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SSL X-Saturator Plug-in - User Guide


About SSL X-Saturator

X-Saturator allows the user to introduce harmonic distortion to a signal to add some pleasing “analogue character”. The X-Saturator emulates analogue gain circuits that introduce harmonic distortion when driven and can act as a veritable time machine of processing sounds, covering everything from smooth tube harmonics to screaming crushed techno sounds. 


Key Features

  • Emulates analogue gain circuits. 
  • The Drive controls the input level of the plug-in. 
  • By adjusting the Harmonics control the distortion characteristics can be shifted from 50’s valve-style overdrive (if the Harmonics selection control is turned fully anti-clockwise for 2nd harmonic distortion) to 70’s transistor-style grit (if the Harmonics selection control is turned fully clockwise for 3rd harmonic distortion). 
  • Depth and Shape control the amount of harmonics injected back into the signal, enriching the sound. 
  • Boost adds 6dB of headroom to avoid internal clipping. 
  • Dry/Wet allows parallel processing.


We recommend using the SSL Download Manager application to to easily manage all SSL plug-in installations all from one place, on both macOS and Windows. In addition to easily installing, uninstalling or reinstalling individual or every SSL plug-in at the click of a button, the SSL Download Manager also provides you with detailed release notes and lets you know when updates are available.

You can also download offline installers for a plug-in from here.

All SSL plug-ins are supplied in VST, VST3, AU (macOS only) and AAX (Pro Tools) formats.

The installers provided (macOS Intel .dmg and Windows .exe) copy the plug-in binaries to the common VST, VST3, AU and AAX directories. After this, the host DAW should recognise the plug-in automatically in most cases. Simply run the installer and you should be good to go. You can find more information about how to authorise your plug-ins below.


Visit iLok, Licensing and Activation for guidance in activating your SSL plug-in.

Using SSL Native X-Saturator


The illustration below gives an overview of some of the X-Saturator features which are described in full over the following sections. 


Interface Overview


Automation support for X-Saturator is the same as for the Channel Strip. 

Plug-in Bypass 


The power switch located above the Input section provides an internal plug-in bypass. This allows for smoother In/Out comparisons by avoiding any latency issues associated with the host application’s Bypass function. The button must be ‘lit’ for the saturator to be in circuit (as shown). 


Factory presets are included in the plug-in installation, installed in the following locations:

Mac: Library/Application Support/Solid State Logic/SSLNative/Presets/XSaturator

Windows 64-bit: C:\ProgramData\Solid State Logic\SSL Native\Presets\XSaturator


Switching between presets can be achieved by clicking the left/right arrows in the preset management section of the plug-in GUI, and by clicking on the preset name which will open the preset management display.

Preset Management Display


There are a number of options in the Preset Management Display:

  • Load allows loading of presets not stored in the locations described above.
  • Save As... allows for storage of user presets.
  • Save as Default assigns the current plug-in settings to the Default Preset.
  • Copy A to B and Copy B to A assigns the plug-in settings of one comparison setting to the other.

A-B Comparisons


The A B buttons at the base of the screen allows you to load two independent settings and compare them quickly. When the plug-in is opened, setting A is selected by default. Clicking the A or B button will switch between setting A and setting B.

UNDO and REDO functions allow undo and redo of changes made to the plug-in parameters.

Input and Output Sections

The input and output sections at either side of the plug-in window provide input and output gain control, along with displays of the following information: 

Screenshot 2022-02-16 at 13.22.54.png

When clipping occurs, the meter will turn red. It will remain red until the meter is reset by clicking on the meter. 


Turn the GAIN knob in the input section to control the level of the incoming audio signal. The post-gain signal level is shown above. 

Turn the GAIN knob in the output section to ensure that the signal retains a good signal level post-processing. The output signal level is shown above the knob. 

Interface Controls

Boost +6dB 

Will add 6dB of Headroom above your saturation point. 


Dialling in the drive will determine the level of saturation that will be added. 


By adjusting the Harmonics control the distortion characteristics can be shifted from ‘50s valve-style overdrive (if the control is turned fully anti-clockwise for 2nd harmonic distortion) to ‘70s transistor-style grit (if the control is turned fully clockwise for 3rd harmonic distortion). 

Depth / Shape 

Depth and Shape control the number of harmonics injected back into the signal, enriching the sound. Depth sets the amplitude of the added harmonics; at 0% no harmonics are introduced to the input signal, at 100% the full amount of generated harmonic content is introduced to the input signal. Shape will add overtones in the high frequency spectrum; -50% is subtle and smooth, +50 will sound more aggressive.