The Massey THC (Total Harmonic Corruption) plug- in is a no-nonsense analog-modeled distortion "stompbox." THC has the same familiar controls — drive, filter (tone), and level — that you'd find on your average overdrive or distortion pedal. But that's where the similarities end. THC really does sound like it's "corrupting" the signal — walking the line between digital clipping and something from a Van Halen album. I've used at least a dozen different distortion plug-ins, and this one is definitely a bit different. Let's get one thing out of the way; I'm not suggesting that you try any type of distortion plug-in in place of a tube amp, but there are plenty of other uses for such a handy little noise-maker.

On a parallel drum bus, THC delivers instant intensity. It's gritty and blown out, and the filter throttles the cymbals that typically become harsh when distorted. Particularly on room mics, this thing can get nasty, in a good way — and in a hurry. I recently was given a song to mix in which one of the guitar tones was flubby and weak, so I cranked up THC and blended it in to add some bite. As long as you're not shooting for a B.B. King tone, THC can come in handy. When used on vocals, THC renders them immediately ready for hip beer commercials, so long as you add some slap back. However, of all of the scenarios that I tried, my favorite was adding THC to reverbs and delays to make them less digital and soft sounding. Even turning up the drive 5-10% and then low-pass filtering down to 5 kHz can make your generic "Hall 1" preset sound useful. For instance, on a recent mix, I was having trouble making a slap-delay plug-in sit in a track that was dark and mid- heavy, but THC provided some overdrive and helped to bring the delay onto the same plane as the dirty vocal track. It's also important to note that if you're using AAX plug-ins, THC features a wet/dry knob for even more flexibility.

All of these scenarios involve using THC as a mixing tool, but if you find yourself doing lots of ear- candy production, distorting intros or breakdowns, or are just looking to upgrade from using amp- simulators to dirty up your tracks, download the demo of THC and try it out for yourself.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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