TL;DW: Hardware-style bit and resolution crusher, like really old sampler.


Just like last week, when I added a compressor to a big pile of free compressors, this week I’m adding a bitcrusher to a growing pile of free bitcrushers.

Just like last week, there’s a little more to it than that.

I’m updating-in-place DeRez, simply to change the labels on the controls (there’s also a tweak with denormalization code, but that’s because people asked for it to gate to silence at low bit depths and that isn’t actually how you gate a bitcrusher to low bit depths: I demonstrate in the video for BitGlitter). The controls needed to be Rate and Rez, not Freq and Reso, because it’s not a filter and Reso is supposed to stand for Resolution, not Resonance. DeRez is the simpler, purer bit and frequency crusher, and is still the best ‘analog setting’ bitcrusher (because it lets you use floating-point or fractional frequency and bit crushes). It’s a very pure example of those things and you can make it gate with a touch of DC offset from DC Voltage, and it’s even got a touch of grit softening when it frequency crushes to improve its tone.

BitGlitter, however, isn’t DeRez. BitGlitter’s something a lot more sophisticated: a kind of sampler emulator. At every stage it’s designed not for bitcrush alone, but to get the particular tonalities you can get out of primitive old samplers. An earlier attempt intentionally went after the old Akai sound, but currently BitGlitter has no specific model. It’s just there to dial in a kind of punchy grit that will make beats sit well against other elements: the video demonstates this.

Now, I know there are people who get mad when I make plugins like these. They say, ‘stop making the sound worse!’ and I understand what they mean, but sorry, I won’t stop because I know there are elements to certain ‘bad’ sounds that aren’t just ‘bad’ but usefully different. BitGlitter maximizes this as much as I can, and might be the go-to textural element for this sort of thing if generic bitcrushing etc. just never works for you. And then for some people I think it’ll immediately be their best friend, but I don’t need to explain to that crew what this is. For those who aren’t used to ‘crappy old sampler’ magic…

First, BitGlitter’s got gain trim going into a stage of Spiral analog-style saturation. You can overdrive the input effectively. Then, it does a hint of bitcrushing and splits into two separate frequency crushers, each set slightly different. This isn’t ‘accurate’ to any real retro sampler, but it helps broaden the sound. The output of these are blended and given an output gain and a dry/wet in case you need to sneak a little clarity back in there, and a slight averaging blur is added to the blend to further emulate analog circuitry.

The result is a coarser, more opaque sound which still lacks modern digital ‘edge’: you can plainly see on a metering plugin like Voxengo SPAN how the highs are softened. It’s not a digital bright-maker, it’s a texture-changer and impact-maker. Especially if you go for darker regions of the Bit Glitter control, you can use this to add ridiculous amounts of midrange punch in that ‘retro hip-hop’ kind of way. There’s a visceralness and aliveness to the grunge because it’s made by an algorithm to act like analog gear might: you won’t get the same result out of just a pile of typical DAW bitcrush and EQ. BitGlitter will do the extreme damage you might be looking for, but it’ll do it with a personality that contributes instead of detracts.

If you like me doing this sort of thing, and especially if you’re using one or more of my free plugins so much that you’d have bought one if they were being sold at $50 a plugin, you can support my Patreon. I can keep doing this stuff thanks to the Patreon. It’s been kind of rough over the last couple years but I think I’m up to the point where I’m sure I’ll continue to live and do this work: not that I can have health care or anything, but I’m pretty careful and plugins aren’t usually dangerous, so with a bit of luck I’ll be okay. Sometimes I can even go places and do things, if I try and cut down on things like food! Also, existing on a bit over $1000 a month keeps me in touch with the 2018 musician lifestyle :D and the great thing about Patreon is it’s more stable than operating as a commercial business was. For that I thank my patrons <3