There are lot’s of quality virtualisation of Tape Machine, but no all sounds the same and no all of them have the character I’m looking for.
Tape Machines can be used for recording, mixing and mastering. The aim is to add the warmth signature of analogue sound to the digitally recorded and mixed sound.
What tape machine does to the sound is really complex, but can be mainly seen as saturation, compression and harmonics enhancer.
In my mix and mastering, I use two tape machines. For minimum colourisation, I use Tape from Softube. This plugin often goes on every channel or at least on every bus channel. I used it as everything is recorded on tape. This plugin is light on the CPU and does a good job.
But my real favourite Tape Machine in the virtual world is the simulation of the Ampex 350 – Reel to Reel Tape Machine. This machine records on 1/4″ Tape. Ampex 350 is a two-speed audio recorder. Its ideal use is on Bass, Drums, Synths, Vocal but I love how it sounds on the program material.
Waves makes a phenomenal plugin version of this Tape Machine, the KRAMER MASTER TAPE. It was developed in association with producer/engineer Eddie Kramer (Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones).
With adjustable tape speed, bias, Flux, wow & flutter, and modelled noise, the Kramer Master Tape provides comprehensive control over the contours of your sound.
The two parameters that make the difference here are the Input and Reproduce, and the Flux.
Input and Reproduce
When recording to tape, two monitoring modes are available. Input monitoring lets you hear the signal as it reaches the recording head, including tube and mic-pre saturation.
Repro monitoring lets you hear the output of the repro head just like normal tape playback, meaning that tape speed, bias, Flux, wow & flutter, and noise, in addition to the tube and mic-pre saturation, all affect the monitored output.
Flux is the term used for the level of magnetic radiation emitted from the recording head on to the tape, commonly referred to as operating level. Measured in nano Webers per
Meter – nWb/m, flux is essentially a gain factor reflecting a higher level passed onto the recording head. While older tapes are designed to handle lower flux levels, modern tapes could withstand much higher Flux before distorting, resulting in relatively lower noise.
No one can best explain how to use this plugin than Michael White. Check his tutorial:
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