E-A-SKI Speaks on “Analog Tape” in this vignette video promoting his upcoming album.
I found this video compelling because I started my recording journey on reel to reel 1″ and 2″ tape. For those that don’t know, analog tape is a major player in the most of the eras of music that we beat-makers love so much. From 60’s soul to golden era 80’s & 90’s hiphop, the analog tape machine was right there. Although, I do agree that analog tape and pretty much anything analog has an unmistakable sonic characteristic that is not easily achieved in the digital domain, I have to say there a great alternatives available.
Perhaps we can use this video from E-A-SKI to kick off a little bit of sharing about the coveted analog tape sound and the better simulations available.
Even now in the digital age companies like UA and Waves recognize the value of simulating the sound of analog tape in their software. There would be no need if the sound wasn’t as sought after and coveted as it is. These plug ins may not have the punch of the real deal in eyes of some purists but as a former analog tape recording artist myself I know what sounds good. True enough, there’s nothing like the real thing baby! But there are some pretty good alternatives out there for a lot less loot and hassle.
Waves makes an impressive tape plugin called “Waves Kramer MPX Mastering Tape Plugin.” It’s described by Waves as being “modeled on a rare vintage 1/4″ reel-to-reel machine. With adjustable tape speed, bias, flux, wow & flutter, and noise parameters, the Kramer Master Tape provides comprehensive control over the contours of your sound. And to top it off, we’ve added a flexible slap & feedback delay, ideal for rock, dance, dub, you name it. For recording, mixing, mastering, and more, bring the richness and warmth of real tape saturation to your DAW with the Kramer Master Tape plugin.”
UAD, may have the tape plug-in that I am most fond of, “Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder plug-in.” I like to put this either on the main out or I’ll instantiate it on each individual channel / track. This is perfect for your favorite DAW and it works crazy wonders in warming up and adding character to the entire track. The magic is in the cumulative effect of having it across multiple tracks.
UAD describes it as being “Authenticated by Studer, and modeled by UA’s world-renowned team of DSP engineers and AES magnetic recording expert Jay McKnight over a 12-month period, the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder plug-in for UAD-2 is the first product of its kind. This plug-in faithfully models the entire multitrack tape circuit path and electronics of a popular A800 machine from Allen Sides’ collection at Ocean Way Studios — plus the distinct sounds of multiple tape formulas.”
So say you have some extra cash to toss about on a few dreamy bits of hardware but you aren’t into the maintenance and after market mark up of vintage gear. you may be interested in the following modern (and smaller) hardware alternatives.
The FATSO Jr. has been around for a while now and is known in audio engineer circles as a damn good Tape simulator. it does 4 kinds of magic, Harmonic Generation and Soft Clipper (Distortion Generation) , High Frequency Saturation (Warmth), Transformer & Tape Head Emulation and finally Classic Knee Compression. Some have criticized that a device that does all of this is in fact, not a tape simulator but it is its own new type of processor. Whatever! All I know is it sounds good to me.
As described by Empirical Labs, “With the FATSO, recording studios and audio production facilities can enhance and soften the sound of Hardware Digital Recorders (HDRs) and Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs). Mix engineers will have the option not to have to use bulky, expensive analog tape recorders to get the warmth and sweet high-end they’ve come to rely on for so many decades. Owners of DAWs and HDRs can finally put a stop to complaints about the coldness and brittle edge of their mixes and instruments. Even audiophiles can benefit from the FATSO, bringing back the warmth and ambience of LP’s and tapes to their CD players and other digital reproduction mediums.”
Read more: http://www.empiricallabs.com/fatso-jr.html
It’s no secret that Rupert Neve is without doubt in the top-tier of classic and modern studio gear manufacturers. And for good reason. I’ll leave that for you to find out. But believe me this is a name that you can trust.
The Portico 542 is the 500 series reincarnation of its bigger and more expensive tape emulation brother, the 5042. At a price of sub $800 the Portico 542 includes controls for trim, saturation, soft clip, silk / texture, drive and last but not least, a 15/30 ips switch. All this in such a small package with all the punch and controls yet none of the analog tape maintenance and space killing size.
Described as: “The ultimate “color box”. As a 500-series follow-up to the Portico 5042, the 542 delivers the same thick, musical simulation of tape while drastically enhancing creative control via a number of new features. In addition to the “true tape” circuitry – great for bringing out 3rd-order harmonics – the 542 incorporates a soft-clip circuit that tames the harshest sources and enhances 2nd-order harmonics, a variable and versatile Silk/Texture circuit for three transformer tones in one, and a wet/dry control to blend in the perfect amount of saturation.”
So UAD and Empirical Labs got together and came up with this wonderful software emulation of the FATSO Jr. not only that, they brought to life the FATSO SR. which was originally envisioned by the FATSO Jr designer but never has been made into a physical unit. Thanks to UAD the FATSO SR. made it to the digital domain first. What a treat for a fraction of the cost.
I’ve used this plug-in, thanks to my beloved UAD-2 Satellite, on a couple of projects. Take my word for it, if you money aint (uhh, who says it “aint” a word?!?) long enough to cop the hardware Fatso jr. box the UA plug-in is certainly and unequivocally the best alternative. Not to mention it’s much cheaper. And it sounds “amazing”, with a capital AMAZING!
“The Empirical Labs EL7 FATSO’s ingenious design and creative feature set gives users the wonderfully warm and pleasing sound of magnetic recording tape, class A transformers, and tube circuits. Endorsed and scrutinized for accuracy by designer Dave Derr of Empirical Labs, Universal Audio has painstakingly recreated the FATSO Jr. in this highly anticipated UAD Powered Plug-In, capturing the sonic nuances of the original hardware. Specifically, the FATSO is designed to musically integrate frequencies and transients — and increase the apparent volume of your source material — in the same way classic analog equipment does.”