Tape Emulation Plugins for Logic Pro – Overview

a picture of a vintage tape recorder
The market for analog tape emulation plugins has been coming to full fruition lately, with major third-party plugin developers now offering digital emulations of legendary tape machines to saturate your magnetic tape needs. If you need to bring some analog tape warmth back into your Logic Pro projects without breaking the bank (or your back!), have a look at my round-up of some of the best tape emulation plugins on the market today.

Tape Emulation Plugin for Logic Pro – Round-up

Waves Abbey Road J37 Tape Emulation Plugin

Waves-J37-Tape-Emulation-Plug-in

Created in association with the legendary Abbey Road Studios, Waves offers the J37 tape saturation plugin that was modeled after the machine originally designed by recording pioneer Dr. Willi Studer. This machine was used by many legends from the ‘60s and ‘70s, including the Beatles. Tape Speed, Bias, Noise, Saturation, Wow and Flutter are all adjustable, and the plugin lets you choose 3 kinds of special “Emitape” formulas that were developed by EMI for exclusive use in its studios back in the day. Each tape formula has its own unique frequency response and harmonic distortion artifacts.

Video

In this video Eli Krantzberg uses the Waves Abbey Road J37 tape emulation plugin in a relatively unconventional way. You will hear it in use on a lead guitar track with an EQ before and after it, in order to focus the tape saturation effect on a specific area of the frequency range.

J37 supports the AAX Native, RTAS, VST and AU plugin formats.

For more info, see Waves J37 Tape.

Slate Virtual Tape Machines

Slate-Virtual-Tape-Machines

After conducting a comprehensive study of the physical processes that occur when recording audio to analog tape, and a year of testing and critically listening to the results, Slate Digital has turned the sound of two tape machines into a digital algorithm. The Virtual Tape Machines plugin models both a 2 inch 16 track from Hollywood based NRG Recording, and a half-inch 2 track machine from Howie Weinberg, head mastering engineer at the world renowned Masterdisk Studios in New York City. The plugin offers a choice of two tape formulas, two tape speeds, noise reduction control, Wow & Flutter control, bass alignment control, bias settings, and level calibration.

Slate Virtual Tape Machines costs $149.00.

The plugin supports VST, RTAS, AU – an iLok2 is required.

For more info, see Slate Virtual Tape Machines.

Waves Kramer Master Tape

waves-kramer-master-tape

The Waves Kramer Master Tape plugin was developed in association with tape-head Eddie Kramer, who has engineered albums for artists such as Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and the Rolling Stones. This plugin is modeled on a vintage 1/4″ tape machine, and offers an adjustable tape speed, bias, flux, wow & flutter, and noise parameters, and a slap & feedback tape delay. The Waves website has an excellent piece on the daunting task of developing a tape emulation plugin – terms like flux, tape types, tape speeds, pre-emphasis curves and bias are all explained. It’s an article well worth reading.

Video

In this video you can see how Eli Krantzberg uses the Waves Kramer Master Tape plugin to create some thick slightly over-driven saturation on backup vocals, as well as an automated feedback delay effect during a breakdown.

Kramer Master Tape currently costs $249,-

See Waves Kramer Master Tape for more details.

Nomad Factory Magnetic II

nomad-factory-magnetic-2-tape-emulation-plugin

Another tape emulation plugin for Logic Pro is Nomad Factory’s Magnetic II tape emulation plugin. It features 9 tape models from manufacturers including Otari, Ampex, Tascam, and Studer. Reel Speed, Saturation, Tape Color, and Wow & Flutter all can be adjusted.

Available as AudioUnit – RTAS (Pro Tools) and VST plugins. 32-bit and 64-bit are supported.

Magnetic II currently costs $129,- for more info, visit Nomad Factory Magnetic II.

U-He Satin Tape Emulation Plugin

u-he-satin-tape-emulation-plug-in

Urs Heckmann’s U-He offers the Satin tape emulation plugin, featuring many options to emulate all the tape goodness like saturation, transient-smoothing, and even more exotic tape artefacts like head-bump, true tape flanging, hiss and esperity noise. Extra FX modes include a 4-tap stereo tape delay that synchronize to your project’s tempo. U-He Satin’s ‘group’ feature makes it easy to group and manage multiple instances of the plugin.

Satin is available as an AudioUnit and VST plug-in. 32-bit and 64-bit are supported.

Satin costs $129,- for more info and audio demos (including explanations as to how they were made), check out the U-He website.

Tape Emulation plugins of Audio Cassette Recorders, Puh-Lease?

pioneer-stereo-cassette-deck

Hopefully – but this is just my thinking – the plugin developers mentioned in this article will eventually jump to developing plugins that emulate the sound of audio recorded on audio cassette. I’ve sure used my share of pure alcohol (to clean the heads) and q-tips, learning about the differences between Dolby A, Dolby B, Dolby C, and ultimately Technics’ awesome DBX noise reduction. I really can’t wait for this to happen. As the sound of tape saturation comes in many colors, the more we’d have available to us, the better.

The GIF is courtesy of the excellent audioklassiks.de website.

Update – New (Cassette) Tape plugin by Goodhertz

goodhertz wow control cassette tape emulation plugin

Update, October 2016: Looks like my wish finally has been granted 🙂

Goodhertz have released a new tape-based wow & flutter plugin called Wow Control ($129 – 15-day trial available). It can reproduce “every noise, every wobble, & every harmonic of three tape machines spanning three decades”, including cassette tape players. The plugin’s highlights include a big pitch range with shape controls, controllable speeds, beat-syncing, and an analog tape section with three modes: 15 IPS, 7.5 IPS, and Cassette.

See Goodhertz Wow Control.

Or have a look at this page, I’ve made some Wow Control Audio Examples.

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