Arturia's Tape Mello-Fi VST plugin is a powerful, easy-to-use tool to add tons of gooey lo-fi goodness to any track. In this article, you'll find a review of Arturia's Tape Mello-Fi, a straightforward user guide, and some sound demos so you can decide whether Tape Mello-Fi is for you!
Note: This article may contain affiliate links, meaning I would receive a commission - at no cost to you - for any products you purchase.
Arturia Tape Mello Fi User Guide
Arturia's Tape Mello-Fi is composed of three main sections:
- Tape section
- Output and miscellaneous functions
You can use each one together or separately to create anything from a gentle warm saturated preamp that just makes drums bang to a barely functioning old time-y piano sound.
The Preamp section
The preamp section is really straightforward. It includes a VU meter, a drive knob with a boost function, a tone knob with an off/on option, and a noise knob.
The preamp sounds great with a slight boost. As you dial it in harder, you'll get a broken up overdrive, especially if you activate the most knob. The cool thing is that this plugin has built-in gain compensation, so even if you crank the preamp drive, the plugin won't get radically louder.
The tone knob is a really useful knob that can either brighten or darken the tone of instruments. If's very musical, almost like a tilt EQ.
The noise knob is the final part of the preamp section, and it mimics the sorts of noise you would get from an old tape deck. The more you dial it in, the grittier and more lo-fi things start to sound.
The Tape Section
The four knobs in the Tape Mello-Fi's tape section let you shape the performance of the the tape itself. You have a wow and flutter control, which contribute fast and slow pitch/tempo variations to the mix.
Used gently and they are almost an imperceptible chorus effect. But crank them up and the mix starts to sound like a dying tape deck. In other words, lo-fi bliss!
There is are wear knob simulates the sound of an increasingly worn out tape. The fidelity of the recording goes down, the frequency profile gets wonky, and it feels like there might even be some drop outs.
Finally, there is a mechanics section which simulates the mechanical sound parts of a tape deck. At it's weakest setting, it sounds like a perfectly maintained tape deck. But at it's highest settings, it sounds like a device that is ready to break at any minute.
Output Section & Miscellaneous Features
Lastly, the Tape Mello-Fi includes an output section which includes a clean output knob and a hi/lo pass filter.
There is also a built in tape stop effect that sounds incredible. It also allows for a really unique tape start effect.
Finally, there is my favorite button hidden on the bottom of the interface. This stereo width option just makes things start to feel a little extra janky and lo-fi. It messes with the stereo field in cool and unexpected ways.
Tape Mello-Fi Review
Tape Mello-Fi is an incredible plugin that effortlessly transforms any sound into a lofi classic. It's powerful, sounds great, looks great, and is easy to use.
But it costs $99 by itself
And I think that is too much for a one-trick pony like this.
That said, it is included in Arturia's FX Collection, which is an insanely good deal for some of the best effects out there. I literally use many of these on every mix I make.
So if you're looking to grab the Tape Mello-Fi, I'd do so as part of the FX Collection, which can frequently be found on sale.
Tape Mello-Fi vs. Other Tape Plugins
The Tape Mello-Fi does things differently from other great tape plugins, like Waves J37 or SofTube Tape. It does not nail the clean side of tape emulation well (it's not trying to). But something about the way everything comes together creates a really nice lo-fi sound.
It's closest competitor might be SofTube's Dirty Tape. But owning both, that feels different. Dirty Tape is a little more aggressive sounding and offers much less control over your sound. It's more like if you wanted a saturated classic rock drum sound.
If you're looking for the lo-fi tape sound, I think Tape Mello-Fi is the best choice.
Tape Mello-Fi Demos
Wondering what the Tape Mello-Fi sounds like? Watch the video to hear it in action!
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