Tape saturation vs third party options

What is the quality of the tape and tube saturation in the mixer? Is it similar to for example Steven Slate digital plugins.
I like to use it in the mixer but unsure about the quality or if it is more of a gimmick. If so the hole "do everything in the mixer falls apart. I should judge by ear but I think it is hard.
Do anyone have experience in comparing these plugins?

Ihad a tape maschine in former days and I am very happy with this one here:


The internal tape saturation is not very “subtle” as Bredo stated. So no use on every channel for me. However I use it in EVERY project to pimp up my percussions and drums. Gives them a nice drive and power at +7 so i am happy it is included.

Just my 2 cents

Oh no! The Good Old Stacking Myth!

Come on. If you have 1% of distortion in every track, what’s the total distortion of your mix of 70 tracks? 70%? No. It’s still 1%. Number of tracks doesn’t matter:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ (Stacking myth @ 28:28)

The built-in channel strip stuff does not stand up to any price-worthy 3rd party options.
Not long ago some of the modules even introduced phase shifting, I dont touch them…mostly because there are far better alternatives out there, even freeware stuff.

Yes, but analog or digital doesn’t matter, if used in the same way. Noise and distortion behave just the same in both worlds.

No, but I have used other saturation plugins in quite many tracks and results have been fine when using them just like analog tape recorder: don’t push them too hard, if you have no reason to do so.

Why did he include hiss there in the first place? Who wants hiss?

Of course. Nobody should disagree with that advice. Just like nobody would ever peg the meters on all channels of his/her analog 24-track tape recorder.

No, I don’t. No matter how hard I study digital signal processing I fail to see any fundamental difference between analog and digital signal behaviour, when it comes to summing channels with noise/distortion.

No, relative distorsion is even smaller:

if I have two measurements A=50 and B=50 with a 10% relative error each (so absolute error 5) when I do A+B the error on than measurement is sqrt(5^2 + 5^2) = sqrt(50) = ~7 which is ~7% on A+B (which is 100)…smaller than the error on the single measurements A and B.

But you are talking about taking measurements of the same signal having independent errors. Does your math still work, if you’ll have 2 different signals and the same error? I don’t believe so, but please educate me, if I’m mistaken.

But your math indeed shows, why having wider track on analog tape is better:

  • 2x wider track equals 2 tracks of same signal.
  • 2 tracks have independent tape hiss (error).
    => smaller error (less tape hiss)

Yes it is also valid in that case (at least until you can assume the two signals uncorrelated, for example you did not just duplicate the track…).


OK. Now that I think about it: uncorrelated signals means also uncorrelated error, in which case you are right, of course.

I’ve always been lousy in this kind of math (probability/statistics). Hard to believe I spent years in University studying math. What the heck I was doing there?

6/ 2(2+1) = 9
Not 1


Well I don’t think you can compare the tape saturation plug in the strip to the Slate plugs. They sound totally different from each other that is for sure. I’m not saying the Steinberg plug is bad or anything it is just that the Slate just seems more like a “process” rather than an “effect”. It isn’t just manipulating the signal in one way - it is dynamic. The Steinberg plug warms, fattens and distorts which certainly is useful, but I’d be more likely to use it on one instrument than on a whole mix.

The Slate plugin sounds pretty much like high quality pro tape. Not cassette tape or portastudio tape. You can push the virtual tape to get “tape compression” but not really distorted. That is the magic zone along with some suble buss compression you can get that “glue” happening in the overall mix. The idea with the Slate stuff is to have VTM and VCC on every channel including your mix buss to emulate a summing mix that you might do with “real” gear. I really like what the VTM does, but again as others have said it is subtle. I wouldn’t suggest a beginner to start their plugin collection with these, because they might wonder what they just spent their bucks on. Slate uses the iLok2 so that might put some people off to start, but I’d try out the demo version to see if it fulfills your expectations.

Maybe its obvious that Slate plugins do a better job simulate tape saturation.
I feel C7 mixers channelstrip should have a “pro quality” sound. Or else C6 do a better job with third part plugins.
I rather choose fewer high quality channel strip plugins than “easy on the cpu gimmick plugins”. Where is that famous VCM Tech?
The mixer plugins should be like s pro analog mixer. Like reason sl4000 emulation.

Are you sure reason has SSL emulation? What if it just looks like SSL, but actually it is not? Because Waves SSL uses quite a bit processing, and I cannot imagine having that on every channel. And opinion of some is that Reason SSL sounds nothing like real SSL. If it looks like SSL, we are tricked into believing that is sounds like SSL. But does it really?

Its all marketing. Just like Cubase. Everybody is amazed about the new channel strip, but you are forgetting that those exactly the same plugins were present in Cubase since long ago. But nobody used them, because they “sounded awful”. Now they are repacked, with different looks, and suddenly they “sound amazing”.

Lots of consumer psychology going on, they need to sell to survive. And if it looks better, it sells better. What is interesting is that if is looks better, it actually sounds better to us, although it sounds just the same as it ever did.

Slate plug-ins rule, i have become an addict, now i run VCC on all channels, and the tape for mastering, or before sending it to mastering!

Yepp. We have to thank Fabrice for the algorithms.

Aloha guys,
Just to chime in and to the OP.

I can only use it on the lowest possible setting.
Which means when I use it, I just load it and that’s all. No tweaking.
If I touch any knob or control It’s just waaaay too much.

Which means I hardly use it. and as was posted there is much better stuff
floating around.

That being said; If user does not have any 3rd party tape sat plugs
this is much better than nothing.
Just be very delicate.

And don’t get me started on the C7 Tube Saturation plug.

Sort of on and off topic. I once recorded a track from CD to my Sony Minidisk and back to my PC. I was amazed at how this warmed the track up. Playing it side by side with the undoctored recording, it sounded lusher and much more cosy. I put this down to the ‘tape’ saturation of putting it on the minidisk - after all its the same tech really.

Just thought I would pass this on

I hear you but “warm” and “cosy” don’t really help. Obviously, something changed. Maybe you lost some high frequencies? Minidisc certainly won’t add any tape saturation and will degrade the audio when you go from ATRAC compression back to whatever you used on the PC.

Your hard drive is tech-wise closer to analog tape machine than MiniDisc is.

For anyone interested, Steve Slate have a deal on their VTM at the moment:

(free iLock included)

For me though, I’m kinda put off by the iLock thing… I don’t really need or want yet another dongle… :confused: