Adding a Hint of Analog Beauty to a Digital Audio Recording – Tape Emulation VST / Free Audio Plugins
Want to warm up your sterile digital recordings. You could try putting a jacket on them, but I don’t believe that would be very effective. Back in the old days, the only way to have warmth in a recording was to record to analog magnetic tape. And I do not mean cassette tape (sorry cassette, I still love you). I’m talking about 2″, 1″, or 1/2″ analog reel-to-reel. Tape compression is the key here. People still use it today. So why is it so appealing, you might ask? Tape, as physical media, can be very difficult.
There are plentiful issues that can be encountered with analog recording gear that do not exist in the digital world (generation loss, mechanical issues, wow and flutter, storage and preservation concerns). But without getting too technical, the way in which audio is applied to magnetic tape allows it to be saturated in a way that is very rich, full, and warm. Digital cannot be saturated like this. You often just get nasty clipping. However, over time, digital recording gear has continued to improve and the need for analog equipment has disappeared for many folks. However, if you still are not satisfied with your digital recordings, here are a few free audio plugins/VST effects that have been created to help. There are also free audio plugins that emulate tube preamplification, another often expensive method of adding audio warmth. Give tape emulation VST plugins a go… or not.
TesslaSE – Transformer-style saturation with analog color
Modern Series by Antress – Over thirty plugins in total, includes Neve recording gear/EQ emulation
FerricTDS – Smooth dynamics shaping, saturation, and limiting
Ruby Tube – Tube amp simulator
R2R Free – Reel to Reel tape emulation VST plugin
MusiCrow Preamp Emulator – Tube preamp/recording gear emulation
JB Ferox – Tape saturation modeler, packaged in an effects bundle
Nebula3 Free by Acustica – Analog recording gear/hardware emulation, a bundle of VST plugins
Voxengo Tube Amp – Microphone tube preamp emulation