Free Ableton Live Pack # 80: VHS Rack

Free Lofi VHS VCR Tape Emulation for Ableton Live

To any of my regular readers, it is no secret that I love vintage and lofi sounds.  I grew up in the 1980s and there were so many characteristic sounds of that time.  When I hear them, I am instantly transported to simpler times.  I’ve always wanted to get some nice VHS sounds in my music, but there’s no Ableton device or third party plug in (maybe Speakerphone) that really accomplishes this. I’ve recorded music and video to VHS tapes to get that sound, and the results are pretty cool.  But sometimes I just want that effect right inside the box.  I finally did myself that favor and created this free Ableton Live Pack.

ableton vcr vhs afrodjmac tape


This Ableton audio effect rack will give you control over the pitch inconsistencies, chorusing, saturation, and compression that are characteristic of VCR tapes.  You can dial in the effect to be subtle, or go all out and make your music sound like it’s practically broken. It can be used on a track by track basis or on the master channel.  Check out the video below for a demonstration using my Alpha Juno 2 Ableton Pack and my Super Tape Drums Ableton Pack.


Or Do it the Old Fashioned Way

If you happen to have a VCR around the house, here’s a nice video with some tips on how to record audio to it and back into your DAW.  Don’t limit yourself to VCR, try anything that you can plug audio into!

AfroDJMac Demo with VHS Emulation using SpeakerPhone

Finally, here’s a little jam I did a while back using Speakerphone for some VHS emulation.  Speakerphone is pretty cool and does accomplish this effect rather nicely.  I also used an iPad app called ImproVox  to create the background harmonies.

Ableton Packs Used in the Demonstration Video

  • jimmy neutron

    Hey love all your racks just wanted to say ableton wont let me open this particular one. Says it is probably broken? Hope you can upload one that works cos I love the sound this rack brings

    • AfroDJMac

      Do you have Live 9?

      • jimmy neutron

        Nope must be it. Does this mean all your recent packs wont work in 8?

        • AfroDJMac

          Yea, that’s true of the last 3 or 4. Sorry Jimmy, I don’t use 8 any more. I wish it was still compatible.

  • Derek C. F. Pegritz

    Dude. You’re killin’ me here.

    • AfroDJMac

      The ambiguous comment! Thanks or I’m sorry about that, not sure which :)

      • Derek C. F. Pegritz

        Nah, brother–that was meant in the most positive way! You’re like some kind of prolific sound wizard living in a castle far in the Internet Mountains from whence you deliver a never-ending torrent of awesome stuff….I’m buried under tons of awesomness!

  • Adventureface

    I have been methodically recording my stuff totally to VHS tape and Cassette, and this is horrifyingly accurate, YOU ARE A BEAST SIR.
    You should set up a tip jar!

    • AfroDJMac

      RRRROOOOOAAAAARRR!!!!! So glad to hear it man! No tip jars, just some Premium racks. No token of appreciation goes without a reward :)

  • Michael

    Very nice effect! Thanks a lot!

    • AfroDJMac

      Thanks Michael, enjoy :)

  • JonOnNaRun

    Hey AfroDJMac – I don’t know if you remember, but we had an email discussion about this very effect quite a while ago. I even sent you a Speakerphone patch that was supposed to do this very thing. Anyways…I’m so glad that you got around to doing this…I thought it was a good idea then, and an even better idea now. :) Thanks again, man, you rock!

    • AfroDJMac

      Hey man! I was trying to find our emails to let you know I made this. I’m so glad you found it. The Speakerphone patch is really awesome, too bad I don’t own it :) This is my next best bet. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for reaching out!

  • Nathan

    UGH, this is so good.. I just can’t get it to work. I’m sure it’s me, though. I dragged the .adg file into an audio effect directory (from within ableton) and then dragged it onto the track I wanted to apply the effect/rack to. It says “only audio effects can be placed in this kind of rack.” What the. What’d I do? Sorry in advance for the lame novice question.

    • AfroDJMac

      I don’t know, did you try opening the live set and saving the rack by clicking the save icon? Then you should be able to drag that preset on a track whenever you want.

      • Nathan

        Discovered my issue. I’m still on Live 8. Dammit all. You don’t have a version compatible with 8 do you?

        • AfroDJMac

          I don’t. Anything made in Live 9 won’t work in Live 8. :(

  • bitbin

    Really great. I Just added the Max 4 Live LFO to a Low Pass filter to give the top end a little deviation on the frequency content. Works great. Interesting to see how the Frequency Shifters work on this too.


    - bitbin

    • AfroDJMac

      That’s a nice idea!

  • Nantho

    Ok, so this one doesn’t work on Live 8 but could you explain which effects you use in order to create this rack so we could create our own one ? Thanks, and keep up the good work !

    • AfroDJMac

      Watch the video my friend, it’s all explained! Enjoy it :)


    This is so helpful! As any of us who have to work exclusively with soft synths know, you can totally loose the momentum of a song when you have to waste an hour micro-editing notes to maintain a groove. The slight pitch modulation & etc in this plug-in are really making Ableton more fun! Much appreciated!

    • AfroDJMac

      I’m really glad this is being so well received :) Thanks for the kind words!

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  • Kevin Doyle

    This Live pack reminds me of this dude!!! Enjoy!!!

    • AfroDJMac


  • BooGShooGGin

    Washed Out would ejaculate over this pack

    • AfroDJMac

      haha and ewww!

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  • Michael Knoll

    First of all: Thanks for this great package!

    Is it possible that it’s only compatible with Ableton 8?

    Cheers and all the best!

  • Vice

    ableton tells me the file is broken :/
    i cant even get to load up