LUNA Studer A800 Tape Extension Manual

The rich analog sound of the world’s most popular multichannel tape machine

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 magnetic recording expert Jay McKnight, the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder for UAD hardware, Apollo interfaces, and LUNA Recording System 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, this is the most accurate representation of multitrack analog tape recording available.

Now You Can:

  • Track and mix with the complete Studer A800 electronic signal paths, including Input, Sync and Repro paths
  • Add warmth, presence, cohesion, and low-end punch that only genuine tape can provide
  • Create complex analog textures with the distinct sounds of multiple tape formulas
  • Use the Studer A800 LUNA Extension to easily add warmth to your entire mix on a per channel basis

WIth LUNA Recording System, you can use the Studer A800 as a LUNA Extension, and easily get magnetic tape character on every audio and instrument track. The Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder Extension lets you intuitively tweak settings across all channels. As you build up your mix, you'll hear the cumulative "cohesive" effect of mixing from magnetic tape. Far beyond a simple tape plug-in, the Studer LUNA Extension is woven into the fabric of LUNA Recording System's mixer, giving Apollo interface users an analog inspired workflow with bona fide analog sonics to match.

A Groundbreaking Tape Machine

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 poses none of the hardware hassles, yet retains all the beautiful sonics that make tape a beloved recording medium.

Capturing the Magic of Tape

Just like magnetic tape, you can dial in a clean sound, or just the right amount of harmonic saturation using the Studer A800's Input and Output controls. The 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. There is also a secondary set of controls like Noise, EQ, and Bias for an even more jaw-dropping palette of tape textures. 


Studer A800 Tape machine with controls view closed (left) and controls view open (right)



Studer A800 Tape as it appears on an input track


Get Studer A800 Tape

You can purchase the optional Studer A800 Tape LUNA Extension from within LUNA’s Manage panel. Your purchase of the Studer A800 Multichannel Tape Recorder includes both the UAD plug-in (Mac/Windows) and the LUNA Extension (Mac only).


Using Studer A800 Tape

Studer A800 Tape LUNA Extension can be enabled on any instrument or audio track. Studer A800 Tape LUNA Extension is applied only during playback on audio tracks. Studer A800 Tape LUNA Extension is applied on instrument tracks that are playing back, record-enabled, and input-enabled, with or without ARM enabled.  

Studer A800 Tape includes global settings for the tape machine, and per-track settings for saturation. In this way, the tape machine emulation is similar to a true recording and mixing tape signal path. 

LUNA is designed with the capability to use up to four “machines” for tape emulation. You can configure each machine slot with different global tape characteristics, and apply any one of the four machines to a track or group of tracks in your session. Overall tape characteristics are determined by each machine. You can then set the saturation individually for each track to which tape is applied, and other settings for each Studer A800 channel. In this way, you can configure separate machines within your session, and still set individual “tape channel” characteristics for each track. 

For example, a typical scenario could include two machines, with one machine more aggressively driven than the other. You can assign drums, bass, and guitars to the more aggressively driven machine, and vocals and backgrounds to the cleaner machine. You can add a third and a fourth machine with even more diverse characteristics. The ability to configure up to four machines provides wide flexibility in the range of tape sounds you can apply in a session. 

Studer A800 Configuration

The Studer A800 LUNA Extension allows you to load presets and adjust manual controls. Settings like bias, tape speed, and tape type are configured on the tape machine globally for the session, and in addition, each track has its own level (saturation) control, as well as control over the individual track’s HF Driver and Repro EQ settings. You can use presets that you save in the UAD Studer A800 plug-in with the Studer A800 LUNA Extension.

To configure a Tape Machine in a tape deck slot:

  1. On an audio or instrument track in Mixer view, or on a Focus track in Timeline view, click the Tape slot. The Tape browser opens.

  2. Double-click a tape slot (A-D) in which you want to configure the tape machine.

  3. From the Machine list, select a tape machine type (Oxide or Studer A800). Studer A800 is only available if you have the Studer A800 LUNA Extension licensed and installed. The tape machine configuration is displayed in the browser.

  4. Configure the tape machine through presets (Oxide, Studer A800) or configure the tape machine settings (Studer A800).

Once you have configured a tape machine in a slot, you can assign that tape machine to any number of audio or instrument tracks. You can configure a total of four tape machines, each with unique settings, for each LUNA session.

To assign Studer A800 to a track:

  1. Click the Tape insert on a track. The Tape Machine selector opens on the left of the screen. 
  2. Choose the tape machine from the list in the Tape Machine browser. A tape machine Saturation knob appears on the track, along with a VU meter and a Power button. In the Mixer, with Large View enabled for the tape row, additional settings for the Studer A800 LUNA Extension appear. 
  3. Use the Saturation knob to increase or decrease the amount of tape saturation applied to the track. 
  4. You can configure the HF Driver HF setting, Bias, Repro LF, and Repro HF settings, and enable noise on a per-track basis, in addition to the overall machine controls.
  5. Click the power button to enable or disable tape emulation on the track.

Tip: If you have the UAD Studer A800 Tape plug-in, you can use presets you have created in the plug-in with LUNA tape tracks, and vice-versa.

To configure the global sound of a Studer A800 tape machine:

  1. Click the Tape insert on a track. The Tape Machine selector opens on the left of the screen. 

  2. Double-click the A800 tape machine that you want to configure. 

  3. Choose a Preset to configure the global sound of the Studer A800, or adjust the controls manually. Click Open to open the additional machine controls. 

To adjust a tape control, you can click and drag on the control to rotate it to the desired position, or you can double-click the control to choose from a list of values. 

To adjust controls on multiple tracks, select multiple tracks, then change the controls on one track. Selection Grouping (Mixing > Selection Grouping, or Command+G) must be enabled to adjust tape settings on multiple tracks at one time. 


Studer A800 Tape Controls 




Input acts like a gain control, and adjusts the signal level going to the tape emulation. The available range is -12 dB to +24 dB. As with magnetic tape, lower Input levels have a cleaner sound, while higher levels result in more harmonic saturation and coloration. Higher Input levels also increase the output level from the plug-in. The Output control can be lowered to compensate, or you can achieve this result automatically with the Link control.


Output acts like a gain control and adjusts the gain at the output of the plug-in. The available range is -24 dB to +12 dB. You can turn this down to compensate for higher Input levels. Click Link to automatically adjust the Input and Output controls together.

Auto Cal

The Studer A800 has individual parameters for Bias, HF Record EQ, and Sync and Repro EQ. On the hardware tape machine, these calibration controls are usually adjusted whenever Tape Type or Tape Speed is changed. When Auto Cal is on in the plug-in, these controls are automatically adjusted to the calibrated values whenever the Tape Type or Tape Speed are changed. After you click Auto Cal, or any parameter that causes auto calibration to occur, you can then adjust any individual parameters that change. When Auto Cal is off, the calibration parameters do not change values when Tape Type or Tape Speed are modified.


Link decreases the Input or Output inversely to one another to prevent large volume changes when adjusting Input or Output gain. 


The Noise button is a global enable/disable control for hum and hiss in the A800 model. The amount of hum and hiss varies depending on the configured tape type and speed settings. 

HF Driver: HF

HF (High Frequency) Driver EQ is provided to make up for common residual high frequency loss due to Bias optimization and system filtering. It is used to tune HF content into the incoming signal prior to the tape non-linearity. The control boosts high frequency content before it hits the virtual tape, and affects tape saturation characteristics. Note that this filter is prior to the tape record circuit, while the other EQs are post-tape.

HF Driver: Bias

Bias uses an inaudible oscillator beyond the audible range applied to the audio at the record head, to allow for adjustment of the record behavior. Ideal bias voltage settings provide maximum record sensitivity and low distortion. Intentionally overbiasing is a common technique to achieve “tape compression” on instruments like drums, giving a warmer, more saturated sound. Underbiasing can also be used to add distortion and other nonlinear responses, similar to gate chatter and audio dropouts, or cause audio to drop out entirely. Bias voltage, HF Record EQ, and fixed Emphasis EQ (CCIR, NAB, AES) work together to provide a linear response to the recorded signal.

Repro EQ: HF

With the hardware machine, Repro EQ controls enable compensation for any tape frequency loss or head wear. You can use the HF (High Frequency) Repro EQ filters to shape the frequency response of the system to be more accurate, or to add or remove high end.

Repro EQ: LF

With the hardware machine, Repro EQ controls enable compensation for any tape frequency loss or head wear. You can use the LF (Low Frequency) Repro EQ filters to shape the frequency response of the system to be more accurate, or to add or remove low end.


Selects the active tape stock formulation. Four of the most popular 2” magnetic tape formulas are modeled in the A800 plug-in: 250, 456, 900, and GP9. Each type has its own subtle sonic variation, distortion onset, and compression characteristics.


The IPS (Inches Per Second) control determines the speed of the tape transport and the associated “head bump.” Head bump is bass frequency build-up that occurs with magnetic tape where the dominant frequencies shift according to transport speed. 15 IPS is considered the favorite for rock and acoustic music due to its low frequency “head bump” (low frequency rise) and warmer sound, while 30 IPS is the norm for classical and jazz due to its lower noise floor, greater fidelity and flatter response. 7.5 IPS is also available for even more tape color, with greater frequency shift.


Cal Level automatically sets tape calibration/fluxivity. The Cal Level setting takes care of the setup one would need to make under equivalent hardware operation, and sets the reference tape/flux level without disturbing the (unity) gain of the plug-in. The record, repro, and sync gain trims found on the A800 channel cards are not present on the plug-in. When Auto Cal is enabled, the record, repro, and sync gain trims are amalgamated into this single Cal Level gain control. 

As tape formulas advanced, their output level increased, thus lowering relative noise floor. +3, +6 and +9 dB output formulas were available in the 2” format. Under normal use, the machine would be calibrated to the tape’s output level. However, users would sometimes under-calibrate to leave more headroom for a broader sweet spot or to prevent electronics from clipping. With this tape plug-in, the user can go traditional and calibrate to the recommended levels, or select a non-corresponding calibration setting with Cal Level. For example, if 456 is the selected Tape Type and when Cal Level is set at +6 (6 dB higher than the NAB tape standard), the reference fluxivity level is 355 nW/m (nanoweber per meter) and is 10 dB below the point where THD reaches 3% (referred to as the maximum operating level). Therefore, with a 1 kHz test tone at -12 dBFS sent to the plug-in, with Tape Type set to 456, Cal Level set to +6, and Auto Cal enabled, output levels of the plug-in will match the input level and fluxivity on the tape will be 355 nW/m.

The manufacturer’s recommended calibration settings for each Tape Type are as follows: 

  • 250: +3 Calibration (251 nWb/m) 

  • 456: +6 Calibration (355 nWb/m) 

  • 900: +9 Calibration (502 nWb/m) 

  • GP9: +9 Calibration (502 nWb/m) 

Note: The noise floor is affected by the Cal Level when Noise is enabled. 

Tip: The UAD Studer A800 default bank offers a variety of preset Tape Type, Tape Speed, CAL level, and EQ configurations that are commonly used for the recording of specific genres.



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