Distortion plugins are ten-a-penny these days. There's a huge range of different flavours and these range from guitar amp simulation to multiband distortion. The list below contains my five favourite distortion VST's.
5. Native Instruments Guitar Rig 5 Pro
Stomping in at number 5 is NI's Guitar Rig amp simulation. As a sweaty teenager obsessed with Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine's effect pedal soaked guitar tones, this software was the stuff of dreams. These days, I use it add layers of grit to mid bass sounds and the cabinet sims to create subtle textures in my background samples.
4. Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machines
This thing sounds great. All of Slate Digitals plugins come highly recommended but this one is fantastic for adding grit and vibe to in the box mixes. If you want to get that analogue sound without the price, this plugin is essential.
3. FXpansion Maul
FXpansions Maul plugin has got to be one of the most underrated distortion plugins available and has been a secret weapon of mine for a long time. Easy to use, dialing in great distortion that goes from sweet crunchiness to outright nasty fuzz is a couple of clicks away. I love using this on basses but it really comes into it's own when you load a reverb plugin after it in the insert chain using Maul to drive sounds into the reverb. In short, epic.
2. iZotope Trash 2
iZotope's Trash 2 plugin was a recent addition to my VST collection. With that being said, it hasn't taken long for it to become one of my go-to plugins. The convolution panel in particular is capable of some really interesting sounds, whilst its huge array of distortion types will see you right for just about anything you throw at it.
Camel Audio's CamelCrusher has been around for donkeys years. Seriously, I think this might have actually been one of the first plugins I downloaded when I got my first copy of Cubase over a decade ago. Despite this, Camel Crusher still manages to make great sounding distortion with only a few available parameters. Best of all it's free.
I'm not a huge advocate of free plugins, I think they clog your computer up and I've never really found any that I truly love. Camel Crusher is the exception to that rule. If my snare's not cutting through the mix, i'll draw for a touch of mech over a brickwall limiter 9 times out of 10. If I need to automate the volume of my channel and retain control of the fader, I'll use this and automate the plugin volume instead.
If that's not enough of an incentive for you to try Camel Crusher, you don't know what you are missing out on.