Stephen Smith's Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Presets

September 30, 2011 11:11:11 AM PDT
Ampex ATR-102 GUI Hero

Mastering Engineer and friend of UA, Stephen Smith, has contributed greatly to the new Ampex ATR-102 Mastering Tape Recorder plug-in for the UAD-2 by compiling this impressive, custom collection of "ULTRALINEAR" mastering presets for the different available tape types, as well as his "Maximum Extension & Linearity" preset for optimum flatness. He's also created detailed response graphs for each to show just how flat he's managed to get each one. Stephen was gracious enough to share them with us, so that we in turn could pass them along to you. Enjoy!

These presets allow you to audition commonly-used mastering tape formulations and speeds (15 and 30 IPS) with all available head sizes — with flatter, more extended response than AutoCal settings. This lets you focus on subtle differences attributable to characteristics other than frequency response. You should hear a fairly neutral response, at a relatively uniform level throughout the ULTRALINEAR series.

Accompanying the presets is a set of frequency response graphs. Note that although the presets themselves have default noise settings, the graphs were made with Noise, Wow & Flutter and Crosstalk off. Also, the actual presets are optimized for loudness, while the Reproduce Level for the graphs was adjusted for easy visual comparison.

ULTRALINEAR Presets By Tape Type

  • Extended HF and LF range and linearity, to the limits of the various tape formulations, heads, speeds, etc. (derived with full-range sweep tones, starting from AutoCal settings).
  • Due to differences in harmonic generation between presets, they are level-compensated by ear (for full range musical source material) so that as you step through the presets, apparent loudness level should stay about the same.

Download Stephen Smith's ULTRALINEAR Presets & Graphs

Maximum Extension and Linearity Preset

From experimentation, this preset yields the flattest response achievable with this deck:

  • Note the extremely magnified vertical scale of the response chart (+/- 5dB)
  • Response is down just 1 dB at 20 Hz
  • +/- 0.5 dB from 22 Hz - 175 Hz
  • +/- 0.2 dB from 175 Hz - 20 kHz!
  • Uses ½-inch 250 tape at 15 IPS, transformer off

Download Stephen Smith's Maximum Extension & Linearity Preset & Graph

Maximum Extension & Linearity Preset Graph
Stephen Smith's Ampex ATR-102 Maximum Extension & Linearity Preset Graph


Where to Install the ULTRALINEAR Series Presets

Here are the locations where the UAD Toolbar Open/Save functions default to (where you should install any extra .fxp presets)


MacHD/Library/Application Support/Universal Audio/Presets/UAD pluginName/ (eg. UAD Ampex ATR-102)

PC (32bit):

C:\Program Files\Universal Audio\Powered Plug-Ins\Presets\UAD pluginName\

PC (64bit):

C:\Program Files (x86)\Universal Audio\Powered Plug-Ins\Presets\UAD pluginName\

Important Notes:

  • On the Windows side, "C:\" is going to be whatever your system drive is labeled. It's usually C, but it could be D, E, F, B, etc.
  • On both Mac and Windows, the "UAD pluginName" folder may not already exist. It's created whenever you first load/save a preset from the UAD Toolbar of a particular plugin. If it does not already exist, you can manually create it (just make sure to type the full name correctly, eg. "UAD Ampex ATR-102", it can't just be "Ampex" or something like that.)

— Mason Hicks