A Review of XLN Audio’s RC-20 Retro Color Plugin

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Do your tracks sound a little too clean? Looking for a way to inject some new life into your sound design? We have a plug-in that might be able to help you out.

Ableton Certified Trainer, Ian Gallagher, takes a close look at a brand new plugin from our Swedish friends at XLN Audio, the RC-20 Retro Color.

As you probably guessed, it’s designed to add some vintages vibes and textures to your tunes. Ian has being putting in work on a new tune in the studio, and found that it does exactly that, and so much more.

At the heart of the RC-20 are 6 effect modules: Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space and Magnetic. The Noise module alone delivers sixteen selectable noises to give your track a gritty, but oh-so-sweet, vintage coating. Everything from vinyl to various tape noises, radio static, studio ambience and “Apollo” are at your fingertips. Depending on how you dial in dry/wet, tone, routing, follow, ducking and random parameters a whole new vibe can emerge from this one module alone.

As Ian shows in the review, Wobble is a fresh new way to add a detuned layer underneath your synth sound (or any sound for that matter). By capturing the incoming audio and modulating its pitch the Wobble module can take a mono sound and give it some much-needed width. Add the Space module on top for some seriously old school, cavernous reverberations.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a LOT that goes unmentioned in this video (for the sake of time, of course). For example, try the RC-20’s Space module on a return track and send all your instruments to it. Likewise, you can put the Distort module on a return track, and use it to add parallel distortion to tracks that need to cut through your mix. Or, strap the RC-20 onto your master channel, engage all the modules, and hear your song bathed in retro goodness.

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Ian Gallagher is a producer, songwriter and DJ specializing in hip-hop, house and pop music. Picking up the guitar at age 10, Ian devoted himself to rock and Delta blues guitar, emulating his idols Jimi Hendrix, Slash and Robert Johnson. Three years later, he began studying classical guitar at the University of Maine. After high school, he continued his classical studies at New York City’s Manhattan School of Music under David Leisner. At Ableton, Ian worked in the Documentation department for 3 years writing, editing and managing the Live Manual, while also giving Live clinics in the NYC-area. In addition to teaching at Warp Academy, Ian is deeply immersed in his pop music production team, The Identifiers, his drum n' bass crew, Bigfoot Master, and the trap/hip hop group Gold Bikini.