Dirty VHS is a free plugin that brings back the dodgy sound of old VCRs and video tapes

Up until today, we’d have politely declined the offer of a Dirty VHS, but now that Bedroom Producers Blog has released a free plugin of that name, we’re more than happy to accept the opportunity to download it.

That’s because this Dirty VHS is concerned only with audio (phew). Specifically, the kind of imperfect sound you used to get from old video cassette recorders and the VHS tapes that you put into them (unless you were a Betamax user - in which case, you’re probably sitting there now saying that it was actually the better format and that this plugin should really be called Dirty Betamax).

BPB says that the new plugin was “born out of our love for resampling audio for VHS and the need to streamline the process and make it more instantaneous.” It’s based on analysis of multiple VCRs and tapes in varying states of repair, with the pitch variation, circuit and transport noise, dynamics, and frequency response information being extracted from each unit.

Accordingly, the eight processing modes emulate various machine/tape combinations in different conditions. You also get the sound of a VCR accidentally being switched into long play mode, a circuit-bent model and a vintage games console being recorded to VHS.

There are also three processing modes: Grainy is the most accurate but the hardest on the CPU; Smooth is less precise and less demanding on your CPU but preserves transients better; and Whammy turns Dirty VHS into a pitch shifter.

Other features include a tape chorus with stereo spread - designed to emulate the sound of a signal being recorded to multiple VHS tapes - and the distortion algorithm from Dirt, another of BPB’s free plugins.

Dirty VHS comes with 20 presets and offers a freely resizable GUI, a randomise button and undo/redo functionality. You can download it for PC and Mac in VST/AU formats from the Bedroom Producers Blog.

Bedroom Producers Blog Dirty VHS

(Image credit: Bedroom Producers Blog)
Ben Rogerson
Deputy Editor

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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