The Christmas gifts keep coming. On top of an excellent free NI delay, a free clap plug-in, and a free retro-inspired Max for Live drum machine, now you can add a free saturation effect – anywhere.

Softube are making, simply put, some of the best amp and saturation models anywhere. I’m routinely using their stuff, as I’m sure many of you are, in Ableton and Propellerhead releases on top of dedicated Universal Audio UAD plug-ins.


But having the convenience of a single saturation effect, with adjustable parameters, means you can create custom effect chains quickly. Toss some saturation on just one drum part in a drum rack, for instance, or sauce up a bassline. The funny thing about paid commercial products is that, sometimes, they’re more complex than you need. Here, Softube’s given us something simple that might get a whole lot of use.

And it’s compatible with more or less everything. Previously available to PreSonus and Avid customers, you can now run Saturation Knob as a VST, VST3, Audio Units, RTAS, AAX Native, or AAX DSP on OS X or Windows. See the download page, select your platform, and go. Installation is a breeze; you don’t need an iLok or anything like that. I was surprised that I didn’t have to give up my email address.

So, what’s the catch? Well, you get a big installer with all the Softube plug-ins. But select just the Saturation Knob, (and any other demos or tools you own, if you want them), and you’re fine. The trick: On OS X, if you don’t use these other Softube plug-ins, after you’ve set up this plug-in just delete the program in your Applications folder called “Softube Plug-Ins Control (VST AU AAX).app” – the extra plug-ins (1 GB of them) are all inside that app. On Windows, they’re stored inside Program Files inside a folder called Softube (basically, the same arrangement, but bundled in a folder rather than in an app).

The Saturation Knob is also available as a free Propellerhead Reason Rack Extension. There’s a nice way of dealing with customers who already bought it, too – send in your receipt and they’ll give you a voucher to grab something else from the Props shop.

Reason is arguably one of the best platforms in which to run this, as you can freely route input and output and toss some saturation in a custom chain. The tutorial accordingly lives inside Reason, though the tips here are applicable to other hosts, too.

Speaking of Reason, if you’re a Reason fan you might want to check out some of the latest Softube offerings – the companies have been collaborating a lot. (Softube is a short train commute from Propellerheads’ Stockholm offices, in Sweden.) That includes gems like the just-announced tube rack for Reason, as recently spotted by our friends at Synthtopia.

And Softube, among other makers, is now 50% off in the Rack Extensions shop for December. In other words, this month is a great time to build up your virtual studio if you’re a fan of that ecosystem. Have at it: