Have You Ever Created a Flange Effect… on a Reel to Reel Tape Machine?

It can be easy to forget that most of the effects we use on a regular basis came about as happy accidents. Originally amplifiers weren’t meant to clip, and delay came about after some creative goofballs (most likely high on jazz cigarettes) thought “hey, let’s stack these tape heads after each other because it will sound slick and swingin’.”


So too were modulation effects created by lining up two almost perfectly synced waveforms. Unfortunately, most of us rarely-if-ever have a chance to record to an analog tape machine, much less get our hands on the device, so the tangible joy of directly messing with the physical unit to manually create sounds is a thrill that we must experience as mere voyeurs. With that said, I got a kick out of this Omega Recording Studios Engineering School video that Strymon linked to recently.

I don’t know, maybe you don’t see the appeal. If you’ve only used plugins or even effects boxes to generate your tones then maybe this seems like a lot of effort for little reward. But for recording geeks this is kind of like farming: shoving your hands down into the dirt to make something from scratch. Can I get a “hells yeah” from anyone or am I just exhausted and tripping?

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Chris Alfano has written about music and toured in bands since print magazines and mp3.com were popular. Once in high-school he hacked a friend's QBasic stick figure fighting game to add a chiptune metal soundtrack. Random attractive people still give him high-fives about that.