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Oxide Tape Recorder

UA’s groundbreaking tape emulation technology in an easy-to-use plug-in.

The Oxide Tape Recorder plug-in provides UA's revolutionary magnetic tape emulation technology in a simple, affordable package — with all of the essential features. By harnessing the musical, mixable sound of tape, Oxide gives you clarity, punch, and warmth so every track "sounds like a record."

  • Easily inject the warm color and punchy low-end response of large format analog tape to your tracks
  • Apply tape saturation and circuit overdrive via simple Input/Output controls
  • Use presets designed by engineer/producer John Paterno [Brad Paisley, Los Lobos]
  • Experience in-the-box recording “through” tape in real time using Apollo interfaces
  • Load Oxide on 24 tracks with single UAD-2 QUAD DSP Accelerator
  • Choose among 7.5 and 15 IPS Tape Speeds and two emphasis curves for colorful tape textures

Groundbreaking Tape Emulation Technology

The Oxide Tape Recorder plug-in was engineered by the same team behind the industry-leading UAD Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Machine and Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Machine plug-ins. Designed in conjunction with AES magnetic recording expert Jay McKnight, Oxide gives your tracks and mixes the warmth, presence, and vibe of professional analog tape.

Easy to Use

Whether you’re tracking in real time using an Apollo interface, or mixing in your DAW, Oxide’s intuitive controls deliver musical results for beginners and pros alike. Just select IPS (inches per second), EQ, and noise reduction settings, and tweak input and output controls to taste. By emulating fat tape compression and colorful circuit behaviors, Oxide gives your tracks and mixes the cohesive glue that only analog tape can provide.

Operational Overview

Oxide provides all of a magnetic tape recorder's desirable analog sweetness. As with magnetic tape, a clean sound, or just the right amount of harmonic saturation, can be dialed in using the Input and Output controls. Tape transport speeds of 7.5 and 15 IPS (Inches Per Second) are available, each having a distinct frequency shift, "head bump" (low frequency rise), and distortion characteristics. The EQ (emphasis) control allows selection between the American (NAB) and European (CCIR) standardized EQs, providing regional pre-emphasis/de-emphasis filtering at 7.5 and 15 IPS, each with its own sonic qualities. All options operate at a tape/fluxivity calibration level of +6 dB.

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Oxide Tape Recorder interface

Two monitoring paths are available. Input provides the sound of the machine electronics only (without magnetic tape), while Repro provides complete sonics of the machine electronics with playback of the recorded tape signal. The NR (Noise Reduction) switch can be used to remove the not-always-desirable tape hiss and electronics hum which is inherent in analog tape systems, from the processed signal.

General Operation

The main point to understand about Oxide operation is that the Input control adjusts the signal level recorded to tape, and is therefore the primary color parameter. As with hardware tape recorders, lower VU levels result in a cleaner, warmer sound with more headroom, while increasing VU levels results in more tape saturation, compression, and bite.

After adjusting the Input control to taste, the Output control can be adjusted to compensate for resulting level changes. For example, if Input is reduced for low VU levels, the Output control can be increased for unity gain with the original input signal.

All controls are interactive and it's normal for zeroed and/or reciprocal I/O gains to not always achieve perfect unity gain.

Using Oxide During Mixdown

The primary purpose of Oxide is to obtain multichannel tape sonics within the DAW environment. To obtain the classic cumulative "cohesive" multitrack tape sound on mixdown, the plug-in should be placed as the first insert on individual tracks, before other processing is applied.

Creative "non-standard" results can be obtained by placing Oxide in subsequent inserts after other processors, on sub-mix buses, or aux buses in a send/return configuration. Mixdown to a two-track tape recorder can be emulated by placing the plug-in on the stereo output bus.

If the mix is already begun, be sure to bypass all other plug-ins initially. You may find, for example, that far less compression and EQ is needed and the mix "glues together" more easily. Of course, Oxide can sound incredible on the mix bus as well.

Realtime UAD Processing with Apollo Inputs (UAD plug-in only)

To enable near-zero latency while recording or monitoring with Apollo through Oxide, simply assign the plug-in to the desired insert slot within Apollo's Console application. To replicate a traditional analog signal chain while recording on Apollo, first assign one of Apollo's Unison plug-ins (preamp or channel strip emulations such as UA 610-B) in the mic preamp channel's dedicated Unison insert, then place Oxide in the first standard insert slot in the channel. If the session was already recorded through Apollo with Oxide, the mix session may benefit from a "second pass" through Oxide as well.

Artist Presets

Oxide includes a bank of custom presets designed by engineer/producer John Paterno. These factory presets are provided as guides to help you achieve a great tape sound.

About Oxide Artist Preset Names

Each Oxide preset name includes two descriptors: Either Warm or Drive, plus a target VU value (+3VU, 0VU, etc). The preset names provide important guidance for achieving the desired sound.

The Warm presets are designed for a more pure analog tape sweetening, while the Drive presets are designed for a more saturated/compressed/colored tape sound.

The target VU value is the signal level to send into the recorder via the Input control, so the tape calibration levels are the same as the preset designer's levels.

How To Use Oxide Artist Presets

  1. Select a sonic quality.
    Based on the sonic result you want to achieve, choose either a Warm preset or a Drive preset from the Oxide preset bank.
  2. Adjust Input to target the preset's VU value.
    While the source signal is active in the plug-in (during input or playback), adjust Oxide's Input control so the signal peaks in the VU Meter reach the preset's target VU value in the preset name.
    This step calibrates your input signals to the same reference levels as the preset designer, so the sonic results will be as intended. Without this adjustment, there would be no way to match how "hot" the recording levels are.
  3. Adjust Output to taste.
    After adjusting Input, the processed signal may be quieter or louder than the original source signal. If desired, adjust the Output control to return to unity gain.

Oxide Tape Controls

Reels Animation

By default, the tape reels in Oxide are spinning. The reel animation can be stopped and started by clicking anywhere on either tape reel.

Note: Reel animation does not effect signal processing. The plug-in sound (if enabled) is still active when the reels are not spinning.

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VU Meter

The VU Meter (read-only) provides a visual representation of the signal levels after the virtual tape, but before the Output control. The Input control affects how "hot" the VU Meter signal is.

Higher VU levels typically indicate more harmonic saturation, coloration, and/or distortion. However, these characteristics depend on the other control values as well.

The plug-in operates at an internal level of -12 dBFS. Therefore a digital signal with a level of -12 dB below full scale digital (0 dBFS) at the plug-in input will equate to 0 dB on the plug-in meters.

Input Level

Input acts as an outside gain control (as with an external console fader), and adjusts the signal level going into the tape circuitry. The available range is -12 dB to +24 dB. The default value is 0 dB (unity gain).

As with real magnetic tape, lower Input levels will have a cleaner sound, while higher levels result in more harmonic saturation and coloration.

Higher (clockwise) Input levels will also increase the output level from the plug-in. The Output control can be lowered (counter clockwise) to compensate.

Tip: Click the "0" control label text to return to the value to 0.

Output Level

Output acts as an outside gain control (as with an external console fader) and adjusts the gain at the output of the plug-in. The available range is -24 dB to +12 dB. The default value is 0 dB (unity gain).

Tip: Click the "0" control label text to return to the value to 0.

Path Select

The Path Select buttons specify which of the two possible signal paths is active in Oxide. The mode is active when its button is lit.

Input

Input mode emulates the sound of the circuit through the machine electronics only, without tape sonics. This is the scenario when the machine is in live monitoring mode but the tape transport is not running.

Repro

Repro mode models the complete sound of the signal being recorded to tape through the record head and being played back through the reproduction head, plus all corresponding machine electronics.

IPS (Tape Speed)

The IPS (Inches Per Second) control determines the speed of the tape transport and the associated "head bump." Head bump is the bass frequency build-up that occurs with magnetic tape; the dominant frequencies shift according to transport speed. A faster tape speed results in a lower noise floor, greater fidelity, and flatter frequency response.

15 IPS

15 IPS is considered the favorite for rock and acoustic music due to its low frequency "head bump" and warmer sound.

7.5 IPS

7.5 IPS has a more colored experience, with even greater frequency shift versus the 15 IPS setting.

EQ (emphasis)

This switch determines the active emphasis EQ values and the frequency of the hum noise.

Tape Speed and emphasis EQ were originally practical controls for record duration versus noise and local standards. Historically, the origin of the tape machine (US or European) dictated the built-in EQ emphasis, but later machines had both circuits available.

NAB

When EQ is set to NAB, the hum noise frequency is 60 Hz (the United States standard). NAB (also referred to as IEC2) was the American standard with its own unique sound.

CCIR

When EQ set to CCIR (also known as IEC), the hum noise frequency is 50 Hz (the standard in Europe and other regions).

CCIR (also known as IEC) is the EQ pre-emphasis made famous on British records and is considered the technically superior EQ; many say this EQ was part of the "British Sound" during tape's heyday.

NR (Noise Reduction)

Magnetic tape recorders have tape hiss and hum noise. These noise elements, which are inherent in the analog machines, can be removed from the signal with this control.

While noise is historically considered a negative, and was the attribute that pushed the technical envelope for better machines and formulas, noise is still an ever-present component of the sound of using analog recorders with magnetic tape.

Note: The amount of tape hiss and hum noise that is present depends on other control settings.

Power

The OFF position is a bypass control. OFF is useful for comparing the processed settings to the original signal.

Tip: Click the UA logo to toggle the Power setting.

When set to OFF, emulation processing is disabled, the VU Meter and control LEDs are dimmed, and processor usage is reduced.

For the UAD plug-in, DSP usage is reduced only when DSP LoadLock is disabled in the UAD Meter & Control Panel application. If DSP LoadLock is enabled (the default setting), selecting OFF will not reduce UAD DSP usage.



 

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