A multi-effect plugin to rule them all (or some of them at least)

I don’t often go for single plugins, but RC-20 is definitely worth looking into. Just circling through the excellent presets, you can get an idea of what this guy can do, from tape emulation to weird phase and bitcrusher effects.

RC-20 Retro Color

The thing that’s great about RC-20 is that it’s not subtle – or even realistic – when it comes to reproducing the crackles and warbles associated with lo-fi music. Instead, you get a cartoony rendition of a bad tape or a degraded vinyl, which might often be what you want.

It’s a nifty little plugin with six different types of color to add to your source sounds, plus a magnitude slider, high and lo cut, and a width knob, this analog color plugin offers no shortage of options.

  • NOISE: RC-20’s Noise effect lets you flip between different noise sources, adding some hum or crackle to your track. This is super useful when I’m working on something that’s meant to feel lo-fi, and the follow and duck knobs allow you to turn off the noise during silent portions of your track. This is a great way to add texture to something that’s meant to feel vintage, lo-fi, or extra analog. The vinyl settings are especially great on pianos and acoustic guitars!

  • WOBBLE: Simulate the gradual speeding up and slowing down of tape, with pitch variations included! Adding a bit of wow and flutter to something like a keyboard is an easy way to give it that analog feel. This allows you to add texture and some tape vibes quickly and easily. I won’t typically use this on vocals since it does effect the pitch and speed.

  • SATURATION AND DISTORTION: Flip through different types of distortion to add some sauce to your track. This is a great way to get a vocal or lead to cut through a dense mix.

  • DEGRADER AND BITCRUSHER: This takes down the quality of your track, similar to 40 (Drake’s producer)’s signature sound. Reduce the sample rate of audio quickly with this effect.

  • REVERB: The RC-20 has built in retro reverbs. Add depth and a long tail to your track with this effect!
  • VOLUME DROPS: Another simulation of the flaws that tape players have, this randomly changes the volume of your track, adding an interesting dynamic.

The RC-20 Retro Color interface is super aesthetically pleasing. There’s something charming about watching the waves and squiggles move around on your screen, and the color scheme is super pleasant.

I like that the knobs and buttons are all labeled clearly. A lot of “vibe” plugins make up silly names for their settings, so it’s nice that RC-20 Retro Color accurately describes everything that’s going on. Obviously, sound is what matters the most, but it’s nice to have visually interesting plugins as well.

While RC-20 comes with six effects, the ones I use the most are Noise and Wobble. I personally don’t use the reverbs as often, since I prefer to add them on busses. However, it’s nice to have the option.

If a track is lacking color, but I don’t have any specific ideas, I’ll often flip through the presets until I find something that adds the right level of sauce to the mix. In rare cases, I’ve used RC-20 on the master bus of a song that just needs to be a little more “out there”.

RC-20 Retro Color

Everything is logically organized and set in a user friendly environment that really inspires you to experiment and doesn’t get in the way when you just want to enjoy playing.

It’s important to note that if you’d rather not go with the 360 Bundle, the actual 360 application is free to download and use. It includes all the current Kuassa products for guitar and bass, so the user can listen to any of them in demo mode and see what they like. When a single license is purchased, the individual product is unlocked and can be used without limitations. So the demo products remain in the 360 presets, but they don’t get in the way of playing with the purchased ones.

The word “Demo” is next to their name in the list, so you just don’t add them to your chain. If like me you like all their stuff, the price is really affordable for the whole suite and it is really worth it compared to the quality and variety that you get. But even if a player wants just a single amp and a couple of pedals, 360 can accommodate their need as well.

Considering the cost of the plugin, and how useful it is, I find RC-20 to be 100% worth it. If you’re a producer or engineer who likes the vintage vibes of tape machines, guitar pedals, and vinyl records, you’ll have a blast adding retro color to your tracks.

XLN Audio really hit a home run with the creation of RC-20. At a time when "lo-fi" effects are more in demand than ever, this plugin will give you top notch and authentic analog effects and is an extremely valuable asset to have in your sound design toolkit.

Personally, I use this plugin in some capacity in pretty much 100% of my tracks and I don't see that changing any time soon. The plugin breathes life into the most boring sounds and makes already good sounds even better. The layout of the Retro Color is clear and focused, never getting in the way of creation.

It’s not often that you find a plugin that's so versatile, while being so easy and intuitive to use AND delivering musical results, regardless how crazy you go with the settings.

If you want to add life and character to your sounds, the XLN Audio RC-20 Retro Color is IT.

I highly recommend you check it out. You’ll have a damn good time.