I was halfway into a review of the T-RackS Tape Machines collection when I came across Instagram posts advertising The T-RackS TASCAM Tape Collection. This is a collaboration between IK Multimedia and TASCAM.
TASCAM has been around for quite a long time and I think a lot of people tend to forget or never knew that they’ve made some pretty impressive gear over the years.
This is probably due to their push and the field recorder space.
What’s in the T-RackS TASCAM Tape Collection?
- TASCAM Porta One: This is the sound of the 90s
- TEAC A-3340S: 4 track recorder with good warmth and aggression when pushed
- TASCAM 388: 8 Track Recorder with a simple but effective 3 band EQ
- TEAC A-6100 MKII: Lovely Mastering Tape Machine
TASCAM is responsible for creating the originals, they were game-changing. I won’t bore you with all the details and specifics of each unit, you can find all that technical stuff on the IK Multimedia site.
What I Love About The TASCAM Tape Collection
Looks good, sounds good, and is very easy to use. I know looks aren’t the most important aspect when it comes to plugins, but on some level, it is! Visuals are very important, people like looking at cool things.
Let me run you through the gamut of most music creators, from my experience.
When you first start out, eye candy is important. How things look, how much they cost etc, this matters.
As you gain more experience, you start looking for tools that are efficient. They function well, sound good, but don’t need to look the best.
Then, you hit a point where finding plugins that contain everything you like is important. Meaning, they have to look good, sound good, and function well.
I’ve always hated plugins that worked well, sound good, but the GUI wasn’t resizable.
Meaning, if you upgrade your monitor, the plugins remain tiny or pixelate…Very annoying.
There needs to be a happy medium between those three and IK Multimedia nails them every time.
TASCAM Tape Collection Layout
I smiled when I noticed the similarities in the layouts of the units. Slightly different locations, but they’re there.
The continuity makes using the units and understanding their flow very easy.
How I Use The T-RackS TASCAM Tape Collection
I use them simply for adding warmth and Mojo to the mix. This is one of my secrets when it comes to music placements, specific for tv (music licensing)… Making sure the mix is on point. I shoot for results that aren’t overly dramatic, but noticeable and round. With that being said, each machine has its own character.
Tape settings I’m adjusting to craft my sound
Tape Speed: I use Low Tape Speed settings (7.5 ips). The 15ips is good as well, audition both to see which fits best for your genre of music.
Bias: I’ll increase this to add more saturation to the mix. I find that a little goes a long way.
True Stereo: If you turn it off, both left and right channels are the same, but having it on alters both channels, thus making the output a little wider.
Formulas: All of the formulas a good and have varying degrees of separation (nothing drastic) depending on the unit you’re using. The only unit that doesn’t have the formulas is the Porta Studio, more on that later.
The Formulas I Use Most
456: This gives that round warm Tape Machine sound that people are after when they think of Tape.
499: I like this one because it can be hit harder, but I notice it doesn’t have the same squash or compression that the 456 has.
TASCAM Porta Studio Specific
I use to use one of these with an MPC 3000. What I would do is process and filter my incoming signal (sample) via the TASCAM Porta Studio and record that signal into the 3000.
There are two tape formulas on the Porta Studio
Type I: I use it specifically for dirtying up sounds.
Type II: Also good, but doesn’t give me the dirty sound I love. Has a more pristine quality to it than Type I.
I like to put the TASCAM Porta Studio on my drum bus and make the drums extremely dirty. This helps shape drum breaks and give clean modern-sounding drums more character.
This is perfect for trying to capture that Boom Bap and Lofi sound.
My Favorite Starter TASCAM Tape Presets
Here are some of my favorite presets from the TASCAM Collection
TEAC A-6100 – Warm Bus
I use these directly on the mix bus to add roundness to the mix. I’ll flip between the 499 and 456. Depending on the track, 499 does the trick, but I always flip between 499 and 456 to see which fits best.
TEAC A-3340s – Pre-amp Only
I don’t know which I like better the ‘warm bus’ from the 6100 or this preamp preset Both give me good results, but I tend to use the preamp setting mostly when auditioning sounds. With that said, I do tend to use them on channels vs busses.
TASCAM 388 – Hit The Tape
Exactly what the preset suggests! Hit that TAPE! I do finagle with the EQ to craft my sound. The range is wide, a lot to play with here.
Porta One Studio – Portable LoFi Maker
This is easily one of my go-to presets when it comes to A. adding a little bit of girth to sounds and B. tucking them in the mix. I’ll also add this preset to the drum bus to thicken them up, if you’re a REAPER user set the plugin window to 50%, it’s lovely. If you’re not a Reaper user, set it up for parallel processing.
Is The T-RackS TASCAM Collection CPU Friendly?
Over the years, I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of talk about IK Multimedia and how CPU-intensive their plugins are. Yes, their plugins can be taxing, but I also notice a lot of music creators and engineers making this complaint don’t use their plugins wisely.
These aren’t Stock EQs and Compressors that go on every channel. Tape machines are great on buses, especially your mix bus. They grasp, massage, and glue multiple frequencies, giving the mix a little mojo. If you’re loading these on every single channel, you’re going to run into problems.
T-RackS TASCAM Collection Pros and Cons
I guess I can’t really call it a con, but I’m used to seeing mid-side and left-right processing on the units. I do understand that IK is keeping emulations true to the actual pieces but I’m spoiled by the options. I wish they would’ve included those, but if they couldn’t then it’s understandable.
T-RackS TASCAM Tape Collection Conclusion
IK Multimedia did an amazing job with the TASCAM Tape Collection. They’re easy to use, sound good, versatile and they make a huge difference on my mix bus. I hope to see other classic emulations in the future.