We love things that are a little bit different here at WeMakeBeatz, and over the last few weeks we’ve been taking a look at some really different ways to regenerate your samples and add some Lo-FI magic or vintage mojo to your productions.
Whatever style of music you produce, its fairly common to get to the point when something sounds too straight or too much like a stock preset, and one of the of the easiest alternatives to looking at changing a synth or sound is to add some additional Lo-Fi processing.
Tape sim plugins have been around for a while now and have faithfully recreated the subtle softening of harsh high frequencies and allowing our DAW recordings and mixes to sound more aligned with the classic albums we all grew up listening to. However on many occasions these can be a little too subtle, especially when you need something more extreme and noticeable.
Audiothing - Wires
AudioThing have recently released “Wires” that is exactly that, extreme, esoteric and is modelled on a 1970’s wire recorder originally used for military and secret service purposes across the iron curtain. If you imagine low quality intercepted radio transmissions from secret service agents or a flight recorder Mayday signals then your getting close to how this sounds. Its very different to any tape saturation as essentially the hardware pre-dates tape.
It features an echo section that utilises the same recording path, as if you turned the recording device into a tape echo but in this case a wire echo with the modern advantage of adjustable delay times. Another modern feature is the ability to switch off the very high noise floor these old devices have which is essential if your using more than one instance.
AudioThing have created a plugin with “Wires” that’s one of the most haunting and extreme ways to degrade your signal or samples in ways that can evoke an emotion without sounding un-natural or fake. We like this plugin for that reason, and find that even though its extreme its still easy to dial back the effect to the right levels to make it useful. Its a type of LoFi processing that we’d not come across before and its an excellent addition to to our creative sound palette. 9/10 from us and a asset for anyone making LoFi vibes from hip hop, house to techno.
AudioThing Wires is available now from Plugin Boutique at £34.38 (RRP 49.95)
As we’ve already mentioned many tape sim/saturation plugins generally model the higher fidelity reel-to-reel tape machines from the 70’s and 80’s, so as a contrast we were delighted when we came across Aberrant DPS’s Sketch Cassette II. As soon as we saw this plugin, it brought back memories of taping the radio on Ghetto Blasters and using Bic pens to carefully rewind that Memorex C90.
Sketch Cassette II also brings back all those childhood memories when you hear it, instantly adding the sound of multiple generations of copy-to-copy degradation and does it in a way that feels very natural to your ears with that all familiar tape hiss.
So the plugin itself is quite simply laid out with 12 tape models and quality profiles, 6 tape types with each having a variable new, used and warn fader, all tapes are slightly different and all very authentic sounding. Two different saturation models are included A (gentle) and B (Harsh) with adjustable tape hiss feature.
If your familiar with the fairly commonplace wow and flutter controls on most tape saturation plugins, its all fairly similar here, adding that authentic imperfection associated with moving tape motors, tape dropout hover the FM mode is something new on us, it allows for some interesting effects modulating the flutter rate with the wow controls.
We love the controls for tape filtering and compression. These two features make it ideal for use on groups and bus processing, letting you dial in the right amount of compression whilst also controlling how much high frequencies are filtered.
Although its a lot more subtle than Audiothing Wires Sketch Cassette sits perfectly below more Hi-Fi tape emulation plugins we regularly use here.
Pushed hard or subtle it adds a lot of distinctive tape mojo that isn’t always easy to coax from other plugins. We love how it breaks up in a pleasing and familiar way, excellent for giving kicks more bite in a mix or amazing for bright or harsh hi hats.
You don’t just need to be a child of the 80’s to love this plugin, its super useful and lets you add a pallet of Lo-Fi vibe to just about any source material.
Available now from Plugin-Boutique at £23.95
Also available as a bundle for £29.96 which includes Aberrant DSP’s – Shapeshifter Plugin
XLN Audio - RC20 Retro Colour
Finally we take a look at the RC-20 from XLN Audio, another plugin we’ve been using for a little while to add some age to our sounds.
Where as “Wires” and Sketch Cassette do very specific roles RC20 take a multi effect approach with 6 separate effects you can add to your signal. Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space and Magnetic.
Noise generator adds a few different noise types, including subtle vinyl crackle, tape hiss, circuit hum etc. Wobble adding flutter and pitching effects common in tape and vinyl recordings. Distort has a few different distortion models, digital offers bit crushing. Space is an interesting inclusion of a basic reverb and finally magneto adds dropouts and additional tape style effects.
RC20 is a allrounder and superb for adding a variety of Lo-Fi effects.
One that is definitely a usefully tool in any producers armoury for adding Lo-Fi charm to signals.
Its available now from Plugin Boutique for £87.98