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Old 12-20-2016, 10:41 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is online now
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Default tape emulation plugins

I've been curious about how much difference tape emulation software makes on tracks, so I demoed a few. I grabbed three plugins (Waves J37 Tape, Slate Virtual Tape Machines, UAD Studer A800) and A/B-ed them against each other on individual tracks and decided the UAD Studer A800 was more pleasing to the ear. Then I demoed the UAD Ampex ATR-102 and put that on the Master Bus.

Using a rough mix of a song I'm working on, I created two mp3 files. One with the tape plugins, the other without. To my ear, the mix with the tape is much less brittle on the top end and has a smoother feel throughout. The only difference on the two tracks is the tape plugins being bypassed. I think it's makes a pretty big and positive difference, enough so that I'm probably going to lay out the cash to grab these.

This is a rough mix because I only have a limited time to demo these plugins, but I'm curious to hear what others think.





For anyone who's interested, this is a song I wrote after I read about the high divorce rate among combat veterans who return home from war zones too mentally damaged to cope.
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Old 12-21-2016, 02:03 AM
Ty Ford Ty Ford is offline
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What mic and preamp are you using?

Ty Ford
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Old 12-21-2016, 07:18 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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Try it on non-compressed files (WAV, AIC, FLAC).
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Old 12-21-2016, 07:39 AM
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Very nice tune and performance.

Both sound good. The differences are pretty subtle. The one with the tape is about a decibel or so louder with a little boost in the lower frequencies. Very low frequencies are coming though so you might want to add a high pass filter (say around 35 hertz or so).
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Old 12-21-2016, 09:22 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
What mic and preamp are you using?

Ty Ford
The preamp is a Hardy M1. I'm pretty sure the guitar was tracked with a pair of ADK A6 mics and the pickup is blended in there as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeBmusic View Post
Try it on non-compressed files (WAV, AIC, FLAC).
That's a good idea. Do you think the difference will be more noticeable? I went with mp3 because that's the format most people use now to listen to music.

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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
Very nice tune and performance.

Both sound good. The differences are pretty subtle. The one with the tape is about a decibel or so louder with a little boost in the lower frequencies. Very low frequencies are coming though so you might want to add a high pass filter (say around 35 hertz or so).
Thanks. I know the mix is rough. I didn't do much to the bass except compression. I did it quickly because the demo period is short, the sale ends in 10 days, and I need to decide if these plugs are worth plopping down $400 (For that $400, I'll also be able to get the Chandler Mastering EQ). Any difference in loudness comes from the tape emulations. The only difference between the two versions is that those tape plugins were bypassed. I'm going to spend some time in the car with these and see how I feel. I'm still leaning towards buying them but I'll be okay if I wind up not.
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Last edited by jim1960; 12-21-2016 at 11:49 AM.
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Old 12-21-2016, 10:25 AM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Hey the song is outstanding kudos

I was only listening on laptop ear buds I'll give a listen in my studio later.
But first impression was it simply eliminated some of the top air
Is that smoother or is that just less info and slightly less air ????

As a general note I have mixed feeling about Tape emulations and saturation plugins in general .
When Slates Virtual mix console came out I got it an for about 6 or 8 months thought is was the bees knees. But honestly I have stopped using it completely.
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Old 12-21-2016, 11:11 AM
jim1960 jim1960 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Hey the song is outstanding kudos
Thanks. I appreciate the compliment and the feedback on the tape emulation.

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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
I was only listening on laptop ear buds I'll give a listen in my studio later.
But first impression was it simply eliminated some of the top air
Is that smoother or is that just less info and slightly less air ????
Interesting. I just gave both versions another listen with that in mind. I think the top end in the no-tape version is a bit harsh. The tape seems to eliminate that harshness. I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts after you give it a go in the studio. If you think the top end is lacking, I could try to eq a bit more air into the mix and see if it's still less harsh.

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Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
As a general note I have mixed feeling about Tape emulations and saturation plugins in general .
When Slates Virtual mix console came out I got it an for about 6 or 8 months thought is was the bees knees. But honestly I have stopped using it completely.
I demoed the Slate VTM plug this week. Compared to the UAD Studer, I thought it was a little lacking. It wasn't bad, but I thought the UAD Studer was better. I also tried the Waves C37 but honestly that plug is so subtle I couldn't hear a difference when I used it. Perhaps if I was doing songs with 30+ tracks and had it on all them, I'd notice it, but my songs tend to be a 20 tracks or less ...much less if there are no drums.
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Old 12-22-2016, 06:11 AM
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Somehow it seems on point:



I've still got Sony analog tape machines back in my machine room!

Bob
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Old 12-22-2016, 06:50 AM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack View Post
Somehow it seems on point:
I've still got Sony analog tape machines back in my machine room!

Bob
Yes but are analog versions actually getting close to reproducing the algorithm ?

Seriously though, Do you still get clients who want to record to tape ?
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Old 12-22-2016, 07:06 AM
Ty Ford Ty Ford is offline
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Emulation:

roll off the highs, crunch the mids and create tape hiss.

Yes, I know that there's more to it than that.

Kev, what was your discovery process that led to you first liking and then not liking the plugin?

When I read that, I thought about how frequently we can be wooed by something new only to find that, in the end, it's not so great.

Regards,

Ty
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Old 12-22-2016, 07:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevWind View Post
Yes but are analog versions actually getting close to reproducing the algorithm ?
Hah!


That's 24 tracks of Dolby SR noise reduction above the APR-24 multitrack, by the way. My favorite combo is 15 IPS with Dolby SR. The bass is more solid than at 30 IPS and I like the saturation better.
Quote:
Seriously though, Do you still get clients who want to record to tape ?
What I get more these days is producers bringing in their master tapes and asking for a modern mix to be accomplished. My latest was a film soundtrack from the '90s that had suddenly become popular but had never been released on CD. I sent the tapes off to a lab to have them baked to remove humidity and chemically treated to stabilize them. When I got them back, hermetically sealed, I put them up, aligned the machine, and then transferred them into the workstation immediately. I was then able to execute the mixes over a few weeks and sequence the master for CD production.

I've always dreamed of adding the CLASP system to our operations but as long as the clients aren't crowing for it it is hard to justify it. Clasp uses your multitrack as a closed-loop analog processor. You just put up a tape and punch record on the workstation and the CLASP loops it out to the tape recorder to be recorded as you see fit (saturated or clean) and then brings it back in off the playback head and aligns the clips properly. Analog warmth with digital convenience!

Bob
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Old 12-23-2016, 04:34 PM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford View Post
Emulation:

roll off the highs, crunch the mids and create tape hiss.

Yes, I know that there's more to it than that.

Kev, what was your discovery process that led to you first liking and then not liking the plugin?

When I read that, I thought about how frequently we can be wooed by something new only to find that, in the end, it's not so great.

Regards,

Ty
Humm good question. To clarify the plugin I was using was not a tape emulation it was the Slate VMC (Virtual Mix Console ) an emulation of the design circuitry etc. of several different classic analog mixing consoles. The theory being it would add more "analog presence and feel 3D effect etc. etc. " But unless I increased the input or drive parameter (which effectively increased the level sort of like make up gain on a compressor) I could not hear much difference and while at first it did sound like more presence I think it was actually simply more volume. Now I do think there was some subtle change or coloration going on, but I did not feel like it really increased the presence or 3 D aspect, any more than simply bumping the level a bit.
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Old 12-23-2016, 04:41 PM
KevWind KevWind is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Womack View Post
Hah!
I was able to watch a demonstration of the CLASP by the company at a studio in Denver a couple years ago, it was impressive. If I remember correctly it was something on the order of $5k to $10k
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Old 12-23-2016, 05:17 PM
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I usually use the UAD Ampex plugin on my solo guitar tracks. It probably adds 0.01% of something, and even that may be my imagination, but to me it sounds better in than not. Just a tad warmer and smoother.
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Old 12-23-2016, 06:15 PM
Martin Maniac Martin Maniac is offline
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Sonar's Pro Channel has a Tape Emulator built into it, which is quite interesting, it has record levels that can boost up the signal to get a really strong signal up to a distorted signal, or anywhere in between. At the right setting it does add a nice touch, and spruces up the sound quite a bit. I just listened to some acoustic guitar with it applied and it did indeed sounded better. I had to fiddle with the settings a little but it didn't take long to get a nice sound. I'm sure it doesn't compare to a $5-10,000 dollar plug-in, but for me it's nice.
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