iZotope Trash 2 Distortion Plug-in Review


Dating back 15 years ago, iZotope released its renowned plugin Trash, only to wait 10 years for releasing its new version of Trash 2 at the end of 2012. Why is this plugin recognized and used by engineers and sound designers? Let’s take a look.

What is Trash?
Trash is known for being the most comprehensive distortion plugin, allowing users access to functions such as:

Trash : Apply different distortion types to up to 4 frequency bands with Trash’s dual stage multiband waveshaping distortion that lies at the heart of Trash 2.

Filter : Shape the tone of your sound or drive frequencies into distortion with Trash’s 2 filter modules.

Convolve : Transform your sound into another space or object with Trash 2 impulse responses, from realistic amps, cabinets, telephones, radios and more.

Multiband Dynamics : With a built-in multiband compressor and noise gate you’ll be able to take down any peaks, add sustain to your sound or mute any unwanted noise.

Delay : Add extra depth and texture to your sound with a wide selection of tape, tube, analog, digital and lofi digital delay algorithms

Who is this plugin for?

  1. Mixing engineers for music, tv and film
  2. Composers
  3. Sound designers

How can this plugin be used?

Sound Engineers

  • Trash 2 is designed to be versatile and applicable in many ways. If you’re an audio engineer seeking that extra grit for a drum or guitar track, slap on Trash and manipulate the settings to get unique distortion profiles.

Music Creators

  • If you’re a guitarist - composing a song couldn't be easier. Simply browse through the arsenal of presets and find a sound of inspiration.

Sound Designers

  • Trash 2 allows a sound designer to take a sound beyond its limits and manipulate the distortion and filter parameters when designing anything from an EDM/Dubstep track to a monster voice for a horror film.

Benefits of the tool

  • 300 presets, 100 impulse responses and 60 distortion algorithms
  • Able to combine multi-band and dual-stage distortion and apply it to 4 different frequency bands
  • Effective on guitars, basses, drums, synth, pads, vocals, brass and more
  • Customizable Waveshaper for designing personal distortion algorithms

Challenges of the tool

  • Distortion can sound digital in most cases
  • Has a learning curve for those who are new to the field of audio
  • Doesn’t enable panned dual effects
  • Delay module can benefit from added controls

What do you need to run this plugin?

  1. Windows XP, Vista (64-bit), 7, 8, 10 or Mac OS 10.6.8-10.13.
  2. Trash 2 comes in RTAS, VST, VST3 and AU format.

Alternative Plug-Ins

  1. FabFilter’s - Saturn
  2. Ohm’s Force - Ohmicide
  3. Soundtoys - Decapitator

Overview of the Plug-in
There's a handful of reasons why this plug-in gives interesting and unique results. Let’s look at a first example:

In this example we used a synth bass. You can tell the second and fourth sounds are a lot more aggressive and went through the Trash 2 treatment. Now listen to this in the bass synth in context of a full track with and without Trash 2.

The bass synth is cutting through the mix and has character but once the plug-in is bypassed, the bass synth does not fit in the track's context as much as it potentially could. Here's a track with its main synthesizers bypassed halfway to demonstrate after treatment and then before treatment.

Navigating the Plugin

The signal-chain starts from Filter 1 and ends at Delay. Filter 1 gives you a chance to EQ before the signal undergoes treatment with built in automation control over parameters like our Filter 1 controls. Its a no brainer to use Trash's built in EQ over some of your favourite EQ plugins, because it minimizes processing power. 


Below you can see the parameters along the signal chain you can activate and deactivate.


You can additionally click the 4 button above Delay and move around the signal-chain parameters, such as moving Filter 1 to give treatment after convolution.


By default, the limiter is engaged as a safety measure for both your speakers and hearing. Leaving the limiter active will help preserve your transients before normalizing the levels, as some distortion algorithms are so violent and loud that they would clip your meters.


Below is an example of how you can manipulate the sound to get the result of the algorithm being used. Once you find an algorithm that suits your current needs, use the Shape section to tweak it for more polished results.



With high amounts of distortion, its natural for there to be added harmonics in both the top end and low end. With the EQ you can soften the top end with the high shelf EQ or control the lows with the low shelf EQ, or vice versa, shown in the image below.


The bass synth you heard in Example 1 and 2 is the result of using the multi-band distortion as opposed to just 1 algorithm on the entire frequency spectrum.



The next step is to use crossover to determine each band's frequency spectrum (just like a multi-band compressor).


You can create a new context for your sound by assigning the band that takes care of 20-200Hz with Fuzz, while the high-end band takes care of 2000-20,000Hz with drive. Additionally, you can solo and bypass each band as shown in the image above to really hear what you're creating.



Convolution is the recreation of a sound through a specific environment, such as a room's reverb. Have a listen to how convolution with delay can transform a non-treated synthesizer.

The difference is almost night and day.


Synthesizers with convolution give the impression that it was created acoustically, rather than binary. This occurs in the same way delay sometimes gives us the impression that there is reverb on an instrument/vocals when in fact there was no reverb on the raw source.


In the track below Trash 2 was used in all synthesizers including the Master bus for some tape saturation.

Final Thoughts
Trash is known for being the most comprehensive distortion plugin, allowing users to access functions such as trash, filter, convolve, multi-band dynamics and delay. This tool is useful for mixing engineers, composers and sound designers for its versatility and numerous presets.

Jawad Itani

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