I’m trying to get my 808s to appear on small speakers by adding distortion, but when I do that, the low-end crumbles apart on my studio monitors. Is there some way to get that distorted sound while preserving the low-end?
You can use multi-band processing to achieve this. A saturator like FabFilter’s Saturn 2 allows you to target specific frequency ranges with saturation. Try targeting 100-200 Hz and upward. That will leave your low-end unaffected but still dirty up your top-end.