What's the best tape emulator right now?

Discussion in 'Mixing and Mastering' started by MINIGUNPUNK, Sep 7, 2021.

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What's the best tape emulator right now?

  1. Slate - Tape Maschines

    6 vote(s)
    10.3%
  2. U-he - Satin

    22 vote(s)
    37.9%
  3. Your option in the comments

    13 vote(s)
    22.4%
  4. View options

    17 vote(s)
    29.3%
  1. MINIGUNPUNK

    MINIGUNPUNK Member

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    I have 2 plugins, from Slate, and from U-He Satin. I don't know which one is better, but I would like to use one of them on the master, to give a warm, analog sound. But I am not a professional in this stuff, I didn’t deal with tape recorders, so I don’t know which sounds better, the truthfulness of the tape recorder is important to me.

     
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  3. BEAT16

    BEAT16 Audiosexual

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    Best Tape Emulation Plugins

    - Softube Tape
    - Slate Virtual Tape Machine
    - U-he Satin
    - Waves J37 Tape
    - Waves Kramer Master Tape
     
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  4. justwannadownload

    justwannadownload Producer

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    Throw Slate away, it's garbage.
    The best tape saturation plugin is Airwindows ToTape6. I'm serious.
    When it comes to emulation, probably u-He Satin paired with some decent IRs. The ones in Satin aren't that authentic.
    Caelum Audio Tape Pro has decent ones, but it has other funkeries letting it down.
     
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  5. Yuri

    Yuri Rock Star

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    Not exactly what you're looking for, but you might find something useful in XLN's RC-20 Retro Colour.
     
  6. Lube Bag

    Lube Bag Ultrasonic

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    The "best" one is whichever one sounds best to you on the particular track you're working on.

    You say you "don't know which one sounds better" - there's a very simple way to determine this:

    1) Put each of them in the master in turn
    2) Listen to how they sound
    3) Decide which one you like the best
    4) The one you picked in step 3 sounds better (to you)


    If you've never worked with tape anyway, (or even if you had) why is absolute accuracy important to you? If you wouldn't know that accuracy even if you heard it, why worry about it? Isn't it more important you use a tool that helps you achieve the sound you want, rather than worrying about whether a plugin sounds EXACTLY like a tape machine you've never used?

    Your question seems somewhat contradictory - first you say you want a "warm, analog sound" but then follow that by saying the "truthfulness" (whatever that is) of the modelled machine is important. If you want a "warm, analog sound" then that will likely involve some saturation / harmonic generation, a bass boost from the simulated head bump, and, depending on how hard you hit the tape, some transient rounding and possibly a gentle rolling off of high frequencies, all of which probably subtract from the "truthfulness" of the sound that you refer to.

    So yeah, saying "I don't know which one is better" and then asking strangers on a forum which one is better strikes me as pretty crazy - asking which we subjectively prefer would maybe be more sensible, but it still won't tell you which one you prefer - put each of them on the master, mix through them, tweak some controls, and figure out which one you like, because you're the only person who can figure that out.


    But if you want random opinion from a complete stranger: I find Slate to be a bit too exaggerated, esp in the low end - it can be good for a specific character sometimes, but I don't find it very useful either on the master, or stacking multiple instances across tracks.

    I've liked Satin when I've used it, but I don't use it very often - my most frequently-used tape plugs are the UAD Ampex & Studer, followed by Softube Tape, and sometimes Waves J37. I use these ones because they're the ones that suit my workflow the best, and seem to get me to the sound in my head the fastest.
    I'm really not that concerned with whether or not they're 99.99999% identical to the machines they're modelling - they all sound great either way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
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  7. triggerflipper

    triggerflipper Platinum Record

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    There are IRs in Satin?
     
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  8. Blu

    Blu Member

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    Toneboosters Reelbus 3 and 4 are my gotos and very cpu friendly which is an added bonus. I prefer Softube Tape to Slate but I prefer to use Reelbus most of the time since I developed my own presets for different tasks years ago and I'm very satisfied with the results
     
  9. MINIGUNPUNK

    MINIGUNPUNK Member

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    Yes, I want warm tape analog sound, but I can't know which plugin gives me the best. The exact "casts" of the tape recorders that are on the market are important to me.
     
  10. BEAT16

    BEAT16 Audiosexual

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    I know these Tape Emulator tools, but I've never used one.
    If the sound is too thin, I prefer to use the: PSP VintageWarmer2 or the Blue Cat Audio Blue Cat's MB-7 mixer
     
  11. itisntreal

    itisntreal Producer

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    did anyone mention duck tape?
    For that real fat warm analog state of the art sound and sticky feeling
     
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  12. justwannadownload

    justwannadownload Producer

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    Yes, at the bottom.
    Maybe they've emulated it as well, but it serves the same purpose.
     
  13. Lube Bag

    Lube Bag Ultrasonic

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    Again - the simplest way to know which plugin gives you the sound you want is to LISTEN to them. There's no "best" - only ones which may work better for you at that particular time.

    I don't know why people seem so averse to actually just listening and making decisions for themselves - none of us here have any idea what kind of music you make, how good the performances/sound selection are, and none of us know exactly what you consider to be a "warm tape analog sound" - as someone who admits they've never actually heard real tape, I'd imagine your idea of what "tape sound" actually is, is probably a bit different to mine.

    The people who built tape machines were trying to get them as flat as possible - none of them were trying to build a machine that gave a "warm tape analog sound" - they were trying to build the most accurate recording system they could, with the technology available to them at the time. The fact that lots of people like the sound of the imperfections of the tape medium was purely a happy accident.

    Any of these "which plugin is best?" threads are fairly pointless, unless the only thing you're trying to achieve is building a list of every tape plugin that's ever been released, because that's essentially what you're going to get, as everyone chimes in and proclaims whichever plugs they own/use are the "best".

    So yeah, why not use this time to open your DAW, play around with the Slate and Satin plugs that you have there, and figure out the range of sounds you can get from each of them (because you can get a lot of different sounds from both) - then you can figure out which one (if either) is working out best for you.

    If neither works for you, then at least you might know why they're not working, and what you don't like, and we might then be able to help you with more specific suggestions.

    But yeah, simply going "I've got two plugins here, which one's best?" is mental - that's like me going "I've got two bags of chips here: salt & vinegar and bbq - which one's best?" - people will answer according to their preferences, and since I haven't told them, they can't possibly know that salt & vinegar is my favourite flavour of chip, while I can't really stand bbq.


    Your time would be much better spent actually putting some effort into answering that question for yourself (the one about tape plugs, not the chip one. Although if you haven't already gotten your chip prefs locked in, maybe spend some time on that too) since you're the only person who can actually answer it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
  14. Stevie Dude

    Stevie Dude Rock Star

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    surely it will glue everything together!

    Anyway, been using this a lot lately: Chow Tape Model

    https://chowdsp.com/products.html



    not the best, but it's pretty good! and it's free
     
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  15. Lieglein

    Lieglein Platinum Record

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    Softube Tape is the best.
     
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  16. Lube Bag

    Lube Bag Ultrasonic

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    No, Softube Tape is the 3rd best, after UAD Ampex and Studer. It's also a lil bit "better" than J37.

    Those are the ones that I use most, so they're the best. :hillbilly:
     
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  17. Moogerfooger

    Moogerfooger Audiosexual

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    CDSoundMaster R2R collection in combination with VTM-M2 for best compression & vintage vibe... UAD Ampex & Studer are a close 2nd 3rd.
     
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  18. BTHaniss

    BTHaniss Ultrasonic

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    I tried a lot of Tape emulations and analysed them in plugin doctor. If you want authenticity, I recommend Softube Tape and u-he Satin.
     
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  19. D____R

    D____R Ultrasonic

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    I seriously feel like an idiot every time i load up Softube Tape. I bought it when it came out and i can barely, to this day, hear what it does to anything i put through it. Maybe my ears are more damaged than i thought they were, but i just can't hear what it is supposed to be doing.
     
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  20. alonzo86

    alonzo86 Member

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    IMHO, the best tape emulation is Softube Tape.

    I was also strugling, turn the input slider on the hidden menu up, and output slider down accordingly, and then drive the ammount, you'll hear the effect more pronounced, it should start to break-up more and earlier. I think that the drive ammount is too subtle on default input-output settings. I'm getting useful tones when I drive the input +9 or all the way up +12 and output down accordingly.

    I'm waiting for some Black Friday or something to buy it as well so I can use it as a MixFX in Studio One.


    I think people mention Voxengo Tapebus a lot lately, but as far I as I think, it's just a soft clipper with EQ curves impulse responses and flutter.

    Waves J37 is good, Eric Valentine shoot it out vs his original J37 tapedesk on his yt channel and it's close enough, but it has a distinct tone.
     
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  21. MINIGUNPUNK

    MINIGUNPUNK Member

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    I already like satin, because you can see on the graph what happens to the sound, distortion, harmonics. This is cool, I like to add a slight hiss to the mix.
    As a beginner, this plugin is good, simply because there is a built-in graphical analyzer.
    As for the softube, for some reason I do not hear the difference in sound, except in wow flutter, noise, and moderate distortion.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2021
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