Plugin of the Week: Universal Audio Ampex ATR 102

Before digital audio, recording to tape was the standard medium for musicians to record, edit and store audio. However recording to tape had many challenges for engineers as tape machines had many imperfections such as hiss, non linear frequency response, wow & flutter, tape compression and harmonic distortion. How much these flaws would colour the sound of the recording would depend on a wide range of parameters such as tape width, tape speed, tape formulas, recording level, and of course the actual design of the tape recorder itself. If many of these flaws were strongly present on consumer tape recorders such as cassette and  cheap reel to reel, professional tape recorders were far better designed. In 1976, Ampex released the ATR102, which with its innovative transport system, strongly reduced wow and flutter. The ATR102 could also be modified to the engineer’s need, by changing the tape head and even removing the audio transformer. The ATR102 is still widely regarded as the finest tape machine for mixdown.

UAD released a few years back an incredibly detailed simulation of the Ampex ATR 102, which faithfully recreates all features found on the original and more. from a user perspective, the plugin has many advantages over the hardware version as you are able to change the tape type, speed, calibration, hiss and hum level, crosstalk, wow & flutter at the push of a button.

In this episode of Plugin of the Week, we take a look at Universal Audio plug in simulation of the classic tape machine – Ampex ATR102. Watch it above and make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel for more tutorials and live events.

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** Editors note: Things have moved on significantly since this article was published 🙂 Please head to our blog homepage for the very latest updates from Point Blank.

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