Here are the best free tape emulator VST plugins to process audio to give it a vintage sound. These cassette tape VST plugins work on Windows and Mac.
In this round-up of free tape emulator plugins, I have included lists of plugin features, images, and videos to see how the plugins work.
What is a Tape Emulator VST Plugin?
A tape machine plugin is a virtual analog device that emulates the sound of analog recording devices. It replicates the sound of a tape machine, such as a reel-to-reel tape recorder, or cassette tape. With these plugins, you can produce a vintage sound without the need for large, outdated hardware.
After downloading and experimenting with countless free VST plugins, these are among the best free tape emulator VST plugins I discovered.
Best Tape Emulator VST Plugins
I have included tape emulator plugins that work for Windows and Mac.
- Tape Cassette 2
- Nostalgic Saturation
- Bionic Supa Delay
- Chow Tape Emulator
- Dubb Box
- Tape Delay
- PhatNoise Delay
- Tape Bus
- Vintage Tape Delay
- Cassette Transport
- Additional Tape Emulators
Instructions: Click the links below to visit each Tape Emulator plugin. Look around each website for the download link or button. Do not install any suspicious software.
Related: 20 Best Free Vinyl VST Plugins
1. Tape Cassette 2
The Tape Cassette VST is an emulation of a vintage analog tape, capturing its warmth and character with precision.
The plugin has the features of a full-fledged tape emulator with high-quality analog-style filtering and an advanced noise reduction system.
The plugin also features heavy internal modulation, which means that it can be used as a sound design tool for creating all sorts of great vintage sounds.
Among the list, this tape emulator VST plugin is a favorite due to its user-friendly interface and selection of features.
- VST3, AU, AAX & AUv3 compatibility
- Dynamic saturation for vintage warmth
- Real sampled tape noise for texture
- Wow & flutter controls for movement
- Sleek interface with VU meters
- Selectable oversampling for quality
- Real Sampled Cassette Noise
- Adds warmth, character, and texture
- Authentic vintage cassette emulation
- Improved saturation and wow & flutter
- Compatible with various platforms
- Realistic tape noise for authenticity
- Sleek and user-friendly interface
- Not compatible with older Windows versions
- Requires 64-bit architecture for some platforms
- It may not suit all music styles
Plugin | PC & Mac
Tape Cassette 2 VST Preview
2. Nostalgic Saturation
Nostalgic Saturation is a plugin that emulates the sound of an old tape machine. It can be used to add analog tape coloration to your mixes, making them sound more retro and natural.
Nostalgic saturation is a very simple plugin that does one thing well – it adds analog tape saturation emulation to your mix. The plugin has just five controls.
The dry/wet knob sets how much of the effect will be applied, and the drive knob, which sets how much overdrive will be added to the signal before it goes through the analog circuit emulation stages.
Nostalgic Saturation | PC & Mac
3. Bionic Supa Delay
Bionic Supa Delay VST Plugin is a delay plugin that emulates the sound of a tape machine. This plugin will add some saturation and compression to your audio in order to make it sound like it was recorded on a tape machine.
The Bionic Supa Delay plugin is a simple tool that emulates the sound of an analog tape.
Bionic Supa Delay | PC
4. Chow Tape Emulator VST
The Chow Tape emulator is a plugin that emulates the sound of a tape machine and has some additional features. It can be used as an insert or send effect, and it has a wide range of parameters to alter the sound.
Chow Tape Emulator is useful for those who want to add some warmth and depth to their mix. The plugin is available for free.
Chow Model | PC & Mac / Linux
5. Dubb Box
Dubb box is a plugin that emulates the sound of a tape machine.
This plugin synthesizes the sound of a reel-to-reel tape machine. It’s used by musicians to create a lo-fi retro-style sound.
Dubb Box | PC
6. Kaput Tape Machine
Kaput is a VST Plugin for emulating the sound of a tape machine.
Kaput uses a combination of two different types of delay units, which are set to match the parameters found on many vintage tape machines.
It also simulates some aspects of analog noise reduction circuitry, as well as some common features from different types of recording tapes.
Kaput | Mac
7. Tape Delay
The Tape Delay VST Plugin includes the emulation of a tape machine with a number of parameters that can be tweaked to achieve the desired effect.
For this reason, it is an excellent tool for those who want to create retro-sounding recordings from their digital audio workstation.
Plugin | PC
8. TapeSound Analog Tape
This plugin provides a warm and vintage tape sound, perfect for adding a nostalgic atmosphere to your recording.
- 9 Tape Crackle, Hums, & Whoosh Loops
- Adjust Tape Speed Control
Plugin | PC & Mac
9. Mystique Tape Machines
Mystique is a tape emulator and offers the simulation of the sound of recording onto a cassette or reel-to-reel player. It is great for those who want to recreate the authentic sound of old recordings.
The plugin offers different features, such as noise suppression, compression, and tone control.
- Internal Oversampling
- Bass & Treble Booster
Mystique | PC
10. PhatNoise Delay
PhatNoise Delay VST Plugin emulates the sound of a tape machine. It is primarily used to create lush and warm delays, as well as for saturating sounds to create a retro feel.
PhatNoise Delay | PC
11. Tape Bus
Tape Bus is a VST Plugin that emulates tape. It does this by adding different tape saturation, compression, and noise. Tape Bus can be used to make your tracks sound more vintage or grungy.
This plugin is great for adding character to your tracks or making them sound like they are coming from an old cassette player.
Plugin | PC & Mac
12. Vintage Tape Delay
Vintage Tape Delay VST Plugin is a plugin that emulates the sound of a vintage tape machine.
A few uses of Vintage Tape Delay VST Plugin are to add subtle analog warmth to vocals or drums, create immersive ambient textures, and produce modern-day analog effects.
Retro Sampling | PC
13. Cassette Transport
This Cassette VST Plugin is a virtual tape transport plugin that emulates the sound of a cassette player.
This plugin was designed to provide you with the most authentic sound of a cassette player without any hassle of setting up or adjusting it like you would need to do with the real thing.
Plugin | PC & Mac
14. VariSpeed Tape Emulation Plugins
The GSi VariSpeed plugin is an emulation of the IC-400 Belt Drive VariSpeed model, WEM’s first tape echo machine with a variable tape speed DC capstan motor and a variable delay.
VariSpeed | PC & Mac
The maDelay is a free tape echo and delay plugin.
maDelay | PC
Additional Free Tape Emulator VST Plugins
- SN03 – This tape emulator VST plugin offers a tape sound emulation to produce a classic sound.
- Echo – A simple yet powerful tape delay simulation plugin for your music DAW.
- Delay – This is a free vintage tape delay emulator.
- Delay – Smooth tape delay plugin with time changes.
- Stop – Re-creates the time stretch sound that plays when you click the stop button on a turntable.
- TS-1 – Tape master simulator and audio filter.
- FerricTDS mkII – Simulates dynamic effects of high-quality tape gear.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Tape Emulation Plugin?
You have probably heard of the term “tape machine” being thrown around in the music industry. Tape machines are devices that are used to record and playback sounds, but what does a tape machine plugin do?
A tape machine plugin, or vst plugin, replicates the same sound that would be created by a physical tape machine.
Tape plugins are used to simulate various aspects of a physical tape machine in order to provide more depth to your recorded audio. Tape plugins can come with different settings for treble, bass, saturation, etc.
The benefit of using these plugins is that you don’t have to use physical recording equipment.
How Does Tape Emulation Work?
Tapes have long been the go-to source for musicians when it comes to recording. With tape emulators, they can now get that analog sound without having to go through the hassle of finding and maintaining old analog hardware.
The basic principle behind any tape emulation device is to mimic the frequency response curve of magnetic media, which in this case is a magnetic tape. Tape Emulators use time-based distortions in order to emulate sounds like wow and flutter that occur in tapes.
Why Use Tape Emulators?
Musicians use Tape Emulators to make their recordings sound more organic and warm. The sound of analog tape is unique and can be difficult to recreate in today’s world.
The signal will always have a sense that it is traveling over something that has some friction and texture. The tape machines themselves also produce a mechanical noise, and with analog gear, this noise is always present in the background. By using a tape emulation plugin, you can try to recreate the sound of classic hardware.
Who Uses Tape Emulator VST Plugin?
Tape emulator VST plugins are usually used by people who are interested in recreating the sound of a classic analog recording. But it can also be used to create new sounds, like creating Lo-Fi Music.
These plugins can also be used when creating music samples to make the samples sound more vintage and processed.
So you can use tape emulators for creating music, or music samples. Test out the different tape plugins to see which ones work best for your music projects.
In conclusion, tape emulator plugins have become increasingly popular among producers and engineers seeking to achieve the vintage sound of analog hardware.
These plugins offer a range of sonic characteristics that closely replicate the warmth, tone control, and harmonic distortion of classic tape machines, such as cassette decks and tape recorders.
One of the key benefits of using tape emulation is the ability to introduce parallel distortion, tape saturation, and tape noise to audio signals.
These effects can be further customized using separate controls for tape speed, tape formula, and mix control. With just a handful of free tape emulator VST plugins, producers can explore a wide range of lo-fi sounds and vintage recordings.
Another advantage of tape emulation is the ability to shape the frequency spectrum of audio signals, introducing wow and flutter and frequency responses that mimic real tape machines. The use of different tape formulations, such as magnetic tape and master tape, can further enhance the audio quality and add analog warmth to digital recordings.
One popular tape emulator plugin is the Nostalgic Saturation plugin, which offers a vintage tape module that accurately emulates the classic tape machines of the past. The plugin allows you to adjust tape speed, tape saturation, and tape stop effects and introduce harmonic distortion and tape noise.
Tape emulator plugins have become an essential tool for producers and engineers seeking to achieve the vintage sound of analog hardware.
These plugins offer a range of sonic characteristics that closely replicate the sonic qualities of classic tape machines, such as cassette tapes and tape recorders.
With the ability to shape the frequency spectrum, introduce parallel distortion and tape saturation, and customize separate controls, free tape emulator VST plugins have become popular for achieving analog hardware’s vintage sound on multiple tracks.
The free tape emulation VSTs above are all great alternatives to paid plugins like Softube Tape, IK Multimedia T-RackS Tape Machine Collection, Waves Kramer Master Tape, Virtual Tape Machines by Slate Digital, Magnetic Tape Bundle by Universal Audio, TAIP Tape Plugin by BABY Audio, U-He Satin Tape simulation, and the Universal Audio UAD Ampex ATR-102 plugin.
I hope you find these free tape emulator VST plugins helpful.