Berzerk Dynamics section

Been getting familiar w/the Waves Berzerk distortion plugin and am trying to figure out how the Dynamics section works as far as the effect on the signal, using the 4 Dynamic/Rider combinations determines the way the sat/dist affects the overall result,appreciate any tips/feedback about this from people using it who already understand/use this section as part of their overall workflow approach along w/the other settings like Character/Drive/Density/Temperature…

It would seem that the Dynamic acts on signals below the Threshold while Dynamic effects signals going over the Threshold. The Up and Down switch basically extends on that functionality.

Up+Dynamic - Sounds that exceed the threshold will be distorted.
Up+Rider - Soft signals below the threshold will be distorted.
Down+Dynamic - Sounds above the threshold will be compressed, leading to distortion.
Down+Rider - Lower-level sounds are not compressed while sounds above the threshold are compressed. I’m thinking the distortion is still applied below the threshold though.

The best way to hear what they do is try out each setting with a Blend of 100%. A Blend of 0 effectively turns off the Dynamic Section.

A case where you might want to use the first example is to have the louder sounds distort more than the rest. This great at emulating a speaker that is pushed a little hard or broken.

The second setting might be useful if you want a distorted sound but would like to preserve your transients in some way. This is where a good balance with the Blend knob might pay off.

Compressing sounds above the the threshold is pretty much how compressors work in general. Sometimes it’s a good move to compress a signal before distorting, this option should make it easy. Push the Blend all the way to 100 if you want a clearer idea where to set the Threshold, then dial it back to taste.

If it works the way I think it does the last setting should work similar to the second, but with compression applied. So it might help to both preserve the transients, but also rein them in with the compression so they don’t get too out off control, I think.

Hope you find this helpful.


Hey Simon!!
Appreciate you continuing to help me get a sense of this stuff man…much thanks for taking the time to post this info,will be continuing to go over it along w/all the other stuff I’ve been checking out…been spending more time using the plugin lately so wanted to see if I could add working w/the Dynamics section to my overall workflow…

I think its definitely worth experimenting with for sure.

How I would approach it is to set up a regular distortion sound with no dynamics. I’d then bypass that plugin, duplicate it, and mess with one of the dynamic options on the copy using extreme settings so the effect is obvious.

Once you have a setting, I’d compare it with the original vanilla distortion and listen to how they are different. Maybe even playing with the settings and comparing again so you can hear the difference its making.

Then I’d basically repeat this process with the other dynamic settings. It might take you an hour or two, but you should be pretty much an expert after that point!! :wink:

Hey Simon!!

Again man much thanks for these ideas,greatly appreciated and will definitely be checking out what you’re suggesting…

You know being somewhat new to this stuff, what I’ve been doing is setting up the Voxengo Span spectrum analyzer display on a bus,routing a parallel distortion bus to it and looking at exactly where in the harmonic spectrum things are being affected by the different Berzerk settings used on a given instrument…

Based on this stuff,wonder to what extent you’re conceptualizing things here in terms of overall signal harmonic spectrum, it has both low and high dB level areas…like for the kick or bass you’d have an EQ curve where the subs/lows would be at the highest level,then things would slope down toward the higher frequencies,and this type of curve in reverse for the hi-hat or other higher pitched instruments…so along these lines,applying the different Dynamics section settings would allow you to get into specifying which parts of the signal harmonically are being affected…

Looking forward to hearing back about this stuff as your time permits and continuing to look at things…

To be honest I’m still experimenting with it myself.

Though, I have found the dynamics useful in isolating just how much the transients get distorted as opposed to the rest of the signal. As too much transient distortion can, well, ruin the dynamics and transients. But then there’s the opposite of that, sometimes I’ll want moderate distortion on the whole, but to have it really kick in on but transients so it sounds like an amp or speaker getting hit too hard.

All that can be biased towards the top end of the bottom end with the eq, or a seperate eq. Sometimes I like to push a specific frequency range into an eq, usually towards the high end, but then chase the distortion up with another eq to remove any “excess”. That way you can tailor the sound of the distortion anyway you like by over hyping certain frequencies, to get it to behave a different way.

However, I haven’t really messed with the Down mode yet as I always have a compressor inline, tailoring the dynamics to where I want it. I’m sure it will, yield slightly different results if I used the Down modes in Berzerk, I just haven’t tried them yet.

Hey Simon!!

Listen man really appreciate the continued discussion;
everything you get into gives me a lot of great insights into things,just being able to see how someone else views things is a real eye-opener/game-changer here…been copy-pasting everything you post and adding it to the info I have in my Berzerk email folder to study so again,whatever you feel like getting into man is a big plus here…

Really like this idea-
"I have found the dynamics useful in isolating just how much the transients get distorted as opposed to the rest of the signal"as I’m also working w/some great transient designers and so consequently thinking along these lines as well…

Also was very much into what you were talking about w/the EQ focus,so far just been using the internal SC filters but think I miight start working more w/the EQ section as well…

TBCH the tracks I use it on are already like individually EQ’d and sent into a group bus;been using a layering approach where I’ll duplicate the orig,set up maybe a lows/mids,and highs track,adjust the levels to see if I can get what I’m after,then the Berzerk goes on the bus to get more of the goal result…

As far as what you were talking about w/the Down mode,are you saying you have a compressor before the Berzerk in your FX chain so you’re only using the Dynamics section in an expander context here?

Actually, I was alluding to the fact that, like many others I use compressors quite a bit for sound sculpting. I have quite a few compressors that can choose from, depending on what character traits I’m after. I’m always careful not overdo it, though.

So there’s usually a compressor in the chain, often before I get to distorting things and adding other types of effects. I have yet to get around to doing some more out there and adventurous style of sound design though.

Understand now man thx…but still,if you have an already compressed(i.e.dynamic range reduced/leveled)signal going into the Berzerk,would this affect your choice as to whether you’d use either the Up/Down,Dynamic or Rider modes and if so,how?Would this depend on what you were going after and what would this be,tied to these options?i.e.if you wanted the softer parts of the signal to be the only thing the distortion was going to be affecting,you’d be looking at the Up/Rider option if I’m understanding things here…just like you’d do if you didn’t have the compressor before Berzerk in the FX chain…???

BTW while we’re looking at various tech stuff over here,although this isn’t a Waves plug-in,are you familiar w/the United Plugins Autoformer(would include the link but this is N/A over here for new members)?Trying to figure out how to set up the Balancer module on it,maybe you’re familiar w/the Waves versions of these kind of AI-based volume levelers i.e.Vocal Rider etcetc?

Well yeah, it affects me in the way where I’ve only been inclined to use Up and to try using Berserk before and after the compressor, see which one sounds better.

I don’t know Autoformer that well, but I think its like Preamp, Volume Rider, Compressor kind of deal. As a matter of fact, I do use Bass/Vocal Rider often enough, chained into a Compressor as well. I do use Preamps, but thats a case by case basis.

The thing with the Waves Rider plugins is they have a few more parameters to set than Balancer. Not to say that the Balancer module is inferior in anyway, in fact simpler is often better if it does the job well. Look at the famed LA-2A, it only has two knobs and is quite coveted.

What I’m actually inferring is that it has a Target and a Range level to set, among a few others. What I’m not seeing on the banaler is those two things. The Target acts like an ideal level that you want your track to follow, while the Range is the maximum boost and cut you want applied. I cant see a way to set this on the Balancer. I’m surpassing they have another solution for levelling, one that requires the Seer control which is a look ahead.

Perhaps the answer to exactly how it works is in the manual??

Hey Simon!!Hope everythings’ good on your end man…so if I’m understanding you,your approach w/the Dynamics is pretty much focused on setting up the signal w/an Expander-oriented approach and treating the dynamic-range reduced signal,along w/also reversing things where you’re putting the compressor after the plugin;if you use this second approach,would you also use the Dynamics in Berzerk?If so,what kind of workflow would you use for a signal that you’re going to be compressing afterards?

I got into setting up the Autoformer Balancer and found it was a lot more of a no-brainer than I’d originally anticipated,still have some tweaking to do but got some good results…

As far as what you mentioned,I also studied the Waves Volume Rider info and tried to see how the more advanced settings applied to the Balancer;however what I ended up doing is just looking at things in terms of the VU meter,seeing what I wanted to happen,and then adjusting the amount knob which levels out the dB level areas so they’re all in the same general area…thinking of messing more w/the Seer(Lookahead) as far as how this affects the ADSR…

I think the Seer control might do something similar to VocalRider’s Vocal sensitivity and Speed switch does, but does it in a different way.

In relation to your question though, if I place the compressor AFTER Berzerk, I still set the Berserk dynamics section the same, if I use it.

Generally I use it to tailor how the distortion is effecting the signal, while the compressor shapes and levels the over all sound. Where placing the compressor before feeds a more consistent level to the distortion, when its placed after, the distortion can end uo getting hit in an inconsistent way, which can be desirable if you want it sounding more raw and less “processed”.

Largely it’s an aesthetic thing.

Hey Simon!!
Very interesting man,again really appreciate all this info/feedback…you know I took advantage of the PA Soundwide Bundle giveaway a couple of months back so I now have the great BB HG-2 to use in addition to Waves Berzerk(actually also got the Kilohearts Bundle last month as well which also has a few options incl.Phase Distortion,plus picked up Dent2 recently which is an all-around sound design plugin getting into all the tech stuff you can do w/a waveform)…wonder if you’re familiar w/or work w/any of these and if so,what kind of workflow you use?

Yeah I actually do have Plugin Alliance plugins myself, including Dent 2 the HG-2. While I am aware of KIlohearts plugins I don’t have any myself, too many other plugins really.

That Dent looks a little simple on the surface, but has alot of flexibility and control. I put it somewhere between something like Berzerk and iZotope Trash. It’s a very good option for designing your own distortion to fit a specific purpose, it even has a Bitcrusher stage for lofi purposes.

I’ll use it if I’m trying to dial in a very specific sound I made hearing in a reference, or if a want a more “modern” distortion aesthetic over something vintage and “modelled”. Then there’s the shear chaotic elements you can introduce with the Probability and Modulation options. Definitely a good one for design. It should make a nice complimentary companion for Berzerk.

It pays to read the manual and/or watch a tutorial or two just so you can be aware of what the controls do and how they change the nature of the distortion.

Fortunately the MG-2 is more straight forward. I often like using it in mid-side mode. When I first dial it in I make sure the parameters are linked and get the ideal overall sound, then I’ll unlink it and refine it a little further. You can even solo the mid or side which will allow you to hear what you’re doing a bit more clearly. I’ll usually give the side a little nudge up with the output volume which helps to widen a signal. Too much and you loose power and focus in the centre, though.

Hey Simon!!

Listen man great to find out you’re also familiar w/the 2 PA plugins as well as Izotope Trash which coincidentally I have a download for too ,all three are part of a bunch of plugins I’ve yet to start working with but am familiarizing myself with so I can get into using them in some of my current mixes…consequently very interested in all the stuff you mentioned…

With Dent2,actually looking at it in the context of a lot of sound design stuff I got into last year when I installed the Arturia Analog Lab and began focusing in on the synths so I have a basic understanding of the various settings but TBCH anything you feel like posting about it would be great as I’ve been checking out some videos/Googling various concepts and still putting together a solid foundation to use to start working with it…

You know there’s a guy over on FB who really is an expert on all this kind of stuff,producer/composer named Greg Wariner,has his own group called Wariner Sound Design Corner who posts all kinds of great info/videos, been learning a lot from his stuff…recommend checking him out…

As far as the Black Box,just have the standard version without the M/S features but understood what you were talking about re-unlinking the Pentode/Triode modules,actually have a pretty good sense of how to work with it now after checking out a bunch of stuff but again anything you feel like getting into as far as your own workflow w/it would be appreciated,especially in terms of specific instruments/subgroup buses etc you use it on, whether you use it on the master bus as well etc(also be interested in this w/the Dent2)…

Trash 2 looks great as well and TBCH am just looking at all these plugins right now w/an eye to figuring out an overall approach to doing similar things sound design-wise,i.e.along w/the Kilohearts stuff I mentioned as well as having some Waves plugins and working with the Studio Rack which like the KH Snap Heap lets you set up FX chains,get into various M/S, multiband processing etcetc like you can w/the Trash 2 w/it’s multiband distortion…expect a year from now I’ll have an actual workflow in place for all this stuff like I do now w/the plugins/approaches I’ve already gotten into like working w/ the Berzerk…

I’ll try to remember to look into this Greg Wariner guy when I get the chance.

I have quite a few plugins, too many really. Depending on what I’m doing at the time I’ll generally audition between a few plugins to find the right aesthetic. Maybe I want vintage, maybe I want modern or maybe its something in between, whatever it is I’ll try to find the best tool for that given job. Distortion and saturation is really no different.

In the case of Trash and Dent you can kind of custom design the distortion to match what you need. So they’re great to use when you don’t really know what you want and you wish to experiment a little. They’re also good if you’re trying to match a sound to particular reference, providing you know how to use them well enough. I’m still developing in that area myself personally.

The downside is that they’re not as immediate and they can make for a slower workflow if you do things that way. This is where the other distortion plugins come in handy as you can just insert them, and be up and going without much tweaking. They just lack the extra flexibility. So there are advantages and disadvantages to working both ways.

Personally, I try to keep things as simple as I can for as long as I can.

Sometimes I might be aware upfront of any sounds that may need a little extra TLC or sound sculpting. So I’ll think ahead and use a more flexible plugin in that case. Though, I’ll try to dial in a simple enough sound initially with the intention of coming back to it later to deal with the the extra details after I have built the production/mix a bit more and I have more of a context to work with.

In the past I used to put alot of details into many things in the early stage only to end up changing it half a dozen times as things progress. Sometimes I’ve wasted alot of time on something only to end up dropping it from the final mix. This is why I do things more progressively now and wait until I have more of a context before I put extra detail in.

SO in part its why I don’t yet know Trash and Dent quote as well as I should as I’ve often opted to use something simpler that has the right aesthetic.

Hey Simon!!Hope everything’s’ good on your end man…again really have to thank you for taking the time to get into the details of your own workflow w/all this stuff;greatly appreciated…

Know exactly where you’re coming from as far as-

as I’ve been spending a lot of time lately focusing in on how producers who work 100% in the box w/loops/samples/one-shots/MIDI/VST’s do things where a lot of the stuff I’ve been dealing with is replaced by a much more streamlined,results-oriented process and while I’m not at this point completely about doing things along these lines,still looking at how I can incorporate as much of this kind of production approach as possible…

That said,actually at the stage w/one of my current projects where I’m going to be working w/sat/dist on a lot of individual instruments-hihats,keyboard etc so I just made a point of setting up this complete thread in my email folder for sat/dist and plan to spend some time going over everything we’ve been discussing,not just the original focus on the Berzerk Dynamics section settings but across the board and doing some copy-pasting of any/all sections where you went into something I want to be able to refer to so once again,really appreciate this ongoing discussion…

Like you mentioned,having a bunch of different plugin options for doing more-or-less the same thing means you have to have a developed sense of which to use for a given situation i.e.-

and since I’m a little less developed in my approach to this kind of stuff at this point,while I have the links to download Dent/Trash 2/Black Box,still just working w/the Waves Berzerk to really have a developed workflow w/it and a sense of how to get a given result;even though I’m aware that once I get into the others some of the stuff I’m trying to achieve sound design-wise will be a little easier given their various features,just want to be intuitively familiar w/how to use one before getting into possible “plugin overload” where instead of this,I have a vague idea of how to do things w/a bunch of them(also have the 2 Kilohearts distortion “snap-ins” installed-regular and phase distortion along w/their bitcrusher since I installed the whole Essentials Bundle package w/Snap Heap but haven’t gotten into them yet,however was working w/the bitcrusher in Arturia Analog Lab a little last week)…

Yeah Greg a great person to check out,makes a lot of invaluable info about sound design available on FB,lots of posts w/audio links,sample packs etcetc…

BTW are you into this kind of stuff like I mentioned i.e.Waves CR8/Cosmos and putting tracks together w/this ITB workflow?

I am definitely into working ITB as much as possible. I’m still refining my approach a little, but I like to try and keep things as non-destructive as possible. I’d rather freeze tracks than bounce them. That way, it makes it much easier too fix and conform a production based on the notes I get given.

Having said that, there are times you do want to drop in other samples or stretch, flip or manipulate what you already have in the time line, thats when I turn to bouncing just the bits I require. Dropping samples into a sampler like CR8 can give you added flexibility too, and I’m very much in favour of that approach too.

But yeah, it’s all very much a work in progress. To be honest, I think I’ll always be budding on and refining techniques until the end of days. As the moment you master one thing, there’s two more things that you really need to learn as well.