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Martinic LEM Echo Music Review – Warm Tape Echo!

Hello there and welcome back to another cool plugin review for you! This time we will be looking at one of my favourite tape echo VST plugins out there, the Martinic LEM Echo Music tape echo plugin!

Martinic is a Dutch audio technology company that focuses on bringing back legendary synths, organs and effects into the digital realm. Martinic was founded in 1993 as a software and IT solutions company.

But since 2010, they have been putting so much effort into developing virtual instruments and effects. In 2016, the company released their plugins commercially under the Martinic brand. Their first release was the Scanner Vibrato VST plugin.

As you may already know, Martinic hasn’t released hundreds of plugins and instruments so far. Having said that, you should know that Martinic has been also working under licence for other music software companies, helping them create some of the most respected synth emulations on the market.

Martinic’s ACE (Advanced Circuitry Emulation) process has been developed by the development team to precisely recreate analogue and digital circuits that are found in vintage instruments and effects.

Martinic‘s LEM Echo Music tape echo was first seen in their Elka Panther organ plugin. Later on, the company decided to release this legendary tape echo as a separate plugin.

LEM Echo Music

I’m pretty sure not many of my readers have ever heard of LEM Echo Music. LEM Tape Echo was already a very popular and powerful machine back in the late 60s featuring a sought-after tape echo effect with dual EQs and separate volume faders. Let’s have a background story, then we will continue with the plugin!

LEM Brand

Back in 1954, an Italian engineer named Matteo Galanti studied electronic engineering and acquired his master’s degree in the same field at Manhattan College, New York. Five years later, Galanti founded GEM (Galanti Edigio Mondaino) company with his brothers and began manufacturing Italian organs. The company had already become a pioneer in embracing solid-state technology back in the 60s!

With Galanti’s support, some of his best engineers in the GEM company started to develop pro sound gear and created LEM (Laboratorio Elettroacustico Musicale) brand in 1969. LEM company came up with many inventions in the music technology domain, featuring pro audio tools, portable P.A. systems and tape echo systems.

LEM Echo Music tape echo was born just like that! This effect featured an anticlockwise-moving tape reel which would record the input signal via the recording head and this input signal would be repeated on each of three playback heads.

LEM Echo Music Tape Echo

A bit bigger than your usual delay pedals!

This meant it featured three different delay times that could be used individually or stacked together by using three delay switches.
LEM Echo Music had left and right strips that can be controlled with individual faders on each side. This ability to separate left and right channels allowed electric organ players to separate bass and treble outputs to avoid low-end frequencies from blowing up speakers. Back in the 60s and 70s, combining electric organs with tape echo units was a common practice among organ players.

LEM Echo Music Tape Echo Controls

Ahead of its time!

Later on, in 1970, LEM released their first stage mixer, the Baby LEM which also featured LEM Echo Music. In 1974, LEM company had already attracted enough attention and investments so that they were able to build up laboratories and infrastructures in the USA.

Throughout the 70s, LEM was a very strong competitor among other well-known companies such as Roland. As you may know, Roland was also one of the leaders in the industry with their legendary Roland Space Echo RE-201.

Did you know you can still get one LEM Echo Music tape echos (the actual unit!) for a pretty cheap deal? Check out LEM Echo Music prices at Reverb.com!

Generalmusic Acquired LEM Brand

In 1987, Generalmusic company acquired LEM and Elka brands along with the GEM brand. Even though it was planned as each subbrand would operate in their specialized domain and the market, GEM specialized in the musical instruments field and studio products while LEM did in the amplification field.

Unfortunately, when we reached the millennium, these companies that broke boundaries in audio technology started struggling financially due to rapid developments in digital audio technology. Eventually, Generalmusic company went bankrupt in 2011.

Just think about it for a second and appreciate the great work by these gentlemen! What a huge step they took for the audio/music industry when everything was down to circuits and analogue machines! Although the story ends a bit sad, we still have some more things to learn!

A Finnish company called Soundion bought Generalmusic‘s assets at an auction and migrated the company’s manufacturing operations from Italy to Finland in 2012.

One of the assets that Soundion got was a broken LEM Echo Music that ended up in their vintage room, just like an item in a museum. Fortunately, Martinic initiated cooperation with Soundion company and started working on this broken LEM Echo Music to emulate this legendary unit for the digital realm!

Martinic very accurately cloned the Soundion LEM Echo Music unit, however, they also added some modern improvements such as adjustable tape saturation level, panning controls for wide stereo spread, and spring reverb to the original sound.

Martinic LEM Echo Music Features

As I mentioned, Martinic not only recreated this wonderful tape echo machine in a plugin format but also added some extra features that weren’t on the original unit. But it’s not altered at all, it’s the exact emulation of LEM Echo Music!

Martinic‘s Elka Panther organ VSTi also features the same LEM Echo Music tape delay as an addition. Martinic LEM Echo features the exact same playheads with 80, 210 and 300ms, resulting in 7 delay tap combinations. The total tape loop is 9.5 seconds with authentic wow and flutter effects.

Martinic LEM Echo Music Tape Echo Plugin

Exact reproduction of the interface by Martinic!

You can also control wet mix and feedback very efficiently. As the original version, the Martinic plugin also has 2 channel mixers with separate faders for volume, bass, and treble. In the front panel, you also have a vintage VU meter.

Reverb function also exists in the LEM Echo Music as well as the one in the Elka Panther organ VSTi. The plugin also features a stereo mode with pan controls and a master volume control.

Improve your MIDI keyboard/finger drumming skills with Melodics

Note that the Martinic LEM Echo Music plugin comes in VST32, VST62 as well as AU (Audio Units) formats.

How To Use LEM Echo Music Plugin?

Using the LEM Echo Music plugin is as easy as any other plugin that you use in your DAWs. Even though it is designed to be used as an insert effect, you are also free to use it as a send effect.

I prefer experimenting with both methods, but as this is a tape echo plugin, I liked the send effect method better. In order to apply this method, you just need to create an effect track with the plugin and set the echo to 100%. According to the manual, this setting is for adjusting the wet/dry ratio.

Once you do, you simply need to send your guitar or instrument channels to this track. But while playing, if you prefer using zero-latency monitoring, you will need to enable direct monitoring on the effect track. This way, you will hear a 100% wet signal, directly monitored via this effect track and your 100% dry guitar/instrument signal thru your monitors.

Martinic LEM Echo Music Tape Echo Plugin Settings

Settings view

As you already know, the LEM Echo Music plugin has three delay lines across two channels. Now, these delay lines are set to particular delay times and do not sync with your DAW tempo. These can be activated individually or all together at the same time.

Delay presets as follow: 1 is a short delay (80ms), 2 is medium (210ms) and 3 is long (330ms)

Echo (dry/wet) and Repeat (feedback) are common controls for both channels. Each channel has input volumes stated as Vol Rec and output volumes as Vol 1 and Vol 2.

Volume faders control the output signal on each channel after the delay processing. The default setting of 10 represents unity gain and you can lower it down to -inf dB.

Bass and Treble settings can be used for adjusting the tone of both channels and these settings will be applied to both the input/output signals.

Volume Record (Vol Rec) is the input gain control for sending the dry signal into the delay. So if you set it to 0, you simply disable delays.

Master Volume is for setting the overall output signal ranging from -36dB to +24dB. You can also use Pan know to pan left and right channels panorama. When set to 0, it’s centred.

There is also a Reverb knob that you can use for adding spring reverb pre-delay. When combined with the echo, it will create bigger, washy sounds. The Tape knob is also added for adjusting tape saturation that would naturally occur while recording sound on tape at high volumes. Note that, if there’s no echo/delay applied, Tape control won’t add anything to your signal.

Last but not least, there’s also a Stereo button to enable the effect in stereo. In stereo mode, increasing Vol Rec levels will have an emphasized tape delay on each side. When disabled, the effect will be emphasized in a mono stage.

Martinic LEM Echo Music Review & Demo Video

Here’s a quick video, showing you every LEM Echo Music preset, that I made using my Fender American Standard Stratocaster, ENGL E570 Tube Preamp, and ENGL Cabloader.

Note that, I exactly used the send effects method that I described just above. However, you should be aware that not all preset levels work flawlessly with this method.

As you will see in the video, I went through all presets, adjusted them and saved them under user presets in Reaper. Otherwise, output balances, dry/wet mixes…etc would be all around the place and I wouldn’t be able to get the same sonic results.

Before I adjusted every presets, I kinda hesitated to record a demo video as I got different results in each presets. But once you do, I can guarantee this will blow your mind! The sound quality and the vintage vibes are so on point and top-notch!

It was so inspiring to play and I immediately played my Fender Strat a lot, almost wanted to get back to recording this demo video every chance I had!

I believe for the price, it can be easily considered an affordable plugin. If you are interested in vintage tape echo sounds and need them in your songs and mixes, you should definitely check Martinic LEM Echo Music plugin here.

Where to Buy Martinic Plugins?

The easiest and most affordable way is simply to visit Martinic’s official website and get yourself a copy! Martinic’s plugins can be found on other online stores, however, the best deals usually can be found on Martinic’s website.

You can also check out Martinic plugins at Thomann and see their pricing as well. As these are downloadable products, you can buy them anywhere in the world without worrying about shipping and customs fees. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful! I spent a lot of time researching, writing and making the video, so if you like the effort, please share it using the share buttons down here.

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Osman