8 great tape simulators

6th Jun 2012 | 09:25

8 great tape simulators
Tape your choice…

The biggest criticism levelled at digital audio is that it doesn't have the same 'colour' or 'vibe' as analogue. Faced with a demand for warmer timbres, clever developer folk decided that there was nothing to prevent vintage sounds from being recreated in the digital world; and today analogue desk and tape simulation plug-ins abound.

The big advantage of the software approach is that you can push and pull things in ways that would have been too much hassle on hardware. So, you can drive your drums hard via tape and your bass less so, while at the same time keeping your vocals clean, tidy and saturation-free.

Over the last 18 months, we've seen some impressive new tape sims become available, with a few even endorsed by the original manufacturers. But assessing such subtle processors can be tough, so we've decided to set several up together to hear how they compare.

NEXT: Universal Audio Studer A800

8 great tape simulators
Universal Audio Studer A800
PC/Mac; VST/AU/RTAS; $349

UA started at the top of the multitrack tree with this meticulous recreation of Studer’s most successful analogue machine, the A800.

Find out more about Universal Audio Studer A800

8 great tape simulators
Universal Audio Ampex ATR-102
PC/Mac; VST/AU/RTAS; $349

We feel that the Ampex is the slicker of UA’s two tape emulators, but with roughly twice the DSP hit, you’ll need to use it more sparingly.

Find out more about the Universal Audio Ampex ATR-102

8 great tape simulators
Nomad Factory Magnetic
PC/Mac; VST/AU/RTAS; $129

Magnetic pushes the boundaries for a tape emulator, even offering a digital tape setting. It’s great value, good for colouring sounds and easy to use.

Find out more about Nomad Factory Magnetic

8 great tape simulators
Waves Kramer Master Tape
PC/Mac; VST/AU/RTAS; $200

This has to be the funkiest plug-in of the lot - it focuses solely on the gritty tone of ¼-inch tape. It also provides both slapback and feedback-style tape delays.

Find out more about Kramer Master Tape

8 great tape simulators
PC/Mac; VST/AU/RTAS; €169

VTAPE Saturator, Delay and Flanger make up VirSyn’s long-established bundle. You’ll use the Saturator for straightforward tape machine simulation duties.

Find out more about VirSyn VTAPE

8 great tape simulators
Acustica-Audio/CDS Nebula3/CD SoundMaster
PC/Mac; VST/AU; €79+

The Nebula3/CD SoundMaster combination is a well-established and flexible route to tape nirvana.

Find out more about Acustica-Audio/CDS Nebula3/CD SoundMaster

8 great tape simulators
SKNote Roundtone
PC/Mac; VST/AU; $20

It’s a budget option, but Roundtone still includes cool features such as cross-plug-in linking and five oversampling quality modes.

Find out more about SKNote Roundtone

8 great tape simulators
Magix Analogue Modelling Suite
PC; VST; $199

The suite includes a transient modeller and tube preamp plus am-track, a tape simulation and compression processor.

Read more about Magix Analogue Modelling Suite

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