Softube from Sweden offers a fine array of quality plugins for recording. Their latest endeavor is TAPE, a reel to reel emulation plugin meant to give your recording the sound of having been recorded on an analog tape reel.
Such plugins are common and most major producers of recording plugins offer one. There was a time when all records were recorded on tape and it is believed to give records more space and depth than a completely digital recording.
The reel has a certain subtle hiss or distortion to it that creates space. It can already be heard when you play back the reel before it has been recorded on.
Reel to reel can help open up a recording creating spatial gaps between the instruments.
The plugin’s interface has a cool and realistic design! The parameter options are very much like a real reel to reel device.
We have a level and THD (total harmonic distortion) meters. The THD lets you see how much space or harmonic distortion you are adding. This can be adjusted with the Amount knob.
For different colors of distortion, you can choose between 3 different types or models of tape machines.
Next to that, we can change the speed of the tape. For example, back it the day you could slow the tape speed down which you gave you more mileage from the tape reel. In the case of Softube TAPE plugin the slower the tape the more lo-fi, so to speak.
The Remote Control can be opened on the lower right side revealing another group of parameters.
Here we have Dry/Wet, Speed Stability, High-Frequency Trim, and Cross Talk.
Speed Stability lets you change how stable the tape is moving in the reel. An unstable tape gives you a wobble effect.
The High-Frequency Trim works like an EQ slope on the Harmonic Distortion. The Crosstalk is a bit like a delay or a minimal stretch. Cross Talk has an almost stretching & shimmering effect especially noticeable in the higher frequencies.
On a tape machine the sound is radiated from one tape to the other and Cross Talk sets the speed a which this happens. There are 2 faders for input and output, a noise switch and a Run and Stop button. The stop button creates a tape stopping sound effect.
I like Softube Tape’s design and I think Softube put a lot of effort into making this plugin authentic. The plugin’s effect itself is very subtle. You can barely notice any difference of effect when adjusting parameters on the front panel. (Amount/Type/ Tape Speed). Adding Amount does apply a soft fine tape saturation that gives some space but you really have to listen to it.
The Remote Control Panel has more effect on the sound. Adjusting Speed Stability to Wobbly produces a vibrato that you’ll only get with tape simulation. It’s uniquely warm and wonky. A moderate dose on individual tracks or just a tad on the master adds depth.
It seems to draw the sound into the 3 dimensional. Speed Stability and Cross Talk have an interesting effect that I haven’t found in other types of plugins!
I think with some exploring and serious fine tuning Tape can give your tracks space. In comparison to other reel to reel simulation plugins „Tape“ is very authentic.
Twisting and turning knobs leaves you wondering if it’s actually doing anything but there are no settings that sound artificial.
It’s very transparent compared to other plugins of its kind. Obviously pushing up the Output makes it louder and brighter but a compressor or limiter will do that too.
If you are searching for a way to give your recording some analog warmth Tape will give you some added depth.
If you have had experience with real reel to reel tape machine and are familiar with its subtle nuances Tape offers a fine and transparent simulation.