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Q. Can I pay someone to run my WAV files through a Studer?

Published July 2012

I keep reading about the desirable tape effect on a mixdown, and keep hearing people talk about these Studer tape machines. Is it possible to send your WAV song to someone who owns one of these, so they can run it through and back to WAV?

While the effects of running a track through an analogue tape machine at mixdown might be desirable, you may be better off using a plug-in if you have a very specific effect in mind. The possible parameters involved in using an old tape machine, like this Studer model, for example, can create large variations in the sound achieved.While the effects of running a track through an analogue tape machine at mixdown might be desirable, you may be better off using a plug-in if you have a very specific effect in mind. The possible parameters involved in using an old tape machine, like this Studer model, for example, can create large variations in the sound achieved.

Via SOS web site

SOS Technical Editor Hugh Robjohns replies: You could, but this isn't a one-size-fits-all process. The crushing and bending effect of tape varies dramatically with the type of tape, the bias level, the record EQ, the overall signal level, the tape speed, the tape width, and the electronics in the tape machine itself. The art and skill is in choosing and using just the right parameters to achieve the effect you're looking for. Plug-ins are beginning to get there now, however; I'm really quite impressed with the UAD offerings, for example.

SOS Reviews Editor Matt Houghton adds: Analogue tape can do nice things on a bus, but it's no magic bullet: you need to tweak settings to achieve the desired effect. For example, running tape at 15ips will add a low-frequency 'head bump' that can be really flattering on a rock drum bus, but could screw things up elsewhere. Similarly, it's not a case of running a source louder to get more effect: the tape effect changes in nature with level. While people will happily do what you ask, I prefer using plug-ins or outboard tape simulators (eg. Anamod ATS1, RND Portico 5042), as these offer far more control and I can use them as I might a bus compressor, for example.    

Published July 2012