There’s little that’s more hipster than an audio cassette. Its sound is far from perfect, it’s impractical, and — most important of all — it is easy to see that you’re using one. But that doesn’t mean that tapes were all bad. Lo-fi cassette decks actually add some rather pleasant audio artifacts to audio.
So what? Well, now you don’t need to lug around a Walkman and a bag of tapes to enjoy the retro sound of audio cassettes, because there’s a) an iOS audio plugin and b) a website that will tape-ify any track you like.
In his book A Year With Swollen Appendices, Brian Eno nailed our obsession with old recording technologies.
Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit – all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided.
We use cutting edge technology to model the failings and shortcomings of previous technologies. The latest of these are Klevgrand’s two new cassette-tape emulators.
Turn any track into a lo-fi hiss-fest.
Klevgrand’s Webcassette is a tape simulator in a web browser. You can load in any audio file from your computer, iPhone, or iPad, and play it back as if it were still the 70s or 80s. You can adjust the tape quality, as well as the quality of the unit’s virtual motor and magnetic playback head. There are also selectors to toggle Dolby A and B noise reduction (less hiss), and the kind of tape the machine uses (normal, metal, or chrome).
The sound is instantly nostalgic, with pitch wobble, compression, and a saturated sound that is anything but pristine. It’s quite addictive, and makes me want to scour the attic for my old tapes. Or it would, if I had an attic. Or tapes. The sim also faithfully reproduces one less appealing aspect of tapes. To listen to a track again, you have to rewind the tape first, which takes a little while.
daw cassette puts tape emulation on your iPhone or iPad.
Web Cassette is also available as an app. DAW Cassette is an AUv3 plugin for iOS (or for Mac/PC). This means that it isn’t a standalone app, but a plug-in for a DAW, or Digital Audio Workstation, aka something like GarageBand. You load up DAW Cassette inside GarageBand or your preferred DAW, and you can use it to process your own music.
You might use it to add wobble to a single track, or to color the sound of a whole song. The DAW version version adds controls for input gain, output gain, and a dry/wet mix. This lets you overdrive the audio to make it start to distort, which can be a pleasing effect in itself. The dry/wet mix lets you blend the wet (effected) signal with the dry (clean) original.
The web version is free to use. The iOS app is currently $7, and the AU/VST/AAX version is $20. The app just launched, and these prices are set to increase soon.
Download: DAW Cassette from the App Store (iOS)
Download: DAW Cassette from Klevgrand (VST/AU/AAX)