Top 3 Virtual Tape Machine Plugins For Home Studios in 2021

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Do you miss the vintage analog taste in your music tracks? Well, you are not alone who face this problem. Digital audio recording has limitations in terms of harmonics. However, today virtual tape machine plugins are available in the market to add that analog taste to your digital audio recordings.

Virtual tape machine plugins are quite popular these days. BUT, many of them are just crap. If you go for cheap ones, chances are you would not get the desired results.

Finding a combination of good and low budget tape machine plugin is really tough.

Well, don’t worry, today I will introduce you to the top 3 virtual tape machine emulator plugins that satisfy your needs under your budget.

So, let’s jump into the list.

Top 3 Virtual Tape Machine Plugins Under Your Budget

In this list, I will review 3 virtual tape machine plugins that help you add the vintage analog harmonics and the hissing sound of vintage cassette players in your audio.

The first one is,

1. Softube Tape

softube tape plugin

Softube Tape plugin is a 3-in-1 tape emulation plugin that allows you to add cohesion and depth to your audio.

This lightweight tape machine plugin doesn’t overload your CPU while making your tracks smooth and sweet like vintage analog audio.

However, today the digital music technology has evolved a lot, even we don’t get the cohesion and weight like analog recording consoles.

So, you have to pass your master audio from atleast one tape machine plugin to get that missing cohesion and depth.

Let us see the feature highlights of the Softube Tape plugin.

Review - Tape Plug-in by Softube

3-in-1 Tape effects

Softube Tape features 3 tape effect presets.

The first preset ie; Preset A is an emulation of a high-end swiss tape machine that adds the precision and linearity of a reel-to-reel tape machine.

Preset B is the emulation of a transformer based machine which adds extra weight and cream to the low end.

Where Preset C is based on a British tape machine which enables a distinct vintage vibe into the audio.

Easy to use

Softube tube is an easy-to-use tape machine plugin.

The basic settings are easier than any other plugin. You just need to select the tape-style and then turn the knob to set the amount of the effect.

There are several presets available by award-winning engineers such as Joe Chiccarelli (Beck, U2, Strokes) and Howard Willing (Smashing Pumpkins, Sheryl Crow, Kris Kristofferson) that make the process easier.

If you want to tweak the advanced settings then you can experiment with different tape speeds and head positions.

Softube Tape | How Does It Sound ?

Light on CPU and adds density and cohesion

Apart from other analog emulation plugins, the Softube Tape plugin is lighter on the CPU.

When you select your tape-style it loads on the computer like we use analog tape processors in series with the mixer.

That setting adds the tape saturation on the master track without affecting the overall performance of your computer.

Other features

  • Realistic analog tape emulation sound
  • Three tape machine preset included
  • Easy-to-use plugin
  • Low CPU usage

System Requirements

  • Mac OS X 10.12 or newer (older OS versions may work but are not tested (64-bit only).
  • Windows 64-bit, versions 7, 8 or 10 (64-bit only).
  • Intel Core 2 Duo, AMD Athlon 64 X2 or newer.
  • Screen resolution 1280x800 or larger.
  • Supported sample rates: 44.1, 48, 88.2, 96, 176.4 and 192 kHz.
  • 8 GB RAM or more is recommended

2. Cassette By Waves Factory

cassette Virtual Tape Machine

With the 4 types of cassette emulations, Waves Factory Cassette is one of the best tape machine plugins in the world.

With this plugin, you can rewind back to the golden era of audio cassettes.

This plugin adds the original hissing and depth of the cassette players. It can impart the unique character and sonic imprint of one of the most popular listening mediums in the pastt, one that offers a sound like nothing else.

This is not just a tape machine, this is a time machine that brings you back to the golden era of cassette players.

Waves Factory Cassette Features

  • Tape: Brings back the original tape machine effect in your audio.
  • Stability: You can ontrol how the Stability parameter in the front panel works internally.
  • Artifacts: Artifacts knob control how the Artifacts parameter in the front panel works internally.
  • The internal sampling rate supports upto 192 kHz.
Cassette by Wavesfactory | Realistic Cassette Tape VST Plugin

Modelled Cassette Types

There are 4 types of cassette model types are available in Waves Factory Cassette plugin. Each one delivers different sonic characteristics.

  • No I: This model was the standard and most compatible tape format which featured a ferric-oxide coating (Fe2O3) and first appeared in the 1960s.
  • No II: This is another popular tape format coated with a chromium dioxide (CrO2) formulation and was introduced in the 1970s.
  • No III: It was lived for a short period between the mid-70s and early 80s, the ferro-chrome (FeCr) never made it into the golden era.
  • No IV: This metal-formulated was hit the scene at the end of the 70s which features firmer bass with louder high frequencies.

System Requirements

Windows

  • Windows 7, 8, or 10 (64-bit only)
  • DAW capable of hosting VST or VST3 plugins, or Pro Tools.

Mac OSX

  • 10.7 or higher (64-bit only)
  • DAW capable of hosting VST, VST3, or AU, or Pro Tools.
  • Intel processor.

3. Voxengo CRTIV Tape Bus

Voxengo CRTIV Tape Bus plugin

Voxengo CRTIV Tape Bus plugin recreates the realistic character of the reel-to-reel tape sound. This plugin includes saturation, modulation noise, and smearing effects of vintage tapes and decks that enable the “analog” feel in your digital recordings.

In the CRTIV Tape Bus plugin, you will get 4 distinct tape impulses, 2 flutter noise modes, and several “overload protection” circuitry modes to transform your audio to the new level of analog sound.

Voxengo CRTIV Tape Bus plugin Features

  • Saturation controls
  • Tape medium controls
  • 1 ms compensated processing latency
  • User interface color schemes
  • Undo/redo history
  • A/B comparisons
  • Resizable user interface
  • Retina and HighDPI support
  • Contextual hint messages
  • All sample rates support
  • “Overload protection” modes
  • Preset manage

My Verdict: 3 Virtual Tape Machine Plugins For Beginners

Well, here were the top 3 virtual tape machine plugin suitable for newbies. However, there are several other plugins out there, the reason I have chosen them because they are cheap in price yet give efective results.

I know, you want my verdict about these plugins. Actually, I have bought Softube Tape plugin 2 months ago and applied that to my audio recordings and got amazing results.

That’s the reason I have decided to write about tape machine plugins for home studios.

I own Softube Tape plugin that does not mean others are not good. They are also good for all beginner recording engineers are music producers who want high quality tape machine saturation effect in their audio under budget.

Comment below and let me know, what do you think about these plugins?

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Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves music, writing and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.

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