Low Wave Studios offers Track24, a free analog tape saturation effect in VST3 and AU plugin formats for Windows and macOS.
According to the developer, Track24 isn’t a straightforward tape emulation. Generally, tape emulations are used to achieve a vintage analog sound in some form. The authentic sound of a tape machine comes from various sources.
You have tape saturation that occurs when the input voltage exceeds the machine’s limit or the saturation threshold of the tape. Then you have elements like wow (0.1 Hz to 10 Hz) and flutter (10 Hz to 100 Hz), barely perceptible inconsistencies that occur due to mechanical issues with the tape machine, like a worn capstan, and so on.
Without getting into too much detail, Track24 focuses on tape saturation without the more mechanical artifacts like wow/flutter.
Technically, that should mean you get the warmth without any of the other noise. Track24 has a tone section offering four different filter presets inspired by two different tape machines.
Type I is a preset created from a Swiss-made tape machine running at 30ips. The second preset, Type II is based on a Japanese tape machine running at 30ips. The same Japanese machine was used to create Type III, this time running at 15ips. There is a Neutral preset, which is a completely flat response.
One of the features I like about Track24 is the Texture slider. When you apply saturation, you are adding harmonics that warm or thicken the original tone. There are even and odd harmonics, and some analog gear will add more evens than odd or vice versa. In simple terms, even harmonics can feel like adding warmth, support, and stability, much like playing octaves on a keyboard. Odd harmonics can be a bit brighter and grittier. Being able to control that texture with a simple slider is a nice touch.
You also get a pair of high and low-pass filters that are pre-saturation, which means they are shaping the incoming signal. There is a 4X oversample button to help avoid aliasing, although it may introduce slight latency issues. Lastly, there is a dry/wet mix control to blend the clean and saturated signals.
Track24 has a very basic but effective GUI, and it provides quite detailed control over the type and amount of saturation. It’s a subtle plugin that can help you lean towards a vintage sound with very little fuss.
More info: Track24 (3.49 MB download size, ZIP archive, VST3/AU plugin format for Windows & macOS)