Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machine is a software plug-in to be used inside a DAW. Installation is performed after a direct download of the software from the slatedigital.com website. Authorization is achieved on an iLok2
This plug-in can be used to simulate the sound of your tracks being recorded to tape. There have been many people dissatisfied with the digital recording medium for sounding sterile in comparison to tape. To this day it is common for mastering engineers to bounce a mix to tape just to capture that extra punch of having the music on tape.
If you think your recordings sound too digital, this plug-in might help you solve that problem. You might also want to check out the Virtual Console Collection from Slate Digital that emulates the sound of analog hardware.
This plug-in is easy to use. The main control is to set the simulated level of the input signal to the tape. Increasing the input level will add more 'saturation' to the signal, similar to what happens if you record loud signals to tape. Apart from that, you can select tape speed as either slow/fast. A slower tape speed emphasizes lower frequencies. 'Bias' allows you to control if the plug-in emphasizes low or high frequencies as well. You can select between single channel tape simulation for individual tracks, or 2 channel tape simulation for mix-down by emulating a mastering tape machine. You can also select between two different kinds of magnetic tape from different manufactures. These last two controls are really subtle and probably only important for the most anal engineers and tape aficionados.
Hidden under the settings panel are controls for tape hiss (if you really want to sound realistic), and bass emphasis. One of the main reasons people like the sound of tape is that it beefs up the low-end, perfect for bass guitar and drums. This control allows the user to dial in the desired about of extra 'umph to the low-end.
This plug-in does a good job of making your tracks sound like they were recorded to tape. I have never seriously recorded with tape, so I can't make a direct comparison of how well it simulates tape. I can also say, that I have no desire to buy a tape machine and tape, and have to maintain the whole set-up. However, I would like my recordings to sound like they were recorded to tape. I'd prefer to have a close simulation that have to deal with the hassles of the real thing.
VTM is the most accurate emulation that I have used. I also own Waves Kramer MPX Master Tape
. I prefer to uses the MPX plug-in when I want heavy tape-saturation effects. I really like MPX for the extreme effects, but think VTM does a better job on gluing all my tracks together when used subtly. I don't really like how VTM sounds when you really overdrive the input.
A few small things to be aware with VTM - it is extremely CPU intensive, and adds over 2000 samples of delay to your tracks when inserted.