I know that I’ve been asked no less than a hundred times, “Can you make it sound like it’s on a scratchy old record?” I’ve often skirted the somewhat clichéd or cheeky request by saying, “I can add some static, but it’s hard to make it sound really cool.” Well, now that I have iZotope’s Vinyl plug-in, I’m able to say “Yes, I can do that” followed by “And yes, it will sound cool.” It’s powerful stuff that is remarkably free.

The reason it’s so cool is because there are enough variables to be able to dial in something unique every time. The self-explanatory RPM (33, 45, 78), Warp Depth, Scratch, Dust, Electrical Noise, Wear and Mechanical Noise controls all contribute to a full palate of options to create authenticity. A mono mode is tremendously useful, as is the Year control which fine tunes frequency response and distortion parameters from the 1930s through the aughts.

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That’s sufficient for record-playback emulation, but the Spin Down effect is today’s effect du jour. Rap and hip-hop producers are taking vocals and putting a really quick spin down to a stop, quickly lowering the pitch and abruptly stopping at the lyric’s end. It’s fun and creative stuff and you can automate parameters for precise start/stops and screw up parameters for delightfully broken and distressed results.

In an audio world where “high fidelity” has become relatively easy and we spend much of our time trying to artistically muck things up, iZotope’s Vinyl is a versatile, powerful and perfectly priced lo-fi solution.


Rob Tavaglione owns and operates Charlotte’s Catalyst Recording and has been a long-time Studio Contributor. twitter.com/robtavaglione