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9. Em­u­lat­ing cas­sette tape in your DAW

Computer Music - - Make Music Now -

1 Cas­sette tapes are back in a big way and, as you’d ex­pect, they’re now loved for the very rea­sons they were de­spised the first time around! We needn’t make a run for the lo­cal thrift store to get that hip cas­sette flavour, though – we just need a few plug­ins and the right ap­proach. Let’s fire up our DAW – in this case, Cubase. 2 Since cas­sette recorders are well loved for how they im­pact drum tracks, we’ll call our acous­tic drum kit loop into play again. Our DAW of choice comes with a num­ber of dis­tor­tion ef­fects, so we’ll be­gin there, with the plain ol’ Dis­tor­tion plugin. You can use what­ever flavour of sat­u­ra­tion you like. 3 Our cas­sette Por­tas­tu­dios never had much re­spect for high fre­quen­cies, so we’re go­ing to turn the Tone knob down a bit to get rid of all of that hi-fi top end. Let’s try to ap­prox­i­mate the sound of the Por­tas­tu­dio be­ing over­driven – we re­duce the Out­put level and in­crease the Boost value to around 0.9. 4 It’s ex­ag­ger­ated, but that’s OK – we want to fly our freq flag high! Now for some tape noise. For this, we’re go­ing to call up an ana­logue syn­the­siser on an In­stru­ment Track. Any synth with a noise gen­er­a­tor will do. 5 We turn off all of the synth’s os­cil­la­tors and turn on its Noise gen­er­a­tor. We’ll fil­ter the noise a lit­tle bit for a darker ef­fect, and re­duce the synth’s vol­ume level to the point of it be­ing barely au­di­ble. We then record a long, sus­tained stream of noise un­der the drum loop. 6 Fi­nally, if you want to sim­u­late one of the worst qual­i­ties of cas­sette, you can fake the low-level pitch mod­u­la­tion that plagued old, bat­tered ma­chines. You can do this by man­u­ally adding pitch fluc­tu­a­tions us­ing au­to­ma­tion, or by throw­ing in a bit of vi­brato, like we’re do­ing here.

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