Distortion/Overdrive Effect in Audacity

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Introduction: Distortion/Overdrive Effect in Audacity

The distortion effect was first created by guitar players overdriving their amps so that the waveform would become clipped. A similar effect can be done in a free and open-source program called Audacity.

Step 1: What You Will Need


You will need:

A computer capable of running Audacity (Linux, Windows, or Mac)

Audacity



A guitar recording (can be done in Audacity)

Step 2: Getting Sound


Open Audacity and record/import something. It is a good idea to save a backup copy as a .aup file.

Step 3: Leveller Effect (Part One)

Select the audio track by double-clicking it and then apply the leveller effect by clicking on Effect...Leveller.

Use these settings:
Degree of Leveling = Heaviest
Threshold Noise = -35 dB


Then repeat that effect by selecting the track and clicking on Effect... Repeat Leveller

Step 4: Leveller Effect (Part Two)

Select the recording by double-clicking it, then click on Effect...Leveller.
This time use the settings:

Degree of leveling = Heaviest
Threshold Noise = -50dB


Step 5: Compressor


The compressor effect will reduce the overall range from soft to loud. Double click the recording to select it. Then click on Effect...Compressor.
Use these settings:
Threshold = -9dB
Noise Floor = -40dB
Ratio = 5:5:1
Attack Time = 0.2 seconds
Decay Time = 1.0 seconds
Enable "Make up Gain for 0dB after compressing
"

Step 6: Equalizer

To make the recording sound better apply the equalizer effect. Double-click the track to select it then click on Effect... Equalization. Use the acoustic preset.

Step 7: Finished

Playback the recording. It should have a distorted sound. Export it or mix it with another layer. Have fun!

I have attached an example in MP3 and OGG formats. The OGG format will play directly in Firefox.

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    14 Comments

    How do I make it super extreme (ear bleed). I need to know!

    1 reply

    Repeat leveller a couple of times

    I can't find the acoustic preset.

    thank you... it's nice

    That does make distortion, but it doesn't sound near as good as even a throw-away pedal. I'm glad you went to this effort, but that just wouldn't cut it for any kind of track.

    What guitar(s) do you own?

    if you were asking me an ashton acoustic and a squire electric

    Thank you!!! I've recently started to discover that I have a million posibilities with my keyboard, a cable and this simple but great free program! And the biggest problem is... emulate an electric guitar. Your example sounds very very aproximate to a real guitar! I'm still experimenting with the preset sounds of acoustic guitars in the keyboard and adding the distorsion as you explained, and I cannot get something acceptable by now, but now I have a way. Thanks!

    1 reply

    i'm looking for where you actually download this program... i can't find it

    1 reply