Old 08-29-2014, 10:53 AM   #1
ReaDave
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Default Authentic Tape Flanging in REAPER.

Download the ReaDave Tape Flanger FX Chain here: https://stash.reaper.fm/21683/ReaDave-Tape-Flanger-2.zip

While I was recording a new track for my album 'Hidden Gems | Instrumental Journeys' I wanted an authentic tape flanging effect and was contemplating getting out my Sony open reel deck to do it but it needs some repairs and I really wanted to just focus on the music. Another thing stopping me was that authentic tape flanging requires TWO open reel decks, preferably of the same model and with the same tape/bias/eq/gain configuration.

So, off I went on a search for a decent flanging VST that could effectively emulate the famous tape flanging effect. However, after a few downloads and being less than impressed with their idea of tape flanging, I decided to see if I could put something together myself to do the job.
There are plenty of phasing and flanging VSTs available for free but none that I have found really do a convincing emulation of the deep, swirling tape flange that you get from the real (reel) thing.

The authentic effect uses two open reel decks with the outputs of each mixed together at exactly the same gain but out of phase with each other. The same signal is recorded on both decks, then both are rewound and set to play back in sync. As they are playing, a finger is gently placed on the supply reel of the first deck, slightly slowing it down and putting it behind the other deck. Then, the supply reel of the second deck is slowed down in the same manner and as it slows down and resync's with the first deck, the signal passes through a null, creating a deep swirl we know now as flanging.

So, what I needed was something to emulate the slowing down and speeding up of two decks tied together. In my search, I found just such a plugin and it is available free (donation ware to be fair). If you think the plugin is worth it, please support the author.
The plugin is called Wow and Flutter and is made by the same guy who made the 'Night Flight' VSTi which is capable of accurately emulating the string section of the Eminent 310u organ made famous by Jean Michel Jarre on his 'Oxygene' album (still my favourite electronic music album) in 1976.
The Wow and Flutter VST and the demo of the Night Flight VSTi can both be found, along with some others he has released, at the following link (the full version of Night Flight, which I have purchased and highly recommend, is on the main page of his site):

http://www.interruptor.ch/vst_donationware.shtml

For this flanging effect, I created a track in REAPER with four track channels. I then added a JS Channel Mixer and used it to send the outputs of track channels one and two to all four track channels.
Next, I added a Stereo Phase Invert plugin to invert the phase of track channels 3&4.
Next up, I added a ReaEQ with a low shelving cut to track channels 3&4 (this is to preserve the bass response as the flange passes through zero (the null point).
Next, I added two instances of Wow and Flutter, one on track channels 1&2, the other on 3&4 and set them to different and varying LFO speeds to produce a random flanging effect.
Finally, I added another JS Channel Mixer to recombine all four track channels to 1&2.

Basically, the Wow and Flutter plugin does the job of slowing down each virtual open reel deck independently, convincingly producing the famous effect.

I will include this text and a 'how to' of creating four track channels (for those less familiar with this part of REAPER) in the download for the FX Chain I created for this flanging effect.

Out of respect for the Wow and Flutter plugin creator (and to honour any legal distribution requirements), I have not included the plugin in my download but you can obtain it from the URL I included earlier.
No plugin presets are required because the FX Chain contains the settings and channel assignments for all plugins.

As noted in the README, the only requirement for this to work correctly is to set the track to have FOUR track channels BEFORE inserting the FX Chain. This is MOST IMPORTANT!

Finally, if you are curious about my album mentioned earlier and my use of the flanging effect, have a listen to 'No More Pain' from 'Hidden Gems | Instrumental Journeys' which I have made available for free from my website here:

http://ausdisciples.com.au/mserver/h...300&height=250

Enjoy! ...and post your thoughts here.

Download the ReaDave Tape Flanger FX Chain here: https://stash.reaper.fm/21683/ReaDave-Tape-Flanger-2.zip

Last edited by ReaDave; 08-29-2014 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 08-29-2014, 01:10 PM   #2
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For those who want to try a nice variation on this flange, bypass (don't remove) the phase invert and ReaEQ plugins. This will maintain the low end response and stop the complete HF null.

The early use of tape flanging actually used this technique. Phase inversion of one signal and EQ compensation was a later addition.
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Old 08-29-2014, 01:23 PM   #3
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If you want a more dramatic null effect, bypass only the ReaEQ. This will produce a FULL null at the zero point but will also completely cancel ALL audio, INCLUDING the LF at the null.
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Old 08-29-2014, 01:52 PM   #4
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...Or leave the inverter off and use an all-pass filter from ReaEQ either with or without the HPF.

I wonder if you could just use pitch envelopes instead of the Wow and Flutter plugin to get a lot more control over this.
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Old 08-29-2014, 02:00 PM   #5
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...Or leave the inverter off and use an all-pass filter from ReaEQ either with or without the HPF.

I wonder if you could just use pitch envelopes instead of the Wow and Flutter plugin to get a lot more control over this.
Possibly. But the Wow and Flutter plugin splits the LFO duties over various frequency ranges and offers multiple modulation options. All the settings in Wow and Flutter can be automated manually anyway giving full control over the flanging peaks.
Pitch envelopes might introduce unwanted artifacts too. I don't know how noticeable that would be because I haven't tried it.

The other advantage to the Wow and Flutter version is as a real time performance effect. I'd rather have something doing its own thing feeding inspiration as I play. Everything in this chain is zero latency.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:07 PM   #6
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I wonder if you could just use pitch envelopes instead of the Wow and Flutter plugin to get a lot more control over this.
No. That would stretch the audio and keep it time-aligned, instead of manipulating time and pitch together.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:13 PM   #7
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No. That would stretch the audio and keep it time-aligned, instead of manipulating time and pitch together.
Good point. +1.
Edit - Rather than 'stretch' don't you mean 'pitch'?
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:20 PM   #8
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yes. real tape flanging. :-)) I love it. I did it at times with 2 Revox B77. man, at that times I had nerves. you had to line up the tape on the two machines, switch them to play the exact same time (ha, I did it with two remote-wires, that pushed play for both machines with a double-pole switch) beside you had before that to start the 3. machine to record your efforts. after a day or two of trying and fiddling I had my tape-flanging. and all my nerves were blank, because if you got it technically right, there was this thing: maybe I could do better with the zero at exactly this point of the drum-break or the phasing going up exactly when the guitar comes down ... and so on. endless trying and tweaking and always keep your hands on the wheel ... :-)))

a thousand thanks for your effort, when I have a little bit spare time (I could read and write less in that forum here ...) I will give it a try. as I am a beginner in Reaper I see a lot of problems for me ... :-)) but, if I dont try, I dont learn ...

well, a few years ago I have bought the Virsyn tape-bundle, included is a tape flanger.

a wonderful thing. because you can flange the "tape" in realtime by hand (mouse) and record this movements as automation. works so damend well ... its uneblievable. I did days long no other thing than to flange everything.

so with your flanger there would be two options to have a real tape flanging.

I had thoughts about realising tape flanging in utilising the varispeed ... but I havent come to any conclusion as of now.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:32 PM   #9
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I've been looking for this effect since I started
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:33 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by whiteaxxxe View Post
yes. real tape flanging. :-)) I love it. I did it at times with 2 Revox B77. man, at that times I had nerves. you had to line up the tape on the two machines, switch them to play the exact same time (ha, I did it with two remote-wires, that pushed play for both machines with a double-pole switch) beside you had before that to start the 3. machine to record your efforts. after a day or two of trying and fiddling I had my tape-flanging. and all my nerves were blank, because if you got it technically right, there was this thing: maybe I could do better with the zero at exactly this point of the drum-break or the phasing going up exactly when the guitar comes down ... and so on. endless trying and tweaking and always keep your hands on the wheel ... :-)))

a thousand thanks for your effort, when I have a little bit spare time (I could read and write less in that forum here ...) I will give it a try. as I am a beginner in Reaper I see a lot of problems for me ... :-)) but, if I dont try, I dont learn ...

well, a few years ago I have bought the Virsyn tape-bundle, included is a tape flanger.

a wonderful thing. because you can flange the "tape" in realtime by hand (mouse) and record this movements as automation. works so damend well ... its uneblievable. I did days long no other thing than to flange everything.
....
I can totally relate to your comment I bolded!! I was sitting here listening to a whole album through the flanger as I was writing my post and uploading the FX Chain!

I had a look at the Virsyn website and saw the tape bundle but a couple of things put me off. First is their demo needs an e-licenser and second, I couldn't find a purchase price for it.

Anyway, from someone else who is clearly experienced with the real deal, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on this FX Chain. Hope you enjoy it.

Don't forget to try the different modes I mentioned above. I didn't include them in the README file. I might update the download with those modes mentioned in the README.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:36 PM   #11
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I've been looking for this effect since I started
I'm actually quite surprised there aren't more plugins that do genuine tape flanging. In fact, I was a little annoyed about that when I downloaded the umteenth one claiming to do it only to be disappointed by yet another 'so-so', thin sounding, digital flanger.
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Old 08-29-2014, 03:42 PM   #12
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UPDATE - I have added the two flange mode variation descriptions to the README file in the FX Chain download on the Stash. The URL is the same, as is the filename. If you have already downloaded this, you can download the new file and overwrite the old one if you want the updated README. The FX Chain is the same.
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:23 AM   #13
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Sounds interesting, although is the zip package okay - I can't extract it here?
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Old 08-30-2014, 12:48 AM   #14
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Sounds interesting, although is the zip package okay - I can't extract it here?
Hmm.. should unzip without issues. I used 7zip to zip it but it should be compatible with any unzipper. Are you on Mac or PC?
I only zipped it because I wanted to make sure the README was included.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:19 AM   #15
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Cool, it extracted with 7zip - I've have problems with 7zip stuff before. It's not extracting with WinRAR 4.01 or Windows built in unzipping thingy here (Win7 x64).

I'll give it a good whirl later.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:29 AM   #16
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Thanks for letting me know. It is a tiny file so I re-zipped it with the built in Windows 8 zip utility and re-uploaded it.
Even though you have it already, do you reckon you could give the new upload a try and see if it works in all unzippers now?
I kept the file name so you will have to either overwrite it or put it in a new folder. URL is the same too.
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Old 08-30-2014, 01:59 AM   #17
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Thanks for letting me know. It is a tiny file so I re-zipped it with the built in Windows 8 zip utility and re-uploaded it.
Even though you have it already, do you reckon you could give the new upload a try and see if it works in all unzippers now?
I kept the file name so you will have to either overwrite it or put it in a new folder. URL is the same too.
Yup, that's it now working with both. (For the record, WinRAR was complaining about an 'unknown method' in the old one.) Cheers!
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Old 08-30-2014, 02:07 AM   #18
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Yup, that's it now working with both. (For the record, WinRAR was complaining about an 'unknown method' in the old one.) Cheers!
Thanks heaps for reporting back.
I did experiment with various settings in 7zip to get file sizes down for larger archives and haven't reset that. No doubt that is why WinRAR was complaining. In future, for anything I compress in regular zip format, I'll use Windows built in for compatibility.
For larger archives, I'll just compress to .7z so people know what to use.
Good to know this stuff.
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Old 09-01-2014, 11:37 PM   #19
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How is everyone going with this? Anyone tried it out and experimented with it yet?
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Old 09-02-2014, 08:58 AM   #20
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dave nice stuff and thanks... still think you might wanta look into the virsyn set of three tape vst's.... yeah I know but...
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Old 09-03-2014, 09:38 AM   #21
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dave nice stuff and thanks...
You're welcome
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still think you might wanta look into the virsyn set of three tape vst's.... yeah I know but...
I guess the 'yeah I know but..' was in reference to the e-licenser thing? If so, that is indeed the one thing putting me off this. I've made a decision that I will not use anything that requires e-licenser or iLok so, unfortunately, that rules those out.

Pity though. They seem like they would be useful plugins.
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Old 09-03-2014, 07:55 PM   #22
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How is everyone going with this? Anyone tried it out and experimented with it yet?
I've got it downloaded and I've had a play with it on whole mixes (!) as a test.

Yeah pretty dramatic. It seems to get a grip on the sound unlike some flangers I've tried which just seem to make it warbly and not that useable.

Can't wait to try it on synths!!

What is the main control that one should be adjusting in the Wow and Flutter? Is it the "Wow" rate or something else?

Cheers
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Old 09-04-2014, 01:15 AM   #23
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Great effect.

I tried to duplicate it with Liquid by Audio Damage, but it was a different sound. The transitions very smooth in this FX chain.

Thanks for sharing.
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:30 AM   #24
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Glad you guys are liking it. That Wow and Flutter plugin is a very cool little tool.

Don't forget to try bypassing the phase invert and ReaEQ plugins (one at a time or both) for varied effects.

MK, if you want to change the rate, adjust the Wow and Mid values on the first instance of the Wow and Flutter plugin and then readjust the second instance (make sure they are all different for best effect). For some reason, when you change the values on the first instance, it also changes the second one.
Hint - type in the values in the text box to go slower than 0.110 Hz.

There's actually a flange option built in to the Wow and Flutter plugin which works quite well but the effect is much more random and tweakable using this FX Chain.

Last edited by ReaDave; 09-06-2014 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 09-06-2014, 08:42 AM   #25
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In case you decide you want to go back to the values I have set, here they are (Make sure you set instance 1 FIRST):

W&F instance 1 - Wow 0.040Hz, Mid 0.170Hz
W&F instance 2 - Wow 0.090Hz, Mid 0.260Hz
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Old 09-06-2014, 09:48 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by ReaDave View Post
In case you decide you want to go back to the values I have set, here they are (Make sure you set instance 1 FIRST):

W&F instance 1 - Wow 0.040Hz, Mid 0.170Hz
W&F instance 2 - Wow 0.090Hz, Mid 0.260Hz
Cool thanks!
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Old 09-07-2014, 02:01 PM   #27
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Cool thanks!
You're welcome
Have fun. I am!
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Old 10-30-2015, 10:36 PM   #28
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ReaDave, Thanks for this. I stumbled on this thread somehow when not even looking for flanging. So glad I did, I have several portions in my band's album where I wanted a flanging effect. Nothing thusfar I have seen even remotely sounds like real flanging. Your chain does. Though the randomness of the sweep I need to play with, the sonic output is what counts. this has it.

I can also say there is very little CPU hit using the chain. I want an effect to augment a rhythm section, so I created the flanging channel by creating a real time duplicate of a channel bus (creating a new channel with a receive from the parent bus. This channel will not send to Master, but the flange channel itself) I can ride the fader on the flange channel this way. Easier would be to use a render of the channel, but didn't think about that when I demo'ed the FX chain. At this point nothing was frozen to save on CPU cycles. This had 32 main channels running a minimum of 2 VST's, a few as many as 9 on them, these bused to 4 main bus channels with VST effects on them. The bus channels had the duplicate sends with no effects that were sending to the flanger channel. the main bus channels and flange channel sending to Master with 12 Effects on it. 3 of those were channel strips.(Don't ask, I like the eq of one, the overall sound of the other but not its effects, and the compressor of the third. Too bad I cannot separate these as they cause undo bogging the system at times)
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Old 10-31-2015, 03:59 AM   #29
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How is everyone going with this? Anyone tried it out and experimented with it yet?
WOW !! i havent seen a better flanger than yours. good work .. makeee some more stuff...


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MXlxpiZtfig

any hints how i would get that random authentic speed/tempo shifting? this track is a nice example. .
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Old 10-31-2015, 06:23 PM   #30
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Thanks heaps for the positive feedback guys.
kitkonis, unfortunately these days I have very limited Internet data allowance so I don't have the data for YouTube that often.

Funny thing about this plugin chain is that I recently had a catastrophic SSD failure and my backups didn't contain the chain so it was fortunate that I'd uploaded this to the stash to share with everyone. It is a fairly straight forward setup but I spent some time tweaking the Wow and Flutter values to my liking so having this here saved me the hassle of doing it all again.
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