Tape sound — an effects suite for chewing up and destroying your sound

A few months ago, I released a generative patch called Tape Piece (https://patchstorage.com/tape-piece-generative-patch-from-my-april-5th-livestream/). The idea of the patch was to emulate the sounds that might be dug out of an old, crusty tape that you found in an attic or something, played on a not-too-clean tape player. I really liked the sound.

So much so, that I made this patch, Tape sound, which expands the effects section of that patch into an independent suite of lo-fi effects — manipulating pitch, amplitude, bandwidth and adding noise, distortion, and reverb. There are plenty of other lo-fi patches for ZOIA, so the case I’ll make for this one is that it veers toward really crudding up the sound. You can use it more subtly, but if you do, I think you’re probably missing the point. The best outcome of the patch, to me, is distorted, compressed, chewed up crap (in a good way).

Unlike a lot of my patches, there’s no dry pass-through: I built this patch with the idea of processing full bandwidth audio (like a track, as I do in my video walkthrough; thanks Mike for letting me use one of your tracks; buy Hype Consumer albums: https://hypeconsumer.bandcamp.com/). Because of how this patch depends on headroom (or lack thereof), the more bandwidth that’s used dynamically in the source audio, the more the patch has an opportunity to do its thing. That said, it certainly can be used with solo instrumentation. In both cases, I would add that the volume/gain of the input audio is input, as this patch really shines when headroom gets scarce, so hit it with hot signals for best results.

The signal path is stereo throughout.


The rows are somewhat organized by application.

The top row has to do with amplitude modulation:

Tremolo speed and tremolo depth — this tremolo uses a mixture of three sine waves, operating at different rates (the sine waves also affect one another’s rates); the depth is designed to clip, so that at higher depths, the audio entirely drops out

Noise mod amp — this applies noise modulation to the VCAs, introducing noise and also distortion and aliasing via audio rate modulation

The second row has to do with pitch modulation:

Warp speed and warp depth — no, unfortunately this is not an interstellar spacecraft capable of warp speed. Warp, here, is a pitch modulation designed to emulate some of the fluctuations of a worn-out tape; it’s not really random (it’s made from three triangle wave LFOs multiplied together and influencing one another’s rates), but its periodicity is hard to anticipate.

Noise mod pitch — like the previous noise mod, this one introduces noise and distortion but in the frequency domain

The third row is the reverb:

Wash — this controls the mix of the reverb. At anything other than 0, the reverb’s mix (and decay) will have some modulation, changing and shifting the density of the reverberated sound

The fourth row has to do with filtering and distortion (since the two go hand-in-hand):

The LPF and HPF (low-pass filter and high-pass filter) frequencies — these create the variable band-pass that envelopes the patch. The more narrow that band, the more “lo-fi” the sound will be, but they can also be used, subtly, to emphasize different frequency bands, as the resonance used in these filters is subtle but non-negligible

Distortion — this sets the base amount of distortion; it also functions as a minimum for the distortion modulation

Distortion mod — this is a modulation of the distortion modules’ input and output gains; it is tied to the distortion amount, such that as the “Distortion” control is increased, the range of the distortion modulation is attenuated. The goal of the distortion modulation is to achieve, as always, a sort of chewed up texture, where, at extremes of that modulation, the dynamic range and resolution of the audio becomes a sludgy soup

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  • Modified: 1 month ago
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