I picked up Reelbus maybe a month ago - I was working on a 60s style track and wanted something that would impart that "tape feeling" to my recordings. It only took me a short demo period to decide Reelbus does what I want and does it well. I ended up using multiple instances all over the project.
Now my personal experience of working with tape is limited to mucking around on an old Studer (same model as the Beatles used) and using a 4-track tape recorder back in the 90s. But I grew up with cassette tape and walkmans, so I am definitely familiar with the sound of consumer-grade cassettes. Reelbus seems to be a pretty good emulation of this sound: if you drive the signal too hard, you get that "tapey" distortion; you can get a nice warbled effect if you turn up the W&F.
What really struck me about the Studer was that no matter what you recorded to it, if you sent in the signal with a nice level, it would do wonderful things to your audio and make everything just sound "betterer". OK, the tubes obviously played a big part, but tape also has interesting characteristics in how it reacts to different signal levels. Reelbus has similar mojo. If you drive your signal just right, it'll saturate and compress the signal in a really nice way (to my ears). And as said before, if you don't drive it right, you have the potential to mess up your sound just like when recording a signal that is too hot to tape.
But Reelbus goes further than just simulating compression and the frequency response of tape though. You can add all the blemishes associated with tape recordings such as hiss, tape defects, wow and flutter etc. What I really like is that all of these settings can be set independently of each other. On top of that, there are several different models to choose from, all of which have their own sonic characteristics.
The fact that you have various different settings that are all independent also makes Reelbus more than just a tape simulation. The Hiss and Asperity settings include a -30dB switch; if you turn these all the way down, it's basically inaudible in a mix. That means you can selectively use Reelbus just for certain sonic characteristics of tape - meaning you can use Reelbus as a compressor with the right settings. Or turn up the W&F and leave everything else low to get a nice subtle warbly effect. I've actually used Reelbus as a drum compressor on a new track, and really like the results. Having a decent amount of settings and different models also means that Reelbus is great for simulating different scenarios. In my 60s song, I had a few old& dusty tapes that had been lying around in the studio for a while as well as a newer, well-serviced tape deck for the main mix.
One of the coolest things about Reelbus is the auto gain setting, and I have simply kept it engaged whenever I have use it. It's a great way of avoiding the effect of something louder inherently sounding better, as well as meaning you don't have to be contantly setting your mixing levels if you make changes to the settings. Brilliant.
The interface is very clear and well organised, but I would recommend taking a quick look at the manual which goes into a bit of detail into how the Spectrum and Saturation knobs affect the sound depending on the signal your are processing.
The price is very affordable, which was one of the reasons I decided to give the demo a go. I'd definitely recommend Reelbus to anyone looking for this type of plugin - although you really should just try the demo and see for yourself.
Jeroen had some tape-ish simulator before. Called Ferox. I loved it. It didn't have this huge PSP-like effect making everyrthing bigger, no. It was little subtle saturation when your drums were too digital and neded just tiny bit of tasteful colour.
So ... when I heard about this one, I had to buy it. Especially for that sweet price. Goal of this plug is straight and clear. Make it like it was recorded on tape. As far as I know from some Pensado's place episodes, lot of people likes the new UAD tape emulation for this purpose. I guess UAD nailed it pretty good. Unfortunately I have no means how to AB it to the ReelBus, but when you don't think about manufacturer and just listen, ReelBus does quite a good job.
I remember really active usage of MC tapes from childhood. I know, it's not the same as working with highclass studio recorders, but that taste, that "smell" is just reckognizable. ...and ReelBus definitely has it! Warming really good imho. Just listen to demos on the website, it's really cool. I've used it so far on few lead instruments. It really kind of shifts it few years back colour-wise. Exactly what it's supposed to do. It's also amazing on too dull sinewavy kicks or bass. It adds little (may be sampled?) noise layers to the signal, that makes it sound cooler.
If you drive it hard, it distorts. Exactly the way I remember old cassete players did when recieved bad tape. It wasn't pleasant for me back then, isn't too much now either, but it's still much more analogue then classic digital clipping/limiting/crazy-over-compressing...
Bad side is, that damn UAD could buy a real Studder to meature. Jeroen had access to Studder too, but had to emulate it's behaviour on Teac recorder and then meature it that way. I can't tell how well he matched it as I don't own UAD, but there always will be certan courioustiy about how that UAD plugin sounds. On the other side ... ehm ... 350 dolars against about 12 bucks. BARGAIN! :)
Conclusion: This is really good and really precise emulation. You need to not overuse it or you end in 2001 again in a minute. :D But for coloring it's really cool. I can't compare it with UAD, but I'd guess it would stand up really well! :) And for 10 euros? For price of 2 or 3 launches...? No-brainer.