Tape synth — a six-voice, chewed-up polysynth

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 Synth, which turns one of the voices in that pieces (and importantly the effects section I used), into a six-voice polyphonic synth patch. It is not the most versatile synth I’ve ever made, but if you’re looking for a specific type of grody, worn-down atmosphere, it may be perfect for you.

The general idea is a fairly simple voice (made from a self-FMing sine wave) that is run through a suite of effects to give it a tape-like quality (but heavy on the modulation and low-headroom distortion), sort of like the method that Alessandro Cortini has popularized, except instead of different notes recorded into a four-track, here the notes are summoned by a MIDI keyboard.

The patch outputs in stereo (but using it in mono would not be a problem; the stereo-ness is produced at the very end of the signal chain, via a Haas effect).

The MIDI modules are found on the second page (default channel 1).


Attack / release — the envelope for the patch is a simplified attack-sustain-release design. The attack and release controls go all the way to 60 seconds, because I designed the patch with really slow-building pads in mind.

Velocity on — this pushbutton turns velocity for the envelopes on. It gives you a more expressive playing option, but with the velocity off, there is less headroom, which can be a good thing in that patch, where a lot of the vibe depends on distortion and compression that’s enhanced with limited headroom.

Warp depth — this is a pitch modulation inspired by a chewed up cassette tape; adding more will cause the sound to warp more dramatically

Noise mod — modulates the oscillator frequency and the VCAs, making the sound even more washed out

LPF and HPF frequency — these filters create a variable bandpass that can be used to attenuate the sound and shape it

Distortion — sets the base distortion level for the patch

Distortion mod — sets the amount of modulation applied to the distortion module (both input and output gain are modulated); this is designed to emulate worn-out sections of tape, as the distortion changes volume but also the amount of headroom and compression

Pitchbend range — sets the range of the pitchbend

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  • Category: Synthesizer
  • Revision: 1.0
  • License: Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 4.0
  • Modified: 11 months ago
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