Tape emulator shoot-outs
Old 18th August 2006
  #1
Lives for gear
 
Hope209's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Tape emulator shoot-outs

I searched but couldn't find anything. Have there been any shoot-outs between hardware and/or software tape emulators?
Old 18th August 2006
  #2
Lives for gear
 

If you do a search on the individual product names, you'll find a lot of comments. I don't recall an actual shoot out - so this might be a good place.

Hardware - there is a lot of stuff about the Neve 5042. That's basically a taperecorder with no tape - the record & playback heads face each other. Mr Neve believes that most of the "tape" magic is actually in the tape heads and associated electronics - and this makes a lot of sense. So the main thing you don't get is wow & flutter, but it's probably the next best thing to a Studer.

Software - it's best to simply download the demo's and make up your own mind. I've seen people rave over stuff like Magneto, and I think it's just cheap fizzy crap.

IMO - there a three things a tape emulation should model:
saturation/compression/distortion - the non-linear region of tape
eq response & phase smearing effect
wow & flutter

Some tape sims are simply saturation/distortion. IMO, if this distortion doesn't sound good when pushed to the extreme, I don't think it's worthwhile. I hate the sound of Magneto pushed. I love the sound of PSP MixSaturator pushed.

Others give you some compression/limiting as well, which I think is more realistic. I like PSP VintageWarmer.

Voxengo Tape Bus seems to be saturation/distortion coupled with convolution of impulses taken from real tape machines. So even though this doesn't have the overt compression/limiting of VintageWarmer, it gets the EQ and phase smearing thing which the other don't get. The time-based effect is quite extreme on some of those impulses. And there seem to be some stereoizing effect from emulating the subtle differences in analog paths left & right.

IMO - nobody has nailed the perfect tape sim plugin yet, but you just use whatever works best. So for that reason I think a lot of so-called Tube simulators or Distortion plugins can do a similar job and if it works, who cares what it's called.

People usually forget the wow & flutter thing - usually because that was a nasty problem with tape that we don't really want. But I don't think you can ignore the effect of very slow, subtle modulation. You can use modulated delay plugins for slow vibrato effects, so it's not really that important - but it would be nice if anyone ever made a fully featured tape sim.
Old 18th August 2006
  #3
Gear nut
 
mcollinge's Avatar
 

Don't forget about tape hiss! I mean that only half jokingly....

And seriously, I agree that a fully featured emulator would be nice.

I like the Vintage Warmer, also. The distortion is fairly realistic.
Old 18th August 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 

the fatso is nice.
Old 18th August 2006
  #5
I have 4 flavors of it -

Cranesoneg Hedd, Cransesong Pheonix plug in, Rupert Neve Designs 5042, Empirical labs Fatso..

I use em all or none of them, as the mood takes me.

The pro's & cons of them? That's a 20 min discussion topic IMHO.. and a not very conclusive one when all is said and done...

Old 18th August 2006
  #6
Gear maniac
 
tunasafedolphin's Avatar
 

As far as software goes, I'm pretty sure Phoenix takes the cake. Still, I'm not sure I would consider it a "tape simulator" as much as I consider it a "tape like" effect.

-C
Old 18th August 2006
  #8
Lives for gear
 
andrewj's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules View Post
Cranesoneg Hedd, Cransesong Pheonix plug in, Rupert Neve Designs 5042, Empirical labs Fatso..
Four nice examples! A bit cheaper and a bit worse: PSP Vintage Warmer and the Saturator in Ableton Live! I like them both, but they are not as good as the other units Jules advised! Not far away, but away!
Old 18th August 2006
  #9
Gear maniac
 

Having little to no experience with tape drives, I wouldn't even have a clue whether an emulater was doing a decent job or not. I know I don't want to get into the cost and maintenance of a tape drive.
Maybe I could rent a little studio time where they have a high quality tape drive, and just bring my PC, some tracks, and a few of the popular tape plugins (VW, Mixsaturator, etc). Do a little A/B. That would be a worthy education.
Anybody got a studio with a nice tape drive in Central FL ?
Old 18th August 2006
  #10
Lives for gear
 
doubledecker's Avatar
 

I think Phoenix does the job very nicely, thank you very much.
Old 18th August 2006
  #11
Gear maniac
 
freshmints's Avatar
 

unfortunately dont have any experience witht
the mentioned hw but i like the psp mix saturator .
Old 19th August 2006
  #12
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
People usually forget the wow & flutter thing - usually because that was a nasty problem with tape that we don't really want. But I don't think you can ignore the effect of very slow, subtle modulation.
Amen to that. It's the lack of speed anomalies that makes flutterless instruments (piano, harp, accordion etc.) and reverb tails sound sterile and cold. I'd definitely buy a plug that could dial in a little of that -- or a lot, ie the rip-the-flywheel-off-the-capstan "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" sort of thing.

The other aspect of tape emulation that doesn't seem to be addressed is azimuth error. Again, it's a problem that, in, theory, we don't want. But to me, while the upsides of mixing to digital media are the lack of frequency cancellations and the pinpoint imaging, sometimes those "problems" with tape can sound cool.
Old 19th August 2006
  #13
Lives for gear
 
yeloocproducer's Avatar
Yeah I really want that wow and flutter algo. I've been thinking about that being a gap in the plug-ins for awhile... anyone listening?
Old 19th August 2006
  #14
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by fonman View Post
Having little to no experience with tape drives,..... I don't want to get into the cost and maintenance of a tape drive........where they have a high quality tape drive......Anybody got a studio with a nice tape drive in Central FL ?
FYI, it's called a tape "machine" or tape "recorder". A tape "drive" is a device used to back up DATA. And I feel sad for you that you've never had the opportunity to hear or use one in real life. Maybe sometime soon....before they are all in parts bins or museums.

I find it sad and a little bit amusing that there's a whole generation of "engineers" who have never smelled the glorious smell of a new reel of 250 being cracked open or entertained the joys of re-calibrating a tape machine, yet are so quick to jump in about the fantastic "sound" of analog tape and how to duplicate it with digital plug-ins or tube gear.

I count myself fortunate for all those countless hours on my knees aligning the almighty JH! I remeber well......., but I would not go that route again.
Old 19th August 2006
  #15
Gear Guru
 
drBill's Avatar
 

If any of you are working in Pro Tools HD, you should really check out the Massey "Tapehead" plug in. Much more agressive than Phoenix. It does magic for lead guitars. Very nice. Still experimenting with it, but I'd never want to mix without it again.
Old 19th August 2006
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
If any of you are working in Pro Tools HD, you should really check out the Massey "Tapehead" plug in. Much more agressive than Phoenix. It does magic for lead guitars. Very nice. Still experimenting with it, but I'd never want to mix without it again.
Also Snare.

Not to mention that it's very (very!) cheap. Well, for Pro Tools plugs anyway.
Old 19th August 2006
  #17
Lives for gear
 
stagefright13's Avatar
 

PSP Vintage warmer is very useful! Sounds nice on certain stuff. Also Tapehead is great. Really simple and a nice plugin. I also have a Tascam 34 reel to reel. But so far noone seems to want analog so much that they will spend the extra money for the tape. And I don't have an alignment tape for it anyway. And trust me I need one lol!
Try using a tube preamp on the way in. And get your "repeatable" saturation that way. That's what I do. No plugin actually sounds just like tape tho. I have recordings from the 80's done on 24 track 2" that there is no way I can get that sound. For better and for worse.
Old 19th August 2006
  #18
Lives for gear
 
kosi's Avatar
I have a Cranesong Hedd, the Phoenix Plugins, the Massey Tapehead demo, a real Studer A80 and my favourite at the time is Echoboy
Old 19th August 2006
  #19
Lives for gear
 
yeloocproducer's Avatar
DUY tape, analog channel, tapehead, portico 5042, pheonix... people have pretty much covered it. Portico on the 2 is cool but adds a bit of 300hz... not good for an intitially warm or boxy recording, unless you mix into it and compensate. Pheonix is great for subtle smoothing and glueing on individual tracks, analog channel makes things a bit 2D/ too colored for me, DUY tape is good for the hiss and that's about it, and tapehead is great on almost any individual track, but particularily kicks and snares. But I'm going to mess with echoboy now that I've heard a couple of others mentioning it.

I have A/B'd a real tape machine (not the hippest but an MCI JH-110), the portico, and DUY tape on the 2 bus. I thought the MCI sounded the best (best low end extension and width), the DUY sounded a bit... flat... for lack of a better word, sorta fake, and the portico was really pretty good overall.. maybe a bit wooly and narrow compared to the real thing. But just a bit. If you have the emulators on the bus while you mix, you can mix into them and get a good result. One mix I had done into the DUY tape plug just wouldn't improve if I changed over to real tape or the portico. I think it's sort of like external summing when using a very colored tape effect on the buss... one may sound better than another depending on if you mix into it or the source material. Take all this with a grain of salt and check them out for yourself!
Old 20th August 2006
  #20
C_T
Gear Head
 

awesome discussion! i was looking for just such a shoot-out. thanks for all the replies so far guys!
Old 21st August 2006
  #21
Gear maniac
 

and it's free too (delayifier)

Quote:
Originally Posted by yeloocproducer View Post
Yeah I really want that wow and flutter algo. I've been thinking about that being a gap in the plug-ins for awhile... anyone listening?

this one has wow&flutter...vst only though:

http://www.macmusic.org/software/vie...ang/en/id/874/


Cheers,
Macmod
Old 21st August 2006
  #22
3 + infractions, forum membership suspended.
 

I have tried software only, the ones I've tried are: PSP Vintage Warmer, Steinberg Magneto, PSP Mix Saturator and about 3-5 other plug-ins that I can't remember the name of. Of the plug-ins I mentioned I think PSP Mix Saturator comes most close to the real thing, however, I think it kind of destroys the signal at the same time.

I once tried Cakewalk Tape Sim, I think that was a pretty interesting plug-in due to what it did to the mids and highs. I think I will try to combine Waves C1 and Cakewalk Tape Sim later today and see what result I get from such a combination...
Old 21st August 2006
  #23
Mastering
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiwiburger View Post
If you do a search on the individual product names, you'll find a lot of comments. I don't recall an actual shoot out - so this might be a good place.

Hardware - there is a lot of stuff about the Neve 5042. That's basically a taperecorder with no tape - the record & playback heads face each other. Mr Neve believes that most of the "tape" magic is actually in the tape heads and associated electronics - and this makes a lot of sense. So the main thing you don't get is wow & flutter, but it's probably the next best thing to a Studer.
I think the key is more than just having the heads and the "studer." Most of the saturation occurs in the tape itself. And without the complex interaction of bias current, b-h curves on the tape and the complex result that comes off the tape, the Neve is just a "low order approximation." It may even sound good, but it's not tape.


I like the Cranesong "tape" emulator in the Hedd. It does a nice job, but doesn't quite have the "presence" of tape. But as a "sweetener" it has its place, a little bit of HEDD is NOT THE SAME AS TAPE, but nice nevertheless when you're looking to "fuzz things up" and other methods, like analog compression or selective frequency compression, do not do the job. I'd rate the HEDD as "80-90% of tape", but it deserves a better grade because it does not have any audible digital aliasing artifacts when used at 96 kHz, unlike some other emulators.
Old 21st August 2006
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Oroz's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bob katz View Post
I think the key is more than just having the heads and the "studer." Most of the saturation occurs in the tape itself. And without the complex interaction of bias current, b-h curves on the tape and the complex result that comes off the tape, the Neve is just a "low order approximation." It may even sound good, but it's not tape.


I like the Cranesong "tape" emulator in the Hedd. It does a nice job, but doesn't quite have the "presence" of tape. But as a "sweetener" it has its place, a little bit of HEDD is NOT THE SAME AS TAPE, but nice nevertheless when you're looking to "fuzz things up" and other methods, like analog compression or selective frequency compression, do not do the job. I'd rate the HEDD as "80-90% of tape", but it deserves a better grade because it does not have any audible digital aliasing artifacts when used at 96 kHz, unlike some other emulators.
And what do you think about the plug in version? (Phoenix)
Old 21st August 2006
  #25
Lives for gear
 
KrisNY's Avatar
 

+1 for Steve Massey!
Old 21st August 2006
  #26
Gear maniac
 
vocomotion's Avatar
 

Massey's Tape-Head rocks!

--> freddie
Old 21st August 2006
  #27
Gear maniac
 
tunasafedolphin's Avatar
 

Sounds like I need to try the Massey.

That aside, I guess I've never really looked at "tape emulators" as a way to make something sound like it's gone to tape. I think we're still a ways off from that happening. However, they can certainly give some of that vibe.

In all honesty, with the price of tape machines dropping rapidly, why not just by a nice 2-track and have yourself an "outboard" tape emulator? I think ya'll would be much happier with the result.

-C
Old 22nd August 2006
  #28
Church of UAD
 
Matt Hepworth's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tunasafedolphin View Post
In all honesty, with the price of tape machines dropping rapidly, why not just by a nice 2-track and have yourself an "outboard" tape emulator? I think ya'll would be much happier with the result.

-C
Maintenance.

I just got a machine to do just that. It takes a long time to process tracks through. Tape is expensive (around $65/ 16 min of 30ips for 1/2") and it's a hassle, especially for those like myself that are not super proficient with alignment, calibration, etc.

Yes, tape machines are fairly cheap, but they don't work without hundreds of dollars of other things (like calibration tape, demagentizers, empty takeup reels, NAB Hubs, etc.)
Old 22nd August 2006
  #29
Gear maniac
 
tunasafedolphin's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by glitch View Post
Maintenance.
I respectfully disagree.
Old 22nd August 2006
  #30
Lives for gear
 
six_wax's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kosi View Post
I have a Cranesong Hedd, the Phoenix Plugins, the Massey Tapehead demo, a real Studer A80 and my favourite at the time is Echoboy
How do you use Echoboy? 100% wet with the saturation up?
New Reply Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook  Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter  Submit Thread to LinkedIn LinkedIn  Submit Thread to Google+ Google+ 
 
Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Similar Threads
Thread
Thread Starter / Forum
Replies
msolay / Music Computers
12
suicide shift / So much gear, so little time!
1
Jules / So much gear, so little time!
14

Forum Jump
 
Register FAQ Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

SEO by vBSEO ©2011, Crawlability, Inc.