People tend to be nostalgic about the old days when the music was recorded and played over tape mediums like cassettes and reel-to-reel tape machines. There are some genuinely unique characteristics brought by this kind of devices and mediums. The sound of magnetic tape isn’t just about the warmth, saturation, and subtlety of professional reel-to-reel machines. Rather, there’s also the lo-fi and nostalgic side of it, where defects of the medium become effects. In the next tutorial, we will try to show you how to bring back that old “tape” like feeling to your sound.


Let’s start


As usual, we have previously made a project in our SoundBridge: DAW, which contains some base elements like acoustic guitar riff, drum groove, and a piano sequence that is suitable to color with that tape/lo-fi sound. Let us first hear it one by one unprocessed.



~Guitar Riff – Unprocessed 

~Drum Groove – Unprocessed 

~El. Piano Sequence – Unprocessed


Utilizing SketchCassette by Aberrant DSP


So, for the purpose of this tutorial, we have selected a plugin that possesses all the features mentioned above, and it’s called SketchCassette by Aberrant DSP. Therefore, let’s have a closer look at its interface.



The User Interface


Firstly, we can see that its name justifies the look of the interface, it looks like a sketch on the paper. In the top left corner, we can see a representation of the actual cassette. What’s more, above the picture of the cassette, we can select three different modes of the cassette (Type 1, Type 2, and Metal). There is a Bypass mode, as well. Furthermore, it is possible to set the actual condition of the cassette, ranging from New, over Used, and all the way up to Worn.

Moving forward, you can find the effects and metering at the right part of the interface. The main effects are Wow and Flutter, which are probably the most known effects when we talk about Reel-to-Reel tape sound. Consequently, you can set the Mix, Rate, and LFO waveform for each of them.

Below we can see more parameters for control. The first in line is Hiss, which introduces noise that cassettes and reel-to-reel machines produce. Consequently, the next in line is Saturation, followed by Dropouts. Moreover, dropouts are, as the name suggests, breaks or stops, which are caused by actual damage of the tape and the recording. You can increase its intensity. The last effect is the NR Comp, which is a compression that you can add to the overall sound.


Audio Examples


So, after a brief introduction to the SketchCassette interface and its parameters, we can move to some practical audio examples. First, we will hear above mentioned Guitar Riff Drum Groove and El. Piano sequence processed with SketchCassette solo and then all together in a full mix.


~Guitar Riff – Processed With SketchCassette

~Drum Groove – Processed With SketchCassette

~El. Piano Sequence – Processed With SketchCassette

~Full Mix – Processed With SketchCassette