Sound Skulptor STS | Media

Analogue Tape Simulator

Published in SOS January 2011
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Matt Houghton

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The audio files described in this page accompany my review of the Sound Skulptor STS (Stereo Tape Simulator) in SOS January 2011. Two sources to which tape can sometimes do wonderful things are drums and distorted electric guitar, and I've therefore focused on these sources for the audio examples, using a stereo drum recording and a number of different distorted electric guitar parts.

For these examples, I ran the same sources through the STS and the Rupert Neve Designs Portico 5042 at a few different settings, from minimal saturation to extreme saturation, and changed the tape speed — you should be able to tell which is which from the file names, all of which follow the same formula: they start with a description of the source material, then the processor used, and then a rough description of the setting used.

The file names aren't exactly the same for each processor, and that's due to the way in which you have to operate the devices. The Portico, for example, you set the level and then dial in the amount of saturation, whereas for the STS you drive the input to get more of the effect, and then attenuate the output.

For reference, I've also included the original, untreated sources (the source name followed by 'Original'), as well as a bounce through some freeware/shareware tape-simulation plug-ins, Bootsie's Ferric and Jeroen Breebaart's Ferox.


I should stress that the files here are peak-normalised, and as such they won't all be at the same perceived level— and that's very much worth bearing in mind when making comparisons, as some will seem louder than others. Try to match the average levels of the files in your DAW as you audition them, to avoid the varying levels warping your perception.

It's perhaps worth me adding that, since writing the original review, I've spent a few weeks more using both the STS and the Portico — and I have to say that while I stand by what I wrote about the Sound Skulptor, I've growing to appreciate the Portico more and more. As you can hear from the audio examples, the Portico delivers a much more noticeable head bump and lends a solidity to the bottom end, particularly of the drums, that the STS doesn't seem to be able to match. I still feel that it's harder to go for more subtle effects with the Portico than the STS, though, as it always seems to be doing something — which may or may not be an issue for you!    

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