One of the byproducts of recording on tape is the fact that it added some glue to the mix that engineers have found lacking in the digital world. As a result, tape saturation plugins have become standard in many mixer’s plugin lists, and they’re getting more and more sophisticated every day. The latest tape emulator on the market is Softube Tape, and it may be the most advanced yet.
Softube Tape provides three different tape machine types in one plugin. Type A is based on a Studer (what Softube calls a “classic high end machine”), Type B is based on a transformer-style machine for extra weight on the low end (an Ampex ATR 102?), and Type C is “based on a British tape machine with a distinct vintage vibe (I would guess one of the EMI machines).”
There are some interesting extras that you don’t find on other similar plugins. You can control Tape Speed (including tape speeds that the machines could never actually do), as well as Speed Stability, Channel Crosstalk, and High Freq Trim. One of the cooler features is the Run Stop sound effects that simulate the sound of a real tape machine starting and stopping.
Tape can be used on the mix buss, but also on the individual tracks as well, since it’s light on CPU processing power. If you’re a PreSonus Studio One user, you can add Tape to the MixFX slot for an effect called Tape Multitrack that provides crosstalk between channels to truly simulate that vintage tape sound. Tape also comes with presets from Joe Chiccarelli and Howard Willing to get you started.
Softube Tape is available as a standard plugin that will run on any DAW that hosts AAX, AU, or VST formats. It’s available at an introductory price of $79 until the end of June, then the price returns to $99. A 20 day trial version is available. You can find out more on the Softube website or in the video below.