What is it?
It would be easy to write off the modern resurgence in appreciation for cassette tapes as just another hipster retro affectation were it not for the fact that there is genuinely something inherently pleasing about the audible effect imparted by recording music to tape.
There’s a certain sonic quality to cassette-based music that just sounds nice – a blend of subtle saturation, pitch modulations and randomised noise that adds both character and cohesion. Cassette, from developers Wavesfactory, is a plugin that understands this appeal and aims to bring it to your DAW in plugin form.
With a straightforward, clean interface modelled on the look of a classic tape deck, Cassette is a deceptively simple-looking effect. You’d be forgiven for writing this off as a one-size fits all novelty effect – a simple processor you can slap onto a channel insert in order to make things sound ‘a bit retro’.
Looks can be deceiving though, as this is a plugin that takes tape emulation seriously, with a copious amount of parameters allowing users to really dive into the nuances of cassette effects.
Central to the plugin’s UI is the virtual tape deck itself. Here users are presented with options for both Deck and Tape type, for configuring the fundamental properties of the effect.
On the Deck front there are three options – Pro, Home and Micro. Pro is based around the sound of the much-loved Tascam 414 four-track, while Micro models the considerably smaller, cheaper and sonically lower-quality Omega Reporter-20. Home is a generic mid point between these two settings – slightly less high-quality than the Tascam, but without the full-on degradation of the Omega.
Tape option, meanwhile, offers four variations of tape material, affecting the frequency response and quality of the saturation, compression and noise applied to the sound.
Performance and verdict
Beneath the tape is a bank of rotaries controlling input and output gain and common parameters such as the level and movement of noise applied, overall wow/flutter depth and stereo spread.
There’s an Erasures option too, which replicates the effect of using an older tape which has been repeatedly recorded over and erased (the main effect here is a dulling of the frequency response, particularly evident on the Micro deck).
Hidden within a settings menu are a whole host of further parameter options though. Here users can tailor the speed and quality of wow and flutter pitch modulations, as well as engage/disengage various elements of the effect allowing, for example, just the saturation to be applied without compression.
There are also several interesting parameters including Azimuth – adjusting the angle of the tape head for a comb filter-like effect – and Re-Cassette – used to stack multiple instances of the processor.
It all adds up to a plugin that is far more than a mere gimmick. By going in-depth and seriously studying the effects of tape recording, Wavesfactory has produced a tool that allows users to precisely capture the individual nuances of tape. The results sound great on pads, drums and mix buses. An excellent and well-priced tool.
MusicRadar verdict: Wavesfactory’s plugin takes cassette emulation seriously, resulting in a deep, nuanced and powerful effects processor.
- KEY FEATURES: Cassette emulation plugin with three varieties of Deck emulation and four Tape types
- FORMATS: PC/Mac, VST, VST 3, AU, AAX (64-bit only) 104
- CONTACT: Wavesfactory