Review – RC-20 Retro Color by XLN Audio


by Kurt Loewen

The RC-20 by XLN audio is an affordable and versatile production tool that every producer and engineer should have at their disposal.  According to XLN, RC-20 should be on everything…including the master.  And I have to say that after using this liberally over the past 6 months I must agree.

XLN - RC20

Use the 6 settings of Noise, Wobble, Distort, Digital, Space and Magnetic individually or use them all together to create truly one of a kind effects!  Setting the magnitude dial of the overall plugin will give you either more color or more signal depending on where you set it, while each individual setting comes with its own color/signal knob.

Noise Generator:  No doubt the go to choice to give your tracks some warmth. Get the tone, flux and ducking just right or choose from one of the several presets to dial in the sound and era you are looking for!

Wobble: This is by far the funnest/grooviest and a super creative way to give your track or tracks that little bit, or a lot, of lilt!  If you are feeling trippy this is your choice.

Distort:  Give your track a little bit of edge or a full on crunch with this setting.  A handy focus filter to just mess up certain frequencies is a really nice and simple touch for your track,  stereo mix or master.

Digital: The chance to give your track that 90s free download sound…with of course the opportunity to ease off the harshness with the smooth dial and an additional focus feature for the EQ.  The chance to find the right balance between bits and rate is a perfect addition to this component!

Space: Just like what it sounds like, find your own universe within the RC-20’s space setting. With options for decay, pre-delay and stereo you can tap in to your own unique tastes while again finding a dial to focus the effect on a certain EQ.

Magnetic: For me, the dropout feature of this setting is the cream of the crop and emulates wear and tear, and volume loss that comes with tape playback and recordings.   Exploring the balance between wear and flutter is a great way to make the mojo work!


Feeling a little uninspired?  The built in presets for the RC-20 are numerous and will get you on the path of deciding where to turn next.   With presets like VHS, No More Boring Pads, and Crush Bass Square Maker, you won’t ever have a bland mix again.

Master Section

The RC-20 is topped off with a Master Section at the bottom of the plugin which gives you controls to Gain In, Gain Out and EQ.  The In Gain is just what it sounds like while the EQ is relatively simple but gives you another chance to make frequency changes within the plugin.   The out gain section gives you a handy width option going all the way from mono to stereo, making this yet another solid choice to be put in your Master chain!

Overall, I am a big fan of this and other XLN products, and highly recommend you give the RC-20 a spin with a 10 day free trial from their website to see if it is a right fit for you!  Happy creating!

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