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Lincoln Wright
Lincoln Wright

Softube Tape Vs Slate


Big, fat, warm, deep, rich and exciting are just some of the terms used to describe what recording onto a piece of magnetic tape sounds like. To those that know, tape is simply more musical. So we modeled two of the most famous tape machines in audio and provide them both along with options like bias, tape speed, tape type, and more in Virtual Tape Machines.




Softube Tape Vs Slate



The straightforwardly-named Tape has become a go-to for many producers when it comes to adding that cohesion and glue that recording to tape famously provided in the mythic Olden Days of the analogue studio era.


One of the early professional favourites for in-the-box saturation, URS Saturation still deserves a mention on our list. The interface is streamlined, and the controls are extremely quick and intuitive to dial in. Choose from ten vintage analog algorithms (covering six tube preamps, two speeds of tape, and two transformer types), crank the Input for more drive, and set your Saturation and Dry-Wet balance in the middle for varying degrees of full or parallel processing.


Modelled on one of the tape machines used at the world famous Abbey Road Studios in London (most famously the recording home of The Beatles, and many others), the Waves J37 Tape hits a sweet spot between authentic sound, highly useful features nicely laid out in an inspiring interface, and, importantly for many, sheer value for money with a price ($35.99 deal at the time of writing) that makes it a quality tape machine emulation for almost every budget. Recommended!


Tape plugins are another story, and give a very different effect, i have Yamaha Vintage Open Deck because it emulates an Ampex ATR100, i like the sound of that machine, there are others Digidesign Reel Tape, Avid Heat, UAD, but most emulate Studer, and i dont like Studer Tape machine sound, and yes, yamaha vintage open deck has 4 studer emulations, and 2 tapes formulas with 2 speeds, 30 & 15 ips, some times i wish it also had 7.5 & 3.75ips, just for fun.cakewalk fx2 tape machine emulation tis also nice..


Tape enjoyed a long history, and there are many types of tape deck: later models could achieve extremely high-fidelity, while earlier or cheaper models might colour the sound significantly before it even hit the tape at all.


Tapes came in many widths, from two inches down to an eighth-of-an-inch for compact cassettes; and tape speed could vary from 30 inches-per-second on a pro machine, down to just 1.875 ips for a compact cassette.


Different formulations of tape were available: even the humble compact cassette had three common types (ferric, chrome and metal), each of which sounded very different, and three possible different noise reduction systems (Dolby B, C, or S, although the last one was rare).


The original Magneto tape emulator dates back to the dawn of plugins, when Steinberg first introduced the VST standard. Version III is integrated directly into the Cubase mixer, while MkIII is available as a Cubase-bundled plugin with a little bit more control.


Saturator X includes a couple of tape modes as well as its other options. Like Saturn, these are simplified models that focus on saturation only, but again, this can sometimes be a bonus, helping to keep CPU usage low, and avoiding distractions like the minutiae of bias levels.


This one has a choice of multitrack or stereo deck, two different tape formulations, 15 or 30ips tape speeds and three bias settings. Then there are the obligatory spinning tape reels! VTC can be gentle and transparent at restrained settings, or audibly distorted when driven hard.


Default settings give you the subtle, almost imperceptible sheen of a high-end machine in great order. Switch to more colourful tape models or lower tape speed for more grunge, or change gain structure to drive it into obvious distortion. More Rolls Royce than Ferrari!


Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machines is a plug-in for mixing and mastering that works very well to rapidly alter the texture of your sound using different kinds of Studer tape emulations.


Since the beginning of the modern recording industry, the sounds of tape, tubes, and transistors being pushed past their limits have been an integral part of the music emanating from your speakers. This type of harmonic distortion is the very essence of what makes analog hardware sound so musical and pleasing to the ears.


Today, for this decidedly more demonstrative tape saturation showdown, I pulled some multitracks from a recent project I produced for two Chicago artists, Brazill and Cheri Soul. I processed the audio from the guitar, drums, vocals, keys/synths, and the master two-track mixes through 10 of my favorite tape saturation plugins on Reverb. (Along this path, I crafted custom Reverb Exclusive presets for each processor, which are available for free here.) Listen to the individual instrument and master mixes here to start:


Kicking things off, we have a brand-new release from one of my favorite brands making unique, thoughtful processors, AudioThing. From Ireland, by way of Italy, Carlo Castellano has developed a stunning line of character-driven sound design tools. This new tape machine emulation plugin, AudioThing Reels, is no exception. A tape saturation and tape delay plugin, this thing recreates the unique sound of a consumer-grade mini tape recorder.


The AudioThing Type A Vintage Enhancer is a plugin inspired the Dolby A-Type Model 361 tape encoder. The original unit was designed to be a noise reduction system for tape recording and playback. This processor from AudioThing emulates the encode stage, dynamically increasing the top-end of a signal like a dynamic EQ, without introducing artifacts or altering the harmonic content. Although not technically a direct tape emulation, this plugin emulates the encoding saturation tone of certain tape recordings and was worth inclusion for this very familiar sound.


A classic remakes another classic with this Eddie Kramer-endorsed Waves plugin. The Waves Kramer Master Tape is modeled on a rare vintage 1/4" reel-to-reel machine used in London's famed Olympic Studios. With adjustable tape speed, bias, flux, wow and flutter, and noise parameters, the Kramer Master Tape provides comprehensive control over the contours of your sound.


From top-of-the-line multi-track consoles to humble cassette decks, this tape machine emulation from the German mainstays u-he gives almost infinite flexibility with its feature offerings. A harmonic coloration device that celebrates all of the historical developments in tape technology, the u-he Satin Tape Emulation includes saturation, transient smoothing, compression, noise modulation, flutter, and hiss. It also gives you controls over delay and flange.


This very simple yet effective tape machine emulation from German outfit Black Rooster Audio, is straightforward for someone just getting into the world of saturation emulations. The Black Rooster Audio Magnetite Tape Saturator keeps it simple with just the necessary controls, such as recording and playback amplifier gain, tape response, and saturation, NAB pre-and de-emphasis EQs, different tape speeds, bias levels, hiss, and hum. Loud harmonics at the twist of a knob.


Inspired by the innovative Studer A810 tape machine, known for excellent frequency response even at the critical high- and low-frequency range limits, Boston-based iZotope makes a great module for analog tape sound inside of their already brilliant iZotope Ozone 8 Advanced mastering suite. I think that this module is really slept on because it's implanted in a much larger software offering. However, I use this often, as it sounds really good when you push input drive almost to the max, and then just walk it back until you get that desired distortion.


Produced by the Dutch masters FabFilter, this multi-saturation modeler aims to quench all of your harmonic distortion thirsts. The FabFilter Saturn Saturation and Distortion offers a range of different high-quality distortion models, inspired by the vintage sound of tubes, tape, and guitar amps. In addition, you also get three creative distortion styles, with which you can smudge, stretch, crush, rectify, and clip your sounds in weird and unexpected ways.


This saturation tool comes directly from the Los Angeles via India company BeatSkillz. The REELight Tape Saturation is a tape saturation plugin with many features for getting an authentic tape sound. Using their proprietary RTT technology, which they also used in their fantastic Valvesque, their tube version of this harmonic coloration device, like the Magnetite plugin mentioned earlier, is a very straightforward tape machine emulation. Turn a few knobs and get a nice and easy-to-use saturation sound for any use case.


The nature of such plug-ins requires inserting them on every track, simulating a recording arrangement where every part has been put to tape. To facilitate this method of use, HoRNet added a grouping feature. If you set every plug-in instance to the same group, you can automatically copy some settings (deck type, target input level, bypass, and others) across the group, saving some time and hassle.


Tape Emulation plugin emulates the sound of the vintage tape applied to your mixes. Some may emulate real hardware, while others will generate a genuine effect without having any specific vintage unit in mind.


Also, the inevitable part of any tape emulation is the background noise called the tape hiss and luckily, using plugins instead of real hardware had for the result that the plugin version could completely remove this unwanted part of the saturation or at least control it as an individual parameter that can be applied to the desired amount.


Tape emulation provides a smooth effect and glues individual tracks together into a dense mix. It makes tracks feel more connected. Also, applying a tape emulation allows your vocals to sit a bit better in the mix compared to what you would get with the EQ.


Both of these emulations have in common the fact that it will give a certain audio characteristic to the audio signal that it has been processed, especially regarding saturation effect. But, the main difference between tape and preamp emulation lies in the audio order.


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