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Robotic Bean’s Portatron promises PortaStudio mojo in a 4-track tape loop plugin

In these days of hi-tech digital recording, it might seem almost laughable that some producers still prize the wobbly, lo-fi sound of the old cassette-based 4-tracks, but prize it they do.

Robotic Bean’s new Portatron plugin channels the PortaStudio sound and serves as a 4-track tape loop machine that enables you to combine your own samples or use the hundreds that are included in the library. Your loops can follow your DAW’s playback - as a ‘drone’ or restarting every bar, second bar or fourth bar - or you can play them monophonically in a Mellotron style on your MIDI keyboard.

Portatron enables you to adjust the likes of the tape speed, noise, dropouts, wobble and start/stop lag, and you can switch between normal and chrome tape for different noise types and frequency response. Pushing the Drive control, meanwhile, enables you to dial in the characteristic saturation and compression you’d get from recording a signal ‘hot’ to tape.

You also get delay and reverb send effects, plus EQ, level and pan controls on each track. The supplied samples cover the likes of piano, vibraphone, vocals and synths.

Portatron is available now for the introductory price of $89 (regular price $129). It runs on PC and Mac in VST/AU/AAX formats, and you can find out more and download a demo on the Robotic Bean (opens in new tab) website. 

I’m the Group Content Manager for MusicRadar, specialising in all things tech. 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, 20 of which I’ve also spent writing about music technology. 

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