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You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser to utilize the functionality of this website. In professional recording studios, the Ampex ATR Mastering Tape Recorder is a frequent companion to a workhorse or track Studer machine, completing the classic tape-based signal chain.

That said, below are some helpful tips to get you started.

The primary function of the ATR plug-in is as a mixdown tape machine — adding tone, dynamic character and “glue” to your mixes. In the analog world, engineers will periodically “check in” on the ATR hardware, to ampez how the mix is responding to the machine and tape — xtr printing to tape when the mix sounds right. It’s during these “check-ins” that engineers will often tweak calibration levels or tape speeds. In the DAW environment, however, you have two options: With the ability to change heads, speeds and formulas on a whim, the ATR plug-in is totally flexible versus its analog counterpart.

Ampex Schematics

Under normal use, the goal is to get the ATR meter manhal around 0 dB or below. If the mix is not averaging there, the first place to go is the Cal Level button.


Cal Level automatically sets tape calibration, affecting the operating levels in the plug-in, and can be used to compensate for overly high or low levels at the input of the plug-in.

Using Cal Level takes care of the gain setup, by automatically setting unity gain from input through tar. Traditionally, various tape formulas have recommended operating levels see the manual for more informationbut feel free to use Cal Level for purely creative exploration.

For further gain control, reach for the Record Input Gain knob. As it is on the Ampex hardware, Record is the knob on the right.

Just like magnetic tape, lower Record levels will have a cleaner sound, while higher levels result in more harmonic saturation and coloration.

Higher Record levels will also increase the output level from the plug-in. The Reproduce control can xtr lowered to compensate for this, but the metering will no longer be in a calibrated state.

However, users can also access a bank of artist presets to access the prefered ATR settings from several famous engineers — for mixing, for mastering, for use as inserts, or for special effects. Note that each Tape formula has its own subtle sonic variation, distortion onset, and tape compression characteristics. Each Speed setting IPS provides distinct frequency shift, head bump, and distortion characteristics; higher speeds have higher fidelity and 3.

Record EQs and Bias can have a huge affect on the modeled tape response. Additionally, try using slower tape speeds and the Sync head playback option for some highly colored responses.

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Feel free to experiment. Crosstalk is the signal bleed that happens on multichannel tape decks; in simple terms, you can hear a bit of the left channel on the right, and vice-versa.

The ATR plug-in models the crosstalk behavior between the two channels, which chages in frequency response based on Speed. By default, the plug-in’s Crosstalk level matches the hardware, but the amount can be increased for more extreme results. Wow and flutter are traditionally “undesirable” pitch changes introduced by the mechanical nature of tape machines. Wow refers to very low frequency fluctuations, while Flutter refers to faster fluctuations. In a modern context, wow and flutter can impart a great vintage vibe to your tracks.

Tips & Tricks – Ampex ATR Mastering Tape Recorder | Universal Audio

Ready to geek out? It’s still common for veteran engineers to have their own techniques for getting a tape machine to respond exactly as they see fit. Using the built-in test tone generator complete with virtual MRL test tapes, the plug-in can be configured exactly as desired. The UAD manual includes the recommended Ampex configuration method, perfect for “learning the ropes. ajpex

Tips & Tricks – Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder

Learn how producer Steve Mackey M. ATR on the master fader. The Cal Level controls. A wide range of artist presets are included. Advanced tweaking is possible with the hidden controls panel.