The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)
Old 4th October 2018
  #1
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
 
Verified Member
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)

as no digital tape emulation really satisfies me and i have little experience with hardware tape emulations, i would like to ask in the round what you think 2018 is the best emulation you can get and if it really is "masterung grade".

spontaneously, anamod ats-1 (which machines and tapes are best?), portico 542, fatso and sound skulptor come to mind.

what are the experiences?

i'm not looking for a budget solution, but a good one, even if it costs a little more.
real tape is not an option for me (I already had enough tape machines in my life)

please only discuss about hardware, i really know the plugins.
Old 4th October 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 
B Elgin's Avatar
 
The Fatso I love as a parallel box on drums or synths in a mixing contest. For mastering or stereo bus work, I didn't feel enough control over the transformer saturation and bottom boost, and the HF limiter (warmth) also not adjustable enough. Basically it's a bit heavy handed and may only help in making things sound noticeably grungy and crunchy-textured - who knows though, it may be perfect for certain mixes, but surely isn't subtle or universal. I see it more as a toolbox with some tape-inspired features but it doesn't sound like recording to 2" or 1/2" to me.

The RND542 (only used their 500 series modules not the earlier 5042) also don't quite sound like tape but are very nice and can be subtle thanks to the blend control. Again these are killers to use when tracking or mixing (try on vocals, bass, yea!) but maybe a bit much for mastering glue. The soft clip that kicks in after a certain point is nice on drums or percussion, but the overall frequency curves at both 15 and 30ips modes may change a finished mix too much and need compensation. A pair may also be a bit fiddly to line up for stereo.

I've not used the SoundSkulptor or Anamod stuff. Roger Foote has a new soft saturator and clipper coming - he showed me some oscilloscope pics and it may indeed bend things in a way similar to tape compression. It's not directly intended to simulate tape recording, but may be interesting. How do you feel working with the Density module? Does it bring any familiar aspects of tape recording?
Old 4th October 2018
  #3
Lives for gear
 
TRSC's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Anamod ATS 1. Everything is as good as it gets; the machines and available tape chips are all the best available.
Old 4th October 2018
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
 
Verified Member
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
When I tested the ATS-1 I liked the sound but the noise floor was a deal breaker for me - worse than my Ampex ATR 102 even with the tape hiss control turned all the way off.

Been toying with the idea of trying a Zulu...

handsomeaudio

They're supposedly working on a rackmount version with more features. Maybe active?
Old 4th October 2018
  #5
Lives for gear
 
bcgood's Avatar
 
Verified Member
🎧 15 years
I have a pair of RND 542s and really like them. Not exactly like tape but then tape is the only real way to get true tape sound.
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #6
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
 
Verified Member
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➑️
When I tested the ATS-1 I liked the sound but the noise floor was a deal breaker for me - worse than my Ampex ATR 102 even with the tape hiss control turned all the way off.
ok, that's sobering and one of the reasons why real tape doesn't come into my room anymore.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➑️
Been toying with the idea of trying a Zulu...

handsomeaudio

They're supposedly working on a rackmount version with more features. Maybe active?
can you take zulu seriously?
the zulu-r actually looks quite appealing, all rotary switches, 19"... if the sound side is not on the toy side.
have you ever listened to zulu?
Old 4th October 2018
  #7
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
I use Satin from U-He for it's decode functions, but not only are many of the presets pretty solid, you can tweak it pretty much in the same ways you tweak a real atr, including the under-the-hood stuff. The first 20 years of my career were in the analog world, and I used a ton of machines over that time... there's little that can't be done in Satin. The downside of all that power: you can easily make it sound awful if you don't know what you're doing (I bet many users in this digital era find it baffling). As a result, when I just need a little glue, I'm inclined to reach for Slate's VTM, which is a lot faster to set up, and hard to make sound bad.

I've used the UAD Studer in mix sessions, and pretty impressive tool as well. On the other side of the spectrum, I've got the Waves models, not crazy about them. Nor am I excited by Ozone's. I'm sure there are other good ones.
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #8
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
 
Verified Member
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by B Elgin ➑️
How do you feel working with the Density module? Does it bring any familiar aspects of tape recording?
thanks for your detailed answer

density is pretty cool, apart from the fact that you can't adjust the output level exactly (with the jumpers you at least get it halfway there).
i wouldn't call it tape, but it isn't sold as tape either.
especially guitars, also acoustic guitars, sometimes profit a lot from it and in view of the price and the other usability you can screw it into the 500 rack as an "occasional aid".
i think that it will work on 10-20% of the mixes.
for mixing on single channels or subgroups it is certainly very cool
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Trakworx's Avatar
 
Verified Member
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebaum ➑️
can you take zulu seriously?
the zulu-r actually looks quite appealing, all rotary switches, 19"... if the sound side is not on the toy side.
have you ever listened to zulu?
I haven't heard a Zulu myself. The currently available version doesn't look to be up to mastering quality. I may test one whenever the rackmount version comes out. It has me curious...
Old 4th October 2018
  #10
Gear Guru
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
How about the Clasp system? That seems to be the gold standard since it actually uses tape......
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Verified Member
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by ardis ➑️
How about the Clasp system? That seems to be the gold standard since it actually uses tape......
Clasp is usefull while recording
For mastering, it would just be a waste of a lot of money.
Old 4th October 2018
  #12
Lives for gear
 
b0se's Avatar
 
Verified Member
2 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
Paul_G has both the Zulu and ATS if I recall correctly - worth asking his opinion. The new Zulu-R has quite a few upgrades from the original box, very tempting.

There is a very good Nebula ATS library (here) if you wish to have a play/preview of the sound.
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #13
Lives for gear
 
scraggs's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Saxnscratch ➑️
Clasp is usefull while recording
For mastering, it would just be a waste of a lot of money.
I was also just reading somewhere that it's no longer supported....

I have a FATSO, it's a very cool box. I don't think it sounds like tape, really at all, but it sounds good. Agree with B Elgin that in general it's too heavy handed for mastering. Definitely works great on some tracks but it's not for everything. I would sell mine but I still mix occasionally and it's so useful for mixing.

I have an HG-2 as well, and that does what the FATSO does but MUCH better. Way more flexible, more hifi, it's an amazing box and I wouldn't want to be without it. It doesn't sound like tape either, but it can give you some of that nice no time constant compression that tape does.

And I know you said no plugins, but U-he Satin is pretty special IMO. Maybe this is weird to say about a plugin, but I think his boxtone is really great. I don't know what it's doing but it's doing something I really like.
Old 4th October 2018
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Hippocratic Mastering's Avatar
 
Verified Member
9 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I’ve used the anamod in tracking before (not sure which model) and it did a convincing job on snare (one of the areas where I think hitting tape at the right level really helps the sound).
Old 4th October 2018
  #15
Lives for gear
 
scraggs's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
+1. Tape helps the snare more than anything else IMO.
Old 4th October 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 
whippoorwill's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
ADT has a few options. I know you don't like their form factor, but I'm sure they could make you one with bigger knobs in a bigger box if you liked it.
Old 4th October 2018
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Taurean's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Hmm tape sound? In hardware land?? I'd say tape.










Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #18
DAH
Lives for gear
 
DAH's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs ➑️
+1. Tape helps the snare more than anything else IMO.
Like smashing it fat?
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #19
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
 
Verified Member
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by whippoorwill ➑️
ADT has a few options. I know you don't like their form factor, but I'm sure they could make you one with bigger knobs in a bigger box if you liked it.

Thanks, I forgot adt!
did you hear the module?

Quote:
Originally Posted by B Elgin ➑️
The Fatso I love as a parallel box on drums or synths in a mixing contest. For mastering or stereo bus work, I didn't feel enough control over the transformer saturation and bottom boost, and the HF limiter (warmth) also not adjustable enough. Basically it's a bit heavy handed and may only help in making things sound noticeably grungy and crunchy-textured - who knows though, it may be perfect for certain mixes, but surely isn't subtle or universal. I see it more as a toolbox with some tape-inspired features but it doesn't sound like recording to 2" or 1/2" to me.

The RND542 (only used their 500 series modules not the earlier 5042) also don't quite sound like tape but are very nice and can be subtle thanks to the blend control. Again these are killers to use when tracking or mixing (try on vocals, bass, yea!) but maybe a bit much for mastering glue. The soft clip that kicks in after a certain point is nice on drums or percussion, but the overall frequency curves at both 15 and 30ips modes may change a finished mix too much and need compensation. A pair may also be a bit fiddly to line up for stereo.
thank you, you confirm my memories of fatso and some testimonies I have heard about portico

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Davis ➑️
I use Satin from U-He for it's decode functions, but not only are many of the presets pretty solid, you can tweak it pretty much in the same ways you tweak a real atr, including the under-the-hood stuff. The first 20 years of my career were in the analog world, and I used a ton of machines over that time... there's little that can't be done in Satin. The downside of all that power: you can easily make it sound awful if you don't know what you're doing (I bet many users in this digital era find it baffling). As a result, when I just need a little glue, I'm inclined to reach for Slate's VTM, which is a lot faster to set up, and hard to make sound bad.

I've used the UAD Studer in mix sessions, and pretty impressive tool as well. On the other side of the spectrum, I've got the Waves models, not crazy about them. Nor am I excited by Ozone's. I'm sure there are other good ones.
i've listened intensively to all sorts of plugins and unfortunately have to come to the conclusion that just saturation is the area where digital tools still do worst compared to hardware.
some are exhausting to listen to, others lack transparency or have strange side effects, others seem stiff and lifeless.
if i'm forced to stay at ITB (client's request), i also fall back on it in small doses, but there's always a certain amount of frustration left.

Quote:
Originally Posted by b0se ➑️
Paul_G has both the Zulu and ATS if I recall correctly - worth asking his opinion. The new Zulu-R has quite a few upgrades from the original box, very tempting.

There is a very good Nebula ATS library (here) if you wish to have a play/preview of the sound.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx ➑️
I haven't heard a Zulu myself. The currently available version doesn't look to be up to mastering quality. I may test one whenever the rackmount version comes out. It has me curious...
impressions of zulu, especially towards real tape and ATS would be very helpful.

I've heard nebula tape emulations before, they didn't convince me completely.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Taurean ➑️
Hmm tape sound? In hardware land?? I'd say tape.

Sure, the obvious answer, but noise, synchronisation, maintenance, workflow - I don't really need it anymore.
besides, dosing would sometimes be helpful.
my experience is that real tape, which is put on top of a digital production afterwards, doesn't fit in some aspects or is "too much" - that's why emulation, they can be added parallel
Old 4th October 2018 | Show parent
  #20
Lives for gear
 
scraggs's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by DAH ➑️
Like smashing it fat?
Funny....I'm in the middle of remixing an old project that was tracked to tape and the drums were printed way too hot....it's workable but I'm wishing there were some more transients left. And when was the last time you thought that when tracking to digital? Never.
Old 5th October 2018
  #21
Lives for gear
 
SmoothTone's Avatar
 
Verified Member
🎧 5 years
What I've heard of the Anamod sounds good to my ears.

You should also take a look at the JCF Latte. It's my understanding that it uses tape machine electronics and sounds very nice. Although I think it's a bit of a diva in a chain.

Polybonk has both, so maybe send him a PM Dan.
Old 5th October 2018
  #22
Lives for gear
 
cheu78's Avatar
 
Verified Member
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
I'd say that would be great to test the ADT and the Sound Skulptor (which also have an analog tape emulator).
The new roger foote saturator intrigues me, never heard, and I've never heard the new SSL fusion, which is not really a tape emulator, but the vintage drive could be in that territory, at least from the nice clips we've all heard.

That said a nice Mara Machine MCI JH-110 is probably your best bet, IF tape sound is desired. If you want clean you have digital, in the middle there's the nice Studer 820.

I'm not really impressed by the zulu. For mastering work is not there, and maybe even not for mixing (at least for MY taste).

I will see if I could post some samples of a drumkit splitted, recorded to a nice Ampex MM1200 and through the (nice imho) avid HD I/O.
the tape went through the same HD I/O at 96kHz.

there was no contest, tape was much better, fatter, wider..simply better..
That said the converter only version wasn't sounding bad at all, just not in the same ballpark imho.

don't want to start a fight tape vs digital..
Anyway I'd LOVE to have an analog box that might have the sonic "advantages" of tape.



Cheu
Old 5th October 2018
  #23
Gear Guru
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
There is a ginormous thread on Zulu and seems to be very positive FWIW.....
Old 5th October 2018
  #24
Gear Head
 
spleenless's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I really like the Zulu. It sounds fantastic but for mastering it was a bit too hard to tame. I think for drum tracking it would be a real asset. As mentioned, I've heard for a while that they're working on a mastering version so I've been waiting on that.

I wasn't too into the Anamod but it's been years since i heard it last.
Old 5th October 2018
  #25
Gear Head
 
spleenless's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I really like the Zulu. It sounds fantastic but for mastering it was a bit too hard to tame. I think for drum tracking it would be a real asset. As mentioned, I've heard for a while that they're working on a mastering version so I've been waiting on that. The quality is superb.

I wasn't too into the Anamod but it's been years since i heard it last.
Old 6th October 2018
  #26
Deleted 691ca21
Guest
Not specifically tape, but have you considered the Gyraf G21?
Old 6th October 2018 | Show parent
  #27
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
 
Verified Member
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Deleted 691ca21 ➑️
Not specifically tape, but have you considered the Gyraf G21?
gyraf g21 & g24 are interesting units - maybe i connect with the distributor for a demo
Old 6th October 2018 | Show parent
  #28
Lives for gear
 
teebaum's Avatar
 
Verified Member
5 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by spleenless ➑️
I really like the Zulu. It sounds fantastic but for mastering it was a bit too hard to tame. I think for drum tracking it would be a real asset. As mentioned, I've heard for a while that they're working on a mastering version so I've been waiting on that. The quality is superb.

I wasn't too into the Anamod but it's been years since i heard it last.
it's a pity that the zulu-r is not available yet - maybe it's more designed for mastering?
juju could also be exciting - does anyone know more?

maybe it makes more sense to wait and see how these units sound
Old 6th October 2018
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Silvertone's Avatar
 
Verified Member
1 Review written
🎧 15 years
Nothing sounds like tape but tape and all the tapes have different sound themselves. Match the right tape to the right machine and you have a thing of beauty.

That said, when appropriate the tape sound in the HEDD converter can be quite lovely.

I can’t wait till Ken is done with my tube console and tape machine, printing mixes through this system will be a thing of beauty, tape and tube goodness...
Attached Thumbnails
Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)-31bf8379-017f-491c-b9e4-1d357165ed0d.jpg   Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)-61b99868-a3bb-4199-87d2-01f0f700d38b.jpg   Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)-224005cb-9549-4bd8-9234-16ada35876e1.jpg   Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)-1a1361bf-c59f-4628-a35a-d4cdf5c8c789.jpg   Best Analog Tape Emulation 2018 (Hardware)-7a85a440-50a2-4ec2-84d2-87b7978b0317.jpg  

Old 7th October 2018 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
illacov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Silvertone ➑️
Nothing sounds like tape but tape and all the tapes have different sound themselves. Match the right tape to the right machine and you have a thing of beauty.

That said, when appropriate the tape sound in the HEDD converter can be quite lovely.

I can’t wait till Ken is done with my tube console and tape machine, printing mixes through this system will be a thing of beauty, tape and tube goodness...
I still owe you a visit. Can't wait to stop by once everything is all up and running. It will be a fun shootout/drool session indeed!

Thanks
-L.
πŸ“ Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 1969 views: 293538
Avatar for rob S
rob S 25th June 2019
replies: 83 views: 8483
Avatar for Rsantana
Rsantana 22nd July 2015
replies: 674 views: 82500
Avatar for Guacamoleisgreen
Guacamoleisgreen 20th April 2019
replies: 62 views: 13656
Avatar for ahol33
ahol33 17th September 2020
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump