonal possibilities, and I look forward to using it in my next mix. I give Audified VocalMint Saturator 4.5 out of 5 stars and my recommendation for podcasters, voiceover artists, and musicians alike.
Clever one-knob saturation solution ideal for spoken word, as well as acoustic guitar, vocals, bass, and drums.