Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

This article will share our top 10 picks for the best tape machine VSTs plugins that your music l give the best mixing and mastering music. In the process, you will also learn about tape machines and how to use them. So without further delay, let's dive right in.

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What is a tape machine?

Tape machines are the classic audio recording devices used for Reel-to-reel audio tape recording. In this device, a Supply/Feed reel of tape is placed on a spindle and uses a mechanical guide and a transducer(called tape head) to record the audio.

Reel-to-reel systems use tape 1412, 1, or 2 inches, moving at the general speed of 15 or 30 inches per second. The General speed of a tape is in the multiple of 30. Although the recording process through tape machines was expensive, they remain popular due to their sound quality and analog color.

Best Tape Machines for Mixing and Mastering

  1. IK Multimedia Tape Machine 440
  2. Softube Tape
  3. Waves Kramer Master Tape
  4. UAD Ampex ATR-102
  5. Waves J37 Tape
  6. Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machine
  7. U-he Satin

IK Multimedia Tape Machine 440

Tape Machine 440 by IK Multimedia is one of the best Tape Simulation VST plugins. The plugin uses convolution and physical modeling to recreate the sound of a tape machine. It has four main tape formulae-

  1. 250 - Simulating the 3M/Scotch 250 formula adds a little distortion and saturation.
  2. GP9 - Simulating the Quantegy GP9 formula adds punch to the sound with minimum distortion.
  3. 456 - Recreates the sound of Ampex 456. the most used tape in recording history.
  4. 499 - Recreates the sound of the Ampex 499 formula. In addition, gives a hybrid analog-digital color to the sound.
Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

There is a separate control for signal path, Bias, and Tape speed, giving more control and realism to the sound.

Price and Demo

The Tape Machine 440 costs €99.99. There is a free demo available for download.

Learn more about Tape Machine 440

Softube Tape

Softube Tape is a CPU Efficient Tape machine emulator VST. It has three modes for tape recording- A, B, and C. As a result, it creates a realistic analog sound. The plugin also includes many amazing presets made by Grammy winner engineers.

Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

The plugin can be used on the mix as well as the master bus. It adds weight to the sound and glues them together. The user interface of the plugin is very simple. However, It lacks the controls like Bias, Speed, etc.

Demo and Price

There is a free trial version for Sotube Tape. The full version has an original price of $99, but can be purchased for just $49 at the time.

Learn more about Softube Tape

Waves Kramer Master Tape

The Kramer Master Tape is one of the most popular Tape machine plugins out there. It is developed by Waves audio in collaboration with Eddie Kramer. It is modeled after a rare 1/4 reel-to-reel recording machine. The best part about this particular plugin is the presence of slap and feedback delay. 

Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

The plugin can be used for mixing, mastering, and recording. The main user interface is simple. The VST has various controls viz speed, bias, wow, and flutter. It brings the warmth of a true analog saturation plugin, It can add a great character to vocals, piano, electric guitars, and more.

Price and Demo

Although the original price of the plugin is $299, you can get it for just $29 from the official website of waves audio. There is a demo version available for this plugin.

Learn more about Kramer Master Tape

UAD Ampex ATR-102 Tape Machine

The UAD Ampex is an excellent tape machine simulator, loved by all mastering engineers. It is one of the best plugins for mastering. The plugin fully recreates the color and character of the Ampex Machine. The plugin can also be used with the LUNA recording setup.

Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

There are 3 signal paths in the plugin(input, sync, and repro). Apart from that, there are 4 tape formulas and different tape speeds. There is also an adjustable tape delay feature, useful for creating the double-tracking effect.

Price and Demo

The original price of UAD Ampex ATR-102 is $349.00, but you can buy it at 50% off from the official website of UAD. There is no trial version available for this plugin.

Learn more about UAD Ampex ATR-102

Waves J37 Tape

Another great plugin by Waves audio, this time in collaboration with the Abbey Road Studio. This plugin is modeled after the hardware used in some of the most iconic records of all time. There are 3 exclusive tape formulas included in the VST. Each formula has its own frequency response and saturation.

Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

The plugin has a classic user interface. There are controls like Tape Speed, Bias, Noise, Saturation, Wow, and Flutter. A tape delay effect is added to the plugin for double tracking. The delay also features filter options.

Price and Demo

The original price of the J37 Tape Saturation plugin is $299. But you can buy it from the official Waves Audio website for just $39. There is a trial version of the plugin as well.

Learn more about Wave J37 Tape

Slate Digital Virtual Tape Machine

A 16-track 2-inch tape machine and a 1/2 inch stereo mastering deck are both simulated by VTM. Additionally, you can pick from the two most common tape formulas. Different formulas will eventually provide different acoustic outcomes due to their varied characteristics and headroom.

Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

The tape in the Virtual tape machine can emulate the behavior of 15 and 30 ips. The user interface of the VST is quite simple and easy to use. However, there is no delay or slap effect in the plugin.

Price and Demo

You can get the Virtual Tape Machine in Slate Digital's all-access pass. There is a one-month trial available for the plugin.

Learn more about Virtual Tape Machine

U-he Satin

U-he Satin is our personal recommendation for the best saturation VST in the market. The reason is simple, it provides more options for better tone sculpting and tape emulation. The plugin features a series of great tape models speed, Repro, and Recording Eq, along with other great features.

Best Tape Machine VST for Mixing and Mastering

Unlike other Tape Simulators, Satin can create its own tape machine setup. There is a unique Delay, and Flange effect that adds extra color and excitement to the sound. While the delay module allows you to design your own tape delay, flange recreates the identical tape recording on 2 different tapes.

Price and Demo

The U-he Satin costs 129 €. You can get it from the official website of U-He. The plugin is available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. A Trial version of the plugin is also available.

Learn more about U-he Satin


Thanks for reading! We hope that our recommendation will help you decide the best tape machine and saturation plugin for your mixing and mastering project. Make sure to check out our new Car Test Plugin.