Soundtoys Decapitator


Subtle to extreme hardware-modelled saturation – Mac/PC VST, AU, AAX

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When mixing in the digital realm, sometimes the extreme clarity of modern microphones, gear, and converters is actually so pristine that it’s a little too sterile. In those instances, we often most turn to analog hardware to solidify, fatten up, and otherwise warm up our mix elements. Many engineers consider their tape machines, tube compressors, amps, distortion rack units, pedals and similar effects to be their “secret weapons” when mixing. But having all of those items is expensive and impractical for many of us, especially those on a budget. Luckily, our friends at Soundtoys have delivered an intricate and impressive analog saturation plug-in with the Decapitator. Using several types of vintage and modern hardware, from consoles to preamps to tape machines and compressors, Soundtoys have meticulously modeled not just the overdriven warmth, but also the somewhat elusive “feel” and responsiveness of classic analog hardware. The versatility of the Decapitator will give the tracks in your mix the “push” they need – everything from more growling bass and fatter kick drums to more present drum mics and warmer keyboards.

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In Depth

At first glance, the Decapitator stands out from the competition by the amount of controls alone: it offers not only drive and output controls, but also a tone control knob and Low and High Cut knobs that can further define and shape the quality of the effect. These controls allow the user to tame and control any of the unpleasant frequencies that get over-emphasized by the saturation. There’s also an additional dry/wet mix knob that negates the need for a separate bus and can add body and fuzzy overdrive to the track while maintaining clarity. This is where this plug-in beats the competition… many of us here at have been frustrated by lesser saturation plug-ins that get lost in the mix, but that has never been an issue with this guy! It can always be tweaked just enough to solve any problems that would usually occur with this type of effect.

The Decapitator features five different modes, which are each modeled on different types of hardware. And just like running a signal through real analog gear, the main controls respond differently in each mode, which allows for tonal varieties that can be truly liberating to a mix engineer who doesn’t have access to the real-life hardware upon which these settings are based. This may seem like a subtle thing, but once you get used to using this plug-in, you’ll start to see the advantages of one type of saturation over another, and you’ll appreciate the effort that Soundtoys has put into emulating these types of hardware.

Push It
And let’s not forget the “Punish” button! This kicks the “drive” up tenfold and adds a ton of saturation to the track. This is where the name Decapitator becomes truly apt… it totally crushes! This takes saturation far into the distortion realm, but without any harsh effects. And anything too bright or boomy can be cut with the low and high cut knobs anyway, so you really won’t have to worry about overdoing it. Combined with the aforementioned controls and modes, the “Punish” button doubles the variety of sounds available and pushes everything to the extreme without sacrificing character or musicality (unless, of course, that’s the goal!). Pick it up today and fatten up your tracks with that magical analog tone.

Main Features:

  • Saturator Plug-in that expertly adds some analog warmth to any signal
  • Based off of several types of analog hardware – tape machines, pre-amps, delay effects, distortion rack units, and more, each type of saturation has its own button
  • Add a tasteful amount of saturation with the saturation, dry/wet mix, and output gain knobs
  • Low and High Cut EQ helps rein in distorted signals, with thump and steep switches further refining the EQ
  • “Punish” button kicks the gain up tenfold, adding tons of warm distortion
  • Controls change slightly depending on type of saturation


  • Drive Knob adds gain/saturation
  • Dry/Wet Mix Knob adjusts ration of clean and saturated signals
  • Low Cut knob decreases low end going in, and has additional “Thump” control to boost even further
  • Tone control adjusts overall EQ of signal from dark to bright
  • High Cut knob decreases high end after saturation, reining in unpleasant frequencies, and has additional “Steep” knob for further boost
  • Output gain control also includes “auto” switch for automatic gain compensation
  • Punish knob increases drive dramatically and essentially doubles the amount of settings

Current Version: 5.2.0
Plug-in Formats (both 32 and 64-bit):
• AAX Native, AAX AudioSuite, VST, and Audio Units (AU)
Supported Sample Rates:
• Minimum: 44.1 kHz, Maximum: 192 kHz

System Requirements:
• Operating systems: Mac OS X 10.8 or later; Windows 7 or later
• An internet connection is required at the time of activation.
Supported Hosts:
• Pro Tools (10.3.5 or later), Live, Cubase, Nuendo, Sonar, Logic, Digital Performer
• Click here to view our full list of compatible host applications.
Other Requirements:
• Free account.