Become a member
Become a member

or
Continue with Google
Log in
Log in

or
Log in using a Google account
learning
Comment

The whys of using tape machine and console emulators

A guide to mixing music - Part 96
Share this article

This week we'll keep on discussing distortion by addressing plug-ins that emulate legendary tape machines and consoles.

View other articles in this series...

Disclaimer

As you will see in the next episode, this type of plug-ins are generally used at the beginning of the mix, as the first insert on any track. But then how come I’m only mentioning it now? Was it a mistake on my part? Not really. I did it on purpose. But…why? Well, quite simply because I don’t think this kind of processing is indispensable to achieve a good mix!

Waves Kramer MPX Master Tape : kramer master tape

But don’t get me wrong, some of these plug-ins are very good at what they do and I use them quite often, whenever I think they really add something to the song I’m working on. However, I think it’s better for someone who’s just starting out to learn his or her chops without using this sort of tools so they appreciate them better later on and use them wisely when the occasion calls for it. Especially considering that they can be a double-edged weapon. Indeed, while they can certainly make the mixing process easier thanks to the tonal coloration and dynamic impact they bring about, they can also mask some serious issues to unexperienced ears, which will only make things more complicated. Let me use a visual example: Imagine for a moment a video whose different planes don’t have the same white balance, nor contrast level, etc. If you apply a sepia filter to this awkward image everything might seem a bit more coherent, but the problems will still be there and the budding film editor will have a very tough time trying to solve them, since he or she will be “blinded” by the sepia pseudo-varnish.

In short, I recommend you to avoid these tools until the point where you can actually create good mixes without them. Don’t say I didn’t warn you

What good are they for?

Now that we’ve got that clear, what’s the use of such plug-ins? Apart from the “vintage” and/or “analog” flair they bring into the equation, they also add some harmonic distortion to the signal. Hence, when used cautiously on each of the tracks, they provide a sonic cohesion which is enhanced by the addition of very slight background noise, too.

On the other hand, the tonal coloration and alteration of dynamics that results from the application of such plug-ins also allows you to use less drastic EQ and/or dynamic procedures during mixdown, which is always a good thing. But for that to happen, the sound engineer obviously needs to choose emulations whose tonal and dynamic characteristics match the overall vision of the mix.

Finally, the non-linear components of such tools can also add a subtle sense of “movement, ” as well as a more realistic sense of 3D space, making the song more “lively, ” for lack of another word to describe the effect.

More on this next week, when we’ll talk about how to actually use these plug-ins.

← Previous article in this series:
How to use harmonic distortion in a mix
Next article in this series:
How to use tape machine and mixing console emulators →

Would you like to comment this article?

Log in
Become a member
cookies
We are using cookies!

Yes, Audiofanzine is using cookies. Since the last thing that we want is disturbing your diet with too much fat or too much sugar, you'll be glad to learn that we made them ourselves with fresh, organic and fair ingredients, and with a perfect nutritional balance. What this means is that the data we store in them is used to enhance your use of our website as well as improve your user experience on our pages and show you personalised ads (learn more). To configure your cookie preferences, click here.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent
These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine and allow its optimization. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Example: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).
Google Analytics
We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it.
Advertising
This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest. We are likely to display advertisements from our own platform, from Google Advertising Products or from Adform.

We did not wait for a law to make us respect our members and visitors' privacy. The cookies that we use are only meant to improve your experience on our website.

Our cookies
Cookies not subject to consent

These are cookies that guarantee the proper functioning of Audiofanzine. The website cannot function properly without these cookies. Examples: cookies that help you stay logged in from page to page or that help customizing your usage of the website (dark mode or filters).

Google Analytics

We are using Google Analytics in order to better understand the use that our visitors make of our website in an attempt to improve it. When this parameter is activated, no personal information is sent to Google and the IP addresses are anonymized.

Advertising

This information allows us to show you personalized advertisements thanks to which Audiofanzine is financed. By unchecking this box you will still have advertisements but they may be less interesting :) We are using Google Ad Manager to display part of our ads, or tools integrated to our own CMS for the rest. We are likely to display advertisements from our own platform, from Google Advertising Products or from Adform.


You can find more details on data protection in our privacy policy.
You can also find information about how Google uses personal data by following this link.