Tape Emulation Shootout: U-He Satin vs. UAD Ampex ATR-102 vs. Waves J37 and Kramer Tape

Discussion in 'Software Reviews and Tutorials' started by mercurysoto, Nov 29, 2016.

?

Which one do you like better?

Poll closed Nov 29, 2016.
  1. Sample A

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Sample B

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. Sample C

    2 vote(s)
    40.0%
  4. Sample D

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  5. The difference, if any, doesn't justify the expense.

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  1. Cav Emp

    Cav Emp Audiosexual

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  2. superliquidsunshine

    superliquidsunshine Audiosexual

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    Nothing but deep respect for you, Buddy.
     
  3. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    I got around to working with some of the Nebula Tapes last night on some distorted guitar tracks.
    My goal has been using the tape sims to help calm the brightness and remove that "digital" sound from the guitar tracks, but retain their warmth, power, and punch.
    I'm just guessing, but I wonder if the "digital" sound I'm talking about is actually aliasing of harmonics in the upper frequencies of distorted guitar tracks that digital just can't capture properly. It may be that I'm recording at 44.1Khz which is contributing to this phenomena.
    I started with the J37 which did help.
    After comparing to the VTM, however, I found the J37 to be more boxy sounding, seeming to accentuate the 500 Hz in a not so pleasant way. This wasn't immediately obvious until after comparing to the VTM.
    The VTM retained more of the warmth, and punch and didn't alter the tone drastically as the J37 did. But I still felt the guitars to be missing that powerful feeling and still felt the digital sound, while greatly reduced, was still there.
    Guitar is my first instrument so I suppose I'm looking for that "real amp" sound to pop out of my mixing monitors and after years of playing through various amps, I'm pretty sure I know what that should sound like.
    Next I tried an old tube tape preset with Nebula.
    This was pure magic to the sound. Everything about it that made it sound digital and fake was gone, replaced by sweet electric distorted power.
    I suppose the next thing to try would be my Akai, but I might try an Akai Nebula preset first just to see what the difference between my Akai deck and the Nebula library would be.
    Anyways, that is the result of my shootout done with my own source material for any who are interested.
     
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  4. Iggy

    Iggy Producer

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    40 tracks of Studer, not Ampex. You'd want to put a multi-track tape plug on each track of your mix to emulate a multi-track tape recorder, if you or your client were going for an "analog tape" thing. I wouldn't use 40 tracks, even if I were emulating a symphony ... but there are certainly plenty of people out that would use that many tracks or more. That's more of a client-side thing, that I'd want the capability to do that if it were requested. Personally, I'd be happy emulating the entire analog experience and stick to 16 or 24 tracks, tops. Most mixes I do, 12 seems like a lot. But I always hear about people having dozens of Pro Tools tracks (I assume many of them haven't heard of "comping").
     
  5. Iggy

    Iggy Producer

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    Out of the bunch, Waves is easily the worst in regards to tape emulation. Even Toneboosters sounds better. For one thing, Kramer's Ampex deck must be broken or needs to be cleaned or something. Satin, VTM and UAD's Ampex sims all have their advantages and disadvantages, but all of them sound a lot closer to an actual professional tape machine than Kramer Tape does. For another, the J37 is a first-gen four-track from the Sixties that the Beatles stopped using by the time they ditched their Mod haircuts. It's not an overall multi-track tape sim, it's (theoretically) emulating a specific piece of hardware and a couple of different outdated tape stocks. It would be like using Waves' King's Microphone sim to warm up your Shure SM57.
     
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  6. Iggy

    Iggy Producer

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    The rental model is a bit scary, not only for Slate, but also for companies like EastWest, where you download half a TB of sound libraries that are rendered useless the moment you stop renting them. Renting to own is one thing (even if they follow the real world model and mark up by 100 percent), but if you're just renting without a perpetual license and you've been paying on something for years, then suddenly experience a financial mishap that forces you to stop renting for a while, you've lost a good chunk of your sound library or plugin arsenal. You'll have lost all that equity for something that only exists inside your computer.

    The Avid model is pretty nice. I got a free perpetual license for PT 10, 11 and 12 with my audio interface and won't have to pay for anything until next year (a 99 dollar annual fee). If I can't or won't pay, I still get to keep everything I've downloaded, and I can restart my subscription at any time.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2016
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  7. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    Yeah, I think that's why I picked it to try, that "vintage" thing. I just felt in my gut that the guitar tracks needed to be ever so slightly Lo-Fi in a way. It might be just the thing for certain types of material, but for a Jackson ran through a Marshall Mode 4 & 1960b, and a Les Paul through an Orange Thunderverb 50 & 4x12 Orange Cab, the mics I used (Shure SM587, MXL Ribbon), my preamps (ART MPA Pro II), and essentially everything in my processing chain, it didn't help in the recreation of the guitar sound. It sounded passable on my monitors, but translation to other systems was a wreck.
    This weekend was "supposed" to be spent running some tracks through actual tape to see what that did, but after listening to the few that I did using the Nebula Preset on several different systems, I felt obliged to redo most of my guitar tracks through that thing so I could see what happens across the board with many different tracks. Same result with everything I put through it. Pure, clean guitar power! I'm extremely happy about that as the guitar sound has been vexing me for several months. I'd just been living with what I had as opposed to hearing it and saying "Wow".
     
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  8. bernie marx

    bernie marx Noisemaker

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    Which Nebula preset are you referring to?

    Also, is anybody a fan of McDSP's Analog Channel 202?
     
  9. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    CDSoundMaster R2R the Wollensak.
     
  10. Iggy

    Iggy Producer

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    Before I settle on a tape sim, I'm probably going to give Airwindows' Console 4 a try (he's now giving it away free on his site). Waves also has a console sim, though I believe Slate did it first. I only place an instance of Satin on the master fader to mimic mixing down to tape, between the EQ and the limiter, as placing it last on the chain ends up with some wonky peaks.
     
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  11. digitaldragon

    digitaldragon Rock Star

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    Yeah, I guess flavor-wise, last is where it should go.
    I've used the Slate Console stuff, not the Waves stuff, though.
    I always seem to go back to Nebula for the console sims too. There's so many to choose from.
     
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