How to make audio sound like an 80s tape recording

Hi, I want to make audio sound like it is recorded on a tape from the 80s. I tried searching the internet, found a tutorial, but the plugin download link seemed like a virus, so I did not download the plugin. Is there any way on how to do this?

Audacity version: 3.1.3

What does that mean to you? What do you hear that’s different from a CD or MP3?

The main characteristic of analog tape is hiss… If that’s what you want you can use the Generate tool to generate white noise and mix it in at a low level.

Or there is an optional Tape Saturation Effect Plug-in. When analog tape is recorded “too hot” and pushed “into the red”, it begins to soft-clip (saturate & compress) and the NAB tape EQ further “softens” the distortion components. (Digital hard-clips if you “try” to record over 0dB and the distortion is more harsh.)

I find tapes from 80s sounding a bit muffled.

The Graphic Equalizer is like a fancy tone control., The low frequencies (bass) is on the left and the high frequencies (treble) are on the right.

Try moving the sliders on the right down, maybe 5kHz and higher. You’ll have to experiment.

Just some reference points…
The “traditional” full audible range is 20Hz - 20Kz. But usually only young people can actually hear to 20kHz. And even if you can hear to 20kHz. the highest-frequencies in music are masked (drowned-out) by other high frequencies. (Usually it sound the same if you filter-out everything above 16 or 17kHz.)

When you get down to around 20Hz, those deep-bass frequencies are felt in your body more than heard with your ears, and that takes a big woofer/subwoofer.

With good tape and a good machine, cassettes could go all the way (or nearly all the way) to 20kHz. Commercial pre-recorded tapes were duplicated at high speed which makes the frequencies higher during the duplication process and some high frequencies were lost, plus they used cheap tape. I’m not sure what the “numerical” result was but homemade tapes made from records could be better (if the record was in good condition, etc.).

But, most commercial tapes were made with Dolby noise reduction and a side-effect was that if you turned-off the noise reduction during playback the remaining highs were boosted for more “clarity” or “crispness” (at the expense of less-flat frequency response and the loss of noise reduction).

Regular analog FM radio goes-up to about 15kHz.

AM radio goes-up to about 7KHz and you loose the clarity of cymbals and “T” and “S” sounds.

Traditional land-line telephone only goes up to about 3kHz (and down to 300Hz) and that’s about the minimum frequency range for voice intelligibility.

For what it’s worth, I have an '80’s tape player and it sounds like very high quality audio.

I’m guessing that you want a sound like a “low quality tape recording”, in which case, try filtering out some of the high frequencies to muffle the sound a bit. One option would be to use the Low-Pass filter - try 5000 Hz and 6dB roll-off as a starting point.

Caelum Audio’s “Tape Cassette 2” is a free VST3 tape emulation plugin …
It works in Audacity 3 …
Caelum Audio 'tape casette 2' in Audcaity 3 (64-bit)

[ It’s not lo-fi enough for me: no drop-outs or tape chew ] .

“Chow tape model” is a better, but more complicated*, free VST tape emulation …
The 64-bit VST 3 version works in Audcaity3 : it appears as “chowdsp” in real-time effects.
[* it has ~50 presets ]

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