In cooperation with artist and YouTuber Hainbach, developer AudioThing presents Wires – an emulation of a Soviet-era wire recorder from the 1960s. This equipment was initially developed for the military and the Secret Service until a small number of avant-garde musicians discovered its audio effects potential. We are talking lo-fi aesthetics and ghostly echo delays that feel very different from those coming out of tape machines, despite the technological similarities.
You’d be forgiven if you have no clue about wire recording in this day and age. I certainly didn’t, but a quick Wikipedia trip got me educated. Turns out wire recording is the first magnetic recording technology, invented as early as 1898. Sound gets recorded onto magnetized steel wire that’s pulled rapidly across a recording head. It’s the predecessor to magnetic tape recording, but it took about half a century until tape replaced wire in the 1950s. The technical principles are almost the same, but the recording medium is completely different. Throughout the tape era, wire recorders remained inside military aircraft. In fact, hearing recorded tidbits from military operations is quite common with vintage units!
Wire recorders are old and somewhat rare, so AudioThing took it upon themselves to produce a meticulous emulation of the unit they borrowed from Hainbach’s museum-like collection. The unit in question originates from East Germany – a 12kg chunk of steel that looks utterly badass!
The virtual wire recorder reacts to input volume much like a tape machine, but it produces an unusual sound character. The parameters at your disposal include Noise (Hiss and Motor), Playback Speed, Wow/Flutter, Drops, Clicks, Tilt EQ, and a dedicated Echo section with Time, Feedback, Level and Mix/Wet controls. Even the original unit’s microphone input and built-in speaker have been recreated for their sound coloration. The tube emulation at the output stage adds even more vintage crunch. Start/stop effects are also possible with the Playback Stop/Start switch. There’s an envelope as well, though no adjustments are available for it.
Price and availability
AudioThing Wires is available from the manufacturer’s website at an introductory price of EUR 39, down from EUR 59. Owners of AudioThing’s ‘Reels’ virtual tape machine receive a special discount.
The plug-in runs in 64-bit AU, VST, AAX, and VST3 formats under macOS 10.7 or later and Windows 7 or later. A demo version and a PDF user manual can be downloaded from the developer’s website.