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Digital "console" emu's, tube clones, warmers, saturators?


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  • Digital "console" emu's, tube clones, warmers, saturators?

    Today there are many DAW pluggies which seek to emulate old-school analog consoles,    tube amps,   so-called "warmers" and tape saturators.    Run a track through one of these,   and you'll get a Beatle-esque sound,   or a sound like something from the 70's.

    Are you quite taken with any of these?   Are there any in particular which are giving you an amazing,  authentic "old-school" sound?    Why or why not?

    (Then there is the school of thought that wonders why one would want to make digital recordings sound any less crisp and sharp than it naturally does).

    Your thoughts?


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  • #2

    I've hardly used a lot of these, but things like the Massey TapeHead tape saturation work really well at creating something that resembles tape saturation.

    Do I think it sounds exactly like tape saturation?

    Well, I don't know.

    I haven't heard every single tape machine.

    For some of our stuff, we run it through a tape machine to get exactly what we want out of tape saturation, this sort of gummy analog feel that a decent quality cassette 4-track imparts, for example, which is pretty extreme.

    But from what I understand, a lot of the UAD and Slate stuff work really well, and can create a certain something in a mix. And the Massey certainly improves my mixes quite a bit.

    Some of the EQ emulations that emulate EQs of yesteryear sound very very close to the original as well. Exactly the same? Well, probably not. But if it gets you closer and you can use it on many tracks, that may be as close as I get to something like a Neve 1081, 1073, or API EQ.

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    • #3

      I generally like clean, high fidelity recordings, though I'll admit I'm a fool for well-used compression. But I like to feel like it's, you should pardon the expression, transparent, at least with regard to the potential for saturation-related changes to timbre. I don't mind a little close up lens, but once you start smearing stuff on it...


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      • UstadKhanAli
        UstadKhanAli commented
        Editing a comment

        I think one of the things I like about something like the Massey Tape Head is that it seems to "glue" stuff together, so I sometimes put it on aux busses and that kind of thing when I'm doing rock or ambient stuff. I like the sound of that. I also like the sound of it on bass guitar.

        I don't tend to use it on acoustic guitar, folk, or that kind of thing.

    • #4

      I never understood "warm" nor used tape saturation as an effect, but then distortion isn't really appropriate for the kinds of music that I record. I get "warm" from the mic or what goes into it, and I use an analog console that already has all the warts that I need.

      I'm not an audiophile or a producer. If the music sucks going in, it'll suck coming out.

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      • UstadKhanAli
        UstadKhanAli commented
        Editing a comment

        Something like this can be thought of more as changing the character of something, assuming you like that character, by adding a bit of distortion or otherwise, well, simply changing the character.

        Something that it helps greatly would be with things like digital synthesizers. We recorded a track that had a digital synthesizer on an old TASCAM cassette four-track, then ran it back in to Pro Tools, and we were astounded at how much it sounded like it could be an analog synth. So things like that really help. That's a rather extreme example, I grant you, but can illustrate what can be done in the right circumstances.

        As I mentioned, for things like acoustic guitar, folk, etc., I don't tend to do that. But for certain kinds of experimental, ambient, and rock music, it's extremely useful.

        And as I said, it can "glue" aux busses together quite effectively.

    • #5

      I like the PSP Vintage Warmer and the T-Racks eq.

      The Vintage Warmer is cool because it has a mix knob which allows you to dial in the amount you like. At 100% it can be a bit too much so I sometimes use between 20% and 50%. If used sparingly it kind of fattens the sound like a type of aural glue and I like it better than some of the stuff I've tried that cost a lot more.

      The T-Racks has some good vintage type EQs. One of them looks like an old Pultec and it has a really smooth high end. Ironically I don't care much for the other T-Racks stuff like their compressors but all of their eqs sound pretty good to me.

      A lot of these types of plug-ins tend to thicken the sound and soften the transients. They also can make things sound bigger and more forward. You can use them on individual tracks or just the mix buss but If you over do them they can start to make things sound a little too thick and punchy for my tastes. Especially if you start putting them on all your individual tracks.