Passionate about Plugins

Review: Trash 2 by iZotope


Whether you want to completely destroy a sound, or just rough it up a little… Trash 2 has got your back. 

Take mangling your audio to the next level. Combine the power of multi-band, dual-stage distortions and advanced post-filtering for immediate sonic transformation. Give your low end some thump, get a warm crunch on the midrange, and let your high end soar. Trash any track: not just guitars and basses, but drums, synths, pads, vocals, brass, woodwinds, and more.

– iZotope, Inc

One of the secrets of great production is distortion. And we’re not just talking about bone-crushing guitar riffs on the latest Necrosadistic Goat Torture album. Distortion can also be used in varying degrees, from very subtle to full on obliteration, to enhance the sonic palette of any type of music.

Appetite for Distortion

If you really want to have all the possibilities that distortion can bring at your fingertips then Trash 2 from iZotope is a must. Trash 2 takes distortion to unprecedented levels of control and includes six stages of processing; the first filter, a multiband waveshaper (the TRASH part), another filter, a convolver, multiband dynamics and finally… a delay. All of these are fully programmable and can be turned on and off as required.

If all that sounds a bit daunting, the plugin comes with a fantastic selection of presets to start you off and there are expansion packs that come free (at the time of writing).

Beautifully Assured Destruction

As mentioned, this plugin can go from subtle to extreme audio mangling. The waveshaper style distortion envelopes are fully tweakable and you can apply them individually to up to four different frequency bands which allows for some really creative stuff. Obviously it’s more fun to start at the extreme end… so let’s do that.

Firstly, here’s an example of a very simple, clean loop made from a few basic samples and zero processing.


Damn, that’s boring. What can we do to liven it up a bit?

Well here it is pretty heavily mangled (note that you can annihilate it more than this, seriously beyond recognition if you like… but I wanted you to be able to hear the relation to the clean loop rather than just noise!). You might wanna turn the volume down a bit.


Gnarly, eh? Nice! You can already start to get an idea of the possibilities and that’s just a preset. (It’s called Eat Brain, by the way.).

So by itself, audio destruction is a kind of fun effect but won’t have a place in most non-extreme music… that it until you consider blending, or parallel distortion. By keeping the original clean audio and adding the distorted version you can subtly increase width and add texture without actually making anyone’s ears bleed.

Let’s see how that works with the previous mess blended into the clean loop. Be sure to A/B with the original so you can really hear the difference.


Pretty cool, yeah? Just a little bit extra squelchiness but the beat is still nice and clear.

That was some extreme distortion as an extreme example but if you just want to fatten that beat without it being quite so gritty you can set up a more subtle type of distortion. In this example I’ve used a preset called ‘le fat’.


Really bulky, isn’t it? But again, maybe that’s too much and you want to retain some of the original beat… well let’s get blending again and see what we get…


Oooh la la…! That’s pretty sweet.

That’s a quick and easy example of how Trash 2 can be used in parallel to beef up and widen a dull drumbeat.

Note that the Trash 2 plugin itself has a mix slider which can be used to blend the raw audio with the processed audio but I personally recommend setting up a parallel mixer track in your DAW to allow you to do further processing such as EQ and compression on the clean and distorted audio separately. Though for a quick bit or grit or texture, Trash 2 works quite well by itself with a low wet to dry ratio. As with all these things, muck about and find out what works for you in each situation.

Wanna Hear Some  More?

Alright then. I’ve knocked up a little video demo to show you the variety of presets available. You might recognise the drumbeat but, this time, I’ve loaded Trash 2 onto a guitar loop and skipped some of the available presets at random to give you a tiny idea of just  what this plugin is capable of. Check it. Again, don’t have your volume too loud, it gets noisy.

That’s it! for now…

To avoid going on and on and on about Trash 2 in one article I’ll cut it short at this point. I’ve shown you how it can be used to enhance a basic drum loop but that is merely the tip of the crunchy, gritty, crispy iceberg. Imagine what this can do to your bass, synths, guitars… even vocals. The possibilities are literally endless so I’ll let you work out what YOU are gonna do with it.

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