This article will discuss the best clipper plugins that you can use to achieve crisp and square wave-like sound.
Clipper, as an effect, has a very distinct flavor, and each Clipper plugin has different sonic characteristics. Whether you’re trying to achieve crunchy guitars, gritty vocals, fuzzy bass lines, or hard-hitting drums, the clipper can help you achieve that high-frequency aggression.
Clipper adds harsher and edgier harmonics by clipping the sound at a particular threshold. The higher the volume you input, the fuzzier/more distorted/clipped output you get. However, you can also apply it subtly and achieve rounder and warmer clipping effects.
Now, let’s discuss the different clipper plugins and the tonal coloration they offer.
5 Best Clipper Plugins For Crisp Sound 2023
Plugin Boutique DualClip
DualClip is a multi-band soft clipper and single-band hard clipper plugin.
The soft clipper in DualClip emulates warm, full sounds reminiscent of analog-style saturation, while the hard clipper is for a more aggressive, bit crusher-style distortion. In terms of interface, the plugin has a common “ceiling” slider, a waveform display, and two tabs: Soft Clip and Hard Clip.
If you want a crisp sound from this plugin, you must make use of the Curve knob to drive the effect more towards high frequencies and utilize the “Bright” option in color options.
Features & Benefits:
- With DualClip, you can do detailed customizations with its wide range of parameters. The soft clip tab consists of parameters like Drive, Curve, Smooth, and Mix. The hard clip tab, on the other hand, has Crush, Breach, Soften, and Mix knobs.
- You can access these controls to create interesting clipping flavors that best suit your sounds. For example, for drum effects, you can use the Breach knob (in Hard) to protect the transients of your input. Similarly, you can use the Curve knob to make the Soft Clipper low or high-frequency heavy, and the Smooth knob will increase the release time of the effect.
- You can have a lot of Tonal varieties with the plugin and tailor your sound with four coloration options: warm, clean, bright, etc. You can also clean transients with four transient modes in low, mid, or high frequencies. That gives you tonal flexibility to color your drums, guitars, synths, bass, etc.
- DualClip offers real-time waveform and metering/gain reduction displays, allowing immediate visualization of audio changes during clipping.
- With 75 presets the plugins offer you a good starting point and inspiration for different tones. You can simply check different presets on your sound, choose whichever tone you prefer, and then customize it as per your taste.
- You can also keep your signal in check using the built-in brick wall limiter at the end of the chain. You can also adjust the input and output levels and set the ceiling to have more control over your decibels.
DualClip is available in AU, VST, AAX, VST3, and Standalone plugin formats and is compatible with Windows 7 and above and Mac 10.14 or later operating systems.
Schwabe Digital Gold Clip
Gold Clip is a multifunctional tool, encompassing various roles—a clipper, a saturator, a compressor, a tape effect, and linear phase EQ.
It also serves as a parallel effects processor capable of creating both restrained cleanliness and intense, aggressive distortion. Its core clipping algorithms, derived from two famous mastering hardware units, that integrate waveform shaping alongside oversampling to deliver a pristine, natural sound devoid of aliasing artifacts.
Additionally, Gold Clip incorporates harmonically rich loudness saturation algorithms and a distinctive mid- and high-frequency peak shaper, working with the clipping to produce various styles of tonal effects. However, the plugin is priced at about $250, considered high-end in the audio world!
Features & Benefits:
- The clipper button in the plugin offers three distinct settings: Modern, Classic, and Hard. The “Modern” setting functions as a soft knee clipper designed to delicately handle the clipping process. Meanwhile, the “Classic” setting operates with a medium knee, striking a balance between soft and hard clipping characteristics. On the other hand, the “Hard” setting serves as a hard knee clipper, providing a more abrupt and aggressive approach to clipping.
- Gold Clip consists of a Gold knob that applies compression through a single knob control. Unlike standard compressors that rely on attack and release times, Gold operates through a sample-by-sample analysis of the clipped signal, compressing the audio while preserving peaks and transients. This unique method ensures that the leading edges of sounds remain intact, maintaining the original transients while significantly boosting perceived loudness. Gold transforms how sounds gradually rise or fall in level without compromising on transients.
- The gold button in the plugin consists of two algorithms: Modern and Classic. Modern algorithm replicates the gentle loudness saturation of a renowned modern mastering converter, offering a forgiving amplitude saturation. On the other hand, the classic algorithm emulates a late 2000s mastering converter and provides a softer knee but sounds more aggressive than Modern. It allows up to 6dB gain, inducing greater harmonic interaction.
- The plugin also consists of the Alchemy knob, which mitigates clipping’s harmonic impact by gently tapering down mid and high frequencies by up to 1dB after the signal is clipped. As the signal nears the clip point, this softening effect reduces potential harsh harmonics, akin to high-frequency tape saturation.
- There’s also the Box Tone control in the plugin that functions as a precise linear phase EQ, replicating the high-frequency contour of modern and classic converters, impacting only frequencies above 1kHz. This addition aims to closely mirror hardware counterparts while leaving low and mid frequencies untouched. Box Tone offers three settings: Flat, Modern, and Classic, each providing subtle effects to maintain a balanced tone.
Gold Clip is available in AAX, VST, and AU plugin formats, in 16, 32, and 24-bit depth and up to 96 kHz Sample Rate. It’s compatible with MacOS 10.13 or higher and Windows 10/11 operating systems.
NovaClip – Advanced Peak Clipper
Nova Clip: Advanced Peak Clipper is designed to add more aggression and energy to your sounds!
Of course, you can use it with precision and utilize its different controllers to get different sonic flavors. It is fairly easy to use because of its simple interface with a few knobs and its decent range of presets. For example, clipping intensity can be controlled by a single knob, and you can also add THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) by using just one knob.
Priced at just $30, it’s also quite affordable. However, the plugin is primarily designed keeping metal music in mind. But it has a unique characteristic; you can also use it in electronic genres, punk, pop, hip-hop, and more.
Features & Benefits:
- Whether you want to add more smack in your drums, enrich guitar DI pre-amplification, thicken your vocals/instruments, or refine your music mastering, this plugin can help you achieve a more aggressive and steady sound.
- The plugin consists of a Crossover knob that determines the frequency at which the splitting occurs between the low-end and high-end portions of the signal and lets you balance your sound, ensuring clean yet powerful audio which is crisp but not too thin.
- Along with clipping effects, you also get access to saturation effects for effortless warmth and harmonic enhancement by using the THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) knob.
- The Shape control in the plugin lets you fine-tune the knee’s shape. In addition, you also get auto-gainbutton to automatically adjust the gain of the plugin and avoid volume fluctuations. Lastly, using the Delta button, you can isolate and listen exclusively to the clipped audio.
- The plugin allows you to utilize an array of professionally designed presets by Modern Metal Songwriter, catering to drums, guitar, bass, and mastering, guaranteeing unmatched aggression in every facet of your music.
Nova Clip is available in AAX, AU, and VST3 plugin formats. and is compatible with the following operating systems: Windows 7 (and higher) and Mac OS 10.13 and newer.
Sixth Sample & Integraudio Clips
Clips by Integraudio & Sixth Sample is a Clipper, Compressor, and Gate plugin with multi-band staging ability.
As a clipper plugin, it’s very clean and transparent and is essentially a loudness maximizer. It’s good for increasing the loudness without introducing any unnecessary artifacts. It can also do Mid/Side processing. With 2-fold oversampling capabilities, you also get crisp and high-quality clipping effects.
It also provides multiband processing and has three windows for visualizing and monitoring your audio. Priced at under $30, the plugin is a great bargain, offering multiple functionalities, convenient flexibilities, and less coloration and transparent sound, which is rare for a clipper.
Features & Benefits:
- The plugin presents a range of wave shapes or ‘sigmoid functions’ from hard clips to arctangent shapes that allow you to achieve various clipping effects with its flexible waveshaping functions.
- It has flexible ceiling level adjustments, such that the slider is perfectly aligned with the level meter, enabling effortless adjustment of the ceiling level and ensuring precise control over the clipping threshold.
- Clips provide high-frequency aliasing removal through oversampling and ensure improved audio quality and clarity in the processed audio signal.
- Ideal for transparent volume boost without clipping in individual stems, sound effects, or entire tracks, Clips is a versatile plugin, suitable for anything from warm to aggressive tones, individual instrument processing to mastering, for both beginners and advanced users.
- You also get access to a “Transients” knob in the plugin that lets you process and protect your transients with just a single knob.
- The plugin features a fully resizeable, user-friendly interface that can be switched between day and night modes. In addition, there are a total of three theme colors. You also get a graphical representation of the audio signal’s input, output, and threshold. The spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope in the plugin also let you visualize and monitor what you’re doing.
- Clips can also be switched to Gate and Compressors using its Gate/Compressor modes. These modes also uncover the attack/release knobs by which you can adjust the plugin’s dynamic processing in detail.
Clips by Integraudio & Sixth Sample is compatible with MacOS (10.13 or newer) and Windows (8.1 or higher) systems, supporting 64-bit or 32-bit versions with VST3, AAX, and AU support.
bx_clipper is a versatile analog-style clipping plugin that can be used for mastering and on individual buses/instruments.
It operates in left/right and mid-side modes, such that you can link or unlink both channels and work on them separately or together. The main controls for clipping your audio signal are Input, Ceiling, Knee, Mix, and Output.
You can also enable auto-ceiling and auto-trim in the plugin. bx_clipper overall has a warm analog tone with great flexibility and will help you increase your loudness without destroying the audio.
Features & Benefits:
- bx_clipper consists of an Ambiance switch that lets you solo/isolate and listen to the clipped signal. That gives you a more specific idea of the part of your audio being clipped out and enables a clear audit of the lost information.
- The plugins have two knee modes: Diode and FET, named after analog elements. The Diode knee mimics diode-based clipping using exponential equations, while the FET knee replicates clipping with Field-Effect Transistors (enabling over-fold distortion) through power-law equations.
In simple words, Diodes tend to create harder, more abrupt clipping, resulting in a sharper and more aggressive distortion compared to the softer, more gradual clipping typically associated with FETs.
- brainworx bx_clipper consists of a user-friendly and resourceful GUI with four tabs for comparisons or A/Bing, meaning you can compare four different clipper settings. Next, its waveform/graphical/knee visualizer, with clipped audio visualized in red color and separate channel (mid/side and left/right) controls, helps you monitor your audio. You can also solo or mute different channels. For loudness monitoring, you get Peak/RMS, and gain reduction meters for all channels. Lastly, you can also scale and resize your GUI as per your preference.
- You can adjust the ceiling and outputs manually or use the auto trim and auto ceiling switches. Auto trim analyzes the incoming audio signal and adjusts its level to prevent clipping or distortion, optimizing the signal without manual intervention.
The auto ceiling feature dynamically adjusts the signal to maintain consistency and prevent it from reaching excessively high levels that could cause distortion or issues in playback or processing.
bx_clipper is compatible with DAWs that host VST2, VST3, AAX, and AU plugin formats and work with macOS 10.11-13 and Windows 8-11.
3 Best Free Clipper Plugins:
Yum Audio – Crispy Clip Light
Crispy Clip Light is a free and simplified version of the Crispy Clip plugin by Yum Audio.
Crafted with an intuitive user interface and live waveform presentation, Crispy Clip Light adds a bright sonic tonality to your sounds. It has a “Ceiling” knob that lets you set the threshold at which the sound will be clipped, and the “Push” knob lets you increase the input level of the sound.
Features & Benefits:
- “Clip Amount Display” section showcases an elegant LED meter inspired by classic analog hardware. This meter offers instant visibility into gain reduction levels, providing a quick and clear indication of clipping ranging from 1 to 20 dB.
- The Push parameter in the plugin spans from 0 to 48dB and dictates the extent to which the audio signal is propelled into the clipper. Elevating the Push value enables a more forceful sound, empowering you to infuse vigor and vitality into your audio.
- Crispy Light’s “Ceiling” knob ranges from 0 to -48dB and determines the clipping threshold. Keeping the Ceiling value near 0 establishes a high threshold, producing a gentle impact on your audio signal. Conversely, reducing the Ceiling toward -48dB yields a more pronounced clipping effect.
- The Clip Shape feature in Crispy Clip Light provides the flexibility to merge the tonal characteristics of soft and hard clipping modes. This setting spans from 0% to 100%, where 0% represents a softer, analog-like clipping, and 100% signifies a sharper, digital hard clipping mode.
Crispy Clip Light is available in AU, AAX, and VST plugin formats and is compatible with Mac OS X 10.11 or higher and Windows 10 operating systems.
Vladyslav Voinov PeakEater
PeakEater is a free and open-source waveshaper and clipper.
It has a simple interface that visualizes the audio waveform and clipped data. Like any clipper, you can set the ceiling, input level, and output level. However, PeakEater stands out because of its oversampling capability, which goes up to 16x, which is great for a free plugin. You can also select various types of clipping by using the “Type” knob.
Features & Benefits:
- PeakEater has the following six algorithms for clipping: Hard, Quintic, Cubic, Tangent, Algebraic, and Arctangent. These different settings give different forms of waveshaping, such that except for the “Hard” algorithm, all other types are for Soft Clipping.
- For visualization, the plugin has an integrated RMS meter that displays incoming signal levels to assist in setting the threshold for the clipper. In addition, the clip visualizer illustrates the magnitude (in dB) to visually demonstrate the gradual attenuation of peaks over time. Lastly, the clip analyzer estimates the RMS that has been attenuated (“eaten”) in the past 2 seconds along with the current clipping algorithm.
- You can utilize input-output linking to adjust the Output Gain to mirror the Input Gain automatically. For instance, if the Input Gain is at +5dB, the Output Gain will automatically adjust to -5dB, and conversely.
PeakEater is available in VST, AU, LV2, and CLAP plugin formats and is compatible with Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems.
Venn Audio Free Clip
The free plugin “Free Clip” by Venn Audio offers the ability to apply clipping effects for creative sound manipulation and shaping.
Offering a selection of wave shapes or ‘sigmoid functions,’ Free Clip ranges from a transparent yet harsh, hard clip to a softer, more saturated arctangent shape. It gives paid Clipping plugins a run for their money with its advanced features like Oversampling, Clipping Types, Input Gain knob, and Output level control. In addition, it is a completely open-source plugin, meaning you can also download its source code separately.
Features & Benefits:
- Free Clip is highly versatile and can be used as a mastering effect or on individual elements as an effect. For mastering purposes, you can access its hard clip, quantic, or cubic shapes, which introduce minimal to no saturation.
- The plugin can also function as a traditional saturation or distortion plugin by selecting a ‘softer’ wave shape like algebraic or arctangent—lowering the ceiling level enhances signal saturation.
- Venn Audio’s Free Clip allows you to manage high-frequency aliasing by adjusting the oversampling (value from 2x to 32x). However, that might heavily load the CPU at high settings, like 16 or 32 times.
- Lastly, you get a fairly simple interface by which you can set the clipper in just two steps by adjusting only a few knobs. It also gives you a waveform preview, which displays the clipped audio information.
Free Clip is available in AU and VST formats for Windows and Mac OS.
Acustica Audio ASH
ASH by Acoustica Audio emulates clipping circuits and features a brick wall limiter.
That makes it a great mastering and loudness maximization tool! You can choose from multiple circuits to infuse your mix with the desired character, delivering punch, dynamism, transparency, and ample volume in seconds. For example, the plugin has a Clipping slider that can be set between Hard and Soft.
Features & Benefits:
- ASH allows you to switch between two different GUI options: ASH and ASH “flat,” such that ASH is more of a classic-style GUI (golden and black color), and ASH “flat” is more modern (blue and white color). Both functionality and controls remain the same, but the style and look change.
- You can upsample or oversample ASH upto 1024x, which is higher than what any other clipper allows. In addition, the phase response is quite accurate and precise.
- There are many listening modes in the plugin, including Mid, Side, Left, and Right, and a combination of all. You can set them by simply using a slider.
- ASH can operate in various metering formats, from LUFS to RMS to True Peak, such that LUFS can help you with setting the right levels for your masters across different DSPs, and True Peak can avoid intersample spikes.
- The GUI on the plugin is intuitive and scalable, so you can set it to your desired size. In addition, it’s quite light on the CPU, unlike other clipping and mastering plugins.
Acoustica Audio ASH is available in AAX, VST, VST3, and AU plugin formats and is compatible with macOS 10.15 64-bit operating system or higher (Apple Silicon M computers are also supported) and Windows 10 21H1 64-bit operating system or higher.
Using a clipper right is a superpower, honestly! If you can use it correctly, you can add so much more excitement and color to your sounds. Each clipper is different and has a distinct sound! Finding the right clipper for your sound will require experimentation and trial and error. It’s easy to mess up a clipper and destroy your sound by losing information, over-clipping, or introducing rough artifacts. So be careful!
However, if your purpose is to just maximize loudness without any coloration, I recommend using Clips by Sixth Sample & Integraudio. If you want a clean and analog clipping effect, go for the bx_clipper. bx_clipper can also help you achieve the “crisp” sound without it being too harsh. You can always keep your clipped sounds in check by using its “ambiance” switch.
Next, Dual Clip is also quite versatile and can help you achieve all ranges of bright and warm clipping sounds. Gold Clip also has a lot of customizations and can give you a huge range of sonic flavors. For punk, metal, dubstep, and other forms of aggressive treatment, you can go for the Nova Clip.
Apart from the plugins mentioned in the article, you can also use IMPusher by Waves & Infected Mushrooms. By using its high knob in combination with its “Clip” mode, you can achieve the crisp sound you’re looking for.
If you want something simpler and just want to understand or manipulate the sound without getting lost in the controls, the free plugins Venn Audio FreeClip and Crispy Clip Light will help you with that. I hope you find this article useful. Thank you for reading!!!