Review: Airwindows “Tape”

Some time ago, I did a review about Airwindows ToTape5 and Air. It was nothing short of a rave review. Yet with everything I liked about ToTape5, it had some idiosyncrasies that made it somehow less useful than I thought it could be.

We recently got the update to this – ToTape6. And then we got Tape. The former is a nice update. The latter is nothing short of spectacular.

What it is

It’s coming from Airwindows’ line of tape emulation plugins which, in addition to ToTape, also includes FromTape (a somewhat more tame version of ToTape). Tape is a first version, and can be considered something more simple – but (in my opinion) more useful.

So you get a VST (Win/Mac) with the usual missing UI (to quote Airwindows author Chris: “In mix, nobody can hear your screen”). And exactly one fader named “slam”.

And it’s pretty much a perfect analogue tape machine with all of the properties we like about such gear, but none of those we don’t (unless we’re going for some very specific tangling of audio, but that’s what you can do with ToTape).

There’s some kind of distortion, but there’s pretty much no EQ happening. There is, however, saturation, compression, limiting, distortion. It uses a combination of different Airwindows plugins to achieve that, but not in a way that you have any influence on them. You got your fader to slam the tape, and that’s what it does.

Spectrum
Hit by a -18dBFS sine wave.

So what’s so spectacular about it? It’s very simply said a thing that you put on the bus for some glue and saturation, and it takes you a few seconds to setup. It works standalone (if your input material works with that) or in combination with other plugins (things I’ve tried: elysia mpressor and alpha, SPL Vitalizer, PassEQ and IRON, Steinberg MasterRig and Airwindows Air).

Summary

There’s tons of tape emulations. I wanted one that does all of the things I like about tape, but none of those I don’t. This one hits this goal on the head.

Hugely recommended!

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