Tape FX in Ableton Live

We show you how to create a simple Tape FX sound in Ableton Live.


There are endless 'Tape style' FX plugins on offer right now, ranging from simple "add some grit and wobble" style, through to full clones of classic vintage machines.

If you use Ableton Live 11, there is a built in effect that will give you the 'pitch bend' quality of worn tape for free! 

We highlight this in a quick video, and talk about some other options for tape emulation within Ableton Live.


Vibrato Subtle

The trick is the 'Vibrato Subtle' preset with the 'Chorus-Ensemble' audio effect. It removes all the 'Chorus' style processing, and using the 'rate', 'amount' and 'dry/wet' pots (or as shown in the clip, creating some custom macros) you have full control of the speed and amount of pitch drift! 



Additional Techniques

'Hot Driven Tape' is a preset within the 'Dynamic Tube' audio effect. This one won't effect the pitch, but it will add tape style crunch, drive and compression. Really useful on a mix bus to add some texture to your mix! 



'Tape echo' is also a simple extension of the tape wobble effect. Delay that is subtly moving around in pitch, plus full of noise and colour, really adds a timeless character to a sound and mix! 

Echo is the new Ableton go-to for for tape style delay and has multiple presets that are designed around tape emulation. 



Bonus: External Plugins

Although this blog is focused Ableton specific tape FX, it's worth mentioning a free plugin: 'Caelum Audio - 'Tape Cassette 2'. Any free plugin is usually worth a shake down, and if you're in the world of tape emulation already, it's probably worth signing up to grab a copy. 


It offers much of the same processing as Ableton own FX, but combined together and adding some creative presets. Plus, the Auto-Gain can help test pushing your mix without clipping.

Like the music used in the clip? Explore more in our 'Creating The Sounds of FKA Twigs' full video: