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Ampex ATR 102, Anamod ATS-1, UAD, Waves - Processed Files
Old 4th October 2011
  #1
Ampex ATR 102, Anamod ATS-1, UAD, Waves - Processed Files

Hi all,

As a long-time analog tape user I have been intrigued with the release this year of popular tape sims by Waves and UAD, and with the great reviews of the Anamod ATS-1 still floating around, I wanted to compare them, and pit them against real tape machines. So I invited fellow slut Brad McGowan to bring his ATS-1 over and we printed a bunch of files through it, focusing on the ATR 102, 351 and A800 emulations because those are what UAD and Waves chose to model, and because I have a hardware ATR 102 1/2" 2 track here (as well as a Studer A810 1/4" 2 track, and an Otari MX-80 2" 24 track).

Today I'm just posting the tip of the iceberg - various processed versions of a stereo rough mix. If there is sufficient interest in this thread, I do have Anamod-processed files of several individual instruments, stereo drum stems, and a rough mix of another louder faster song. As time permits, I can process and post comparison files to go with those as well.

Of course all of these machines are capable of a variety of sounds using different tape types, speeds, alignments, etc. There could be endless files. To make it manageable, this thread will focus mostly on 456 tape at 15 IPS because that is what is most common to the machines in question. The exceptions are Waves KMT (MPX) which was modeled using only 3M Scotch 206/207 tape, and my A810 which is set up for 456, but at 30 IPS. This is not a perfect comparison, but should still give some idea of what these devices do.

I included a 30 IPS version of the UAD A800 to compare with the 30 IPS Studer A810 hardware. Not exactly apples to apples but… And my apologies for neglecting to print this mix through the Anamod A800!

There is a "calibrated" as well as a "flat" version of the Anamod ATR 102 because we were having issues with getting it to behave the same as the HW ATR 102 and the UAD when testing with tones. There was more HF roll-off and more bottom boost with the Anamod than with the others. This was our attempt to compensate using the EQ controls on the Anamod. For the "calibrated" Anamod ATR 102 we set the LF Rec at 10:00 and the HF Repro at 2:00.

I spent some time calibrating my ATR 102 and the UAD ATR 102 to have similar frequency responses which are pretty flat and not too far off from what the Anamod does. There is some ultra-high frequency roll-off and "head bump" bass boost happening in all 3 ATR 102s.

Also, there is a version printed to 2 tracks of my Otari MX-80 2" 24 track just for fun.

Because the hardware processed files have conversion involved, I included a DA/AD loop in the path of every file to even the playing field. I felt this was especially important because I use Burl converters, and I wanted all the files to have the same converter coloration, or as I like to call it - the same advantage. heh

[Edit] I have added the original ITB bounce in case anyone wants to hear it compared to the DA-AD only file.

RMS levels were matched using the AudioSuite "Gain" plug-in to analyze and make fine adjustments.

It's a lot to take in. In evaluating these files I have found it useful to listen for front-to-back depth, width, separation of instruments, bottom end "glue", overall glue, transient shaping, high end texture (smoothness vs brittleness), and articulation of the piano in particular. I'm interested to read your impressions!

So here are 16/44 waves of a clip from "Stealing the Same Things" by The Midway Delta, who were kind and generous enough to give me permission to post. Seek them out and pleasure them in any way you can!

And special thanks to Brad McGowan for his time and invaluable help! (Pleasure him too)

Enjoy!

J~

10/5/11 - Added drum submix samples.

10/14/11 - Added Bass samples

.
Attached Files

Mix 1 DA-AD Only (no tape or sim).wav (8.65 MB, 7186 views)

Mix 1 Ampex ATR 102.wav (8.65 MB, 7175 views)

Mix 1 AnaMod ATR 102 (calibrated).wav (8.65 MB, 6035 views)

Mix 1 AnaMod ATR 102 (flat).wav (8.65 MB, 5289 views)

Mix 1 UAD ATR 102.wav (8.65 MB, 5719 views)

Mix 1 AnaMod 351.wav (8.65 MB, 5387 views)

Mix 1 Waves KMT (MPX).wav (8.65 MB, 5274 views)

Mix 1 UAD A800 15 IPS .wav (8.65 MB, 4833 views)

Mix 1 UAD A800 30 IPS.wav (8.65 MB, 4705 views)

Mix 1 Studer A810 30 IPS 456.wav (8.65 MB, 5146 views)

Mix 1 Otari MX-80 .wav (8.65 MB, 4746 views)

Mix 1 ITB.wav (8.65 MB, 4827 views)

Drums DA-AD Only.wav (2.93 MB, 5006 views)

Drums ATR 102 .wav (2.93 MB, 4846 views)

Drums Anamod ATR 102 flat.wav (2.93 MB, 4602 views)

Drums UAD ATR 102 .wav (2.93 MB, 4682 views)

Drums Anamod 351 .wav (2.93 MB, 4595 views)

Drums KMT (MPX) .wav (2.93 MB, 4432 views)

Drums Anamod A800.wav (2.93 MB, 4508 views)

Drums UAD A800 .wav (2.93 MB, 4367 views)

Drums MX-80.wav (2.93 MB, 4255 views)

Bass AD-DA only .wav (1.58 MB, 4237 views)

Bass ATR 102 .wav (1.58 MB, 4086 views)

Bass Anamod ATR 102.wav (1.58 MB, 4235 views)

Bass UAD ATR 102 .wav (1.58 MB, 4203 views)

Bass Anamod 351 .wav (1.58 MB, 4231 views)

Bass KMT .wav (1.58 MB, 4110 views)

Bass UAD A800 .wav (1.58 MB, 3987 views)

Bass Anamod A800 .wav (1.58 MB, 4123 views)

Bass MX-80 .wav (1.58 MB, 4118 views)

Old 4th October 2011
  #2
Gear Head
 

Before anything else, thanks for this!
Old 4th October 2011
  #3
Lives for gear
 
YOHAMI's Avatar
 

YES.
Old 4th October 2011
  #4
Gear Nut
 
Annalogatta's Avatar
 

Very generous!
Thank you.
Old 4th October 2011
  #5
Lives for gear
 
YOHAMI's Avatar
 

OK, I wish I had a different veredict... my little journey:

Good starting point. I think I recognize the Burl´s signature on the tracks. Pumpy and peaky with a self contained mid /low range. ok.

Go back and forth between ITB And Studer A810. I dont particulary care for that tape sound but its more glued. Fine so far.

The Otari MX80 is a bit more clear sounding. One tad preferred over the A810.

Ampex ATR102. At first I cant listen to the difference. Is this thing turned on, am I listening to a plugin? Back and forth between all the other files. OK. There is a gold sheen on top of everything, and the sound is more transparent, and glued, but up there. The stereo separation is at the same more evident AND glued. Probably as a result of some harmonic distortion... but it doesnt feel like so, it feels like... liquid? Its like this was the starting point and and the ITB was an effect that degraded the signal, if it makes any sense. ATR102 has more detail and is more live and transparent than the source. WTF.

Anamod ATR 102 (calibrated) someone took the lights out? great glue, vintagey. Its eating transients. Its compressing things. I hear it doing its thing. Not the Ampex sound though. Maybe like an Ampex running old tape?

Anamod ATR ( flat ) so close in sound to the calibrated one. Maybe a tad more transients? is it more saturated? louder? mmmm kind of like this more over the calibrated one, whatever the difference is.

UAD ATR 102. Interesting, this has the same luminosity of the Ampex, has a tiny bump in frequencies that the Anamod is missing - but none of the sheen! sheen, where are you? I like the eq curve but it becomes hard to listen to / fatiguing after a few loops. Back to comparison with the Ampex. F**k it, I cant listen to UAD.

UAD A800 30/15. Someone took the Studer A810 sound that I didnt care for and put a blanket on top of it, then a carpet, then squashed the transients with a hammer. But something about it still sounds digital. Not my thing.

Waves MPX. Interesting. I hear a midrange sheen here gluing things. Very pleasant. And compression. Comparing it to the Ampex 102 a few times, this one renders the Ampex "less interesting" so there might be a difference in dbs somewhere. Moving to the chorus part, the MPX is breaking the highs in a way the 102 doesnt, but the breaking somehow compensates for the lack of sheen up there. Cmon, this is seriously compressing the signal. Im a sucker for compression so this thing aint playing fair. There is a digital flatness to this thing, but its a good plugin. Not close to the Ampex 102 though, maybe closer if the 102 had an eq control plus a compressor. The Ampex still sounds like it was the source, with improved stereo separation and sheen. Whatever. Interesting stuff.

Anamod 351. Ok, seriously chewed up sound. There is a kind of contradiction because the highs and upper transients are sort of intact. The midrange and bottom are more compressed and chewed up, but some upper transients escape and keep it sounding modern. I wouldnt do this to a track unless I wanted it to sound really old - then I would do like four passes. Very nice as a saturation fx.

MY VEREDICT:

For the tape feel, Ampex ATR 102 wins over the other hardware tapes.

Anamod sounds like hardware. It probably sounds like tape. It sounds more vintage and "tapey" and chews up more transients than any of the real tapes there though, which in comparison sound more hi fi. I like the Anamod 102 over Studer and Otari.

Waves MPX is a cool plugin.

UAD - I want to like UAD. Like. I paid already right? I want to like them. Please?

I wish I could get the Ampex 102. I´ll probably get the Anamod.

Or, how if you keep your Ampex and I send you my mixes for you to run through? would that be very expensive?

Thanks a lot for doing this shootout. I would love to hear the effects of these units on every track.
Old 4th October 2011
  #6
Gear Head
 
Kwinn's Avatar
 

thank you very much for your effort!!!

if possible, it would be great to have the other files, as well
Old 4th October 2011
  #7
You're welcome! 'Glad to give something back to GS. I've learned so much here.

I'll prepare more files as soon as I can fit it in. Stay tuned...

J~
Old 4th October 2011
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by YOHAMI View Post
I think I recognize the Burl´s signature on the tracks.
I just added the original ITB bounce for you to compare to. It was all originally tracked through the Mothership, but the ITB bounce doesn't have the final pass through B2s. I think you'll hear why I included the external loop in all the processed files...

J~
Old 4th October 2011
  #9
Lives for gear
 

Just to clarify,

1) you ran the mix off the console to the (real ) atr102 and then transferred it to digital and then bounced it to 44.1/16

And then,


2) you ran the mix off the console straight to digital and bounced it with either the UAD atr 102 or the anamod and bounced it to 44.1/16

Is this correct?

Or did you use a digital 2 track, convert it and run it back into the (real) atr102 and then convert it again back to digital?
Old 4th October 2011
  #10
Lives for gear
 
YOHAMI's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
I just added the original ITB bounce for you to compare to.
Very good. The additional ADDA removes some of the harshness and adds... more detail at the same time. I think this test can show other people what the Burl´s "color" is about. Bottom line, Burl is so good.

Are you summing this through a board / box? or is it just a straight stereo bus?
Old 4th October 2011
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
Just to clarify,

1) you ran the mix off the console to the (real ) atr102 and then transferred it to digital and then bounced it to 44.1/16

And then,


2) you ran the mix off the console straight to digital and bounced it with either the UAD atr 102 or the anamod and bounced it to 44.1/16

Is this correct?

Or did you use a digital 2 track, convert it and run it back into the (real) atr102 and then convert it again back to digital?
I wanted to start with as digital a source as possible. The original file is a stereo mix bounced to disk in PTHD 9, 100% ITB, at 24 bit, 44.1kHz. The 24 bit file was then looped out through B2 DACs and B2 ADCs when creating the samples, then they were exported at 16/44 for upload. The song was tracked straight to digital through the Mothership so it has not hit any tape prior to this test.

J~
Old 4th October 2011
  #12
Lives for gear
I love this thread!

IM LIKING THE AMPEX ATR 102 BOTH HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE.

NOT LIKING THE MPX....
Sent from my PC36100 using Gearslutz.com App
Old 4th October 2011
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Aaron Miller's Avatar
I love the lushness, softness, and glue even on the ADA round trip only file. The Anamod and hardware units add some subtle sheen and soften transients even more but what I'm hearing overall seems to be result of every piece of the recording chain adding a little bit of depth, weight, sheen, glue, etc. I imagine the Burl is a part of this and maybe some other color outboard was involved on the way in or mixing? Can I ask what pres you were using?

Hearing files like these compared to what I'm used to (Apogee Ensemble --> Logic) is night and day. I know there are other factors but I think the sonic texture alone makes a great case for the "it all adds up" arguments. Man this makes me want to get a Mothership AND an Anamod.
Old 4th October 2011
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
I love the lushness, softness, and glue even on the ADA round trip only file. The Anamod and hardware units add some subtle sheen and soften transients even more but what I'm hearing overall seems to be result of every piece of the recording chain adding a little bit of depth, weight, sheen, glue, etc. I imagine the Burl is a part of this and maybe some other color outboard was involved on the way in or mixing?

Hearing files like these compared to what I'm used to (Apogee Ensemble --> Logic) is night and day. I know there are other factors but I think the sonic texture alone makes a great case for the "it all adds up" arguments. Man this makes me want to get a Mothership AND an Anamod.
Well thank you sir!

You are indeed hearing the cumulative effect of the mics, pres, outboard gear, and Mothership used to track it.The original source rough mix is very stripped down and all ITB, just some Altiverb on the vocal.

'Looks like this might turn into a Burl thread!

J~

P.S. Pres used were a collection of various vintage and modern. 'Can't recall exactly which on what for this song, but you can check my gear list on my site for an overview. Vocal and Ac Gtr were AEA R44CE with AEA RPQ pre, I remember that much.
Old 4th October 2011
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by YOHAMI View Post
Or, how if you keep your Ampex and I send you my mixes for you to run through? would that be very expensive?
Yes, I like the part about me keeping my Ampex heh

No, it wouldn't be expensive. I got your email. I'll get back to you.

Thanks!

J~
Old 5th October 2011
  #16
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
Hi all,

I really want to thank Justin for putting this together. We had a great time hanging out at his studio last week and getting intimately familiar with the subtleties of all these processors. It was eye-opening to say the least.

I intend to post more of my impressions in detail once others have had a chance to weigh in but I did want to say the following while it's fresh in my mind:

1. If anyone is interested I'd be happy to process the rough mix clip through my highly modded MCI JH-110 using Mytek conversion...just as another point of reference. Let me know and I'll get the clip from Justin. I also have my highly modded Studer 1/4" deck. I believe I have 456 for both machines. Justin--maybe you should come by and we can do that!

2. The Burl converters brought the love to the boring digital party. They definitely have a sound and seem to make everything sound sweeter, wider, and deeper. Who cares if they are transparent? They sound rad.

3. The 351 card for the Anamod takes the cake IMHO--if you are an Anamod owner or considering an Anamod, this is the one to have.

4. Justin's live room is really cool. I'm jealous of his ridiculously high ceilings. heh

Justin and I spent about 5 hours running clips together. I think we spent about half of that time dicking around trying to calibrate all the equipment. More about that later.

I'm looking forward to everyone's impressions. As far as I know this is the first time I've seen real tape decks directly compared to corresponding plugin emulations and hardware emulations (Anamod) in a semi-controlled manner on this forum.

Brad
Old 5th October 2011
  #17
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
I wanted to start with as digital a source as possible. The original file is a stereo mix bounced to disk in PTHD 9, 100% ITB, at 24 bit, 44.1kHz. The 24 bit file was then looped out through B2 DACs and B2 ADCs when creating the samples, then they were exported at 16/44 for upload. The song was tracked straight to digital through the Mothership so it has not hit any tape prior to this test.

J~
Fair enough, so really what we're doing here is comparing the distortions between the different formats/plugs. I think (for me anyhow) a big part of mixing down to a real Atr 102 is to capture a mix off the console without it being band limited.
Old 5th October 2011
  #18
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
I agree with you Kats...a real tape deck allows you to capture an analog mix without hitting A/D. This comparison is relevant to those situations where someone may want to process already converted material. It should help reveal how close the emulations are to the real thing, even though you may not be using the real tape as a storage medium. There's really no other way to compare to plugins or the Anamod and be able to share the results.

Brad
Old 5th October 2011
  #19
Lives for gear
 

I understand there is no other way to compare them, as long as everyone else does, the test has it's use.
Old 5th October 2011
  #20
Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
Fair enough, so really what we're doing here is comparing the distortions between the different formats/plugs. I think (for me anyhow) a big part of mixing down to a real Atr 102 is to capture a mix off the console without it being band limited.
Absolutely, that is the original purpose of the ATR 102; to mix onto from a console. And now in today's digital/analog hybrid world we have many more possible uses for a machine or simulation. There is layback mastering for one. There are CLASP, Anamod, Portico, and the various digital tape sims, each with many possible uses. So the intent here was just to let people hear how some of these stack up with each other in a scenario where the result will be printed digitally, as is so often the case these days in many studios.
Old 5th October 2011
  #21
Lives for gear
 
grooveminister's Avatar
I have to say thank you for this great effort too!
This is a massive and incredible valuable contribution to this forum!
Old 5th October 2011
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
So the intent here was just to let people hear how some of these stack up with each other in a scenario where the result will be printed digitally, as is so often the case these days in many studios.
This can be construed to mean that my point is moot if the final version is to be in a digital format (like 99.99% of everything we do), which obviously is not the point I was tryng to make.

You have to be aware that many people who read this thread may not have had the opportunity to use an ATR102 as a final mix medium. With that in mind, these comparisons may be misread into believing that a plug in or tape simulation is a valid substitute to the process.

For that to be true, it would mean that most engineers mixing down to the format do so to impart the distortions and flaws inherent in the tape medium. This is clearly not the case. No one would buy a 1/2" 2 track for this reason, especially and ATR102 since it is one of the most transparent and high fidelity machines ever built. You would be better served using a 1/4" Revox at low ips if your goal was to lower the resolution of your mix.

So really this comes down to is this. If you have the inclination to use a tape machine as some sort of effect box by using it beyond it's intended limits (or simply for the subtle flaws inherent in the design), these plug ins and simulators can be a valid substitute. A point that I can agree with, and a point that makes your comparisons worth the effort you put in.
Old 5th October 2011
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
This can be construed to mean that my point is moot if the final version is to be in a digital format (like 99.99% of everything we do), which obviously is not the point I was tryng to make.

You have to be aware that many people who read this thread may not have had the opportunity to use an ATR102 as a final mix medium. With that in mind, these comparisons may be misread into believing that a plug in or tape simulation is a valid substitute to the process.

For that to be true, it would mean that most engineers mixing down to the format do so to impart the distortions and flaws inherent in the tape medium. This is clearly not the case. No one would buy a 1/2" 2 track for this reason, especially and ATR102 since it is one of the most transparent and high fidelity machines ever built. You would be better served using a 1/4" Revox at low ips if your goal was to lower the resolution of your mix.

So really this comes down to is this. If you have the inclination to use a tape machine as some sort of effect box by using it beyond it's intended limits (or simply for the subtle flaws inherent in the design), these plug ins and simulators can be a valid substitute. A point that I can agree with, and a point that makes your comparisons worth the effort you put in.
Please don't construe it that way. Not trying to mootilate your point at all.

The original intended use of the ATR 102 can exist alongside other uses, no?

Many people wish to use tape sound as a processor to "warm up" or otherwise improve their digital recordings. I think that is the main purpose of the simulators, and I have found it is sometimes a good use of a real machine as well. What one person might call a subtle flaw, another might call a great enhancement.

To whatever extent that these processors are useful for whatever purpose one chooses, that is the extent to which this comparison is useful. I'm not telling anyone how or why to use them, or to use them at all, just trying to compare them in the best way I can.

I'm glad you made your point in this thread so readers won't make false assumptions.

Cheers,

J~
Old 5th October 2011
  #24
Lives for gear
 
Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kats View Post
So really this comes down to is this. If you have the inclination to use a tape machine as some sort of effect box by using it beyond it's intended limits (or simply for the subtle flaws inherent in the design), these plug ins and simulators can be a valid substitute. A point that I can agree with, and a point that makes your comparisons worth the effort you put in.
Well, the end result will be digital anyway....unless vinyl is pressed.

You're right in that before digital recording 'tape' was never intended to be used as an 'effect', it was a storage/recording medium. The intent was to record as accurately as possible! Tough with tape.

It took the digital age for us (many) to look at tape in a different light.

I'm one who embraced digital early on (always had battles with tape!) and was ready for the good riddance dance....but not so fast

Perhaps someday the kids of today will yearn to verbally talk on their cells instead of just texting
Old 5th October 2011
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fleaman View Post
Well, the end result will be digital anyway....unless vinyl is pressed.
This is exactly what I'm talking about.
Old 5th October 2011
  #26
Moving on...

I find it interesting to look at how many views each file has after the first day. It gives insight into which processors the slutz are most interested in.

So, anyone want to pick what I should process next - Mix 2 (louder/faster song), drum mix, solo kick, snare, bass, E Gtr, Ac Gtr, or vocal?

J~
Old 5th October 2011
  #27
Lives for gear
 
Fleaman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
So, anyone want to pick what I should process next - Mix 2 (louder/faster song), drum mix, solo kick, snare, bass, E Gtr, Ac Gtr, or vocal?

J~
Obviously the tape effect is way more evident on transient material, ie; drums. So a mix with upfront drums, or drum mix only, or individual trks, kick, snare (especially rimshots), OH's, etc.
Old 5th October 2011
  #28
Lives for gear
 
BradM's Avatar
The drum submix would be a good one.

I think what I'm going to do is run some frequency response plots for the Anamod at varying input level settings so everyone can see what it's doing. Justin and I had a hell of a time getting it to "calibrate" in a way that yielded as flat a response as was possible with the real tape deck. The high end was rather rolled off in comparison. More on this later. Justin--would it be possible for you to do the same for your ATR102? I'm not sure how we could do this for the UAD plugin. Let's talk offline.

Brad
Old 5th October 2011
  #29
Lives for gear
 
YOHAMI's Avatar
 

Can the Anamod 102 be calibrated into eating less transients, but keeping the sheen? how much can you control over there?
Old 5th October 2011
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad McGowan View Post
The drum submix would be a good one.

I think what I'm going to do is run some frequency response plots for the Anamod at varying input level settings so everyone can see what it's doing. Justin and I had a hell of a time getting it to "calibrate" in a way that yielded as flat a response as was possible with the real tape deck. The high end was rather rolled off in comparison. More on this later. Justin--would it be possible for you to do the same for your ATR102? I'm not sure how we could do this for the UAD plugin. Let's talk offline.

Brad
OK, Drum submix coming next!

I recall that the Anamod ATR 102 low frequency bump was also a bit exaggerated, and wider than the HW and the UAD...

Brad, I have already printed all the ATR 102 files and have recalibrated the machine for a different reel, so that would be a bit of a PITA at this point... Frequency response being just one of many aspects of the sound of a tape machine, I hope we can safely rely on ears more than eyes to evaluate these.

I can tell you from memory that the HF roll-off of the HW ATR 102 using 456 at 15 IPS was -1.2dB at 16kHz and -3dB at 20kHz and the UAD was about the same after I calibrated it using the same process. What are the HF figures for the Anamod ATR 102 again?

J~
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