Digilogue Warmth

Once, back in the mists of time, I owned a Fostex R8 reel to reel.  Recordings made on it sounded magnificent but it required mollycoddling on an Olympic scale – cleaning, de-gaussing, biasing etc etc.  Eventually, the motor gave out and with no funds for an expensive repair job, it went to landfill.  I was reminded of it whilst flicking through Sound On Sound’s recent article on analogification, as GWB might have called it.  Analogue tape went from a position of almost complete dominance in studios in 1990 to novelty and/or luxury ten years later.  Naturally digital wins hands down for convenience and flexibility and A/D converters have come on in leaps and bounds removing much of the stigmas of cold and sterile sound but interestingly, the approximation of tape saturation in zeroes and ones remains an obsession.

My successor to Fostie as I called him, was a prosaic CD-ROM, Steinberg’s Magneto VST plug in, costing about £100 as I recall.  By today’s standards it seems primitive against Digidesign’s Reel Tape Suite and suchlike, but its beauty is it does one thing simply and well; add a subtle coating of sticky CrO2 fuzz to your completed mix.  No frills operation too, choose tape speed, adjust gain, add treble if required, add saturation to taste.  It can be used at a more extreme setting on individual tracks, where it makes a nice contrast in a mix of cleaner sounds.  It was discontinued some time ago, but the design classic is out there on the interweb if you look hard enough.

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