Although we’ve gotten to a point where the younger generation doesn’t even know what tape is, the truth is that the imperfections that magnetic tape brought to mixing, branded a whole era of music. Be it for its subtle saturation, flutter or flanger effects, tape emulation plugins are a good weapon to keep on your mixing arsenal.
Nr. 1! Inspired by the smooth dynamic shaping capabilities of some high-end reel-to-reel
tape recorders, this plug-in simulates three of the most distinctive and much appreciated
sonic effects generated by these devices:
● Dynamics – gently shaping the overall dynamic response
● Saturation – adding extra harmonic-related content
● Liming – controlling peak performance
Variety of Sound decided to just leave aside what they considered ‘rather ugly side effects’, such as tremendous phase and frequency alterations, wow and flutter, noise and crosstalk and others which were not included in this simulation.
Although not offering as much flexibility as its paid counterparts, and besides the fact that in order for you to install this free plugin you have to send an e-mail to CDSoundMaster asking them for the key file which can take up to several days, R2R-RVX is free and it sounds great! The drive knob helps you to get that transparent sizzling warm effect or a more agressive tape drive to your master.
Cana Mystique Tape is one of my go to free tape emulator plugins which has sumo functions I really like. You can choose between two different tape sounds, a 2009 more modern tape, or a 1968 more vintage tape. Besides that, you can add some ‘transformer’ warmth and fatness which is adjustable. Overall a great free and flexible tape emulator plugin!
Ferox might not look as fancy as the other three, but what it offers is a lot more knobs and controls than the previous three in this list. This means that it has the potential for you to find just the right sound you are looking for, or for you to destroy your track completely (which might be what you want to do ;P). Check the ‘modern tape’, or the ‘analog overload’ presets!
Unlike FerricTDS, Wow n Flutter is designed precisely to get those so called ‘ugly sounds’ that came as side effects back when tape recorders were used. If you are looking for some tape ugliness and ‘wow’, or ‘flutter’, try this plugin. I personally feel this plugin isn’t wonderful, and if you do decide to use it, the more discreet you are on the ammounts of flutter and wow you use, the better results you’ll get. On a side note, all of the presets that come with the plugin are absolute rubbish so play around with it until you find the effect you are looking for.
Within all these free emulations of tapes, I’m confident you can find the right ‘expensive’ sound you are looking for to give your tracks that special ‘sheen’. What about you? What tape emulator plugins do you use?