Many of us have gone down the rabbit hole while mixing, looking for that unique and musical effect to put on a track to keep it from sounding stale. Lately, I've been relying on Wow Control by Goodhertz to achieve that goal. Goodhertz, perhaps most famously known for their Vulf Compressor plug-in, has expanded on the Wow and Flutter section of the Vulf Compressor to create a plug-in that emulates the oddities of analog tape. We're not just talking about the ability to apply soft roll-off on the high end or subtle saturation. Wow Control can get deeply weird and wildly musical.

There are three tape modes to choose from: 15 ips, 7.5 ips, and Cassette, each with their own EQ curve and saturation characteristics (with individual sliding scales to set both Color and Saturation up to 200%). From here, they've gone on to add a plethora of parameters to tweak, like, Wow and Flutter, Stereo Phase, beat syncing or randomized modulation, Delay, and more. To give you an idea of the effects achieved with this plug-in, some of their presets include: Two Diff Drummers, Leslie-Esque, Microwaved Demo Tape, and Overconfident Novice Turntablist. This plug-in is incredibly musical and is remarkably analog-like. The time-sensitive parameters act differently than a standard delay plug-in, and the modulation parameters sound deeper and more articulate than many other modulation effects in my plug-in library. I credit this to the Random section, which emulates real analog gear by randomly moving certain controls over time. It's imperfect and unpredictable, like some analog gear.

In recent mixes, I've used the Delay and Stereo sections on drums to create the double drummer effect a la Daniel Lanois [Tape Op #37 & #127]. It also does an incredible job of making flat drum loops or sequenced beats sound three dimensional and interesting. On a rock record I just mixed, I got phenomenal results using the Leslie effect on lead vocals. I almost always put it on acoustic guitars now to add some George Harrison-inspired depth. To be honest, I haven't mixed a single song since I got this plug-in that didn't have at least one instance of it in use. To quote Goodhertz, "You can keep your trusty 424 around if you want, but you no longer need to if you own a copy of Wow Control." They're referring to the Tascam Portastudio 424, a cassette-based 4-track recorder known for its speed control and classic flanging trick.

Goodhertz is easily one of my favorite plug-in designers these days as they make high fidelity audio inspiring. The look and feel of their plug-ins are also easy and refreshing, with flat colors on a white background. There are no knobs to "turn" with a mouse – just simple slider controls that change the percentage of each parameter. For me, Wow Control solves tons of problems and inspires new ideas. That's invaluable, as I often feel uninspired on tough mixes. You'll be surprised at how useful this plug-in is after getting comfortable with its controls!

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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