Featured: The Studer A800 Tape Machine Plugin by Universal Audio
For more than 30 years, artists and engineers alike have been drawn to the warm analog sound, solid low-end, and overall presence of the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder. The sheer number of albums recorded on this legendary 2” analog tape machine — including classics from Metallica, Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty, A Tribe Called Quest, and Jeff Buckley — serve as shining examples of the musicality of analog tape.
Fully authenticated by Studer, and modeled by UA’s world-renowned team of DSP engineers and AES magnetic recording expert Jay McKnight over a 12-month period, the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder plug-in for UAD-2 hardware and Apollo interfaces is the first product of its kind. By faithfully modeling the entire circuit path of the famous A800 machine from Allen Sides’ collection at Ocean Way Studios, the Studer A800 plug-in is the most accurate representation of professional multitrack analog tape recording available.
Introduced in 1978, the Studer A800 was the first microprocessor-controlled tape machine. Years ahead of its time, the A800 remains a sonic benchmark, and can still be found in studios worldwide. However, with their massive steel frame and meter bridge, twin half-horsepower motors and cast alloy deck plates, original A800 units tip the scales at a backbreaking 900 pounds. The Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder plug-in poses none of the hardware hassles, yet retains all the beautiful sonics that make tape a beloved recording medium.
Just like magnetic tape, you can dial in a clean sound, or just the right amount of harmonic saturation using the Studer A800 plug-in’s Input and Output controls. The reel deck IPS control steps through tape speed choices (7.5, 15, or 30 IPS), each with distinct frequency shift, head bump and distortion characteristics. The tape Type control lets users choose from four of the most popular magnetic tape formulas — each with their own subtle sonic variation. The Cal control allows the user to choose between +3dB, +6dB, +7.5dB, or +9dB calibration levels.
Secondary controls are hidden behind the reel deck, and can be exposed by clicking on the Studer badge or the Open label. These controls include an Auto Cal feature, plus separate tape Hiss and Hum, with a global noise bypass. Finally, a Gang Controls feature allows you to simultaneously adjust and sync parameter settings on all Studer A800 plug-in instances in your session.
“This badboy here is amazing, I usually put it on my kick drum and snare and my god is just tape music to my ears I can describe it is just big body and meaty definitely go to on all my ongoing projects. But to be honest I mainly used this bad boy on vocals. I mainly do Hip Hop Pop and R&B!
“My vocal chain is U87 70’s ver. – Through the UAD neve 1073 – Studer A800 – Pultec -La2a silver and my God Vocals never sounded better, it’s the Million dollar studio vocal quality everybody’s been searching for. Thanks UA i’m your customer for life! I recommend the studer to everybody!”
“I’ve owned this for a while, and I’m finally comfortable enough to write a review on it. Subtlety seems to be the key word with this thing. I don’t like what it does to the low end, but find it can really warm up mids and smooths things up when pushed just a bit. I don’t like kick feeding into it so I keep off of the master bus (or have kick by pass it); and same deal with drums bus. Saturating it a bit on vocals can be nice, but again subtly. This thing is a DSP hog, but I do love it for premasters. As a DUO owner, I tend to reach for other tape emulators first before using this for that reason.”
“The Studer A800 is the first plugin I place across my mixes. This helps me get a good sound right off the bat. Once I dial it in, I proceed by placing the SSL G Buss Compressor on the Master Bus and start mixing from there. Do this and not only will you end up using less EQ and Compression, but your mixes will sound better because of it. Don’t forget to play around with the Bias and HF filter. That’s where the magic is at!”
“I purchased this plugin when it came out over a year ago. Right after I purchased it they came out with the Ampex plugin. That was the one I really wanted to run on the 2 track bus. After using this plugin (Studer 800) on the 2 track bus and also after I started the Ampeq 14 day demo I was a little bummed out I did not purchase the Ampeq. A few weeks later I stuck the Studer on every channel of my mix (only the drums & bass tracks) and I was amazed at what it did. About 7 years ago I sold my Otari MTR-90 so I am very familiar with tape machines and how they sound.
“If you run this plugin on your drum & bass tracks it just glues them together. There is no need to spend thousands of dollars up keeping your 2″ anymore with this plugin.”
“While at a session in L.A. last week, the band and I over the songs a few times as the engineer was getting tones and recording them to Pro Tools (sounded fine). Then we tracked the keepers onto a 2″ Studer machine. I couldn’t stop grinning after hearing my kit played back through that deck (it’s been so long, I’d forgotten what tape does for drums). When I got home I started the A800 demo, tracked some drums and right there in front of me was that sound. Subtle on the overheads (like they were EQ’d – with really awesome EQ), more pronounced on kick & snare (the body of the drums were pulled forward, whereas it was mostly attack before). The price kept me from trying this out before. Don’t be stupid like me, buy this. I finally did.”