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Introducing SketchCassette

Elliott Smith. Bruce Springsteen. Iron & Wine. Daniel Johnston. Wu-Tang Clan. All these artists have at one point in their career, either by choice or necessity, made use of a 4-track cassette recorder to capture their music. There is a sound to these cassette recordings that people tend to refer to in vague, almost mystical terms, speaking of warmth, intimacy, even fragility.

We too have always loved the sound of songs recorded on 4-track tape, so when it came time to start work on our senior design project at our university, we decided to combine our love of DSP programming and cassettes into what became SketchCassette. The goal was to make a tape plugin that did what the current offerings don’t: allow the user to recreate all the messed up things that one can get when a tape doesn’t behave.

Our GUI, designed by Dan, is a visual reflection of SketchCassette’s lo-fi sonic aesthetics

We believe that we have managed to isolate, quantify, and recreate some of the most special sounds that cassettes can produce and package them digitally with deep user control. This includes everything from clean high fidelity performance with subtle filtering and saturation to total tape catastrophe and beyond. SketchCassette, despite being first and foremost a lo-fi tape plugin, is endlessly versatile and well suited on a huge variety of source material.

SketchCassette includes the following features modeled from real, new old stock cassettes:

  • Age modeling
  • Saturation
  • Wow & flutter with sine and random wave modulation options
  • Deeply controllable dropouts
  • Accurate, stereo tape hiss
  • Tape type frequency profiles
    • Type I: 1985 TDK D90
    • Type II: 1986 BASF Chromdioxid ii
    • Type IV (Metal): 1988 Sony Metal-SR
  • Noise-reduction encoding compression

Check it out here.