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How many of you actually use tape emulation?
Old 9th April 2019
  #1
How many of you actually use tape emulation?

I'm curious, how many of you actually use tape emulation when mastering? I auditioned the UAD ATR 102 last week and for the life of me I just wasn't getting anything useful out of it. I didn't spend a huge amount of time tweaking it, but it sounded better off.
Old 9th April 2019
  #2
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Bob Olhsson's Avatar
 

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The main benefit of tape I've found was tracking off the floor and not mixing. In many cases mixing from tape to DAT sounded better than mixing to tape. For mastering, real or emulated tape can be an improvement but it often isn't.
Old 9th April 2019
  #3
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Often I feel that a request of "tape sound" is merely just a tasteful combination of EQ and de-essing/HF limiting. Maybe some compression as well. I like to split the sound in controllable parameters. Tape alone I feel is often just too much - but then again I don't have great decks.
Old 9th April 2019
  #4
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thermos's Avatar
Sometimes it removes cheap sounding bright mic sound/over eq with alias-y stuff/esses/adds low mids/etc. So sometimes it takes care of a lot of problems, but thats like 1 in 20 projects (or even less).
Old 10th April 2019
  #5
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Use it 3% of the time but when it works it really works well.
Just for slightly smearing overly aggressive hi freqs it can help out a lot without having to use EQ.
Softube Tape does this thing where it's almost inaudible once it's in and is very subtle in my opinion.
Old 10th April 2019
  #6
Tape emulation gets used on maybe 25% of the masters I work on and not always just for high frequency smoothing. Sometimes it's more about the touch of color, glue, heft, or subtle L/R movement it can bring. I use and love the UAD ATR102 and I have the Slate VTM and Softube Tape as well...VTM literally never gets used anymore and it's rare that I prefer the Softube over the ATR102. Softube Tape is solid...inexpensive for what it does, easy on cpu, and the simple parameters/interface make it quick to use. The thing to keep in mind with the ATR102 is that it's a fairly deep plug with lots of options. It takes some time to learn how to best implement it. The tape formula, width and speed are quick to get in a general range for the material at hand, but the gain adjustments along with the eq and bias section are in my mind what make it work so well. If you prefer quick/easy check out Softube Tape. If you're simply looking for a little high frequency smoothing and saturation itb, demo BX Refinement...it's a cool one.
Old 10th April 2019
  #7
Deleted e999d8e
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reverb View Post
I'm curious, how many of you actually use tape emulation when mastering? I auditioned the UAD ATR 102 last week and for the life of me I just wasn't getting anything useful out of it. I didn't spend a huge amount of time tweaking it, but it sounded better off.
If I wanted the sound of tape in my masters, I'd use a real tape recorder. This talk of "tape emulation" makes me wonder how many of the people who use it have ever used a real tape machine, so that they have a meaningful standard against which to judge the software.

"This isn't a real emulator, but a something a lot like it."
Old 10th April 2019
  #8
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I wish I could reach UHE Satin more, but its so deep+the presets are so good
Old 10th April 2019
  #9
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miguelmarques's Avatar
For the saturation/coloration I never use it. Having said that, I use Satin in a separate bus just for adding noise/hiss from time to time.
Old 10th April 2019
  #10
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Olhsson View Post
In many cases mixing from tape to DAT sounded better than mixing to tape.
First 24-tk to DAT mix I did, the biggest difference I noticed was that the stereo center was pinpoint-precise, just like off the console. Not the vague, smeary "center area" that you always got (and still get) with 2-track tape.

I'm surprised that nobody ever talks about this.

In my "tape life," the only time this didn't happen was when I was mixing to picture, where all the monitoring was done off the Sync head. Switch to Repro for layback and the audio would be a bit prettier, but the center would turn into a blob.
Old 10th April 2019
  #11
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U-he Satin is in the chain more often than it's not...but I don't really use it for 'tape stuff', most of the time I have it set as flat and hifi as I can get it. I just like the 'boxtone' of it and the clipper on the output is my clipper of choice.
Old 10th April 2019
  #12
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted e999d8e View Post
This talk of "tape emulation" makes me wonder how many of the people who use it have ever used a real tape machine, so that they have a meaningful standard against which to judge the software.
If you like it, who cares? I don't think any less of Jolly Rancher because of their less-than-perfect emulation of watermelon.
Old 10th April 2019
  #13
Deleted e999d8e
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I love the 'ignore' function.
Old 10th April 2019
  #14
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teebaum's Avatar
I recently started using an anamod ats-1 (on approx 10% of my jobs).

until a few years ago i had a 1/2" studer a80 mark1 (with mark 2 drive control).

anamod doesn't catch a well maintained a80 or atr-12 in a 1:1 comparison, but it scores with the flexibility - different machines and tape types as well as fast changes of the measurement - in addition, the costs (and the quality fluctuations) of the tape material are eliminated. moreover, you can work without a delayed playback.

plugins don't really convince me on one mix. an exception can be "tape" from softube, if you use it for compressing bass - it's far from tape, but it can be useful.
Old 10th April 2019
  #15
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
First 24-tk to DAT mix I did, the biggest difference I noticed was that the stereo center was pinpoint-precise, just like off the console. Not the vague, smeary "center area" that you always got (and still get) with 2-track tape.

.
use the tape with m/s (increased s-signal during recording, decreased accordingly during playback)
Old 10th April 2019
  #16
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
use the tape with m/s (increased s-signal during recording, decreased accordingly during playback)
Okay, I guess an explanation is called for.

When you record on one stereo head and play back on a different one, there's a time discrepancy between left and right. If azimuth is set up as correctly as possible, this error is very small. But it's still always there.

When tape machines were all we had, we had no basis for comparison. Then DAT came along, with ZERO discrepancy on playback, and the difference was immediately obvious. At the time I thought people would make a really big deal about this. But that never happened.

What did happen, though, was a lot more interest in gear and techniques for "widening" lead vocals and such. This was never an issue before, because the playback head did it for you.
Old 11th April 2019
  #17
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Apostolos Siopis's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
If azimuth is set up as correctly as possible, this error is very small. But it's still always there.
.
No matter how long and how carefully I would adjust azimuth, there was always an egg shape at the goniometer.
Not always bad for the music, but when you figure out how to get the goodness of "tape" via other means, and then you compare it to material that was put on tape after the mix was done, it can become increasingly annoying...to the point of being one of the reasons I abandoned layback to tape some years now
(financially wise it also never made any sense)
Old 11th April 2019
  #18
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Trakworx's Avatar
Interesting how a flaw to one person is a feature to another person. Tape's subtle widening effect can be just the ticket for ITB mixes, and with my Ampex ATR 102 I also hear slightly increased front to back depth (Clients love it!). All of the tape emulations I've tried do that less than the real thing but I still use them sometimes on delicate mixes because the noise floor can be disabled in the plugins. UAD ATR 102 can be set up to be very unobtrusive yet still enhance dimension using the crosstalk pot. No one talks about it but Waves KMT is actually an impressive plugin when it's more extreme coloration fits the moment. And of course there are many times when none of the above sounds best. I like having all the options though. Gonna demo Satin soon based on scraggs' post!
Old 11th April 2019
  #19
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Brent Hahn's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Interesting how a flaw to one person is a feature to another person.
Not calling it a flaw, just pointing it out.
Old 11th April 2019
  #20
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Apostolos Siopis's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Not calling it a flaw, just pointing it out.
Yeah I wouldnt call it a flaw either.
It 's just that I would spend so much time adjusting and readjusting (just because maybe I could get it even closer to "perfect") that it made the work day quite hectic. I just couldnt let it go .
Old 11th April 2019
  #21
I have used the uad atr-102 on some masters. But I think its doing to much sometimes.. would be nice to have a blend/mix-control.

Sometimes i'll mix both to 1/4" tape and to a cranesong hedd with a little tube emulation. I a/b and decide who wins. It can be hard to choose. Pros and cons with both..

Hedd tape emulation doesnt sound like tape, it can be nice however, but tape? No.
Old 11th April 2019
  #22
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Franco's Avatar
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mister m View Post
Hedd tape emulation doesnt sound like tape, it can be nice however, but tape? No.
I always thought he should have labeled the knob "Tapeish Bump" or "Tapeish Compression" not "Tape" because of people's expectations.

Between the "Tape" knob on the HEDD, the UAD ATR-102 and DIYRE's 15ips card, I've got my "tape" flavors covered. I also like Tang better than Orange Juice, sue me.

EDIT: I would totally buy a real 1/2" reel-to-reel if 1) I could embed the pretty picture of the machine on the audio file somehow (because using an emulation vs a real one these days isn't obvious if you're only listening, the only way you know it's been bounced to tape is 'cus people always have to mention it) and 2) if it were possible to get the sound of the transport/reels spinning, as well as the smell of tape on the audio file, love that stuff!

Last edited by Franco; 12th April 2019 at 09:49 PM.. Reason: ¯\_(?)_/¯
Old 12th April 2019
  #23
Never in mastering. Sometimes on a bus or an instrument in mixing but since I'm usually the artist and mixer, it would be more of an artistic decision than technical mix decision because the UA Studer tape sim I have does too much to be that useful on a mix-wide level that I couldn't do through properly mixing my ****. It's a tool in the toolbox and sometimes it's useful.
Old 12th April 2019
  #24
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Tons of tape layback mastering here, about 50% of my sessions, usually at the clients request, they love the sound.

it can do wonders and sometimes even magic for harsh, clanky sounding ITB digital mixes.

the tape compression is the thing, for warmth, and the head bump on the lows can be amazing.

i’ve had many clients tell me they didn’t like their mixes all that much, until we hit tape with it,

can be startling in a good way, one guy even started crying he was so happy with the result.

of course it’s not just an ordinary garden variety tape machine.

think 1977 Cadillac El Dorado, all pimped out with leather interior.

Ampex ATR 100, 1/2” Flux Magnetics Mastering Heads, 30ips, at +6dB.

i generally don’t drive it too hard into the red, or too low either,

find the sweet spot is just the thing.

i’ve tried some of the emulations, which are just fine...

but there’s ~nothing~ like the reel thing baby

best, jt
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How many of you actually use tape emulation?-6d7cf71f-60b0-46e5-a2ba-5d81486d475e.jpeg   How many of you actually use tape emulation?-6e077a9a-7c3f-47b9-a4f1-75b82ff3c056.jpg  
Old 12th April 2019
  #25
I love the Anamod on a master.
Old 13th April 2019
  #26
Using my Anamod ATS-1 occasionally and I’ve used the UAD atr102 once or twice

The Anamod is a brilliant design, I just wish it wasn’t so noisy..
Old 13th April 2019
  #27
Deleted 691ca21
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Never once. Every time I have tried, and I tried a few, it just made things sound worse.
Old 13th April 2019
  #28
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teebaum's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by TanTan View Post
Using my Anamod ATS-1 occasionally and I’ve used the UAD atr102 once or twice

The Anamod is a brilliant design, I just wish it wasn’t so noisy..
they don't all seem to be equally noisy, for pop and rock (and that's the only thing i use the anamod for) i never had a problem

Last edited by teebaum; 14th April 2019 at 12:29 AM..
Old 13th April 2019
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brent Hahn View Post
Okay, I guess an explanation is called for.

When you record on one stereo head and play back on a different one, there's a time discrepancy between left and right. If azimuth is set up as correctly as possible, this error is very small. But it's still always there.

When tape machines were all we had, we had no basis for comparison. Then DAT came along, with ZERO discrepancy on playback, and the difference was immediately obvious. At the time I thought people would make a really big deal about this. But that never happened.

What did happen, though, was a lot more interest in gear and techniques for "widening" lead vocals and such. This was never an issue before, because the playback head did it for you.
Well this is interesting. I'm not that much mastering commercially anymore these days (the business is just a mess), but when I do I tend to use my standard-analogue chain (just a Tubetech CL2A into a MassivePassive). I know from measurements that the two sides are a bit different in frequency and phase response, more than they should be.
It could be easily fixed by a good tech.

However, I'm very reluctant to do this since I really like what these 'flaws' do to the mixes in many cases. I'm actually scared that having the pieces technically more 'perfect' would make them more boring.

Kinda like the famous Chris-Lord-Alge Blueface 1176 that just is internally wrong wired.
It would be cool to have a button on my chain switching from 'musically pleasing' to 'technically correct'.
However technically correct is much easier ITB, so why chase that with analogue pieces..

Last edited by kosmokrator; 13th April 2019 at 04:09 PM..
Old 13th April 2019
  #30
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum View Post
they don't all seem to rush equally, for pop and rock (and that's the only thing i use the anamod for) i never had a problem
I use the Anamod on one to 20-30 songs,
It’s not much but when it works it’s beautiful!

I’ve brought it back from retirement after installing my new Crookwood console, I use trimmer A pre Anamod and trimmer B post Anamod so I can find the sweet spot and at the same time compensate for level loss
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