There are a lot of tape emulation plug-ins available these days, many of them are very good indeed. Is it a case of taste or are there some tape emulations that are just better than others?
Here is our round-up of today's tape emulation plug-in contenders, take our favourite plug-in poll at the end for you to have your say, please also add your comments and opinions.
With meticulous attention to detail in both sound and graphics the UAD models are loved by many - the one drawback is the need to own UAD hardware to use it, but in our view a UAD card or interface is money well spent. Both can be purchased as a bundle. Our review of the UAD ATR-102 plug-in is here. Supports RTAS, VST and AU. AAX Native coming soon.
Modelled on a vintage tube tape machine found at Olympic Studios in London that Eddie used on his great recordings of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. Adjustable tape speed, bias, flux, wow and flutter, slap / feedback delay. Supports VST, VST3, RTAS, AU, AAX Native.
Nomad Factory Magnetic tape plug-in
Offering 9 tape models from some of the best tape machines in history, there is plenty to tweak and plenty to like about this plug-in. Supports AAX Native, RTAS, VST and AU.
This plug-in has been around for a long time and although it might be a little dated, one should not overlook this plug-in from Avid, it offers a lot of flexibility for the user willing to give it tweak. Supports AAX Native, AAX DSP, TDM, RTAS, AudioSuite
From the hands and heart of Dave Hill, perhaps one of the smartest and nicest men in the audio industry, Crane Song Pheonix II picks-up from the original TDM version. It offers 5 ‘flavours’ of tape emulation and does not try to look like a tape machine with its GUI, instead the design concentrates on easy to use controls allowing the user to tweak the ‘level dependant’ processing. Supports AAX Native, AAX DSP, TDM, RTAS, AudioSuite
Do we need another tape emulation plug-in? In 2017 Softube thought we did and it was great to see that Softube, the kings of analog modelling, finally released their own take on the genre. The Tape plug-in by Softube couldn't be easier to use, it features a selection of really powerful controls such as dry/wet which is great for achieving tape flanging effects and high freq control which is great shaping the top end of a track or full mix. Tape features three types of tape machine which are tonally quite different from each other - My favourite is type B as I think it sounds the most rounded and punchy of the three. Tape also features a cool tape stop effect which is a great creative addition which can be used as a nice production feature... if used cleverly.