Authentic Tape Flanging in REAPER

This effect and the description is designed to work with REAPER DAW which I now use exclusively in the AusDisciples Band recording studio.

Download the ReaDave Tape Flanger FX Chain here:

While I was recording a new track (No More Pain) 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):

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!

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.

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.

1 Comment

  1. August 27, 2018    

    Cool ill try it :)

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