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. This is the concept of SketchCassette, a charming lo-fi plug-in that emulates a 4-track cassette recorder.
The sloppily sketched user interface is a friendly disguise for a rather thorough plug-in that could actually look quite imposing if it’s rendered in a modern “flat” stylistic. From the GUI, you get to adjust input and output gain, the tape’s age and frequency profile, the Wow and Flutter Depth & Rate, and the modulation wave type. You can also dial in as much Hiss and Saturation you want, as well as choose the Depth and Intensity of Dropouts. Finally, there is a Nr Comp. switch to emulate the sound of noise reduction encoding compression.
Obviously, SketchCassette is meant for creative audio degradation rather than enhancement, so you better not expect the opposite. Offering depth without needless complexity, I believe the plug-in is worth the USD 20 asking price if you are after the lo-fi tape aesthetic.
For a more polished-looking alternative with additional vinyl emulation, have a look at Initial Audio’s Analog Pro plug-in. It’s meant to recreate the imperfections of tape reel and vynil records by giving you parameters such as noise type and level, impulse type and mix, emphasis, lo/hi cut and wow/flutter to play with.