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ReelBus 4 is ToneBoosters' next-generation tape recorder, tape flanger, and tape echo simulator plug-in. ReelBus 4 combines tape saturation models from ToneBoosters Ferox as well as ReelBus 2 and 3, supports an all-new echo and flanger simulator, a tape stop simulator, and last but not least, a unique 'Drive-EQ' which allows to drive the tape simulation in a frequency-dependent manner. Unlike most conventional tape simulator plugins, ReelBus 4 has separate controls for tape saturation, hysteresis, compression and spectral effects, and features accurate wow-and-flutter, tape wear, hiss and asperity simulation.
As with most recent ToneBoosters plugins, ReelBus 4 has a scalable and themeable user interface, supports any sampling rate up to 384 kHz, can process immersive audio formats such as Ambisonics and Dolby Atmos (up to 16 channels; VST3 and AU only), features zipper-free automation and has virtually infinite internal headroom.
Here are the tape emulators currently in my plugins folder:
CRTIV Tape Bus (Voxengo)
ReelBus 4 (Toneboosters)
TCS-68 (Fuse Audio Labs)
Ampex ATR-102 (UAD)
Studer A800 (UAD)
J37 Tape (Waves)
Kramer Master Tape (Waves).
And that's not including stuff like RC-20 Retro Color (XLN) that can do some tape stuff, and the tape plugin that comes with Ozone. (Noticeably absent, here, is Slate Digital's Virtual Tape Machines. I've tried it; it's great. Just haven't pulled the trigger on it).
So, yes. I am a man obsessed.
These all have different sounds and different levels of tweakability. Some are more-or-less "set it and forget it" (Softube Tape), some are painstaking recreations of particular tape machines (the Studer and Ampex from UAD are the pinnacle of that category), and some are more like "tape toolkits" for getting tape effects more generally (Satin is the probably the deepest tool if you want to go that way).
Reelbus 4 is solidly in that "toolkit" category, and so probably bears the closest relationship to Satin.
But honestly, as awesome as Satin is (and it really is), Reelbus is damn close. And it's noticeably easier to use. There's very little skeuomorphism in the interface; it's basically a set of sliders that let you play around with various elements of the "tape sound" (including such arcana as hysteresis and asperity). And it sounds great. The presets, while not extensive, are really good at hitting the fundamental tape sound categories, so you can just use it straight.
If you already own something more in the "set-it-and-forget-it" category (whether it's a straight emulation or not), and would like to go deeper into the weeds of what tape machines can do, this is absolutely your best bet. It's super cheap, but incredibly deep and sophisticated. And it might be the best way to learn how to tweak the tape sound, because the interface is so clear. You can really go bonkers with it. and that's a good thing to do when you're trying to learn how to play around with tape. Once you get your head around this, you'll have a much easier time popping the lid on, say, the Ampex from UAD or the service panel in Satin.
And even though I own tape plugins that cost nearly six times as much (man, those UAD plugs hurt), Reelbus 4 is perilously close in sound quality to some of those fancier plugs. If you're into tape -- or thing you might like to be -- this is really a must buy.Read Review