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How to dial in a great tape delay in Axe-FX III

eldavvo

New Member
Hi folks, new here, thanks for having me.

TLDR - I can't seem to get an accurate sounding tape delay. There doesn't seem to be anything that replicates wow and flutter, tape splicing, crinkle etc. Am I missing something?

The long version - I recently got my hands on an Axe-FX III, my first Fractal product, and I have to say I'm blown away by what it can do. I've had plenty of modellers over the years, Boss Gt series, Helix etc. This thing definitely stands head and shoulders above. If there's one thing I'm really struggling to love however, it's the Tape Delay.

Tape is my favourite delay type and I'm really struggling to get the Axe tape algos to sound anything like an actual tape delay. The modulation just seems to add a bit of chorus but it's not really giving the equivalent of the movement in tape delay, wow and flutter, tape splice etc.

It feels like I'm picking holes here in a product that has so many killer sounds in it, especially the analog delays. That said, I'm missing my tape sound. Is there a secret to dialling in a great tape sound on the Axe-FX III?
 

Hellbat

Fractal Fanatic
I think that the Mono Tape delay uses a different (and more accurate) algo than the Stereo Tape model, so if you want it most realistic make sure to stick to the mono.
That said, I use the stereo tape delay set to defaults, except changing delay time to taste and L/R Time Ratio set to 75% and I'm perfectly happy with how it sounds.
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
Fractal tries to present the best example of a particular model, and a unit is tuned prior to taking the measurements to make it behave like it's been well maintained, so, that's the starting point. The tape delay models are very accurate, if you're looking for the sound of a brand new or maintained unit. I seem to remember Cliff talking about that somewhere, but the location escapes me right now.

You don't want new, you want some level of abused, and want to add the sound of defects, similar to what Strymon does with the El Capitan. As mentioned, there are factory presets that use various tricks to imitate wrinkle and dropouts. @simeon has a large number of various time-delay blocks that demonstrate some really good uses of the models, including abused tapes.

I'd like to see the model have some of the defect adjustments added, so perhaps you should add a wish. Fractal could either add block settings based on Simeon's, or add the controls to make mono (and maybe stereo) tape sound not so pristine.

The delay page in the wiki is good reading.
 

eldavvo

New Member
Tbh I have struggled with this at times, but it can be done. @2112 posted a 'Volantish' present on AxeChange which I use regularly.
Thanks for the tip, Leon does some great stuff so I'll check this out. Glad to know I'm not the only one though, I had expected I was doing something wrong.
 

eldavvo

New Member
Have you looked at the factory presets at all?
Yes and I don't think they get anywhere near an accurate representation of tape delays. Which is a shame because the vast majority of effect presets in the unit are excellent
 

FractalAudio

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
Have you ever used a real tape delay or just pedals that are marketed as "tape delays"? Most pedals marketed as tape delays are caricatures of the real thing with exaggerated modulation, excessively narrow bandwidth and, often, companders in them to improve SNR. A well-tuned tape delay exhibits none of these characteristics. It seems the pedals are trying to replicate a tape delay whose cartridge is 40 years old and capstan is worn down to a nub.

If you want that faux tape delay sound use the Mono Tape type. Set the Low Cut to about 80 Hz, High Cut to around 1.8 kHz. Increase LFO 2 Rate to about 20 Hz and Depth to about 50%. Turn on the Compander for some grunginess. Adjust the parameters to taste.
 

eldavvo

New Member
Have you ever used a real tape delay or just pedals that are marketed as "tape delays"? Most pedals marketed as tape delays are caricatures of the real thing with exaggerated modulation, excessively narrow bandwidth and, often, companders in them to improve SNR. A well-tuned tape delay exhibits none of these characteristics. It seems the pedals are trying to replicate a tape delay whose cartridge is 40 years old and capstan is worn down to a nub.

If you want that faux tape delay sound use the Mono Tape type. Set the Low Cut to about 80 Hz, High Cut to around 1.8 kHz. Increase LFO 2 Rate to about 20 Hz and Depth to about 50%. Turn on the Compander for some grunginess. Adjust the parameters to taste.
I have never owned a tape delay but have used one, an Echoplex, in the studio on a number of occasions. I also have the Universal Audio Starlight which, whilst a digital pedal, is a pretty faithful reproduction of different models of EP-3 (in various conditions and ages) and whilst I appreciate a lot of pedals aren't really trying to emulate pristine tape and may occasionally go for the more extreme sound, the reality is that the character of a tape delay is, to me at least, defined by the modulation and that's what I love: the imperfections, the glitches and wobbles from the tape splicing etc. That's what I experienced with the Echoplex and its what made me fall in love with tape delays. But please don't misunderstand me, it's not meant as a criticism of the unit at all, it's fantastic, I was just looking for some pointers as I've only very recently started using one.

I do appreciate the pointers though and I will definitely check that out.
 

laxu

Power User
I have never owned a tape delay but have used one, an Echoplex, in the studio on a number of occasions. I also have the Universal Audio Starlight which, whilst a digital pedal, is a pretty faithful reproduction of different models of EP-3 (in various conditions and ages) and whilst I appreciate a lot of pedals aren't really trying to emulate pristine tape and may occasionally go for the more extreme sound, the reality is that the character of a tape delay is, to me at least, defined by the modulation and that's what I love: the imperfections, the glitches and wobbles from the tape splicing etc. That's what I experienced with the Echoplex and its what made me fall in love with tape delays. But please don't misunderstand me, it's not meant as a criticism of the unit at all, it's fantastic, I was just looking for some pointers as I've only very recently started using one.

I do appreciate the pointers though and I will definitely check that out.
I have never used a real tape echo but also love the things tape delay pedals do to mangle the sound whether it’s wow, flutter, splices, crinkle etc. You could say that the pedal version has become its own thing by now and people don’t really care if it’s authentic to the real tape delay.
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
s
I remember when the big upgrade for the Echoplex was to upgrade the shitty Scotch recording tape to Ampex 456.
I remember that. And I remember being in the shop when they were cleaning up an EchoPlex, and most of the ferrite had been worn off the wrinkled tape. Or being there when someone's EchoPlex ate the tape. They could be so maddening.
 

dr bonkers

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
s

I remember that. And I remember being in the shop when they were cleaning up an EchoPlex, and most of the ferrite had been worn off the wrinkled tape. Or being there when someone's EchoPlex ate the tape. They could be so maddening.
One of my chores for my older brother was cleaning the tape path and heads on his Echoplex every 20 hours with isopropyl and chamois swabs.

It's what every 6 year old should be trained to do, LoL.

I'm glad we don't have to do that with the delay block.
 

la noise

Fractal Fanatic
One of my chores for my older brother was cleaning the tape path and heads on his Echoplex every 20 hours with isopropyl and chamois swabs.

It's what every 6 year old should be trained to do, LoL.

I'm glad we don't have to do that with the delay block.

My EP-3 could use some love. You seem well-trained and adapted to the task. I'll PM you my address. :)

P.S. I have meatz and beerz!!! ;)
 

la noise

Fractal Fanatic
I have never owned a tape delay but have used one, an Echoplex, in the studio on a number of occasions. I also have the Universal Audio Starlight which, whilst a digital pedal, is a pretty faithful reproduction of different models of EP-3 (in various conditions and ages) and whilst I appreciate a lot of pedals aren't really trying to emulate pristine tape and may occasionally go for the more extreme sound, the reality is that the character of a tape delay is, to me at least, defined by the modulation and that's what I love: the imperfections, the glitches and wobbles from the tape splicing etc. That's what I experienced with the Echoplex and its what made me fall in love with tape delays. But please don't misunderstand me, it's not meant as a criticism of the unit at all, it's fantastic, I was just looking for some pointers as I've only very recently started using one.

I do appreciate the pointers though and I will definitely check that out.

I totally understand and appreciate what you are saying, and where you are coming from. That sort of sonic "patina"
you can get from a Tape Delay is really intoxicating, and kind of charming. I've been blessed to own a few different
vintage Tape Echoes and still own 2 different ones. Also have owned most of the digital pedal versions that try and
emulate them. Delay is bar none my favourite effect.

The EP-3 I have now is far from "ideal" and yet it is also "f'ing perfect." I have yet to find a digital version of a Tape Echo
that will get out of your way like it magically does. I can set it to full oscillation and it will still "duck" out of the way and
create this majestic backdrop of sonic swirliness while you can hear what you play over the top. I can also set it up to be
super forward and in your face. It's pretty much an instrument unto itself that begs you to learn its intricacies and play it
as much as you play the guitar plugged into it.

I am sure to some ears it would sound "better" if it had a new tape in it and was "tuned up." Right now, though, those are
not my ears.

Hope you find what you are looking for in the III. :)
 

DLC86

Fractal Fanatic
Hi folks, new here, thanks for having me.

TLDR - I can't seem to get an accurate sounding tape delay. There doesn't seem to be anything that replicates wow and flutter, tape splicing, crinkle etc. Am I missing something?

The long version - I recently got my hands on an Axe-FX III, my first Fractal product, and I have to say I'm blown away by what it can do. I've had plenty of modellers over the years, Boss Gt series, Helix etc. This thing definitely stands head and shoulders above. If there's one thing I'm really struggling to love however, it's the Tape Delay.

Tape is my favourite delay type and I'm really struggling to get the Axe tape algos to sound anything like an actual tape delay. The modulation just seems to add a bit of chorus but it's not really giving the equivalent of the movement in tape delay, wow and flutter, tape splice etc.

It feels like I'm picking holes here in a product that has so many killer sounds in it, especially the analog delays. That said, I'm missing my tape sound. Is there a secret to dialling in a great tape sound on the Axe-FX III?
Check this preset I created a while ago:

https://forum.fractalaudio.com/threads/a-few-wishes-about-delays.157274/post-1876132

Don't know if it's accurate enough for you but worth a shot imo
 

Budda

Fractal Fanatic
I totally understand and appreciate what you are saying, and where you are coming from. That sort of sonic "patina"
you can get from a Tape Delay is really intoxicating, and kind of charming. I've been blessed to own a few different
vintage Tape Echoes and still own 2 different ones. Also have owned most of the digital pedal versions that try and
emulate them. Delay is bar none my favourite effect.

The EP-3 I have now is far from "ideal" and yet it is also "f'ing perfect." I have yet to find a digital version of a Tape Echo
that will get out of your way like it magically does. I can set it to full oscillation and it will still "duck" out of the way and
create this majestic backdrop of sonic swirliness while you can hear what you play over the top. I can also set it up to be
super forward and in your face. It's pretty much an instrument unto itself that begs you to learn its intricacies and play it
as much as you play the guitar plugged into it.

I am sure to some ears it would sound "better" if it had a new tape in it and was "tuned up." Right now, though, those are
not my ears.

Hope you find what you are looking for in the III. :)

Sounds like the ducking parameter is what you'd be after.
 
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