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The Creative Music Recording Magazine

100 Issues!
100 Quotes!

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A Joe Meek Primer
Pioneering techniques still in use today
The Future of

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Audio Engineering
John La Grou predicts your future
Music Reviews
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The Tape Op Soundtrack
and Glyn Johns on mixing Patty Griffin
Gear Reviews
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$4.95 No. 100


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Mar/Apr 2014
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Hello and
welcome to Tape Op
12 Letters
#100! This issue marks the occasion of
our 100th issue of Tape Op. As I sat on
14 Joe Meek my front steps 18 years ago, spray painting photocopied
18 100 Quotes magazine covers by hand, I never would’ve imagined that
my crazy little idea would ever have carried on this long,
36 The Future of Audio Engineering found so many readers, or become such a huge part of my
p a g e

40 Gear Reviews life. Over the years Tape Op has certainly changed. What
started as a magazine mostly focused on creating and
62 Music Reviews

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tracking what would become known as “indie rock” (hey,
66 Larry’s End Rant that was the world I mucked about in!), has become a
forum about working with every style of music, from any
Online Bonus Content: era. While early issues featured ads from small record

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labels and independent book stores, the last 15 years have
The Future of Audio Engineering, seen advertising for every kind of recording product one
with Photos and Footnotes could imagine; even including Pabst Blue Ribbon beer,

Online Only Features: il at one point.

Ben Greenberg of The Men on


Making Tomorrow's Hits.
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Using Hardware Write Blockers
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But while there have been changes, I feel that the core values of this
magazine remain the same, even if they’re not always visible on the
surface. Creativity, passion, beauty, excitement, and honesty remain an
important backbone for what we discuss and promote in these pages.
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Pushing the art of recording forward, while always respecting the artist and
the music, is key as well. Almost everyone involved in Tape Op records music,
and most of us at the professional level. When we interview a recordist it is as
a peer, not simply as a journalist or a fan (though we can wear those hats too).
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I think these things are just the tip of the iceberg illustration by Matthew Krause
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as to what makes Tape Op different, as well as what draws our readers to the magazine.
For this issue I trawled through 100 old copies of this mag and found 100
corresponding quotes – one from each issue. I’ve always seen Tape Op as an
extension of my own growth and learning when it comes to recording music, and
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many of these quotes are ones that have resonated with me for years. John La Grou,
owner of Millennia Media and a fine recordist himself, has written up a piece for us
on his thoughts about the future of music production – you may be surprised (or PS: Many thanks and a raised glass of wine to my
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distraught) to learn where he thinks it is heading. Looking back a bit, Barry partner/publisher/friend John Baccigaluppi. Without him Tape Op
Cleveland illustrates many of Joe Meek’s innovations in the studio still in use today. probably would have disappeared into a fog of credit card debt and
There’s far more about the future and the past of recording in this issue, so get exhaustion 14 years ago. He believed in my vision, and took it up
to it. And get ready for another 100 issues of Tape Op! a big notch overnight. He is the backbone that lets this magazine
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flourish, and I don’t think it could be what it is without his hard


Enjoy! work and input. Also I owe a HUGE thanks to the many contributors
Larry Crane, Editor and “staff” over the years. Many of you are my close friends and
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have helped guide the magazine. You know who you are. Thank you.
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The Creative Music Recording Magazine

Editor
Larry Crane
Publisher &!Graphic Design
John Baccigaluppi
Online Publisher
Dave Middleton
Gear Reviews Editor
Andy “Gear Geek” Hong
Production Manager & Assistant Gear Reviews Editor
Scott McChane
Contributing Writers &!Photographers
Cover photos by Tape Op readers.
Thanks to everybody who sent in photos, we wish we could have used them all!
Tchad Blake, David Kilgour, David Catching, Mark Nevers, Howard Bilerman,
John Agnello, Jason Lytle, Bob Ezrin, Garth Richardson, Damian Taylor, Larry Fast,
Jeff Powell, Mark Rubel, Ed Stasium, Phill Brown, Bob Power, Barry Cleveland,
David Peters, John La Grou, Mike Jasper, Geoff Stanfield, Francisco J Botero,
Chris Koltay, Adam Kagan, Jeff Elbel, Pete Weiss, Joseph Lemmer, Jeremy Harris,

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Garrett Haines, Alan Tubbs and Ryan Hewitt.
www.tapeop.com
Dave Middleton and Hillary Johnson

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Editorial and Office Assistants
Jenna Crane (proofreading), Thomas Danner (transcription),
Lance Jackman (accounting@tapeop.com)
Tape Op Book distribution
il c/o www.halleonard.com
Disclaimer
TAPE OP magazine wants to make clear that the opinions expressed within reviews, letters and
articles are not necessarily the opinions of the publishers. Tape Op is intended as a forum to
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advance the art of recording, and there are many choices made along that path.
Editorial Office
(for submissions, letters, CDs for review. CDs for review are also
reviewed in the Sacramento office, address below)
P.O. Box 86409, Portland, OR 97286 voicemail 503-208-4033
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editor@tapeop.com
All unsolicited submissions and letters sent to us become the property of Tape Op.
Advertising
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Pro Audio, Studios & Record Labels: John Baccigaluppi


(916) 444-5241, (john@tapeop.com)
Pro Audio & Ad Agencies:
Laura Thurmond/Thurmond Media
512-529-1032, (laura@tapeop.com)
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Marsha Vdovin
415-420-7273, (marsha@tapeop.com)
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Printing: Matt Saddler & Chuck Werninger


@ Democrat Printing, Little Rock, AR
Subscriptions are free in the USA:
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Subscribe online at tapeop.com


(Notice: We sometimes rent our subscription list to our advertisers.)
Canadian & Foreign subscriptions, see instructions at www.tapeop.com
Circulation, Subscription and Address Changes
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will be accepted by email or mail only. Please do not telephone.


We have an online change of address form <tapeop.com> or you can email
<circulation@tapeop.com> or send snail mail to
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See tapeop.com for Back Issue ordering info


Postmaster and all general inquiries to:
Tape Op Magazine, PO Box 160995, Sacramento, CA 95816
(916) 444-5241 | tapeop.com
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Tape Op is published by Single Fin, Inc. (publishing services)


10/Tape Op#100/Masthead and Jackpot! Recording Studio, Inc. (editorial services)
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Please Support Our Advertisers/Tape Op#100/11


I can honestly say if itThe first Tape Op I ever picked up was at a friend’s
house in L.A., and it had an interview with Jim
wasn’t for Tape Op I’m not
sure I would still be Dickinson that really moved me. I thought it felt like
sitting around talking with, and mostly listening, to
recording, or even writing
music anymore. Every Jim, which I had done many times in my early days
around Ardent Studios. I looked into how to
issue seems to reenergize
subscribe, and couldn’t believe it was free. I have
my interest in recording,
producing, and creating been a fan ever since, and am always excited when it
new stuff. I come away comes in the mail. Thanks for publishing such a great
In lieu of our normal letters section, we prodded a magazine that has always held such integrity, and
from a majority of the interviews excited and feeling not
number of past interviewees to wish us a Happy has drawn me closer to so many new friends and
so alone in this often futile, solitary, unglamorous, ear
Birthday/100 issues. Ain’t nothing like throwing your own colleagues in this crazy profession we have chosen. I
taxing, and low paying line of work I’ve fallen into. I tip
birthday party! -LC my hat and raise my glass. My sincerest regards! am sure that your magazine has collectively made
Whoa. I remember the first issue. You sure it’s 18 Jason Lytle <jasonlytle.com> more records sound “better,” whatever that means to
years? Great work. Still the most readable publication Repeat after me, Larry: “I’m 18, and I like it!” anybody, than any one piece of gear that has
about audio and music. Happy 100th. Congratulations and I’m looking forward to the next 18 appeared in the recording world in the last 18 years
Tchad Blake <www.mongrell.com> years of good reading. Thank you, and
since you started it.

Bob Ezrin <www.nimbusrecording.com>


happy 100th issue.
Jeff Powell <jeff@jeffpowell.net>
As a producer/engineer in Champaign, Illinois, I
had my own community but didn’t feel connected to
the larger world of audio. It was my introduction to
Tape Op Magazine (starting with the third issue), as
well as the TapeOpCons, that widened my sphere to the

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constellation of like-minded alchemists with whom I
now get to share this magnificent adventure. I am so
proud of Larry Crane and John Baccigaluppi for
creating a resource that illuminates and expresses the

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diverse ways we make recordings.
Mark Rubel <mrubel@theblackbirdacademy.com>
Next to Mad Magazine, Tape Op is right up there

il as my fave! Congratulations on 100 issues in


18 years! That’s 5.55555555555556 issues per year;
what’s up with that?
Ed Stasium <www.edstasium.com>
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Tape Op is my favourite studio mag for interviews and
It’s good to know that for 18 years I have had Tape recording approaches – a real-life take on recording and
Every now and then I think, “Larry will one day stop studio life. Thanks for everything, including publishing
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sending me Tape Op. This can’t go on; it’s madness.” Op in my bathroom in case I run out of toilet paper. Not Are We Still Rolling?
But they keep coming, and coming, and coming. only a good read, but smooth on the ass as well. Phill Brown <www.phillbrown.net>
I’m a lucky guy! Garth Richardson <www.nimbusrecording.com>
David Kilgour <www.davidkilgour.com>
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Happy centennial issue, Tape Op! I’ve learned so


much invaluable information from you, as well as your
interviews of my favorite engineers and producers, and
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it didn’t cost me a cent! I can’t thank you enough for Congratulations to Tape Op for being legal drinking age A lot of what I learned about recording was from a
enlightening all of us hacks! everywhere, except the USA! The magazine is so long lost and lamented monthly, RE/P (Recording
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David Catching <www.ranchodelaluna.com> wonderful at inspiring me, challenging and questioning Engineer/Producer). What a delight that you guys came
my assumptions, educating me, affirming my love of along 20 years later to fill that void. I was starting to
Wow – still free after 18 years and a hundred issues music and recording, and introducing me to an incredible think that nobody cared. Congrats, and keep breathing
– that would be like a million dollars in Pro Tools money. host of characters that I might not have had the chance
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life into what we love so much.


Congrats. to listen to otherwise. Huge congratulations to the whole Bob Power <www.bobpower.com>
Mark Nevers crew who make it a reality for all us studio nerds.
<www.facebook.com/BeechHouseRecording> Damian Taylor <www.damiantaylor.com>
Send Letters & Questions to:
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Congrats, Tape Op! May I be as insightful and I’ve always been a bit of a guerrilla electronic editor@tapeop.com
inspirational when I’m 100. Here’s to the next 18 years! recordist. Tape Op is the magazine with an attitude that
Howard Bilerman <www.hotel2tango.com> best matches my approach to creating audio art through
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Well, it seems like I have something in common with technology. I’m always glad to see it in my mailbox. The
Tape Op. We both have 100 issues. Congrats on a great interview with me in the magazine “got” me better than
run and continued success. almost any other. I’ll always be a fan of Tape Op.
John Agnello <www.johnagnello.com> Larry Fast <synergy-emusic.com>
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12/Tape Op#100/Letters/
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the first of his “black box” spring reverb units out of a
broken heater in 1957 (three years before Alan Young
developed what would become the Accutronics Type 4
reverb unit for the Hammond Organ Company). It is also
likely that Meek was one of the first engineers to direct
inject (DI) the electric bass.
As the astute reader may already have gathered, the
implementation of these techniques resulted in a major
paradigm shift. British pop recordings made in the mid-
to late-’50s incorporated a lot of room sound.
Microphones were typically placed well away from
sources, and separation was achieved by keeping the
musicians far apart from each other. Meek close-mic’d
sources, largely eliminating the room sound, and then
used compressors and limiters to tighten up those
sounds and give them more punch. To compensate for
the lost ambience, and sometimes to create unnatural
ambient effects, Meek would send entire mixes to an
echo chamber. He might have also employ tape delay
(using a three-head reel-to-reel recorder). It’s quite
possible that he was the first person in England to delay
signals before routing them to an echo chamber, thus
inventing pre-delay.
Many producers resented what they perceived as

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Meek’s challenges to their authority, but because so
many of his recordings became hits, other producers –
including jazz and world-fusion pioneer Denis Preston –
refused to work with anyone else. Meek was also the

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engineer of choice for numerous artists and record
companies.
When I first began researching the cutter when he was 24 and used it to cut his first record Trad jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton’s “Bad
career of British recording icon Joe
Meek back in 2000, I knew that he was reputedly a il
– a sound-effects library. He was a “radarman” while
serving in the military, repairing radios, televisions, and
great innovator, but I had no concept of the scope of his other electrical devices before becoming a professional
Penny Blues” is one of the best-known examples of the
way Meek’s approach changed the character of
recordings for the better. The song was built around a
achievements. It was only after a year of acquiring, and audio engineer. rolling boogie-woogie piano bass line and pushed along
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poring over, huge quantities of written and recorded Although frequently celebrated as a musical by a snare drum played with brushes. Meek compressed
material, interviewing people who either worked with oddball and DIY rebel, Meek began his professional all the instruments far beyond what was usual for jazz
Meek or were knowledgeable about him, and listening to career as an employee at IBC, the largest and most recordings, but he also made the brushes prominent in
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well over a thousand recordings from throughout his advanced studio in London. British engineers of that era the mix and intentionally distorted the piano bass line.
career, that a relatively complete picture began to typically wore white lab coats and faithfully executed “It was Joe’s concept,” said Preston, who produced
emerge. Meek wasn’t just a curious footnote in the procedures developed to record sounds with the greatest the session. “He had a drum sound – that forward drum
annals of British recording history. He was a giant whose possible fidelity. Meanwhile producers sported suits and sound – which no other engineer at that time would
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approach to recording and recording technology was were charged with making the creative decisions, have conceived of doing, and with echo. Joe created
years, and in some cases decades, ahead of his time, and despite rarely understanding anything about recording this at a time when I was being told that the rhythm
his influence has been felt throughout the entire British technology. That a mere engineer might make creative section should be felt and not heard. He was the first
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recording community from the mid ’50s until well into suggestions, much less insist upon them being carried man to use what they then called distortion. I know
the ’60s. Nowadays, many of Meek’s once-radical out, was unimaginable. Meek was almost singlehandedly what they call it now – now they build it into gear! And
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innovations have been so thoroughly assimilated that responsible for changing all that. that made a hit out of what would otherwise have been
we take them for granted, if we notice them at all – but Between 1955 and 1957, Joe Meek engineered another track on a jazz EP. It was purely a concept of
they provoked a fierce backlash from the majority of his dozens of hit records for major pop and jazz artists— sound.” “Bad Penny Blues” made it into the Top 20 on
often adding unusual sonic touches that greatly the pop (not just jazz) hit parade.
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contemporaries at the time they were introduced. I’ll


touch on a few of them here. But first a little distinguished them from the recordings of their peers. To On another occasion, when vocalist Anne Shelton
background on the man himself. realize the sounds he heard in his head, Meek tweaked recorded “Lay Down Your Arms,” a song with a military
Robert George “Joe” Meek was a precocious tape machines and pushed limiters to the max to get the marching beat, the producers wanted to add the sound
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youngster. By the age of ten he had written and hottest possible levels on tape. He used compressors to of actual marching soldiers. Instead, Meek had another
produced theatrical performances by and for the children create pumping and breathing effects, placed engineer shake a box of gravel back and forth, producing
in his village, as well as built a crystal radio set, a microphones close to (and sometimes inside) sources the same basic sound. The record was a massive hit.
microphone, and a tube amplifier. At age 14, he rather than at the officially prescribed distances, While at IBC, Meek also experimented with sound-
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expanded his rig, working dances and parties as a mobile experimented with using the “wrong” types of on-sound recording using two recorders. “Joe and
DJ. And at 16 he acted as a musical supervisor, providing microphones, and sometimes even went so far as to producer Michael Barclay used to work with what they
sound effects for local theater groups (that he had intentionally overload preamp inputs. He was also a big called ‘composites,’ which they made track, by track, by
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recorded on a homemade tape machine). He built a disc fan of acoustic echo chambers and tape delay. He built track,” says veteran engineer and producer Adrian
14/Tape Op#100/Mr. Meek/(continued on page 16)
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Kerridge, who worked with Meek at the time. “What they Sometimes he did that by panning a sound from one recorded himself walking around his studio describing
were doing, in effect, was multitrack recording, using side to the other. He also used the reverb and echo his gear and the way he used it. Here’s an excerpt:
the composite method. Nobody else, to my knowledge, returns to create motion by panning the dry sound to “The main machine is a Lyrec twin-track. I usually
in London, in fact, in Europe – I don’t know about one side and the effect return to the other, or by having record the voice on one track and the backing on the
America – was working this way, at that time.” the processed and dry sounds on one side, but the effect other. The other recorder is an EMI TR51. This I use for
His many successes notwithstanding, Meek bleeding over to the other side. On “March of the dubbing. The artist has his microphone, a Neumann U
eventually grew tired of the confines – and frequently Dribcots,” Meek made the sounds “march” from one side 47, in the corner of the studio, screened off from the rest
adversarial environment – of IBC, and left in September to the other by continuously varying the balance of high of the musicians. He’s going on a separate track [of the
of 1957. A few months later, he helped Preston found and low frequencies for each sound. Lyrec]. The bass is fed in direct. The guitars have
Lansdowne Studios, and before long Kerridge joined The remarkable story of the making of this landmark microphones in front of their amplifiers, and the drum
them. Meek designed a 12-channel mono tube mixer recording occupies an entire chapter in my book, Joe kit has two or three microphones placed around it. Then,
with EQ on every channel (a luxury at the time), which Meek’s Bold Techniques, which also includes information I dub the artist’s voice on again. I listen to the tracks
he had custom built by EMI/Hayes. Meek also installed on streaming a newly restored version of the original that we’ve already got… Sometimes they’re good
EMI TR50 and TR51 recorders, as well as overseeing all recording. (The commercially available CD release of I enough; but, as a rule, the vocalist wears headphones
of the studio’s technical arrangements. The engineers at Hear a New World contains a drastically altered version and the track is played back to him. Then it’s dubbed
IBC called Lansdowne “The House of Shattering Glass” of little historical significance.) onto my TR51. So we have voice and rhythm tracks.”
because of its clarity of sound. In 1959 it became one Despite his many extraordinary accomplishments in Notice that Meek does not record the voice onto the
of London’s first stereo studios. Meek remained there the ’50s, most people who have heard about Meek often second track of the Lyrec, as he had the guide vocal cut
until November of 1959. associate him with the records he made in the ’60s – at the same time as the rhythm track. Instead, he mixes
According to Kerridge, Meek used two tape recorders those were recorded in his legendary studio, located on it in real time with the rhythm track, from track one of
to produce flanging while at Lansdowne, an effect the third floor above a leather shop in London at 304 the Lyrec, straight to the EMI TR51, saving a generation
usually thought of as having been developed in the mid- Holloway Road. The studio could only be reached by of track bouncing. Peter Miller and Ted Fletcher, who
’60s. “It was very successful,” he says, “and we used it climbing several steep flights of narrow stairs. Besides both were recorded by Meek at different times, describe
a lot, along with expansion, compression, and limiting.” making for a challenging load in, musicians who angered modified versions of this basic technique, devised by
Meek also sometimes used large movable Lucite panels Meek were routinely thrown down them, followed by Meek after he had acquired additional pro recorders.

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to liven up the sound of a dead room at Lansdowne, their gear. The 11x12 ft control room had no direct view Meek was extraordinarily prolific, and
similar to the way in which he had recorded trumpet of the roughly 18x14 ft recording area down the hall; although his three most celebrated records are John
sections playing against a cement wall to capture early Meek had to run back and forth between the two rooms Leyton’s “Johnny, Remember Me” (this revolutionary

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reflections at IBC. to communicate with the musicians. 1961 “death disc” is arguably Meek’s greatest
Meek also built two of his famous black Meek described the studio as being, “The size of an recording), the Tornados’ “Telstar,” and the Honeycombs’
boxes while at Lansdowne. One was a Pultec-style average bedroom; no larger. I’ve covered the walls with “Have I the Right?” from 1964 – Meek made a huge
equalizer, described by one of its owners as “probably acoustic tiles… all the walls except one, which is variety of records, from schlocky pop to psychedelic
the warmest, smoothest, most transparent equalizer ever
made.” Another was a Langevin-style compressor/
limiter, currently owned by Kerridge. Meek left both
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covered with a thick curtain. This has very good
absorbing power, and the studio is extremely dead. The
floor is carpeted, and the ceiling is completely covered
rock. There’s twangy instrumental guitar music, kickass
rock and rockabilly, sci-fi, orchestral, and even country
and western – just to name a few. Meek’s regular session
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units at Lansdowne when he departed. He took his third in tiles. One wall has some tiles missing, and this gives musicians included luminaries such as Ritchie Blackmore
black box – the fabled spring reverb – with him. me a certain amount of brightness. But basically it’s and Jimmy Page (who credits Meek as a major influence
According to Kerridge, “It worked very well, and Joe was completely dead.” Meek also claimed that he had on his own productions).
very secretive about it. To my knowledge, this was converted a small room above the control room into an On February 3, 1967, Joe Meek murdered his landlady
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probably the first spring echo unit of its kind. It echo chamber, but that’s a matter of contention. The with a shotgun and then turned the weapon on himself.
produced a very twangy and reverberant sound that he sound of an echo chamber can be heard clearly on nearly The circumstances surrounding his horrific end aren’t
used, to great effect, on many of his recordings.” every recording made at Holloway Road, but he very entirely clear, but they are almost certainly linked to
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While at Lansdowne, Meek was also making impressive likely used the bathroom for that purpose. (It is well mental illness (Meek is generally assumed to have been a
recordings at his tiny Arundel Gardens flat, most notably known that Meek sometimes recorded vocalists in the paranoid schizophrenic), prolonged use of stimulants,
his “outer space music fantasy” called I Hear a New World, bathroom to get an echo sound.) protracted plagiarism litigation that had unjustly frozen
a full-length LP that was recorded in stereo. How Meek As to what gear Meek used when making his classic the royalties for “Telstar,” and even the fact that Meek was
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was able to work in stereo remains a mystery, as nobody recordings, including The Tornados’ 1962 global #1 hit homosexual at a time when it was still a crime in England.
who was there at the time recalls seeing any stereo “Telstar,” it ranged from professional quality to Whatever one may make of Joe Meek’s life, his
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machines, much less a stereo mixer. The largely neglected homemade. And, as is the case with most studios, the contributions to the art of recording are undeniable, and it
recording is interesting because it provides fascinating gear was continually being upgraded. For example, when can safely be said that everyone who reads Tape Op owes
insights into how an early audio innovator, working at the Meek started out, his main recorder was a modified Lyrec something to him – whether they realize it or not. r
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dawn of commercial stereo, dealt with issues such as TR 16-S, which he used along with a couple of portable Barry Cleveland is a San Francisco Bay Area-based
phase relationships, imaging, and the juxtaposition of dry EMI TR Series machines – but a few years later his journalist, audio engineer, composer, recording artist, and the
and processed sounds. Beyond that, Meek’s use of signal recorders included an Ampex Model 300, an EMI BTR2, author of Joe Meek’s Bold Techniques, the second edition of
processing, tape manipulation, and tape loops puts the and several auxiliary machines. And it was much the same
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which has recently been published in print and as an eBook.


record in a class by itself. with his outboard gear, microphones, etc. But even if it barrycleveland.com/meek.htm
Meek wanted to go beyond the static stereo were possible to determine exactly what he was using on
recordings that were being made at the time, by a particular session, that wouldn’t necessarily offer much
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introducing motion into his mixes. On a promotional insight into getting “the Joe Meek sound,” because he

www.tapeop.com
recording made in 1960, Meek remarked, “I’ve tried – modified practically everything that he owned.
and I’ve had to do it rather carefully – to create the As Meek’s gear evolved, so did his approach to
impression of space, of things moving in front of you, of recording, which always involved combining multiple Bonus content online!!!
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a picture of parts of the moon.” tracks in various ways. In November of 1962, he


16/Tape Op#100/Mr. Meek/(Fin.)
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“One Hundred Issues, “I spent so much time in all these different studios, and
they had problems. They would deceive you into thinking you

One Hundred Quotes” had really good sound when you didn’t. It was before every
studio had Yamaha NS-10s; you’d just have these huge
compiled by Larry Crane custom monitors, or you had Auratones. I remember at the
Record Plant [L.A.] we would listen on these huge monitors.
In late 2005 we celebrated the 50th Tape Op with an end page of “Fifty Issues, Fifty The engineer would just crank it and it was like, ‘Yeah, it
Quotes,” featuring one quote from every Tape Op up to that point. And here we are at sounds great!’ But then later you’d listen to it and say, ‘Jeez,
Tape Op number 100, so I decided to revisit this idea. I tried to recall certain concepts,
thoughts, and stories that have resonated with me over the years from various 1 it doesn’t sound so great.’”
-Greg Freeman
interviews. Enjoy this stroll through 18 years of Tape Op, as well as a deep pool of Spring 1996
Cover art:
recording wisdom and life experiences. Toni Smith

“We didn’t really know, when we first started recording on “There have been some people where I thought there were
4-track, that you couldn’t make something sound as good as things that I really wanted to help alter, or obliterate, from
a recording studio. We knew The Beatles recorded on a 4- their previous album. If I find out that they think they got it
track; therefore, why couldn’t we? We’re not just a rock band. right, or they’re not interested in what I’m doing, I’ll say,
We’re producers and we want to be engineers. It’s part of the ‘Great, there isn’t anything to talk about. You just keep doing
writing of songs for us. We’re gonna keep doing it, and get your stupid records.”
better and better.” -Steve Fisk
-Robert Schneider/
The Apples in Stereo
2 3
Summer 1996 Fall 1996
Cover art: Cover art:

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Toni Smith Toni Smith

“[The recording] was really noisy. I kind of liked it. That “We had to use the inserts as tape sends, and rely
was the way it had to be. Then you stop worrying whether you exclusively on the quality of the source signal and mic
placement. It’s never bad to know how to get a good sound

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should have made this decision or that about how things
sounded, and just get down to the business of making songs.” from your amplifiers, drums, etc. Much of the equipment in
-Elliott Smith our system was actually pretty shitty, but we made the most
of it.” -Brian McTear
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4 5
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Winter 1997 Spring 1997
Cover art: Cover art:
Toni Smith Toni Smith
ot

“When I started a band I wanted to make big, good- “I got the 4-track. I would record things and think, ‘That
sounding rock music. It was never a conscious effort to say, doesn’t sound anything near to what things I like sound like.’
‘Let’s be lo-fi.’ We just retreated to the basement because of That leads to having to read about the different types of gear,
negative feedback. ‘We’ll just do it ourselves, for ourselves, and what different things do. It’s been this ongoing quest to
@h

and fuck it all.’” make records that I would want to listen to.”
-Robert Pollard/ -Jason Lytle/
Guided by Voices Grandaddy
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6 7
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Summer 1997 Fall 1997


Cover art: Cover art:
Sean Tejaratchi Sean Tejaratchi
ny

“When I’m making a record and recording the very first “With making records, whether you admit it or not, you only
instrument, I’m thinking about the proscenium effect that I have so much energy per project. When we start a project, a
want this instrument to have. I’m thinking about where it band usually wants to record 15 or 20 songs. That’s a great idea.
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wants to be in the song, where it needs to be in the mix, so They say, ‘Then we’ll pick the best ones and put them on the
that I don’t have to artificially put it there. You try to get the record.’ Great on paper, but the problem is if you only have a
right mic, but many of my favorite sounds are because they certain amount of energy per project it becomes simple
took the treble control, turned it up twice, and ran it through mathematics. Technically we’re not gonna compromise, but
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another one.” there is still a finite amount of energy.”


-Don Dixon
8 9 -Rob Schnapf &
Tom Rothrock
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Winter 1998 Spring 1998


Cover art: Cover art:
Sean Tejaratchi Sean Tejaratchi
“If the project engages my imagination, and I have some “You have the songs in your head. They all morph
good ideas, then it’s something I would want to do. themselves into different shapes. Sometimes I can’t remember
Sometimes I simply can’t hear anything except what’s there, where they got started. Different pieces will cram into each
and then I’ll say, ‘You’re wasting your time and money.’ That other. But I’m constantly writing; there are constantly words
would be more like a job; I can’t find my way into it. It’s that come into my head that sit there a while.”
really good, but it’s not the right thing for me.”groove. They
don’t have perfect time, but they groove.”
-Jeff Mangum/
-Mitchell Froom Neutral Milk Hotel
10 11
Summer 1998 Winter 1999
Cover art: Cover photo:
Sean Tejaratchi John Baccigaluppi

“Usually it’s: write the songs, play them live, drive around, “I get so frustrated with drum sounds. I hate snare drums.
do gigs, drink beer, go in the studio for a week, and make a I just can’t ever get a snare drum sound that I like; but then I
record. I think it was making the live record that made me realized there aren’t really that many records that have a snare
realize that the songs sound much more like themselves drum sound that I like. I don’t know how anyone else does it
onstage. The songs that turned up on the live record probably either. You always end up coming back to a [Shure SM]57
sound totally different from the way they were recorded in pointing at the damn thing. I tear my hair out trying all kinds
the studio. But the studio was just a fluke! It was what that of shit. I keep coming back to the stupid 57 on the snare
song sounded like, at that moment, in that studio. The songs again, and it sounds the same way it always does. I don’t have
onstage are more indigenous; that’s where they live.”
-Ani DiFranco 12 13 the time to experiment sometimes. People can’t sit around
there waiting for me to spend three hours on a snare drum.”
Spring 1999
Cover art:
Summer 1999
Cover art:
-Jack Endino

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John Baccigaluppi Brian Shevlin

“I hated having the three digital reverbs on the snare drum, “I’m working on a part for a new CD where Tick is talking to
and all that goofball stuff. Somewhere in the mid-‘80s, after the Tock inside of a clock. So we created a tick-tock fugue by slowing
those sounds down. That’s an old technique that started out with

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LinnDrum became this staple where every record had some kind of
drum machine incorporated into it, I started noticing that when musique concrète. You can do it so much better now because you
people heard anything that had a drummer with real time – or don’t lose quality digitally. With analog tape, you used to wind up
choruses moved and versus dipped – that people were physically with all kinds of surface noise. Years ago Ampex came out with a
uncomfortable listening to it. They’d gotten so programmed to
listening to these beats where everything was quantized.
il tape that developed traction, so we have some tapes that scrape
off and catch on the heads when you play them now. It becomes
Physically they couldn’t dance to it on a dance floor. That’s kind
of sad. Even if you go back to all those ‘70s disco records, they 14 15 like glue. You have to warm them up in a convection oven. But
even then, you can only play them once. Of course, that’s sort of
ma
groove. They don’t have perfect time, but they groove.” Fall 1999 Winter 2000 what happens to language. Sanskrit is on the way out.”
-Joe Chiccarelli Cover art:
Brian Shevlin
Cover art:
Brian Shevlin -Ken Nordine
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“I’m very conscious of environment, and I’m always “Most of the projects I work on are ‘studio projects.’ We’re
working to make it better. Either purposefully making it not sure what it’s going to be until it’s done. We put things
comfortable, or uncomfortable, to the point of tricking down one by one, then sometimes do it all over again
musicians into doing stuff that they actually want. because minds tend to change so much. Or, you get to the
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Sometimes it’s technical tricks. Someone could be singing, point where you realize what you should have done, and you
and I can sense that they are right at the point where their start over and keep going and going. Even the simplest
voice will break. If I think they can get the pitch, then maybe things I do now tend to be 48 tracks.”
-Dave Fridmann
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I’ll change the pitch of the tape a hair, without telling them.
They won’t sense it, but then they will be able to sing it.”
16 17
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-Jim O’Rourke
March/April 2000 May/June 2000
Cover art: Cover art:
Brian Shevlin Brian Shevlin
ny

“The only reason that people get work and are working on “The engineer’s job is to record every note as well as they
records is because somebody has heard a record that you’ve can possibly do it. The producer’s job is to finish [the project]
done something on and they want to pull off a little of that. and basically steal it from the artist, because there’s no artist
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There’s no other secret that is being withheld. People are on earth who wants to give it up. Because once they give it
going to hear some tracks that you’ve done and say, ‘I think up, it’s not theirs anymore. You can’t even blame them. I
that’s cool; I want to work with that guy.’ And it’s not always myself, as an artist – I stand at the microphone and I don’t
the thing that you think. It’s going to be the B-side, or want to give it up. Paul Westerberg looked me in the face and
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something that was never released. That’s the reality of it.” said, ‘I’m not going to give you 100% because you don’t
-Jon Brion 18 19 deserve it.’ So I had to steal everything I got from him. That’s
the producer’s job. It is a nefarious craft, and when it’s
happening to you, you don’t know it.”
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July/August 2000 Sept/Oct 2000


Cover art:
Brian Shevlin
Cover art:
Brian Shevlin -Jim Dickinson
“I actually have a degree in computer music. When I was doing “Nashville went through this period where everybody had
that, I had enough experience recording music that I got to go to have Monster Cable. It was this gigantic, thick fucking cable,
on the road as a recording engineer with some really famous and it was a nightmare. A couple of engineers in town got
people, like Yo-Yo Ma. It was a big change of pace from all the endorsements, so I would have to rewire the whole fucking
rock that I’d been doing up to that point, and I got to hang out studio with it. I got so tired of doing that shit that I would
with all these classical engineers and musicians. I learned a lot, just throw the cable on the ground and make it look like I had
because the techniques they were using were nothing like the rewired it. They would see the Monster Cable and go, ‘Oh boy,
techniques I was using for rock. Lots of omnidirectional mics. You listen to that sound. Man, that Monster Cable is really kicking
do pick up a lot more of the room, but you also don’t get
proximity effect. You can take an omni and stick it right up into 20 21 hard.’ And I would just have it lying there looking like it was
patched in, watching them make idiots of themselves.”
the bridge of a violin, and you won’t get this boomy sound.” Nov/Dec 2000 Jan/Feb 2001 -Mark Nevers
-Andy Hong Cover art:
Brian Shevlin
Cover art:
Ron Liberti

“I’d love some tube compression, but I don’t know how to “I suppose we [Tortoise] felt that we had gotten past the
use compression anyway. I’ve got no idea. Every time I record – confines of simply playing instruments together in a room and
which is very much a hobby, and I don’t get much time to do it documenting it. It was really exciting that all of these resources
– I have to re-learn how to use the bloody desk. I still haven’t (in the studio) could be used in a totally creative capacity. It
figured out how to use auxiliary sends. I have no idea what that shed a new light on everything. People’s attitudes and
stuff does. [Instead] I go in through the echo and I re-patch it conceptions of what’s possible when you make a record are very
every time, for every instrument. I haven’t got any effects in different than they were ten years ago. It’s understood when
stereo – I haven’t figured out how to do that. It’s brainless and you go into the studio that there is always a potential aspect
hopeless. That’s why the new album sounds like shit.”

-Chris Knox 22 23 of the production that may involve a certain amount of


‘something’ above and beyond the actual setting up of mics and
‘straight’ recording.”
March/April 2001 May/June 2001
Cover art: Cover photo:
-John McEntire

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Chris Knox Danny Murphy

“I was trained as a concert pianist, but then I gave up “I try to get one definitive mix. I definitely do involve the artist. I
because I realized the futility of that venture pretty quickly. believe that there are a lot of little decisions during mixing that are not
necessarily right or wrong, they’re personal preference. If the artist is

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I didn’t want to practice. I started to listen to jazz as a 14-
year old, and then rock ‘n’ roll as a 16-year-old. I left South aware, and is on top of what is on the tape and how it all works
Africa in 1960 and got to England. I was always into fiddling together, that is very useful to me. I also like to know the setup that
with knobs and electronics, and with trying to make things they have in mind. Like, ‘You really need to hear this guitar,’ or whether
sound better. I guess, after about a year and a half working
as a messenger boy in London, I figured out what I wanted
il not to worry about it so much. Sometimes it’s one person – sometimes
it’s the entire group. Other times it’s the producer alone, or the producer
to do. I became an engineer by just pestering a couple of the
new studios that were up and running.” 24 25 with one of the band members. I do spend a fair amount of time
working with it myself after having talked to the artists. I get the
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-Eddie Kramer July/Aug 2001 Sept/Oct 2001 material to a point where I feel it’s rocking and then they’ll listen to it.”
Cover art:
Jay Howell
Cover art:
Jim Ward Morris -Andy Wallace
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“That was the basic rule we laid down in the studio. ‘Don’t do “It’s not rocket science. Just trust your ears. You can hear
anything, unless we ask you; or if you want to do something, ask as well as anyone else what sounds good and what doesn’t.
us first.’ I’ve pretty much always done all the hands-on EQ’ing and Given the chance to listen to all these different things, you can
mic’ing. Nine times out of ten, with guitars, I’d just wind up doing tell why people like Neves better than SSLs. It’s not that hard
@h

it my own way. People were always into ambience and I was really to figure it out, if you hear them both in front of you – it’s
trying to get a very upfront sound, mainly because the sounds I was pretty obvious what sounds better. And don’t get intimidated
using were so non-upfront that you needed the most upfront by stupid engineers, ‘cause it’s not like their ears are better
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possible sounds to make them not sound like it’s just a load of weird than yours. Just trust that you know what you want.”
distant-effects. I’d spend hours trying to get the sound as clean and
26 27 -J Mascis
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dry as possible. You know, people just let me do it myself ‘cause they
wouldn’t have a clue, really, as to what I was trying to get.” Nov/Dec 2001 Jan/Feb 2002
-Kevin Shields Cover art:
John Conley
Cover art:
Tim Tinker
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“It is making people feel important and loved. I have seen “If I used the same mic techniques on the same instrument in
many people that have my job [that] are so insecure – a better-sounding room and get an amazing sound, I know that it’s
because they don’t want somebody trying to steal their show. not some special magic box. The room is how they get the sound,
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This is about dealing with people. People are so caught up on in that case. Sometimes you find the sound is not as cool. The more
specs and their own ego that they totally lose track. I am I work at other studios, the more confident I am that the sounds I
hired and the band is my client, and I have to work for that get are going to translate to the outside world. If you only work at
band. I am actually working with human beings that have one place, you might know that your room is too bass-y, so you mix
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feelings. Let it come naturally.” with less bass. But the more I work at other places, the more I
-Garth Richardson
28 29 understand the subtleties of what frequencies are wanted, and which
are not. I think it’s more important to have the proper amount of
time to make a recording than it is having the right equipment.”
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March/April 2002 May/June 2003


Cover art:
J. Dragonetti
Cover art:
Bruce Licher -Tucker Martine
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“When I was assisting for Geoff [Daking] I thought, ‘I’m “At the time of working on [KISS’] Destroyer, everyone was
never going to be an engineer, because I don’t have the kind cooperating and trying their very best. Certainly there were varying
of outgoing personality to keep a whole room of people levels of proficiency on their instruments amongst the four players,
entertained like that.’ He’s got that really big personality. I but everybody wanted to succeed. We worked really, really, really hard
thought, ‘I can sit here and move the knobs, but I can’t keep in rehearsal on that album to make sure that not only did we come
all these people happy.’ I realized later that there are some up with interesting parts, but that the band was capable of playing
people that want to be entertaining the room themselves, them well. So contrary to the urban myth that there were a lot of
and they don’t need any competition from the engineer. session players on that album, the band played virtually everything.
There’s someone for everyone. There’s a wide spectrum of
personalities that get matched up with different personalities
of producers and artists.”
30 31 I think that the band should get some recognition for that, because
I think when you listen to things like ‘Detroit Rock City,’ you hear
some powerful, confident musicians playing really interesting parts.”
July/Aug 2002 Sept/Oct 2002
-Leanne Ungar Cover art:
Matt Hummel
Cover art:
Elliot Earls -Bob Ezrin
“My idea for a studio is getting an atmosphere where people “Have you heard that Bottom record that I did? [Feels so Good When
will feel like they are going to be able to be creative, as well as You’re Gone] It came out sounding really good, but it was a struggle to
to try to create a situation that is really different from what make. Sina, the singer, got really ill. She was able to pull off her vocals –
people may have experienced in a studio. We don’t have a clock which are amazing – even though she had the flu and was leaving the
anywhere in the studio, and part of [it] is that no one’s paying. room every five minutes to puke. When I put that on I feel and hear what
Everyone who records here, pretty much it’s for K Records. I was going on at that time. I’ve gotten feedback from people who said
think when you go into a real studio it’s so enclosed and they could feel the anger and emotion from it. It’s the highest compliment
encased, and there’s this feeling like, ‘Okay, we got to get in – not just to me, but to the band too. Their feelings got put across on
here, and we gotta do it!’ I think there’s a little bit of an
adrenaline rush that might be helpful, but I think, a lot of
times, there’s a stress level that gets people off edge.”
32 33 tape, and it’s not an easy thing to do. That’s why I do this – because
every once in a while you pull that off – all the emotion going through
all the cables, and mics going through to tape – that’s fulfillment to me.”
Nov/Dec 2002 Jan/Feb 2003
-Calvin Johnson Cover art: Cover art:
-Billy Anderson

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Kevin Ryan Kevin Ryan

“That is my goal – to keep the old traditional songs alive, “Sometimes I might just have a simple bass line idea, and
because in the current marketplace they are in danger of I don’t play very well, but I’ll just do that. Then I’ll build a drum
track around that. Even though a lot of people say you should

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getting lost. It’s the same problem that was happening in the
‘30s when the Lomax’s went out to do the field recordings. start with the drum track first, a lot of times I don’t. Or I’ll have
There is a quote from Theodore Roosevelt saying that there is people come play around this one musical idea I have.
a chance of these old folk songs getting lost because of music Sometimes that might be a sample, or a few samples chopped
hall songs. Of course music hall songs have been lost now; but
the old folk songs are still around, so it was kind of ironic.”
il up in a certain way. Sometimes it’s just something real simple
that I play and I’m like, ‘Okay, can you hook this up for me?”
-Roger McGuinn
34 35 -Boots Riley
ma
March/April 2003 May/June 2003
Cover art: Cover art:
Keith Andrew Shore John Gill
ot

“Naturally, I want to get the best performance. But if I “I think some of the functions in the studio should be regarded
have to go in and edit, I am not afraid of doing it, nor am I as public functions. Knowing what the arrangement of the song is –
morally opposed to it. But I don’t like to rely on it. that should be made public. The clock positions of your recording
Sometimes I have relied on it a bit too much, just to keep it system should also be made public so that the people in the room
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moving along. I don’t want to have to keep overdoing it.” can educate themselves as the work is progressing. For example, if
-Mark Trombino the guitar player hears a point in the song where he feels he wants
to do a repair, or have a point to come back to, it’s nice for that
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person to be able to say, ‘Could we go to 2:37 please?’ It’s helpful so

36 37 the engineer knows what he’s talking about. With the wonderful
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advantages of modern day technology, one of the things that has not
July/Aug 2003 Sept/Oct 2003 improved seemingly is exactly that – the communication system.”
Cover art:
Peggy Cole
Cover photo:
Malcolm Burn -Daniel Lanois
ny

“I’ve never decided to have a home studio – I gradually “When I came along they had just started putting the
built one up. Without a recording studio, my life would be engineer’s name on album covers. Because of Sgt. Pepper’s...
very awkward. I also use outside studios for drums and such. the general public realized there was a lot of hocus-pocus
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I realize they don’t have all these instruments whenever I go that went on in the studio and it validated that part of the
to other people’s studios! If I’m going to change one profession. You got your name on the record, and you didn’t
instrument’s part, I’d have to go home and get it.” have to ask. But I used to like to get my picture on, too, if
-Stephin Merritt possible. That’s how awful I was back then!”
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-Andy Johns
38 39
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Nov/Dec 2003 Jan/Feb 2004


Cover photo: Cover art:
J. Blackford Don Barnett
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“What sent them down here was because somebody else “I made my own way of making electronic music in the
had made a hit that made some money, so they were gonna try late ‘50s and early ‘60s using test equipment – oscillators,
to do that too. They didn’t care what it sounded like. ‘The New patchbays, and tape recorders. While everybody else was
Orleans Sound?’ There’s no such thing. It’s the musicians, the cutting and splicing I was finding a way to improvise with the
atmosphere. To be perfectly honest, and I say it all the time, a electronics, using ‘difference tones’ between oscillators.
lot of good musicians made me look good. Seriously. The best Setting oscillators above the range of hearing, as well as using
engineer in the world can’t make a bad musician sound good. the different tones between the oscillators in a tape delay
Nobody goes into the studio to make B-sides, right?” system, caused a lot of beat frequencies with the bias of the
-Cosimo Matassa 40 41 tape recorder. That’s how I made my early electronic music.”
-Pauline Oliveros
March/April 2004 May/June 2004
Cover art: Cover photo:
Siege Jodi Shapiro

“I’m really not that fussy – I think it’s more important to “Before my parents built the house in Hackensack [New
make the best use of what you have. I don’t like to walk into Jersey], I was boring holes in the walls of our old house for the
a studio, lay down the law, and say, ‘I must have this, cables to go through. But when they built the house on Prospect
otherwise I cannot continue with the session.’ I’m not like that. Avenue in Hackensack, the control room was incorporated into
I prefer to be more, ‘What have you got? Let’s see what we can the design of the house. They knew how involved I was, and
do with that.’ I hate spending inordinate amounts of time just incorporated that into the home they designed. It was a large
playing with a sound, trying different pieces of equipment, and living room, a fairly high ceiling, and there was an alcove in one
different mics and that stuff. Let’s get the job done. Let’s make wall, as well as a hallway going toward the bedrooms and other
a record. The whole process of recording is one big experiment
in itself.”
-Alan Parsons 42 43 rooms. It turned out that musicians were very comfortable
playing there. Even today when I meet someone who played
there, they say they have good memories of it.”
July/Aug 2004 Sept/Oct 2004
Cover art: Cover art:
-Rudy Van Gelder

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Aye Jay Tim White

“TONTO [The Original New Timbral Orchestra synthesizer] “Nobody up to that time was playing what I was hearing
will always be a work in progress! It was designed to be able on the bass, like little Latin-type of rock ‘n’ roll figures. They
used me a lot, especially that pick sound. They wanted a real

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to incorporate whatever came down the line. I did not
anticipate rack equipment that was deeper than nine inches. clicky sound at first, but I said, ‘No, no. It’s got to have a real
I did not anticipate not needing control surface – voltage bass sound.’ But some people still wanted that treble sound,
control and analog synthesis require large panel areas. The so on certain dates, like with the Beach Boys, I got a lot more
amount of electronics behind there is incredibly small
compared to the amount of panel space you need to access it
il high-end, because that’s what Brian Wilson wanted. With
Mission: Impossible, I had the low-end and the high-end, and
– that’s why it’s the shape it is. There are a lot of things you
have to control, see, and reach without stretching!” 44 45 I really punched it hard.”
-Carol Kaye
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-Malcolm Cecil Nov/Dec 2004
Cover art:
Jan/Feb 2005
Cover art:
Micah Young Aaron Burtch
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“I saw a group called the New York Dolls, and the idea hit “Many people make a studio a certain way, because that’s
me that what was going to be important in the coming days the way they think it’s supposed to be. They read as many
was not so much musical virtuosity, but a new kind of thing magazines as they can, and try and get as much gear as
where ideas mattered. I thought of the friends I grew up with everyone else. They try to make it look how their clients think
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in my hometown of Forest Hills, Queens. I thought those guys it is supposed to look. Essentially, they’re trying to conform.
would make a great group. They could play as good as the Dolls, There are so many studios that are physically impressive. They
and they were very colorful people. So I got in touch with them look like a cross between a space ship and an operating room.
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and eventually got them to put a band together, which was the They have a black leather couch and so forth. They might be
Ramones. I was originally their manager, but I ended up playing
46 47 impressive places for a photograph, or they might be impressive
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the drums as we had trouble finding anyone capable of picking to an advertising agency client, but they are mostly not very
up the style of drumming that we needed.” March/April 2005 May/June 2005 pleasant or conducive places to make music.”
-Tom Erdelyi Cover art:
John Baccigaluppi
Cover art:
Devendra Banhart -Mark Rubel
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“I did a record a few years ago, which I didn’t mix – a very famous “I think my passion for music is all encompassing, from an
mixer mixed it. He hated what I did, he was complaining constantly engineering standpoint and as a player. I owe so much to so many
about the engineering. When I got the mixes back they were just people [for] my education, which is still ongoing. I’ll do any job.
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horrible. Anyway, they were used. We were trying to make two different I was Daniel Lanois’ roadie for a while. I’ll carry his guitars around,
types of records. Often A&R guys say, ‘He’s had a few hits. He’s great.’ He just to stand at the side of the stage and watch him perform –
does lots of pop stuff, this guy, but he’s probably used to programmed incredible performer. I was very lucky to make three albums, and
drummers. What he did, for me, was squeeze the life out of everything. tour, with Emmylou [Harris]. As a musician, it was an incredible
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It was thin and he just didn’t understand. It was an acoustic record. I experience just to be around her and Malcolm [Burn]. Her ethic
wanted to have the sound of the room on everything. That was the way
it was meant to be. The band has always said they much prefer the way
the rough mixes sound. He’s a brilliant, brilliant mixer; but not for that.”
48 49 is impeccable, her discipline – she’s an extraordinary artist and a
great writer too. I’ve been really, really lucky to have people be
patient with me and teach me from a very young age.”
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July/Aug 2005 Sept/Oct 2005


-Victor Van Vugt Cover art:
Peter Kane
Cover art:
John Baccigaluppi -Ethan Johns
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“First of all, working with good and bad producers is a very “The minute somebody messed up you’d have to start all over
important experience. At that time, for me, I realized that the again, every time we had to do a mix. When it gets to 3 or 4 a.m. –
strength for an engineer was to be the translator. Creed Taylor and we’d been in the studio for three, four, five days – your reflexes
would give me tons of room. I think he was uncomfortable and responses get a little slow! We would be doing something over
saying, ‘I don’t like what’s being played.’ So he’d send me out 40 times. We would get a whole thing, and then someone would
to Jimmy Smith, Wes Montgomery, Kai Winding, or J.J. bring in a part a little late. We didn’t use any sequencing in those
Johnson – all of those folks that he let me talk to on his records – maybe a kick, snare, and hat. But not all the way through
behalf. I learned a lot from him. The mere fact that he would a song like people do today, which I consider to be kinda lazy. We
sit there quietly, possibly not saying anything – I was given
the responsibility to go out there and say it for him.” 50 51 would record for five minutes, go back, erase where we wanted to
change the beat and have to catch it so it lined up in the spaces –
-Phil Ramone Nov/Dec 2005 Jan/Feb 2006 the alternating beats. All of the sample parts were played by hand.”
Cover photo:
John Baccigaluppi
Cover art:
Mt.St.Mtn. -Hank Shocklee
“The great thing for me was having worked with The Beatles “You’ve got to be crazy to own a studio, because you’ve
for so long as a second [engineer], there was enough of a got to deal with getting paid, expensive equipment that
relationship there that even though the first day was a breaks all the time, and musicians that are coming by and
complete write-off they were willing to continue with me. Plus, peeing on your rug or whatever. But since I started doing it,
they probably knew that no one else wanted to work with it’s great. I can really be so much more flexible in the way I
them. The old timers were used to the 10 to 1, 2:30 to 5:30, make albums. I should’ve done this years ago.”
7 to 10, which The Beatles completely changed. Secondly, they
could be assholes. Tell me an artist of that stature that, at
-Alex Newport
some point, isn’t an asshole. Certainly they could be very
boring. They sometimes took a long time to complete things,
and the old timers were used to doing an album in a day.”
52 53
March/April 2006 May/June 2006
-Ken Scott Cover art: Cover art:

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Thomas Campbell Dave Rainey

“For me, the scariest thing about the ‘hit-making machine’ was “They [The Police] wouldn’t be in the same room together.
the expectation that every new work was supposed to be not Sting would go skiing in the morning. Stewart [Copeland] would
come in and say, ‘Right, I want to overdub a hi-hat on that song.’

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only bigger, but much bigger than the last one. The people
surrounding Earth, Wind & Fire had that… Maurice [White] Then Sting would come in the afternoon to sing or something and
sitting down with me – we’re about to start new tracks – and he Stewart would go off skiing. We’d have a conversation like this:
says, ‘Now this one’s going to be really big!’ I’ve already risked ‘So, what did you do this morning? What’s that fucking hi-hat
my marriage. I’ve stayed away from home for a year, and I’ve
already done everything I can do. And he sits there and says,
il doing in there?’ ‘Yeah, but don’t you think we should discuss it
with Stewart?’ ‘No! Get rid of that hi-hat!’ And he’d stand by the
‘That one wasn’t shit. Now this one is really gonna be big!’ And
then he starts out with the same old ‘boom, chak, ka-boom 54 55 machine and say, ‘Right. Put it into record. I want to see you hit
the record button now.’ Here goes the hi-hat. Then Stewart would
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boom, chak…’ I had to get out of there.” July/Aug 2006 Sept/Oct 2006 come in the next day and say, ‘Where’s my fucking hi-hat gone?’”
-George Massenburg Cover art:
Jason Malmberg
Cover art:
Luke J. Cavagnac -Hugh Padgham
ot

“Well, the first mix engineer got fired because he would “I made great sounding punk records. Some I produced,
do things like set up a mic and go back in the control room – some I just engineered. But I never wanted to be an engineer.
which was, like, a 50-foot walk. He’d have me play some I engineered because I wanted to produce and I didn’t want
guitar; then he’d come out and move the mic a half an inch to hire an engineer. I hear it all in my head and I know I can
@h

on the speaker cone. Then he’d go back, and come back, go figure out how to make it sound.”
back and come back, and so on. It was eight hours to do a -Sally Browder
part. I had the time then, so it wasn’t that. But it was so
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incredibly ridiculous; I could’ve done it myself in my


underwear and it would’ve been better.”
56 57
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-Richard Lloyd
Nov/Dec 2006 Jan/Feb 2007
Cover photos: Cover art:
Brian Charles John Baccigaluppi
ny

“There’s only so much you can show or tell somebody, and “We’re just trying to be tasteful and trying to make the
then you’ve got to give them a chance to actually do it. So, if kind of records that sound good and feel good. If they sound
they’re in there doing it, not experimenting on your paying old, that’s great – I dig old records. It’s just hard not to read
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clients but they’re experimenting on themselves, that’s a little more into it than that and try to put some kind of politics
better venue for their experimentation. It’s the only way behind it. But the truth is we dig old records, so we’re going
anybody is ever going to learn. Recording schools are great; to try to make old records.”
I’d wish they’d had them in the ‘60s. It would’ve made it easier
-Gabriel Roth/
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for me to learn in an organized program. But there’s only so


Daptone Records
much hands-on, practical experience that you can get in that
kind of a setting.” 58 59
-John Fry
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March/April 2007 May/June 2007


Cover photo: Cover art:
Chris George Ross Garcia
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“That is one of the problems I have with a lot of “I started asking questions, as well as reading books and
contemporary recording. You don’t feel like it is taking place in magazines. I noticed that the whole approach to recording in
a room. It’s taking place in cyberspace, or in an electronic the ‘60s and the early ‘70s was far superior to the approach
environment – close mic’ing in a dead space. If you want now – both in terms of fast execution, producing results, being
atmosphere, you dial it up. I keep quoting these two examples, able to make a record quickly, and being able to come out with
but I think they’re good examples: Buena Vista Social Club and a good sounding record. At least in rock music. Electronic
Norah Jones – they really sound as though they’ve been made music is the only thing that’s flourished in the digital age.”
in a space. I don’t personally think they would’ve been that
-John Frusciante
successful if they hadn’t sounded like that.”
-Joe Boyd 60 61
July/Aug 2007 Sept/Oct 2007
Cover art: Cover photo:
Scott McChane Sarah Simon

“I had called CBS when we got here from England and said, “You don’t have to be in L.A. to do records anymore,
‘Whatever you do, you have to arrange a recording session at Sun because of the ability to upload large files to FTP sites. The
Studios. We have two days. You have got to get Sam Phillips.’ We client doesn’t even have to come to the session. They can
worshipped him. The sound in the studio! We got there at six in the send you files wherever you’re at. I think you do have to have
morning and we tried to find Sam – who had gone off fishing. We yourself established somehow, but I would recommend taking
didn’t find him until midnight that night – we spent 18 hours. At advantage of places outside of metropolitan areas because
midnight he comes back totally drunk out of his mind with a fishing you can get the property so much cheaper. You can actually
rod. He said, ‘I’m not an engineer any more. I don’t want to engineer have decent recording rooms.”
no Limey bands!’ It was only because I had $600 dollars cash in my
pocket that he decided to open up the studio at midnight. But when
he heard The Yardbirds tune up, he couldn’t believe it.”
62 63 -Sylvia Massy
Nov/Dec 2007 Jan/Feb 2008
-Giorgio Gomelsky Cover art: Cover art:

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Laura Edmiston Scott McChane

“I think one of the great losses is that when people began “I very wisely hired a band full of producers and got a bunch
getting home studios – especially with the advent of Pro Tools of free production. I had T Bone Burnett on bass – normally
people don’t call him to play bass – and Jon Brion playing

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– and started making records in their living room, or garage,
or wherever – it separated people. They weren’t all thrown guitar and organ. And I just sort of sat back and let them
together like we were when we all worked in studios together. produce it for me without them thinking – because they can’t
Not only was there a lot of recording knowledge that traded help it. That’s my insider’s tip. You ask them to do something
hands, there was a tremendous amount of musical influence
that went both ways. It gave you the opportunity to do all
il that they’re not normally asked to do. They’re all flattered and
think, ‘Cool. Someone appreciates my bass chops.’ And
kinds of things. It’s the kind of basic training you just don’t
get anymore.”
-Bones Howe 64 65 meanwhile you’re getting something that would’ve cost a
million dollars for three hundred dollars.”
ma
March/April 2008
Cover art:
May/June 2008
Cover art:
-E of the Eels
Ryan Lehman John Baccigaluppi
ot

“I got really lucky when Suzanne Vega came here to work. “The restrictions of analog lead to all sorts of wild creativity. There
Butch Vig did Sonic Youth’s Dirty record here. The Ramones did are people who are doing some interesting things, and have been for
Mondo Bizarro with Ed Stasium. In the span of about six some years, in the hip-hop world. Inventive, really fun, interesting
months, I got an incredible stamp of approval from all of these stuff, with the technology. I enjoy that. We can do all that stuff. At
@h

really fabulous artists. I always say, quite frankly, that thanks some point it runs out of interest quickly for me – I feel like I have
to these first major bands and artists, The Magic Shop a job. I much prefer things I can’t control. I greatly admire Jackson
continues to exist today. I think without that run in the early Pollock, for instance, as a painter. And sonically, that’s what we try
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‘90s, this place would have gone out of business. But they to do. Some people really don’t like it. We make living music. If you
came and made records that sound great – even now. Because
66 67 use a computer or a synthesizer, it just gives you a sine wave. It gives
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of those records, I ended up having a business.” you one pure tone, one pure sine wave. If you hit a note on a piano,

-Steve Rosenthal July/Aug 2008 Sept/Oct 2008 it has every other note in the piano, in that note.”
Cover photo:
Brian T. Silak
Cover art:
Ron Cameron -T Bone Burnett
ny

“The most difficult part of recording, I always found, was “The way we record now – we’re too much in a rush.
satisfying the musicians in the room with the cue mix. Talk Nowadays you write a song, ‘Let me get it out. I’m going to
about challenges! Getting a sound with a string section or do it right now.’ It’s so instantaneous that we don’t take the
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recording a bass, a saxophone – I can do that. But when it time to see if something’s there or not. To really hone in and
comes to satisfying a group of musicians with one single cue ask, ‘What is this? What am I trying to say?’ Most people don’t
feed, no one is happy. Eventually technology caught up with listen anymore. It’s a shame. Most people want it to sound
that problem. We had a device, a series of eight-channel good now, but they don’t want it to feel good. Sound is a
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mixers, where we could adjust the levels to the desired mix for byproduct of music making. It’s emotion that we’re being sold
each musician. We called it the ‘More Me’ box. You know, ‘I
can’t hear the drums!’ And he’s the drummer! It was hell.” 68 69 on. They go hand in hand, but songwriting is such an
underrated craft.”
-Robert Carranza
-Joe Tarsia
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Nov/Dec 2008 Jan/Feb 2009


Cover photo: Cover art:
Chris Mara Matt McCord
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“What I started to realize when I was working on Michigan “A lot of producers don’t want to get too involved with
is that it’s really important that the sound I was making was arrangements and the function of bits. That type of
the sound that I wanted. I don’t really believe in technology, conversation is like being in a band. You play your part and
beyond just capturing a pure form that is perfect on its own. people comment. I think you pretty much work out straight
Just write good music and do whatever you want. I really away what’s appropriate, or not.”
don’t think it matters.”
-Andy Gill
-Sufjan Stevens

70 71
March/April 2009 May/June 2009
Cover art: Cover photo:
Clinton Neuerburg Dan Garcia

“I thought it was a bit of a mystery as to what a producer “I lived in a room, in a house on Orange Street, so that I
did. Even now, I think the guys that go in and sit there while could walk to work. My car didn’t work. When I had my first
the engineer makes the record and they bark orders – I don’t four hits, Liberty [Records] said, ‘You gotta be at the office at
get that. That’s for somebody else to do. That’s not what I do. 10 a.m. on Monday morning for a shift.’ They took me out to
I’m an engineer – I record and I produce records. I think, for the parking lot and guys were driving brand new Cadillacs
a long time, you’re an engineer; then you’re comping all the around me. They said, ‘Pick out your gift!’ They put my name
vocals without any input, and then you’re comping all the on it in gold. It was my first new car – a white Cadillac
drums. Then you’re telling them to do it again. I was always convertible. After they got through with the press of telling
doing that – probably to my detriment. I couldn’t keep my
mouth shut.” 72 73 everyone about giving me the car for having all these hits, they
deducted it from my royalty statement. I learned the music
-Tony Doogan July/Aug 2009 Sept/Oct 2009 business quickly!”
Cover art: Cover art:
-Snuff Garrett

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John Conley Matt McCord

“The more time I spend fiddling with stuff, the more the levels “I don’t have a particular thing I personally am going for.
aren't going to be right in the headphones. If people are going What I’m trying to do is translate the vision of the artist. You
work with a new band or producer, and there’s a little period

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to play right, they need to be able to hear themselves. So I
really try and work as fast as I can. I do a lot of pre-production, where you’re finding out how to relate to each other, and what
in terms of figuring out what mics I'm going to use, what each other wants. I find, after a while, there gets to be almost
preamps I'm going to use, and how the room is drawn out. a telepathic musical connection. I’m not in service to the
When people come in to listen to their performance, I don't
want to be sitting at the console fiddling around. I want them
il artist – well, I am; but what I’m really in service to is the
music. To me, music is a sacred thing. It’s the closest thing I
to be able to come in and hear the performances as close as
possible to what they should be – especially when you're 74 75 have to a religion.”
-Oz Fritz
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working with string quartets, or small ensembles like that.” Nov/Dec 2009 Jan/Feb 2010
-Leslie Ann Jones Cover photo:
Marsha Vdovin
Cover art:
Philip Ilatovsky
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“My first studio experience was probably when I was about “If I’m gonna produce somebody, I like to feel [that] we’re
12 or 13 – one of those deals where we won a battle of the not gonna argue forever. We sort of see things similarly. The
bands and got eight free hours of studio time at two in the person needs to trust me, and I need to trust them. [I] just
morning. So the [engineer] wasn’t really too happy about [need to] feel like we’re in accord as far as musical taste,
@h

that. I was kind of interested in it; I had my questions and it pickin’ songs, and stuff. You gotta remember singers are not
was all very new to me. The dude just didn’t want to hear from the smartest people in the world. [chuckles] They’re all ego
a little kid. But I was like, ‘Man, I can do this.’ So I go home. freaks. I like to find the ones who ain’t too big a pain,
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I had a couple of tape decks. I’d record drums onto one, and someone at least to have fun with. Like Tompall Glaser – we
I just [kept] bouncing back and forth. It sounded like shit by
76 77 argued a lot, but we had a lot of fun. Me and Charley Pride
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the end. You couldn’t hear anything over the hiss.” argued a lot, but mostly about material and stuff. But I still
-Alan Evans March/April 2010 May/June 2010 like the guy, even though we used to argue all the time.”
Cover photo:
Neal Casal
Cover photo:
John Baccigaluppi -Cowboy Jack Clement
ny

“I was teaching college and kept getting asked, ‘Why are there “You run out of songs – your catalog is depleted. You start
so few women in this field?’ It didn’t occur to me that there writing in the studio, writing in rehearsal. Or some bands take
weren’t that many women in the field. I was in the middle of it. a long break, where the writers in the group have to woodshed
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I didn’t think about the gender politics of it at all. It happens to and come up with some songs and rehearse them. But I think,
girls when they are young and they continue to move away from with Brian [Eno]’s encouragement, we discovered that we
fields like this. I think young girls have to get over that hump. could improvise stuff in the studio and make a structure out
I’ve found they love it when they’re given access to that of that. You can only do it for certain kinds of music. You
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environment. We’re basically getting women credit on things that aren’t going to come up with that kind of stuff that has really
are recorded here. It’s not just cheap studio time – you have to
use our engineers. There’s no getting around it. The whole point
[of Women’s Audio Mission] is to help women learn engineering.”
78 79 complicated, convoluted, chord changes. You’re not going to
jam on stuff like that. Jazz people might, but we’re not going
to do that. This worked for us.”
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July/Aug 2010 Sept/Oct 2010


-Terri Winston Cover art:
Interval Press
Cover art:
John Conley -David Byrne
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“The future of the industry is that the major labels will “I believe a lot in ‘doctor chance.’ Sometimes you put a
collapse, and the attorneys and all those people will be gone. tape up and whatever the board was – if it wasn’t zeroed out
There will be a few, because there will always be rap and there’ll – you play something and go, ‘That sounds interesting.’ You
be a few [big] things. But when somebody finds out that the might have a teensy EQ’d bass drum and this huge hi-hat. A
company doesn’t control them… They don’t pay them; they run totally weird combination, but you probably could use that for
their debt up, turn down what’s good, put out what’s bad, and something. You can’t really think of it. It’s just obscure. Lots
charge them for everything in the world. They get you caught of things happen that way.”
up for a half a million so they won’t have to pay you, and that’s
-Reinhold Mack
what they do. You’re at the mercy of sitting at a big table,
listening to a bunch of clones watching their president to see
what he’s going to say. It’s a horrible situation.”
80 81
Nov/Dec 2010 Jan/Feb 2011
-Bob Johnston Cover art:
John Baccigaluppi
Cover art:
John Conley

“Anytime I’ve ever had to mix something in Pro Tools where “Everybody liked the tube electronics and the analog gear.
there’s an unlimited opportunity, I just don’t like it. It feels I could never see any real reason to go with all the new stuff.
really uncomfortable to me. It’s just scary. I see other people I didn’t buy every new toy. When I was at Fifth and Bell in
doing it and I don’t like what I see them doing. I don’t like downtown Seattle, there was a studio within a block of me
the plug-ins instead of real tools. It’s so abused. There’s one that was buying every new tool that came out. He ended
great thing about working on tape, and working with the going belly up – losing his business, losing his house and
limitations of tape, as well as real, mechanical tools: you don’t everything else. For what? He had to have every new little
change things easily. It’s even worse in Pro Tools - you’ll fix thing and I don’t see that.”
three other things and then there’s no soul left in it. I’m not
saying it can’t be done. I know people who record and don’t
use plug-ins.”
82 83 -Kearney Barton
March/April 2011 May/June 2011
-Jack White Cover art: Cover photo:

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Francois Chambard Chris Gergley

“It’s not a conscious thing even – you hear something and think, “A new idea had appeared, which was that music could be
‘Oh, I like the way that sounds.’ It’s a new thing and you tend to do a lot like painting instead of being something where you
stood in front of a mic and performed. By the late ‘60s, there’d

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that just because it’s cool. It’s not even conscious. You just put the
thing up and go, ‘Oh, I know what I’ll do.’ There’s not lot that I think I been the history of Phil Spector and, of course, George Martin,
do. It’s funny, because people ask about certain techniques. When I as well as various other people. They were starting to realize
was learning, I would listen to records and then I’d go into the studio that what you did in the studio was painting with sound. You
and invent something. I’d try to come up with something that would
get me the same sort of thing, but maybe change it in some way. Not
il could make a piece over an extended period of time – it didn’t
have to preexist the process; you could make it up as you
necessarily duplicate it, but sort of get that similar thought. That’s a lot
more interesting, because I don’t want my records to sound like other 84 85 went. It stopped being something that was located at one
moment in time.”
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people’s records, and I don’t want others to sound like mine either.” July/Aug 2011 Sept/Oct 2011 -Brian Eno
-Bob Clearmountain Cover art:
Mark Robinson
Cover art:
Genie Balantac
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“I do much more pre-production than I used to do. I rehearse “Everybody is faking it. Pretty much everybody is not as
and rehearse. Not to define a way of doing the song, but to good as you think they are at it. Everyone is constantly afraid
know the song inside out. I work with very good musicians that they’re going to be found out as a fraud. Now I’ve been
nowadays, and they know how I work. I find if I know the song making records long enough that nothing really surprises me.
@h

really well, I can feel very free about changing it, or trying I don’t feel like I’m going to be baffled. I might not
different ways of doing it. And if the band doesn’t know the necessarily get it right the first time, but I’ll have an
song very well, you sometimes stand a chance of finding really approach. I’ll have a way of getting through the problem. It
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fantastic little mistakes. We record everything live, including the wasn’t that way when I first started, but I was lucky enough
vocals. I mean a mistake is a mistake. But the little flaws in the
86 87 to work with peers who would deal with just about anything.”
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playing I think ought to be welcomed, and they can create a


real atmosphere – it becomes more like a jazz recording.”
-Steve Albini
Nov/Dec 2011 Jan/Feb 2012
-Nick Lowe Cover art:
Garr Ugalde
Cover art:
Paul S. Elliott
ny

“I started to wonder why certain records sounded like they did. “Some of the records that I spent months doing back in the ‘80s,
I found out the older records were mostly recorded using a 4-track, you could re-record in two hours now. They wouldn't be the same,
whilst the new records were recorded using 24-track. If I was but they'd be close enough that the average person might not notice.
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going to be recording with my band, I didn’t want to do it on 24- All of that is much easier when you know what you're doing. When
track, so I started looking in the back pages of the music papers you're actually making a record, you don't know what you're doing
for a studio that had a 4-track. I didn’t find any, as they didn’t half the time. I was never afraid to scrap stuff in the ‘80s. That's one
seem to exist anymore. We found an 8-track studio that (looking of the great things about the music business – records certainly can
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back) wasn’t very good. [They were] set up in a garage with no cost a lot of money to make, but it's the cost of time. It's nothing
control room and [it was] pretty bad sounding. This led me to be
more interested in finding out how things worked. I started by
experimenting with old reel-to-reels I’d get at jumble sales.”
88 89 like a movie. If you don't like the movie, you usually can't go back
and re-shoot it. A couple of times I have said, ‘Right. We're going to
start again, because this is not going to do what we want.’”
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March/April 2012 May/June 2012


-Liam Watson Cover art:
Kim Krans
Cover art:
Benjamin Hesse -Trevor Horn
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90 “The act and the art of making the record is always a
positive one. It’s always, ‘Let’s talk about how we can
“There’s a little bit of my mom and dad in everything
I’ve done. They were both musicians, and both well- 91
move this record forward. Let’s see how we can expand our educated and trained. All they wanted me to do was record
artistic horizons. Let’s talk about what this record is about. Let’s music and do it properly. They just wanted to help. I saw early
rehearse so we’re in the ballpark when we go into the studio, but on in my career that [my wife Bea’s] support was going to be
let’s leave enough room for improvisation.’ All of those things are really important to me, so I included her in all my work. I
very important, and it also makes the artist feel like he or she never did a major project without bringing her to the studio.
has a collaborator. If you need me to write with you, I’ll write She’s stayed up all night with Duke Ellington and Count Basie.
with you. If you don’t, that’s fine. Let me see what your lyrics Bea and I traveled with Michael Jackson all over the world.”
are like; maybe I can make a suggestion. You don’t need that?
That’s fine too. Let’s see what the meaning of this is.”
July/Aug 2012
Cover art:
Sept/Oct 2012
Cover art:
-Bruce Swedien
Priska Wenger John Baccigaluppi
-Jack Douglas
92 “I got fed up with touring pretty early on, and the
studio always beckoned to me. I just couldn’t wait to
“I haven’t figured out anything, from day one. You
absorb that and it becomes part of what you do, and 93
get in there again. I used to not get much time in there. I’d you bring that to somebody else. It’s energy. There’s no
write an album in about six weeks or so. Then I’d go in the absolute, definite version of anything. What you’re hearing is
studio and record it all in probably about six weeks as well. a small tape, which was a product of a big tape, which was
Then I’d be back out on tour a couple of weeks after that, done on a certain date, which was intuitive according to the
promoting the thing. I didn’t have a lot of time for second- person that made that decision – not always the artist. But
guessing, or listening to mixes over, and over, and over.” you get it as a fraction of the experience, and it’s the version.
-Jeff Lynne Nov/Dec 2012 Jan/Feb 2013
That version is indefinite, endless.”
Cover art: Dick Hyman’s
Electro Dynamics
Cover art:
Andrew McGranahan -Bill Laswell

94 95

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“You get them set up and then you wait for them to “When you want to talk to the singer, instead of
play. You’d better be ready to hit the record button. talking over the talkback, especially if they’re having
That’s basically how you do it. There’s all this chaos swirling a rough time – you turn off the speakers and go out there. You
about; your goal is to see the bits and pieces of gold nuggets, go into the room and talk to them. You don’t let anyone in the

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grab them, and hold on to them for dear life.” control room hear what you’re saying. It’s your little secret.

-Paul Leary Help them to feel comfortable.”


-Jeff Powell
March/April 2013
Cover art:
John and Scott
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May/June 2013
Cover photo:
Laurel Vaughn

96 97
ma
“I want to slow this process down and bring talking “It’s great to jump around between different
and creativity back into it. With Fleetwood Mac, they projects. But, on the other hand, people aren’t
were all sitting in a room with us and they had no place to go. willing to go through the uncomfortable stage of making a
My daughter [Colbie Caillat] comes in here and is like, ‘I’ve got record where you’re sweating and experiencing enormous
ot

40 minutes to do the vocal. I’ve got to go to another meeting.’ self-doubt. Or when you’re totally immersed and you’d rather
I’d like to say, ‘Could you just listen? Sit down, and talk about run screaming from the room. I love that too. Immersion
the music.’ Pro Tools is great for editing, structuring, and things tends to make the best albums.”
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like that. But slow it down. Just take your time.”


-Damien Taylor
-Ken Caillat 96
July/Aug 2013
Cover art:
Ron Liberti
Sept/Oct 2013
Cover photo:
John Baccigaluppi
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98 “We are force-fed that better studios and better gear “I stopped using analog tape in 2003. I don’t think
99
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is the only way to record records, but I welcome this that my recordings sound any worse. If anything,
change of being stripped down to the essentials: artist, mic, they sound better. I prefer well-recorded digital. I don’t really
and a format to capture sound. Music is made everywhere on give a shit if somebody else has a hard time making
this earth. I’m honored to experience it again and feel those something sound good in the digital realm. That’s their
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emotions, like the first time I plugged a mic in.” problem. Figure it out, or not.”
-Manny Nieto -Brad Wood

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Nov/Dec 2013 Jan/Feb 2014


Cover art: Cover photo:
John Baccigaluppi Jeremey Harris

100 “The future of music, audio, filmmaking, gaming – any creative media construction, from inception, to post-production, to delivery
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– is truly boundless and limited only to our collective imagination.” -John La Grou

Thanks to all the interviewees, writers, transcribers, photographers, and friends that have made all these quotes possible.
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Tape Op would never have been possible without all the support and enthusiasm of everyone involved.
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Please Support Our Advertisers/Tape Op#100/35


month doublings), MIPS-per-dollar since 1950 (22-
month doublings), Internet global backbone bits-per-
second (14-month doublings), Internet data traffic (7-
month doublings), and growth in supercomputer FLOPS
since 1990 (14-month doublings). The list continues
for scores of technologies, (especially!) including audio
engineering technologies.
AUDIO DYNAMIC RANGE INNOVATIONS
FOLLOW A TREND
In the beginning of commercial recorded sound
(1890), we achieved a systemic dynamic range of
around 15 dB (3 bits equivalent). By the 1930s,
vacuum tubes, condenser mics, and electric cutter
heads improved dynamic range to around 35 dB (6
bits). Magnetic tape gave us a 60–70 dB range and
more, especially once technologies like Dolby SR were
available (12 bits). With the advent of commercial
digital recording in the 1970s and ‘80s, early systems
were capable of 90 dB dynamic range (15 bits). Today,
we’re achieving a best-case unweighted systemic
dynamic range of around 110–115 dB (19 bits) – from
concert halls to home playback; but only under
controlled, pristine lab-like conditions (a high-quality
home system playing better-than-average program
material is possibly delivering around 16 bits).

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Looking at technology growth with too narrow a time
frame obscures the long-term trend. For instance, from
1885 through 1925, acoustic dynamic range didn’t

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improve much – it took the breakthrough innovation of
electric recording to significantly improve dynamic range.
This is known as the “nested S-curve,” or “step and wait”
theory of growth. Also, economic incentive drives
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technologies with the greatest economic incentives
improve the fastest. When we “average” (or “smooth”)
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120 years of dynamic range, we see that its growth slope
is predictable. From the beginning of audio recording,
commercial dynamic range has improved by roughly 0.8
dB per year – the equivalent of around one-bit every
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seven years. Thus, we can confidently extend our growth


slope into the future, and expect the trend to continue…
until real-world dynamic range is no longer limited by
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technical or economic factors in audio systems.


TRENDS PREDICT THE FUTURE
We’ve seen how and why technology advances and
how we can confidently predict its growth over time.
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Let’s now turn our attention to the next 40 years. And


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finally, let’s attempt to anticipate the next two


generations of audio engineering. It’s important to
TECHNOLOGY IMPROVEMENTS seven months. From 1980, the CPE of video display recognize that the professional audio market will not
FOLLOW A PREDICTABLE TREND technology has doubled every 18 months. And since be the primary driver of our future tools. The economic
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Fifty years ago, people thought Alan Turing was the early 1950s, magnetic storage bits-per-dollar has engines driving key changes in pro audio will be
crazy. The father of algorithmic computing, Turing doubled every 18 months. Since 1970, power gaming, film, and television, as well as military –
predicted that computers would employ around one consumption per data instruction has halved every 18 combined global revenue of over $500 billion. Pro
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gigabit of storage by the turn of the century. He was months. DNA sequencing cost has halved every ten audio will be the beneficiary of this massive
right. In 1965, Gordon Moore famously speculated that months since 1990 (NEC is now shipping a portable innovation investment – what I call the “first person
the number of transistors on an integrated circuit (IC) crime-scene DNA analyzer that takes just 25 minutes). shooter era” of popular media. Thus, to better
would double every two years. He was right too, if a tad The cost of transistors has halved every 16 months understand the future of audio engineering, we need
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conservative. We’ve since learned that virtually every since 1970. One transistor now costs less than the ink to explore a number of emerging technologies, as well
technology follows a similarly predictable growth slope. for one letter printed in Tape Op. Similar CPE slopes are as their possible futures over the next 40 years. Then
For example: since 1990, the cost-performance seen for dynamic RAM since 1970 (18-month we will converge our exploration into a singular vision
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efficiency (CPE) of wireless devices has doubled every doublings), calculations-per-second since 1950 (24- for audio creation and delivery.

36/Tape Op#100/the Future/(continued on page 38)


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GESTURAL CONTROL We conservatively assume that gesture technology Already, first-generation 3D headphone products such
Remember the big gesture-controlled video screens resolution and accuracy will double every two years. as DTS Headphone X are breaking ground today. Over the
in the film Minority Report? The actual technology would Common gestural devices ($100 at 150 PPI by today’s next decades, popular gaming and entertainment media
have likely cost more than $1 million in 2001. Today, we standards) will boast two orders of magnitude greater will lead the relentless push towards fully immersive audio
have $100 consumer gesture devices that do more than resolution by roughly 2025. Costing only a dollar, with realism – predominantly over headphones.
Tom Cruise could pull off in that film. Samsung 15,000 3D positions per inch, such devices will allow for Full-coverage headphones (not just ear buds) have
televisions respond to hand gestures while you sit on much larger stages of freedom and movement. By exploded into mass consciousness in just the last few
the couch. Hewlett Packard notebooks are currently approximately 2030 to 2035, sophisticated, high- years. This is no accident or fluke, and the trend will
shipping with the Leap Hand Motion Controller. How resolution, free-air gestural control will be a mass- continue to accelerate. Popular culture is becoming
soon will free-air gestural control replace the mouse? produced commodity. Will gesture replace touch screens increasingly conditioned into accepting “cans” as a
When will gestural control become the de facto and mice by 2035? No. But the transition will be well primary method of consuming audio. Jimmy Iovine and
human/machine interface? underway. The next 35 years of human-computer Andre Young (Dr. Dre), the creators of Beats by Dre
Consider this: today a company called Microchip interaction are clearly free-space and gestural. headphones, have arguably done more than anyone else
sells an e-field gestural control chip for about $4. Now let’s move on to 3D virtualization. We need to to position headphones as a generational, cultural, and
That IC comes fully equipped with no fewer than five think systemically with video, audio, and head-motion- global-style statement. Beats is now selling well over $1
A to D converters, flash memory, as well as a powerful tracking all working seamlessly as a single component. billion of consumer audio every year, and has captured
32-bit DSP engine that interprets myriad forms of 3D Let’s start with a look at virtualized audio. (alas, created) over 60% of the above-$100 head-worn
human gestures, flicks, angulars, and symbolics. The SPHERICAL AUDIO audio market. There are now entire stores devoted to
chip has a 3D spatial resolution of 150 positions per Both gaming and film are moving quickly into head-worn audio technology.
inch, and can track at 200 positions per second. At providing a sense of total audio immersion. In real Over the next 20 to 30 years, 3D sound-field
$4 a chip, the migration from physical control to free- acoustic spaces (movie theaters, etc.), we’re seeing the production and design will be one of the biggest growth
air control has begun. Single-finger moves, two- delivery of spherical audio from emerging technologies areas in pro audio. Microphone designers, headphone
finger moves, different kinds of taps and swipes – our like Dolby Atmos, DTS Neo, and Barco Auro. However, makers, audio software engineers, and specialized post-
mobile devices and tablets have trained us well. We these immersive real-space technologies require more production engineers will move from today’s X-dot-X
have become deeply familiar and entirely comfortable (5.1, etc.) paradigm to a seamlessly spherical, object-

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speakers and amplifiers, more expense, and a great deal
with gesture control on hard surfaces. The leap to more work to maintain – things that consumers embrace oriented sound field. If we plot a 3D audio growth chart
free-air is a natural evolution. Early adopters are slowly, if at all. The average consumer has balked at 6 with a two-year doubling projection, today’s $1,000 3D
already replacing their mice and touch interfaces with speakers. Requiring 10, 14, or 22 speakers (and amps) is audio solution will enjoy commodity pricing after 2025

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gesture. How long before free-air gesture becomes a non-starter. Market realities suggest that the primary combined with 100 times improvement in “spatial and
the standard? thrust of 3D audio innovation will occur over headphones. timbral resolution experience” over headphones.

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Conservatively, by 2030 we should realize highly While Google, and others, are defining the mainstream HEAD MOTION TRACKING
realistic immersive audio as part of every low-cost of head-worn gear, I think there’s another kind of device Immersive AV would not be possible if it did not “track”
portable device, gaming console, and home that’s more directly applicable to the future of audio and with natural head movements. When you turn your head, the
entertainment system. And by about 2040, on-ear audio media production: gaming displays. And of all the gaming virtual sound and picture must react like they would in real
should rival, or exceed, the subjective performance of displays now in development, perhaps the Oculus Rift is sensory space. Effective head tracking requires near-zero
today’s best audiophile rooms and room speakers. amongst the most intriguing, with one discrete video latency response, with high spatial resolution in all axes of
Moreover, in a very short time (perhaps 2020?) common display per eye for true 3D (resolution in development is head movement. Gestural control and head tracking
commercial music will be routinely mixed in full 3D 1080p). The Rift has unrestricted head-motion tracking: if technologies share many of the same design attributes, and
immersion, and delivered in an open-source format you turn your head, the scene (both audio and visual) they appear to be maturing at similar rates. Popular head
(most likely a derivative of Atmos or Neo). moves with you in lifelike, immersive realism. Observing motion tracking systems for gaming today cost around $200
VIRTUALIZED VISUALS gamers using the Oculus Rift is like a window into the and offer around 640x480 raw resolution, 100 frames-per-
Virtualized imagery plays a central role in the future of power of new display technology. To see what I mean, second sample rate, and under 10 mS response. Lab-grade
audio production. The future for head-worn visual displays watch the YouTube video: “Oculus Rift Best and Funniest.” units with better resolution and response are also available.
is clear: higher resolution, finer dot pitch, better dynamic What you will see is the most deeply convincing, fully Assuming a two-year doubling in cost-performance
range, lower latency, and, of course, a relentless evolution immersive virtual-reality experience to date. The uncanny efficiency, high-resolution head-motion tracking should reach
towards three-axis immersion as our standard image experiences of Rift reality might even be called commodity status by 2025, offering a large field of use and
format. By now, many of us have seen photos of the “disturbing.” Oculus plans to ship their first commercially near-imperceptible latency. By 2025, IC manufacturers will
Google Glass prototype. Glass is a head-worn computer available product by the time you read this. offer low-cost, second or third-generation silicon head-
with a head-mounted display. Sources claim that Glass will Let’s return to our trend analysis: comprehensive video tracking solutions. And by 2035, ultra-high resolution, low-
be available in 2014 for a street price of around $1,500. display cost-performance efficiency (CPE) since 1980 cost, head-motion tracking will be common on all VR devices.
This is a true paradigm shift. If there were only one shows a doubling roughly every 18 months. Thus, by 2025 CONVERGENCE
takeaway from our brief look into the future, it should the CPE of immersive displays will be at least 100 times Now let’s put all of this technology together. We
be this: we are moving from a hand-held device culture to better – at a commodity entry point. By 2035, immersive begin to see that the era of virtual A/V post-production
a head-worn device culture. It won’t be long before smart visuals will be at least 10,000 times more powerful than is not far off, and in some ways has already begun. Over
today. And by 2050, we can reasonably project that

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mobile computers are designed into small, lightweight, the next three decades, all of the technologies we’ve
head-worn devices not unlike Glass, except increasingly commodity-grade, head-worn virtuality will be nearly just explored will converge into a singular pro audio
more powerful and ubiquitous. Vendors such as indistinguishable from what we see with our own eyes in ecosystem. As this happens the way we record, edit,
Samsung, Olympus, Microsoft, Oakley, Sony, Intel, and real-space. We also know that head displays will be much mix, and master audio will radically change. By 2050,

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Apple – along with easily a dozen startups – are all smaller, and much lighter, perhaps using a technique called
reportedly developing head-worn smart devices. direct projection where images are projected (scanned) Continues on Page 60>>>
directly onto the human retina, one pixel at a time.

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own a bass amp. I’ll go direct on that as usual. I know that and mix. I love the idea that what we do — as producers,
Allen Sides recorded an acoustic bass for his own YouTube test engineers, and facilitators of recording — is capture and
recording, so it can definitely work. document moments in time. Sure, there are always those days
While I don’t use a condenser mic for everything, I had no of take after take, endless editing, band dramas, blah blah
problems recording the bulk of the song with the ST6050. It’s blah; but when that moment happens, and the tape is rolling,
a great all-around mic — much more versatile than others in it is a glorious feeling. You have captured human musical
its price range and even some that cost three times as much. spirit. If we allow for and insist that these unique moments
The only specification that made me raise an eyebrow is the occur and are part of the recording and mixing process, we
17 dBA self-noise. I like to see self-noise come in under transfer an individual’s personality to a fixed medium.
15 dBA, but I can’t say the mic sounded noisy at all, especially Plug-ins are a great convenience and many of them sound
compared to my HVAC unit. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t point just fantastic, but I sure have a lot more fun turning a real
out this one weakness. Enough said. For a street price of a knob to increase the repeats into mayhem territory on an old
penny less than a thousand dollars, the ST6050 can be your analog delay pedal that was meant for guitar and is a tad
reasonably priced, go-to studio mic on vocals, acoustic dusty from sitting lonely on the shelf but is now on the lead

Sterling Audio instruments, percussion, guitar cabs, and anywhere else you’d
use a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic.
vocal. It is the simple integration of analog effects and their
inherent anomalies that add an element of “divine
Sterling ST6050 condenser mic ($999.99 street; www.sterlingaudio.net) intervention” to the process. It makes beautiful the
Sterling Audio teamed up with legendary engineer/producer –Mike Jasper <biz@deceptivesound.com> combination of practiced skills and chance. If you do not own
Allen Sides of Ocean Way Recording to create an affordable
go-to FET condenser mic, the Sterling ST6050. Recently, I was Radial Engineering a vintage Maestro Echoplex, Binson Echorec, or other analog
tape delay, here is an opportunity, at a fraction of the cost,
lucky enough to try out a stereo pair of the large-diaphragm EXTC 500-series to add some of those unrepeatable “magic moments” to your
mic, which features a 1’’ diameter, 8 micron thick, gold guitar effects interface mix using your old Ibanez analog delay pedal, for example.
sputtered capsule; a FET preamp; and an output My wife: “How was your day, Honey?” I have found myself especially drawn to using guitar pedals
transformer — all hand assembled by Sterling Audio with Me: “Oh, it was awesome. I ran the lead vocal of this song for vocal effects — wah as a filter for background vocals, phase
quality control by Mr. Sides. The mic comes packaged in an I’m mixing through a cool fuzz pedal made for bass and an pedal on a shadow vocal double — and “performing” echo and
oak box along with a foam windscreen (something I would analog delay made for guitar and cranked up the repeats until delay effects is of course super fun. The options and odd

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never use, frankly) and a Neumann-looking shockmount. A it went whomp whomp whomp bzzzzzzzzzzzzzringggggggg.” combinations of source and effect are infinite. Did I mention
Certificate of Authenticity bearing the signature of Allen Sides Wife: “How is that different from yesterday?” how beautiful a SansAmp Bass Driver DI pedal sounds on a
is even included with each mic. Me: “Usually, you can’t do this because guitar pedals don’t snare drum or toms? Try your software drum machine through
In an interview with Harmony Central, Sides said he was work with recording gear. Line-level is different from...” a Fuzz Factory and your Whammy pedal. You get the idea.

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looking to create a mic that carried the same sonic impact the Wife: “Uh huh.” Blank stare, slight smile, space drift. “I’m On a recent session for NYC artist Charlene Kaye, I leaned
Neumann U 47 fet carried in its day, but even more so. He also glad you’re excited about it. It sounds neat.” heavily on the Radial EXTC to integrate fuzz and overdrive
wanted each ST6050 to have a consistent sound quality so For the record, my wife is awesome and supportive of me in pedals on vocals and keys. Some of the songs called for a
they could be used as a stereo pair. Finally, he wanted the all ways, but she has no idea how cool it is that I can do this!
price-point of the mic to come in at around $1000 USD. il
Using guitar stompboxes alongside my outboard rack gear
I was curious to see if he succeeded in accomplishing the during mixing? This is just simply good news.
goal of consistent sound quality, so I set up both mics in Like many Tape Op readers, I came to recording and
tough, blown-out vocal sound, and after trying a variety of
things to find the right blend of clarity and grit (an SM57
through an AC-30; Decapitator and SansAmp plug-ins; a
heavily driven Altec 1567A), we landed on integration of a
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stereo to record my Collings C10 acoustic guitar. One mic was producing through playing in bands. And, like many, the gear 3Leaf Audio You’re Doom fuzz pedal using the EXTC. In this
aimed at the bridge, the other where the neck meets the body, habit started early with the collection of stompboxes. Delay, case, I then printed the effected vocal to another track,
and both mics were about 3 ft away. Rather than do a fuzz, phase, wah, compression, filters, etc. — and over the performing slight changes in the amount of saturation on
shootout with other mics as I’ve done often in the past, I years, all the many flavors of the aforementioned — ended up certain phrases, and used it alongside the cleaner vocal.
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decided to do a recording of one song using just the ST6050 on my shelves. Many of these boxes are still used frequently Some of the keyboard performances on Charlene’s demos
mics through some clean Focusrite preamps — acoustic in tracking, and up until recently, that was their sole purpose. were deemed the best for use in new versions, but these were
guitar, harmonica, electric guitar, percussion, and vocals. I Enter the Radial Engineering EXTC. This 500-series module created using software synthesizers and were just a bit flat
took a couple of takes to get levels, and I loved what I heard allows you to interface guitar/bass effects pedals into your and lacking in life. The magic bullet? Again the 3Leaf Audio
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in the headphones. While this test was far from scientific, the recording and mixing rig by converting a balanced line-level You’re Doom was the small black metal box for the job
sound quality seemed nice and even to me. signal to a guitar-level effects loop, and back again to balanced (referring to size and shape specifically here, although I am
For my next test, I recorded a counterpoint acoustic guitar line-level. It boasts Class A circuitry and is transformer-isolated quite certain that this pedal would be appropriate for very
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rhythm using one of the mics a few feet away from the guitar. for quiet and clean operation. (For those readers not yet large Black Metal too). It offered just the right amount of buzz
Then I recorded the same thing mono again using the other invested in 500-series, Radial also makes a standalone version and fatness to put some meat on the (synth) bone. Some of
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mic. Again, it sounded even and consistent. Even more about the size of large DI called the EXTC-SA.) the dirt-generating plug-ins were close, but the use of the
importantly, I really liked what I heard, and later on during The front panel is simple and well laid out with 1/4’’ outboard analog device simply felt better and connected on
rough mixes, I forgot which of the two mics I had used on jacks for connecting pedals to the EXTC; send and receive an emotional level that the digital did not. This guitar pedal
each guitar — because it just didn’t matter. Since the level controls; a wet/dry blend knob; and a polarity- was not intended by its creator to be used in this manner, and
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maximum level the mic can handle is a hefty 134 dB SPL, I reverse switch. The latter is a necessity because many yet it yielded fantastic results as a vocal and keyboard
tried the mic on the speaker of my amp and recorded a loud stompboxes invert the signal at output, requiring you to treatment, and took yours truly down a path away from old
Stratocaster lead just for kicks. Although I liked the heavily un-invert the signal in order for the built-in wet/dry blend habits and go-to’s.
distorted guitar sound captured by the ST6050, I’m not going feature to work properly. Moreover, if the EXTC is mounted At the end of the day, I just added seven overdrives, six delays,
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to use it in the final mix, as this folk song should be acoustic in one of Radial’s Workhorse 500-series racks [Tape Op two envelope filters, a ring modulator, a PLL, and many other
only. I also used the mic on harmonica, the egg (a shaker in #85, #92], an additional effects insert loop (wired in once-lonely effects pedals to my tone-shaping arsenal. Cost? No
the shape of an egg), a drumstick on a saucepan (I decided series) is available on the rack’s rear Omniport. Mine is in idea, I bought many of these pedals between the ages of 15
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to go with a lot of organic percussion), and finally my vocals, a BAE frame, so I have not used this feature. As with all and 30. The point? I am now using them again frequently and
lead and background. Since the mic picked up more in my Radial gear, the EXTC is sturdy, its knobs feel good to turn in ways that are bringing fresh life to mixes and fun to the
voice than I care to reveal, I’ll go back to my trusty Shure (with just the right resistance), and the jacks feel solid. process of creating music — thanks to the Radial Engineering
SM7B [Tape Op #36] for the final take, but the ST6050 worked It is not what this unit does, but what it allows you to do. EXTC. ($249 street; www.radialeng.com)
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out great for the background vocals. As for bass, I don’t even And for me, it has facilitated creative fun into many a session –Geoff Stanfield <geoffstanfield@gmail.com>
40/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/
Peluso Microphones Moog The front panel of the Analog Delay shares the same
controls as the now-legendary Moogerfooger MF-104 family,
P-84 SK stereo condenser mic kit 500-series Analog Delay plus a tap/CV input and a MIDI input, minus the LFO.
Every time I try a new mic, I have to be able to justify the I tend to think of things in reference to a chronology of gear However, LFO is available via software control, along with a
purchase, because it has to be useful enough to earn its place purchases. Like, “Oh yeah, we had just gotten that mic when myriad of other settings. MIDI is not my strong suit, to say
in the mic locker at Studio G Brooklyn [Tape Op #41]. The place we tracked those vocals!” Along those same lines, my studio’s the least, so I was a tad apprehensive about using the
is filled with classics as well as great modern mics, all handpicked chronology seems to be divided thusly: pre-Moog, and post- editor. But setup was super easy, and I was blown away by
through many years of experience because all serve their specific Moog. Sure, I’ve had tons of Moogs in and out of my place, and the features unlocked by software. You get access to the
purposes. This is what mics are to us, tools with which we can I got my Moog Source when I was 23, but it wasn’t until Holy following: a bright/dark switch, advanced time features
offer our clients (and ourselves) the best presentation of the Fuck, this band I tour with, got asked to do Moogfest 2011 that beyond what’s available from the front panel, access to the
musician and instrument. They also show the clients how much a very important phase began here at High Bias and for me as LFO rate, amount, and shape, along with a sync switch; LFO
we care about our craft and their art. Therefore, when evaluating an engineer. I bought a Moog Voyager [Tape Op #40] when I clock division with slew rate and duty cycle; and everything
a pair of Peluso P-84 small-diaphragm condenser mics, this is shouldn’t have. I was pretty broke, and it took me a year to pay else you could possibly need in regards to the tap/CV input
what I took into account — instead of focusing on their back the loan — to my then girlfriend, now fiancé. Yeah. After and MIDI control settings. You can also enable linking
connection to the well-known Neumann KM 84. The P-84 does the initial week of me being immobilized by it, in a way that between two boxes should you have more than one in your
exhibit a few qualities of the classic KM 84, and the lineage is would rival what the Atari 5200 did to me when I was in middle rack. These features are all available through the standalone
well preserved within this mic. Its transient response as well as school, I was struck with the fact that I spent more on the editor and the plug-in. Yep, you heard me right — the Moog
the smoothness of its high end are perfect reminders of the Voyager than I had on my car, not to mention my tape machine. Analog Delay can be controlled by a plug-in too! Using Logic
KM 84, with a slightly different quality in the midrange. But a I was sure it would get used, just not very often. I was totally Pro, I was able to dial in exactly what effect I wanted and
mic needs to be able to stand on its own two feet with no need wrong. That thing has been on most of the records that have automate things like feedback and LFO via the plug-in —
of claiming to be anything more than it is — a great mic that come out of here! Since then, I have slowly acquired every a total game-changer for me.
will allow us engineers to make our clients happy, portray them Moogerfooger, with the exception of the delay, with the same The above is just me scratching the surface of this deep and
as the artists that they are, and hopefully go beyond this to trepidation — but ultimately with the same results. I skipped musical box! In the months that followed, I used the Analog
present them as more than mere mortals. the delay as a reverse justification for the literal mountain of Delay for tons of other things. For example, I was lucky to do
When I first received the P-84 SK stereo kit, I was pleasantly Space Echoes and other boxes I have. Again, I was wrong. When an overdub session with Xiao Dong Wei, who is classically
surprised by its presentation — a very nice flight case that the Moog 500-series Analog Delay arrived, I had the same old trained on the erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument. She is

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includes two mic bodies with cardioid capsules, two mic clips, reaction — leading to the same results. super open-minded, so we printed a track of me tripping out
two shockmounts, two wood boxes, a stereo bar, and a pair of The Analog Delay, like every Moog product, is solidly built and her beautiful playing. The tone of her instrument blended
omnidirectional capsules too! looks supercool. I installed it in a Purple Audio Sweet Ten rack perfectly with the real-time Analog Delay manipulations. And
I immediately set up one of the P-84 mics with an omni capsule [reviewed in this issue], sent it aux 3 from my Sony MXP during a recent mix session, I stumbled upon a totally

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and proceeded to use it as a “heart” mic on a drum kit, placing console, and returned it to channel 28. It has remained unexpected plus — with an Analog Delay pair patched into the
it right over the rim of the kick drum on the beater side. This mic patched in since — I kid you not. I was worried about writing guitar bus slots, I was stunned by the slight girth added by
position gives a great kick/snare balance with tons of punch. The a review about a delay — I mean, what can you say? It sounds these guys set totally dry — perfect for the guitars!
Peluso was fantastic for this application. It has a midrange great. True. It’s dark and musical like the MF-104 version. Also
character that makes the drums punchy without being clicky, as
well as a really nice low-end for the kick drum. Just think of
taking a baseball bat to the chest, and you’ll know what I mean.
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true. It also costs $899. Yep. And it’s worth every penny.
I first heard the Moog Analog Delay while taking a break from
mixing Shigeto’s new record. I brought up WIXIW by Liars on
As time goes on, I’m finding more and more reasons to love
the Moog Analog Delay. This has been the trajectory with
every piece of Moog gear I’ve owned — from the Voyager to
the Minitaur to the Cluster Flux. I buy the gear thinking I’ll
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In the next application, I set up the pair in X-Y configuration the speakers, and I decided to send some of the track to the use it some, knowing it’s cool, then the more I actually use it,
over the drum kit. The stereo imaging was fantastic. I heard delay. We were floored. WIXIW is a total stunner, and it sounds it works its way into my everyday workflow until I can’t
neither phasing issues nor voicing differences, and there was crushing in its own right, but I was instantly in some sort of imagine how I made records without it!
nothing incongruous between the mics. Once again, the other spatial reality. I sat there for 30 minutes pretending I ($899 street; www.moogmusic.com)
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midrange character of the P-84 was satisfying to hear, since it was “The Scientist” dubbing the crap out of my friends’ record. –Chris Koltay <www.highbiasrecordings.com>
doesn’t feel scooped or hollowed out, as is the case with many
small-diaphragm condensers. Moreover, the highs are not
While I’m glad no one will ever hear the results, it’s telling that
I was moved to sit there for that long after working all day. LightDims
overhyped, yet the mic responds very well to boosting high Something about how dark the Analog Delay is really adds to LED covers
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frequencies with a shelf EQ, staying smooth and airy. the space. The next day, I had a vocal session with the band Over the past year or two, I have had many pieces of both
I also used the P-84 kit on acoustic piano during tracking for Feelings. I almost always run a channel of outboard reverb professional audio gear and consumer electronics that
the latest Matisyahu record. In this scenario, I’d normally go for during tracking for comfort’s sake. I always record it, and it employ exceedingly bright LED lights. In the studio, these
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a pair of Coles 4038 ribbon mics [Tape Op #15], but it was usually gets used! I pulled up the channel with the Analog lights can be especially distracting when the room lights are
fantastic to be able to just throw something on the piano Delay, and we were all super stoked. Since then, I record a track turned down low for artistic ambience. I came across this
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without too much thought and immediately get positive results. of Analog Delay with most every vocal, when appropriate. product called LightDims, which is basically a sheet of 100
Piano is a very particular instrument to present to clients. If you A few days later, during trumpet overdubs for a Frontier Ruckus stickers in various sizes and shapes, specifically designed to
give them something dark and dusty, some people will album, Zachary Nichols wanted to hear a little space around his be placed over LED lights. LightDims come in three
immediately think it doesn’t sound “pro”; with the P-84, you can horn. We tried a few reverbs, and he kept saying, “Not reverb. strengths/colors. For most devices, I find Original Strength
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give them a bright shiny piano, with enough low end to make it Space!” I set the delay time on the Moog to around 80 ms and the dark-grey stickers to be very effective at cutting down more
feel grand and “expensive.” I was thrilled with the results. On feedback to zero, pulled up the fader, and he exclaimed, “That’s than 50% of the brightness while still showing enough light
acoustic guitar, you can make it sound beefy and wooden, but it!” At shorter delay times with lower feedback settings, the to maintain the LED’s intended usefulness. Silver Edition
still with a nice clear top end as well. Analog Delay adds a real sense of space without being overbearing. stickers work well on aluminum products, like a MacBook
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Bottom line — a pair of P-84 condenser mics is a great This is probably due to the fact that it is the darkest delay I’ve ever laptop. Blackout Edition work great for the power indicator
addition to any mic locker. The P-84 does exactly what I want a heard. If you solo it alone, it sounds really muffled — bordering and lit logo on my flat-panel TV. LightDims don’t use glue or
piece of gear to do — contribute its own unique voice, leverage on wrong. You put it in the mix, and something magical happens. adhesives, so they are easily removed and are reusable, just
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its own set of strengths, and ultimately make the recording Every time I pull it up, someone asks, “What is THAT?!” Anyway, like window and wall “clings,” but they have remained on the
session better and smoother for both me and my clients by we tracked piano, vocals, banjo, and hand percussion that day. All audio gear for at least a few months already without falling
keeping the creative process in motion. of these had some amount of Analog Delay committed on a off. A customizable cut-it-yourself sheet is also available.
($1544 street; www.pelusomicrophonelab.com) separate track. And on piano, it yielded some straight-up Their ($5.49–$5.99 per sheet; www.lightdims.com)
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–Francisco J Botero <www.franciscobotero.com> Satanic Majesties Request vibes. Super cool! –Adam Kagan <www.TemptressThePlugin.com>
Gear Reviews/(continued on page 42)/Tape Op#100/41
RØDE Microphones
NT1 condenser mic
The original NT1 was a big deal when it hit the market. Back then, most large-
diaphragm studio condensers cost over a thousand dollars. Australian company RØDE
aimed for the small studio and recording enthusiasts, and the NT1 was a success. Dave
Johnson had one at Drywall City in Seattle back in the 1990s, and we used it on
everything. Over the years, people started to nitpick about features or performance, but
I always respected the value of the original.
The new NT1 represents a major redesign. From the electronics to the external mounts,
this is a new beast. Only the wire mesh remains from the original design. Internally, new
electronics sport some of the lowest self-noise specifications claimed by any
manufacturer. The 1’’ diaphragm is mounted using Rycote’s Lyre system, which reduces
vibrations significantly. The mic comes with a RØDE SMR shockmount, which utilizes a
unique, double-Lyre suspension that tensions and balances the mic to further cancel
vibration. Rycote Lyres are manufactured from patented, polymer suspension material —
no nylon hair ties to replace. A removable dual-layer metal pop filter adds more value to
the package. It works great. Plus, you can wash it in warm soapy water, air dry, and have
it back in service in a few minutes.
Upon further inspection, the little things show quality. The shockmount defaults to a US
thread and comes with a European adapter. (It is easier to adapt from US to EU threads.
Thank you, RØDE!) The ground pin on the gold-plated XLR connector is longer than its
brethren, making it the first pin to connect on cable insertion, reducing the chance of pops
or damage from wiring faults. The body, machined from 6061 aluminum and then nickel-
plated, is strong and substantial. Our demo unit’s body seems to have a resonance at A when
physically tapped, but there is damping foam along the internal rails to offset this resonance.

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What’s going on with the sound of the new NT1? Unlike the original, which I thought
had a good deal of high-mid and top presence; the new version is a much flatter
sounding mic. Self-noise is very low. The fixed cardioid pattern has strong mid and high-
end rejection at side and rear axes. Trying it on several instruments revealed the NT1 to

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be a flatter, non-hyped performer, in contrast to many of the affordable studio mics
which have bright, instantly gratifying sound. The NT1 is much more subdued. I was
reminded of a large-diaphragm dynamic mic in overall timbre. Auditioning on grand
piano, I found the NT1 to be less revealing than other mics in its price range. On acoustic
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guitar, I thought the NT1 underwhelmed on a Martin, but smoothed out a Taylor nicely.
With male vocals, the NT1 gave a neutral recording that responded well to EQ and
compression during the mixing stage. On percussion, it managed complex harmonics —
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provided the instrument was two or more feet away. As a room mic, the NT1 was very
agreeable on a drum kit, especially after being compressed like crazy — just make sure
to point the mic at the heart of the kit, because its rejection really cuts down highs and
high-mids off-axis. In short, this is not a mic you would want to use on every source.
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However, it does not get you in trouble with constant buildup like many guitar-store
mics. Yes, some of those $99 LDCs sound great as soon as you hear them, but an entire
recording builds up into an ice castle that is ready to shatter your speakers. Furthermore,
the NT1 can tame bright sources, and it takes EQ well. In short, this is a good bang-for-
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the-buck mic that won’t get you in trouble with harshness. And the SMR shockmount —
that’s worth the price alone. ($249 street; www.rodemic.com)
–Garrett Haines <www.treelady.com>
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42/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/


Hamptone
HOC1 optical compressor
I’ve been using a pair of Hamptone HOC1 single-channel compressors on
my mixing and tracking sessions for several months now, and they have
become my favorite tools. I think this is a very unique and versatile
compressor. First of all, let go of any notion you may have of optical
compression being slow or mellow. Forget it. And stop asking me if it sounds
like an LA-2A, or even an 1176 or Distressor [Tape Op #32]. It doesn’t. Not at
all. When I teach people at my workshops about compression, I focus on the
envelope, or ADSR (attack, decay, sustain, release), and the limiting amplifier
function of a compressor/limiter. ADSR, like you find in a synthesizer,
describes how a sound enters and leaves the audio picture. We commonly
think of compressors as affecting the average volume of sounds, like when we
use a limiter on a kick drum to keep the playing at an even level or a
compressor to hold a vocal in the mix. But most compression also changes
the ADSR of the sound. Changes in settings can shift the entry of a sound,
adding attack or creating a volume swell. A bass note can gain a long decay,
or a sharp attack, for instance. The Distressor famously goes over the top in
this fashion (if you push it, and you don’t have to) as many of us know. The
HOC1 won’t go that far into the destruction zone, nor do I expect it to, but it
will do other things that are quite amazing. It can take a snare and create a
hollow popping sound, or add in a sharp leading edge to the hits. It can make
a bass track sit in a mix perfectly. Acoustic rhythm guitars can be smoothed
in volume but also given more chunk. How is this accomplished?
The HOC1 is one of the rare compressors with the ability to blend

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compressed and uncompressed audio internally. Sure, you can set parallel
compression up on a mixer via mults, buses, or aux sends — and I do all
the time — but having two knobs instead of a single balance control (think
of them as faders) to control this blend on the compressor is genius. You

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can set the uncompressed signal at unity and blend in a compressed signal
until happy, or vice versa; and not only can you create new sounds, and
mess with the ADSR, you can really get a grip on what the compressor is
truly doing to your source material. But this feature is just the beginning of
what makes the HOC1 amazing.
Shape Mode is a simple compress or limit switch, and listening to a
track in a mix and hitting the button will tell you immediately which
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setting works best. I try not to think of the usually assumed differences,
and I go with my gut on this. On the other hand, the Shape knob carries
you between four internal mathematical algorithmic curves that go from
“exponential/logarithmic to hard limit/linear.” I’m a math-class dropout,
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but I can tell you that this control is unreal. As fellow engineer Matthew
Morgan told me, it feels like you can move the mic on a source with this
knob. I’ll grab this knob and twist during a mix and drop an instrument
right in where it needs to be. Awesome. It might seem complex, but in use,
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it’s so easy and effective.


The Feed Forward/Back switch is also unique, and I’m amazed I don’t
see this feature on more compressors. Imagine being able to switch the
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compression detector circuit between pre and post–compressed signal. It


sounded extraneous to me until I tried it, and on certain sources in a mix,
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it was a huge and welcome change to kick into Feed Back mode. Sources
like acoustic piano could be thickened up in different ways with a flick of
the switch.
This half-rack, 2RU-height compressor is built like a tank and is filled with
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high-quality parts. It features transformer-balanced I/O; discrete, Class A, JFET


audio paths for the direct and compressed signals; a JFET summing stage; a
simple to use but highly adjustable link system (utilizing a single TRS patch
cable) that affects all controls besides signal output levels; and 20 LED
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metering with four modes (the gain reduction is very informative). Everything
is well marked and easy to operate. It may seem like a crazy and unique
device, but this unit is made to be used in real recording scenarios, and sounds
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can be dialed in quickly and effectively. Scott Hampton, the head of


Hamptone, should be proud of his thorough design, build quality, and
innovative approach with this compressor. I am more than impressed with
mine, and am very glad to be one of the first owners of a pair of HOC1
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compressors. ($1999 introductory price, $3849 pair; www.hamptone.com) –LC


Gear Reviews/(continued on page 44)/Tape Op#100/43
Classic Audio Products of Illinois
Heider FD312 500-series mic/line preamp
So there are two companies called API? Sort of. The original API, or Automated Processes, Inc.,
started manufacturing modular mixing consoles in 1969 and moved on to develop the 2520 op-amp,
conductive plastic faders, fader automation, VCAs, tape synchronizers, and microprocessor controls.
API consoles shaped the American sound of rock & roll beginning in the early 1970s and continue to
be a studio standard today. The other API, Classic Audio Products of Illinois (Classic API), is a business
that grew out of owner Jeff Steiger’s DIY interest in restoring his own ‘70s-era API console. Jeff
sourced, created, or commissioned parts to refurbish his console, and along the way, became an expert
in all things API, including all the flavors of amplifiers, EQs, preamps, and all the associated API-style
components. Today, Classic API produces and supplies components, kits, and full modules for API-
style preamps, EQs, 500-series racks, and more. Jeff’s newest product is the Heider FD312 preamp.
Cueing up a little more history... Wally Heider was a recording engineer who studied under Bill
Putnam at United Recorders in Los Angeles and started his own recording business in the late
1960s. Heider built and ran studios in Los Angeles (Studio 3) and San Francisco (Wally Heider’s
Studio) from 1969 until 1980. At these studios, many notable works were recorded by artists such
as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; The Grateful Dead; Creedence Clearwater Revival; Steve Miller;
Fleetwood Mac; and many more. The console in famed Wally Heider Studio 4 was a custom desk
designed in 1972 by a tech named Frank DeMedio. DeMedio based this console on the API 312
preamp card, but made some important modifications, including replacing the input transformer
and removing decoupling capacitors. These changes created an API-based console with a unique
sounding midrange and a smooth top end. This console can be heard on records such as Fleetwood
Mac’s Rumours and The Foo Fighters 1995 eponymous release.
Classic API recently set out to recreate the sound of that Heider/DeMedio console as a 500-series
preamp module. DeMedio’s original audio transformers were designed and built by Ed Reichenbach.

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Ed’s son’s company, CineMag, currently makes a faithful reproduction of this 1972 Reichenbach
transformer. The original API 312 op-amp sound also lives on in the (DIY builder’s favorite) Scott
Liebers SL-2520 Red Dot op-amp [Tape Op #77]. To recreate the original console sound and signal
path, the Heider FD312 employs three CineMag/Reichenbach transformers and two SL-2520 op-

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amps. Jeff has done a fantastic job of fitting this much circuitry into a single 500-series module.
The fit and finish of this module beats the pants off any other 500-series module that I’ve had my
hands on, and almost the entire module is manufactured and assembled in the U.S.
The front panel of the FD312 proudly shows off its API heritage, with API-styled knobs, meters,
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and buttons. The top knob controls preamp gain, ranging from +22 dB to +60 dB for mic input,
and −14 dB to +24 dB for line. Unity gain for line input is clearly marked. In the middle of the
module are colored buttons to select polarity, mic/line input, 16 dB pad, 48V phantom power, and
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high impedance. Notably, the input of the mic preamp normally presents 167 Ω, but it bumps up
to 300 Ω with high impedance selected, and 765 Ω with the pad selected. The line-level input
selector further bumps the input impedance to 9 kΩ. The lowest input impedance matches very
well with dynamic mics, especially the Shure SM57, while the higher settings produce noticeable
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tonal variations for most mics and even line-level sources. The bottom knob is the channel output
fader, which provides an additional −16 dB to +12 dB of output gain. Overall, the preamp provides
a maximum gain of 72 dB, while allowing the user to play the input gain against the output fader
for different types of preamp drive. A 12-segment LED ladder displays the output level from −22 to
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+16 dB (referenced to +4 dBu nominal level).


My favorite use of the FD312 was strapping a pair across my mix bus with the preamps in line
input mode and high impedance selected. This setup gave me unity gain or as much drive as I
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could want, and it imparted a thickness and smooth top end that sounded as big as an API console
mix bus, but with a bit smoother top end. I found this extremely useful on an a capella project I
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was mixing. Lead vocals and guitars benefitted greatly from running through the FD312. The input
and output knobs are stepped for easy resetting, but still allow enough variation that I never felt
hampered by the gain choices. As a mic preamp, the FD312 provides a more solid low end than
even the API 1608 console [Tape Op #81] that I regularly work on, while upper mids and high end
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come through clearly and without any harshness or graininess. Snare sounds punchy and full. Kick
drums sound solid and beefy. And vocals sound large and present, but not bright. Guitar amps come
through sounding harmonically rich. And stereo imaging may even be slightly enhanced by the
transformer’s inherent low-mid presence.
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Many 500-series preamp modules come close to emulating their console counterpart, but the
Heider FD312, with its array of transformers and amplifiers, successfully creates a true console sound
and signal path. Both as a mic preamp and line amp for summing boxes, or for simply “warming
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up” a bus or single source, the FD312 provides the familiar console sound that made vintage API
desks famous. If you’re curious, a simple web search will lead to some well-produced audio samples
of the preamp. The FD312 is only available through Classic API partner Rack-N-Roll Audio for $750,
which is a fantastic price for a module of this sonic and build quality.
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($750; www.racknrollaudio.com; www.classicapi.com)


44/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/(continued on page 46) –Adam Kagan <www.TemptressThePlugin.com>
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Please Support Our Advertisers/Tape Op#100/45


Apogee Electronics Another of the unit’s selling points is bringing audiophile-
quality sound to your headphones. For the general market
ONE USB audio interface user, this feature will be of muted benefit due to the
After making enhancements to the company’s two-channel limitations of MP3 compression at typical bit-rates. For
Duet [Tape Op #65, #89] and introducing the four-channel those of us who save room on an iPod for full-bandwidth
Quartet [#93], Apogee went on to upgrade 2009’s original ONE songs, however, it’s a great bonus. Donning a pair of Sony
audio interface [#78]. Now targeted for maximum convenience MDR-V900 headphones, I was surprised to hear additional
with iPad applications, it remains as useful with the Mac as clarity and full-bodied sound when listening to the dense
ever. The ONE is also very handy with iPhone and iPod apps. midrange tones and cloudy atmospherics on Daniel Lanois’
We have truly arrived in the future, where the key components Belladonna album. ONE does still require battery or external
of your mobile recording rig can travel in your pockets. power for this task, since it’s designed to deliver power to
ONE is powered by a universal power supply with an external iOS device rather than draw power from one.
adapters for use in North America, Europe, United Furthermore, ONE simply requires more power than iOS
Kingdom, Australia, and Japan. The unit also runs on a devices can push.
pair of AA batteries for maximum portability. This gives With countless software tools available to iPad and iPhone
ONE an advantage over other units in the Apogee line, users in the form of apps, ONE’s utility as a traveling audio
since Duet for iPad and Mac doesn’t allow the battery- interface is amplified. A byproduct of the iPad’s touch
powered option. Moreover, ONE can still be powered by interface is that “hands on faders” returns to the vocabulary
USB when paired with a Mac. alongside “click and drag.” Apogee has highlighted many
While the mic preamp and AD/DA converters in ONE aren’t apps for use with their hardware, including DSP Mobile’s
the top-of-line options available in Apogee’s Symphony I/O audio metering app Analyzer, multitrack recording DAWs like
[Tape Op #87, #99], or more comparably, the Quartet, they the retooled Apple GarageBand, tools like Logic Remote, and
will turn your handheld “iWhatever” into a perfectly credible others. WaveMachine Labs Auria [Tape Op #92], a 48-track
recording device for keeper tracks captured on the go. Sound DAW for iPad, takes particular advantage of the touch
quality in and out is comparable to the original Duet model. environment for mixing and post-production with a virtual
For portable-to-portable comparison, the audio quality of UI that mimics physical-world tools.

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recordings made with ONE certainly kicked the pants of Particularly since it’s touted as a quality device for desktop
those made with my Zoom Handy Recorder H2 [#63]. and podcast recording, I’d have liked it if ONE’s mini-jack
Although my typical preference would be to plug an external speaker/headphone port had been moved 90
external mic into ONE via its included breakout cable, I degrees from the unit’s bottom to its side, and Apogee had

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found the internal condenser mic and its omnidirectional built a leg into the chassis so the unit would stand on a
pickup pattern to be well-suited for use on acoustic guitar. table top. The package does include a sturdy clip for a
This mic is ONE’s primary feature not available on the Duet standard mic stand.
or Quartet. I travel to overdub many individual musicians in
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their home studio spaces for collaborative projects, and it
has been a joy to see my traveling rig grow smaller over the
years. ONE shrinks it even further.
The bottom line — if you’ve got extra money, and sound
quality is your priority, the current Duet’s two discrete mic
preamps and converters are superior to those of ONE. ONE’s
quality tops comparable single-channel units I’ve
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With two breakout cable inputs, ONE can record either encountered, but it is ultimately a tool of convenience. Its
external mic and instrument-level simultaneously, or internal mic and battery-powered option allow you to record
instrument-level and internal mic simultaneously. 48V ideas or overdubs to iPad with minimal setup. I found it
phantom power can be provided to external condenser mics, handy and easy to use, and would be glad to have it in my
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even while operating ONE under battery power. The unit’s bag for house calls. ($349 MSRP; www.apogeedigital.com)
gain ranges from 0–63 dB, making ONE suitable for the –Jeff Elbel <jeff_elbel@yahoo.com>
gamut of sound sources, whether captured via the internal
mic, or external dynamics, condensers, or ribbons. Black Lion Audio
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Predictably, the new ONE is roughly half the size of Duet, B173 mic preamp
and a bit less than half the weight. ONE omits the MIDI port Lately, Chicago-based Black Lion Audio has been earning
the other Apogee units have. Its surface is streamlined, with praise for its sensibly-priced homages to classic audio gear. In
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input-type and level indicators placed above a single jog particular, the B12A preamp, a half-rack–format API-inspired
wheel. The wheel can be used to select functions or adjust mic preamp, has been turning heads for its high quality and
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input and output gain directly within ONE. The wheel can similarity to the API, as well as for its surprising affordability.
also be used to adjust various additional parameters on Now there’s Black Lion’s B173 Class A mic preamp, tipping its
connected devices using Apogee’s complementary Maestro hat to the mic input section of the Neve 1073 channel module.
software. Device connectivity is enabled via included iOS Neve 1073s have long been highly prized for their big, in-your-
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Lightning and standard iOS 30-pin cables. face sound, and their steep price tag on the vintage-gear
The new ONE is augmented not only with digital market reflects this. The B173 has a very low price, which
connectivity for iPad, but it also now has the ability to suggests a target audience of smaller home studios looking for
provide power for keeping your iOS device at peak charge an economical way to achieve “the Neve sound.”
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during recording. Apogee’s latency performance The review unit I was sent was a very early production model
improvements via USB 2.0 also extend to ONE. My DAW of and did not come with documentation or instructions, so I
choice is Logic Pro on a Mac, and the new ONE boasts 3.6 ms tried it out on some sessions, using common audio sense, and
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total roundtrip latency (analog input to a record-enabled hey, it worked fine! The sound was as creamy and full as
track to analog output) at 96 kHz with the host buffer set would be expected from a device based on a 1073. I’m lucky
to a size of 32. When direct monitoring through ONE using to work at Verdant Studio which has a vintage Neve desk with
Maestro control, bypassing the host application’s buffer, 33114 modules — not exactly the same as a 1073, but of the
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latency is even lower. same species for sure. So I’m used to “that sound,” and I have
46/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/
to say, the B173 has “that sound.” Running it through the paces, I found there was plenty of
gain, and it was very easy to set levels with the ruggedly-stepped Soundwell input attenuator.
Vocals exhibited an ideal fullness, electric guitars were beefy, and ribbon mics had plenty of
gain. The noise floor, even with the gain pinned, seemed very, very low to my ears.
Most of today’s standard mic preamp accoutrements were present and easy to access on the
front panel — phantom power, polarity reversal, and a switchable 1/4’’ DI input. Popping the
top and looking around inside the review unit, I saw the B173 was well made and with decent
components — the transformers being CineMag for input and EDCOR for output. In the spirit
of classic Neve gear, there were no chips that I could see, and the layout was neat and
somewhat artful.
While I am very impressed with the quality and price of the B173, I do have a few misgivings,
although they tend to boil down to personal taste in ergonomics, and I don’t consider them
deal-breakers. Still, I should mention that I’m not a fan of the half-rack space format (though
I understand some folks love it). To me, half-rack gear complicates mounting options, and I
tend to feel like I’m being coerced into buying a second unit to cleanly mount them both in
a standard 19’’ rack. (Of course, having a pair of B173s in a single rackspace would certainly
be a nice thing.) Also, on the back of the unit, the input is an XLR jack, while the output is
a 1/4’’ jack. I’m not sure why this is, but there must be a reason. I found it a bit odd and
wondered why the output would not be an XLR. That’s about it for beefs. Overall, I think Black
Lion Audio has come up with a great, affordable design that would be welcome in a variety
of tracking rooms. ($499 street; www.blacklionaudio.com)
–Pete Weiss <www.weissy.com>

Microphone Parts
RK-47 & RK-12 mic capsules
990B PCB Kit

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What do you get when you combine the guts of a Porsche 911 with the body of a VW Beetle?
You get a high-performance sports car that does not look like one. This is analogous to what
is offered by Microphone Parts. They sell upgrade kits for inexpensive mics. I tried two of their
modified MXL 990 condenser mics, and built a third one myself. One of the mics they sent was

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modified with an RK-12 capsule, which is their version of an AKG CK 12, the capsule in the
venerable C 12 tube mic. The other was modified with an RK-47 capsule, which is their version
of the Neumann K 47, the capsule in the revered U 47. Both mics utilized the Microphone
Parts upgraded circuit, which completely replaces the circuit board in the MXL. Since the RK-47
is a dual-diaphragm capsule, the Microphone Parts circuit provides an omni/cardioid switch
on the board — more on this later. Like the U 47, the Microphone Parts circuit does not
support a figure-8 pattern.
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Before building the kit, I used these two mics to record a female duo. I used the RK-47 in
cardioid mode on the lead voice, and the RK-12 on the supporting voice. The RK-47 needed
a pop filter, because the two inner screens were removed. This gives the mic an impressive
look, as the dual-diaphragm capsule is readily visible. I always use pop filters anyway to keep
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singers from getting too close to the mics. The results surprised and amazed me. On playback
of the first takes, I was stopped in my tracks, staring at the speakers. On listening to the
lead vocal, my first unedited thoughts were, “I must have this,” and “this sounds expensive.”
The vocal floated above the instruments without sticking out. The sound was a glossy,
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electric, slightly larger than life, “sounds like a record” tone that I associate with expensive
pop productions. Not natural-sounding, but supernatural-sounding — and freaking beautiful.
The RK-12 was a great performer as well, but to me, it was more realistic and less exciting
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than the RK-47.


For the initial takes, we recorded both voices at once, facing each other, and recorded electric
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guitar and bass through DI. There was considerable bleed, but it was good bleed and worked
well in the final mix. Then we did acoustic guitar tracks with the RK-47, which also turned out
great. We decided to do old-school backing vocals, with both singers simultaneously singing
into the RK-47 in omni mode. Gorgeous. Since the polar pattern switch is on the circuit board,
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to change patterns, one must open the mic by first unscrewing the collar by the XLR connector,
then unscrewing the mic body. The MXL bodies are not machined with great precision, so this
was always a squeaky, awkward affair. I quickly learned that you must also remember the
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setting — or you have to do a soundcheck, or open the mic again, the next time you use it.
I’m not sure what the best solution is — perhaps sticky notes on the mic before you put it
away? Still, I applaud that this did not stop them from including the switch.
Already being sold on the mics, my next task was to see how easy they are to build. I was
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sent the 990B, a multilayer circuit board with solder pads on both sides. This sandwiched style
of board improves the routing of the ground plane as compared to the 990A, but a downside
of this is you can’t see the traces. The build manual, which includes color photographs, is
excellent and is probably the best DIY instruction set I’ve seen. Still, I don’t recommend this
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as someone’s first soldering project, mostly because you can’t afford to make a single mistake,
Gear Reviews/(continued on page 48)/Tape Op#100/47
unless you have a de-soldering station. Warnings in bold the board, and then checking voltage at a particular point
warn the builder against soldering wick or a solder sucker, in the circuit, while the mic is phantom powered. If I had
which is all I have. Microphone Parts told me that been instructed to leave the component lead at this
customers have assembled these boards with inexpensive connection intact, I’d have had something for an alligator
soldering pencils that plug directly into an AC outlet, but clip to grab. Every time I touched a probe to this spot, it
personally, I can’t imagine doing this without a pegged the VU meter on the preamp that was supplying
temperature-controlled soldering station equipped with a phantom. The manual explains, the more voltage to the
precision tip. I went very slowly and carefully, sorting the capsule, the greater the sensitivity, until there is so much
parts first before beginning the build. The parts are high- voltage that the diaphragms collapse. (The Microphone
quality, including WIMA capacitors and Vishay Dale Parts circuits won’t allow you to raise the voltage enough
resistors. The resistors do not use the standard striping to make this mistake.) Less voltage means less sensitivity,
system; numeric values are printed on the parts themselves, but higher headroom. So one benefit of building these mics
which I found challenging to read. I often had to use the is you will know how to adjust the backplate voltage for
magnifying glass on my “helping hands” clamp to identify different scenarios. This makes me wonder why we don’t see
them. The labeling on one of the diode sets was so more commercial mics with adjustable backplate voltages.
obscured that I could only determine the value by process In the end, the mic worked — and worked great. From
of elimination — it’s a good thing I could read the other opening the box, to having a completed mic, I spent about
values. The manual says the circuit board takes about an four hours total. I opted not to remove the two inner
hour to complete; it took me about two, though I think I’d screens. It was not clear on how to do this neatly, and they
be faster on a second attempt. Many of the components are looked well glued. This gave me a chance to compare the
tightly spaced, and I was being very careful not to connect fully-screened version with the open version. My build
solder pads. In one case, I thought I had mistakenly sounded slightly pinched by comparison, and the screens
shorted two components, but it turned out that they were cause some resonance in the highs according to my
connected in the circuit; because of the hidden traces, measurements. Speaking of measurements, mine seemed to
there was no way to confirm this until I finished the mic. corroborate everything Microphone Parts reports about
During one part of the assembly, a few components are left frequency response and noise; the self-noise of these mics

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unsoldered on one end, to be attached to the polar-pattern is astonishingly low. I don’t have a practical problem with
switch later. I found myself wishing I had made the switch the noise floor in the original MXL, but the Microphone
connections first, before soldering to the board, because Parts mods blow this away. For both the MXL and the RK-47,
some fine, jewelry-style wire-twisting with needle-nosed using the same mic preamp channel, I set levels with a test

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pliers was required before soldering to the switch, and signal, then moved each mic to a silent room, covered it,
breaking a leg of a transistor would have been tragic. and recorded. The results showed a remarkable lack of hiss
Fortunately, Microphone Parts will replace user-broken from the RK-47. There was some popping down there, but

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components for a flat fee of $5, but since I don’t have a de-
soldering station, and the transistor was already soldered
on two legs, I would have had to send the whole board
back. The kit comes with extra capacitors to use for
so low that it would have been completely obscured by the
hiss in the MXL.
Total outlay for the mic I built would be around $320 —
including the purchase price of a new MXL 990 — plus
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optional filtering, but these were not recommended for the about four hours of my time. Is there a commercial
RK-47. Once the board was done, it was time to remove the equivalent at this price? Not that I know of. Plus, even after
MXL board. I almost stripped one of the screws but you pull them, the MXL mic parts still work. The MXL
eventually got it out. capsule is covered with a screen (and looks suspiciously like
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The capsule comes in a plastic container. It was difficult the Monoprice interchangeable capsules [Tape Op #98] I
to remove. Tips on the website say to tap it against a table, recently reviewed), so you can just re-use it as is in another
but mine wasn’t budging. I resorted to what the website project. Heck, you could just cover the circuit board with
said in bold not to do: I used a screwdriver. It was nerve- epoxy and glue the capsule to a length of pipe — or
@h

racking, but I eventually eased it out undamaged. When I whatever. There’s a lot of information on the website that
did, a small piece of un-shrunk shrink tube came out. This I did not cover. You’ll want to make sure you have the
was what was keeping it firmly in its container, as required tools before ordering. You can check the tutorials.
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mentioned on the website. If it had been a little longer, I You can get matched capsules and circuits. Advanced
could have used needle-nosed pliers to pull the tube out shockmounts are even available for purchase. It’s clear that
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first. Attaching the capsule to the base was also nerve- the people at Microphone Parts really want you to get the
racking. One must hold the capsule without dropping it or most out of your DIY experience, and if you’ve mod’ed mics
touching the diaphragms, then thread some very small or assembled a preamp kit in the past, you would have a
screws into it, along with a terminating wire with a small pretty easy time with the Microphone Parts kits. Despite
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eyelet. I found myself wishing for some kind of plastic cover some of the frustrations I describe, the whole experience
that could protect the capsule during installation. Also, I was hugely educational and rewarding — and I’d do it
would have appreciated more hints on how to position the again and again. There’s at least one matched pair of
circuit board when attaching the capsule wires. You’re RK-47s in my near future. (RK-47 & RK-12 capsules $109
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instructed to make the capsule wires “as short as possible,” each; 990B PCB Kit $129; www.microphone-parts.com)
but it was not clear how to do this. At this point, you can’t –Joseph Lemmer <jlemmer@siriusmedia.com>
actually attach the circuit board to the mic body, as that
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www.tapeop.com
requires the screen. So it was awkward, but I eventually got
the board to sit partway in the body while attaching the
wires. Fine-tuning the polarization bias of the capsule
bonus & archived reviews online!
backplate required many turns of a small potentiometer on
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48/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/(continued on page 50)


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Coleman Audio Moving to the mixing section, 48 balanced inputs (which
are panned hard left/right to make 24 stereo pairs) are
RED48 Summing Console summed to a stereo mix. (You’ll need to do all your
The RED48 is the love child of a control-room monitoring channel level/pan moves in your DAW.) Importantly, the
system and a 48-channel summing mixer, housed in a 2RU- RED48’s mix insert provides a pre–master-fader patch-
height rackmount box with a companion desktop remote. I point for outboard processors. If you’re going to go
don’t know if anyone else offers all of this functionality in a through the trouble of making a combined summing mixer
similar package. Moreover, the sound quality is top-notch. and monitoring system, there should be at least one insert
Looking at the back of the main unit gives you an idea of point for the stereo bus! I’ve seen some other brands that
what this thing can do. DB25 connectors handle the 48 input do not provide this necessity. Moreover, Coleman includes
channels as 24 stereo pairs, while three stereo source inputs a front-panel bypass switch that allows A/B’ing of the mix
and one stereo mix output are on XLR jacks. XLRs also handle with and without bus processing.
two sets of stereo speaker outs. Stereo cue in and cue out are All in all, the controls throughout are ergonomically
on 1/4’’ TRS jacks, as are mix insert send and return. 1/8’’ jacks satisfying, and interestingly, they seem grime resistant. Have
are used for a slate output and to optionally connect a remote guest engineers? Then you’ve seen how gross, caramel-like goo
talkback switch. always shows up on buttons and knobs. Thankfully, the RED48
Out front is Coleman Audio’s signature array of white cleans up easily, even if less-mannered engineers are using it
pushbuttons for master source selection. Mix output level is after “mining for gold” up their nose.
controlled by a precision stepped-attenuator switch from The real goldmine here is the transparent sound of the
Elma. There are potentiometers for headphone volume (for the summing mixer. It is difficult to characterize, as Coleman
front-panel headphone jack), cue level, and talkback level. Audio doesn’t have a noticeable sonic “personality” like some
Smaller pushbuttons are employed for speaker selection, brands do (e.g., Tonelux, AMS Neve, API). “High fidelity” and
headphone source, and cue source. Dim, talkback, and slate “high headroom” are descriptors I would use for the RED48,
buttons are available here on the main unit as well as on the along with “broad stereo field” — not unnaturally broad, but
included desktop remote. Also on the remote is a Penny + Giles something definitely collapses as soon as I switch over to the
master fader for the mix output. The long-throw fader can do DAW’s internal summing. Furthermore, the bass frequency

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fades that are near-impossible with a mouse. Note that the response seems especially extended, which makes the RED48
remote is light on controls, so the main unit will need to be ideal for hip-hop or pulsing rock mixes — or for revealing a
installed within arm’s length of the engineer. The remote is an sloppy low end. As I write this, I have multiple summing boxes
integral part of the system and needs to be connected at all on test, and I’m having a hard time sorting out the “best.” In

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times, even if you don’t want to use the master fader. Without a blind test, I would pick the RED48 as one of the most
the remote, the mix output drops 20 dB below the master expensive, hi-fi models available. I would be right on sound
fader’s zero level. but wrong on cost! A similar-quality monitor controller and
An included talkback mic, which looks like a mini hockey
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puck, connects to the front of the unit. Moving the mic from
mix position to a producer’s table is easy enough — no need
for the producer (or bass player) to scream from the couch.
summing mixer is more than twice the price.
If I could make any changes to the RED48, I would gladly
trade one of the stereo source inputs for an additional speaker
output, especially if I were a mix engineer. Coleman Audio’s
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The best way to describe the monitoring functionality of the product line does include a number of input and output matrix
RED48 would be to say that someone shrunk the selectors to augment the RED48 to meet specific needs like
communications section of a large-format analog console and mine, but that means more precious rackspace would be
put it in these two small boxes. As such, it’s important for DAW required at mix position, given that the remote has only a
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users to understand the workflow. Pressing the talkback button small subset of the controls found on the main unit.
dims the speaker levels while injecting the talkback mic into What I don’t need are pretty lights or complex meters on my
the cue output — exactly what you’d expect. Therefore, setting control system. It’s clear that all of the money in the RED48
up the artist headphones with a stereo cue mix is dead simple; went into the design and the components. The sound of the
@h

feed your cue mix from your DAW into the RED48’s cue input, summing mixer is at the top of the class. Plus, Coleman Audio
then feed the cue output to an external headphone amp. If gear rarely fails, and only when subjected to extreme handling,
your studio uses a multichannel headphone distributor that like a drop into a bathtub. These are big boy/girl tools that
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allows each artist to dial a personal mix (e.g., Furman, Aviom, actually are Pro with a capital P.
Hear, etc.), and you want to dedicate a channel in the personal If you grew up on a large-format console, you’ll find that the
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mix to talkback, just feed the RED48’s cue output to that RED48 combines many familiar features into a smaller
channel. Thoughtfully, the headphone source and cue source package. If you’re looking to improve the quality of your
buttons allow engineers to quickly audition the cue mix on monitor controller and have an interest in analog summing,
their headphones, or assign the engineer’s mix to the artist’s this is a very economical way to make two acquisitions with
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headphones. Or, if you want to streamline and forgo connecting one purchase. Project studio owners wanting to upgrade their
a headphone amp to the cue output, you could employ the sound take note: buy a RED48 and have an extra few grand
front-panel headphone jack for the artist mix. And a further left for the DACs you’ll need for summing. Your clients will
option would be to patch two separate artist mixes from the hear the difference. Having used Coleman products in a
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DAW into the RED48, assigning one to the cue output and the production environment, I can say they are all but bulletproof,
other to the headphone jack. Yes, options abound. In all cases, and even if you do shoot them, there is a strong chance Glenn
turning on the talkback mic will send talkback to both the Coleman [Tape Op #88] himself will fix them for you in no
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headphone jack and the cue out. time. If you want sexy Star Trek lights, look elsewhere. If you
The slate button and associated slate output let you really want a reliable, phenomenal-sounding unit, demo the RED48.
go old-school and record yourself announcing song titles, take ($2500 street; www.colemanaudio.com)
numbers, and whatnot into your DAW. –Garrett Haines <www.treelady.com>
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50/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/(continued on page 52)


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iZotope Electric bass: I’ll remove any hum from DI/amp ground
loops, cranky amplifiers, or single-coil pickups with Denoise.
RX 3 Advanced Declick is handy for removing pick noise from a bass take if
When I began work on what would become Elliott Smith’s it’s got annoying high-end clicks. If I hear weird, honking
New Moon album in 2006, I knew I might have a few noise notes or sounds from the bass, I’ll attenuate the sound/note
issues to tackle. One song in particular, “Angel in the Snow,” itself with Spectral Repair. Think of it as highly-selective
had been recorded onto 1/2’’ analog tape at a very low level. multiband attenuation.
The song was beautiful, but the tape hiss was not. I rented Hammond organ: We have an old Leslie 900 cabinet, and
a single-ended noise-reduction plug-in from a certain DAW I’ve tried for years to reduce its built-in AC hum, without
manufacturer, and while it did reduce the sea of tape hiss, I success. Denoise allows you to sample the buzz (always
heard fluttery artifacts in the background. Not much later, I record extra time at the head or tail of a song) and remove
stumbled across iZotope’s booth at an AES show, and after the hum. If a note pops out in the wrong way due to
explaining my issues, I was given access to the initial harmonics (those pesky drawbars!) during a part, I can go in
version of RX Advanced. When “Angel in the Snow” required and attenuate the harmonics in Spectral Repair. If someone
a new instrumental mix for the film Up in the Air, I used RX forgets to put up pop filters, you can also clean up subsonic
on the original transfers of the tape tracks and was blown plosives from the rotating horns.
away at how much better the mix sounded, enough that I Acoustic instruments: Once again, think of all the little
snuck a new mix onto An Introduction to Elliott Smith in sounds that you don’t want to hear during an acoustic
2010. As mastering engineer Roger Seibel said, “If it sounds instrument take (guitar, cello, mandolin, violin, etc.). String
better, use it.” Since then, iZotope RX has become one of my squeaks, pick noises, fret buzz, strap creaks, breathing, bow
most-used plug-ins, and in lieu of writing up the giant list scrapes, page turns, and any other distraction can disappear
of its features (many I’ve never even tried yet), I am going with Spectral Repair. If multiple instruments were recorded
to explain how I use RX, and now RX 3, in the recording together, bad bleed can be removed to some degree as well.
studio as a tracking and mixing tool. Look for boomy, off-axis notes that muddy up the instrument
RX 3 might be perceived as an audio restoration, forensics, you were mic’ing, and attenuate.
and post production tool — and it certainly is — but I mostly Drums: How about that noise when the drummer switches

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use it on recording and mixing sessions. It can be run as a on/off a snare in the middle of a song? Gone with Spectral
standalone application or a plug-in (AAX, RTAS/AudioSuite, Repair’s attenuation. That one clicky kick hit on the first
VST/VST3, Audio Units). I use these techniques during tracking downbeat? Remove the high-end transient component, and it
to eliminate sounds I didn’t want to capture, and RX 3 really fits back in the mix. Did you compress your room mics so much

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helps during mixing, especially on sessions I didn’t track that there’s background hiss? Denoise instead of rolling off all
myself. In fact, by the end of a session, most of my clients will the highs. Did the drummer manage to hit a mic? You can
come to recognize the spectrogram window when I open it, as remove the worst artifacts of that with Spectral Repair. Want
they’ve seen it in use repeatedly. Some even go on to buy their
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own copy of RX after they see what can be done! One thing I
should note is that the learning curve is quick. Many of the
initial presets will work just fine, and settings are obvious,
a softer sound in the ride cymbal? Run Declick, and all the
sharp, high transients disappear. Oh yeah, did you get a
perfect take but some goofball started talking on the cymbal
fade-out at the end? You can pull this chatter right out with
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though this app can go very deep if needed. Spectral Repair. I find myself constantly doing the same for
Vocals: I’ll remove popped P’s, mouth clicks, background removing audible stompbox clicks (you know, those silver
noises, and bumped mic stands with Spectral Repair’s switches) from overhead and room mics when I have a whole
Attenuate or Partials+Noise functions. Even weird mouth band track together in the same room.
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sounds, like the ones that appear after L sounds, can be Analog effects: Plate reverbs usually have some hum and hiss
removed from within a sung note for clarity. Harsh S or T in the background, and even though my EMT 140 has some
sounds can be attenuated by slightly reducing the overall amazing custom Hamptone electronics inside, it still suffers
volume or selecting certain dominant components (but watch from a bit of noise. Single-ended Denoise wipes that out.
@h

out, they will sound weird if you are not careful). With cheap Denoise also cleans up my tape and analog delay units when
condenser mics, you can even tame some of the more I print them back into Pro Tools sessions.
offensive transient artifacts and harshness as well. I’ve used Other uses: Declip will actually work wonders on audible
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Spectral Repair or Denoise to also remove AC hum and digital overloads. I’ve been sent a number of mixes with bad
computer-induced hash. Whether Denoise’ing unwanted overloads, and though Declip won’t always completely restore
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sounds from whole vocal takes or cleaning up massive tape or the original tonality, it will help reduce artifacts and
preamp hiss, RX 3 does an amazing job of not leaving fluttery harshness. Spectral Repair’s Replace function has to be used
FFT artifacts or dulling the highs. One new feature in RX 3 carefully, but I’ve fixed gaps in bass notes from dropouts and
Advanced is Dereverb. It’s a bit dangerous, and I found it easy other damaged tracks like that. When it works on the material
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to mangle a vocal track without pushing the settings too far, at hand, it’s kind of amazing. Like, this shouldn’t be possible.
but when I needed it on a rap vocal printed with too much Another use I have for Spectral Repair is for fixing final mixes
cheap reverb, I was able to reduce it enough to work in the before mastering. You know, like those times you miss an odd
mix quite well. Another nice, new tool! little high-end click on a fade or something buried in the mix
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Electric guitar: I’ll remove amp or single-coil hum with that’s annoying. You can get in there and save your mastering
Denoise, oftentimes just on the intro or fade-out of a song. I’ll engineer some grief.
look for and attenuate clicks from stompboxes, scrapes Although the regular version of RX 3 would keep me happy
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between chords, palm muting noises, and any extraneous because it contains the majority of the applications I use most,
sounds with Spectral Repair. Distorted solos can really benefit there are features in Advanced that I haven’t yet even dug into
from a little cleaning up, and this can allow you to make them but look to be handy. Deconstruct will break a sound into noise
louder in the mix. If you have recorded a guitar with too much and tonal components, and could be helpful with reed
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attack or pick sounds, you can apply Declick to soften this up. instruments, bass, and such. Insight is their metering suite,
52/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/(continued on page 54)
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and I need to play with that more. Dialog Denoiser is intended for post production, but I’m
wondering if backing vocals might do well with this. Center Channel extraction (the ol’ mid-
side trick) is another feature I need to mess with. I’m imagining the uses right now...
These techniques are just the tip of the iceberg of what RX 3 can do, and given that
iZotope offers an unrestricted 10-day trial (for the plug-in only), I see no reason not to
check this amazing product out. Visit the website for a full list of features and comparisons
between the standard and Advanced versions. RX 3 is a massive tool, and if you work with
digital audio on a regular basis, you need this application. I can’t work without it anymore!
(RX 3 $299 street; Advanced $1099; www.izotope.com) –LC

Cakewalk
Scratchpad for iPad
I have seen the future, and it is touch. And fun. Cakewalk’s Scratchpad is their first foray
into iOS apps and is exactly what it sounds like. The main portion of the on-screen interface
is divided into a 3×3 array of Expression Pads. A Browser panel on the left displays a menu
tree for navigating loops, covering the usual beat suspects — drum & bass, dub, hip-hop,
etc. Touch to open a folder and audition any of the loops, then drag-and-drop from the
Browser onto an Expression Pad. Once assigned to a pad, you can start the loop from the
pad’s play arrow or trigger an entire three-pad column from its play button. Return to the
Browser and find another loop, and drop it into the same column or another. You can play
multiple columns at the same time or loops in separate columns — all synced to the global
tempo. So even with only nine pads, you can make a fair number of arrangements, 80 if my
math is right, since any combination of the nine can play at once. In addition to the
included loops, you can buy expansion loops or load your own via Dropbox.
Besides the Browser, the left-hand panel tabs to an Inspector for the selected pad. Here
you can choose to one-shot the loop or have it continuously play, as well as adjust,

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panning, volume, and trigger-type. The trigger-type determines how the pad responds to...
well... triggering. Normal mode simply starts and stops a loop just as one expects.
Momentary lets you play the loop as long as you hold your finger down — lift it and the
loop stops. Re-trigger lets you restart the loop from the top. (Warning: Set Re-trigger loops

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to one-shot, otherwise you have to use the global stop.) Toward the bottom of the
Inspector is the easily overlooked Resolution setting, where you can choose how soon the
loop starts playing after you hit the pad play button. The Inspector also includes a filter

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for the pad, either low or high–pass. Turn it on, and move your finger around the X-Y Pad
for resonance and cutoff. Very chic.
As the name implies, the pads allow you to play with the loop, putting the scratch into
Scratchpad. You can scratch or scroll though the loop, or even apply stutter or tape-stop
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effects. Finally, you can record your performance and play it back from the Browser. Nice.
Or you can load it into your DAW of choice via Dropbox for further refinement. Or use your
performance, as the name also implies, as a scratch version of the song and build up live-
played parts as replacements. However, many of the loops are good — in fact, very good.
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So good, that within a few minutes of downloading the app, I was banging out an
industrial-sounding song — verse, verse, and chorus.
Cakewalk has offered several variations of beat productions before, including Project5,
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the pad-based soft-synth Beatscape, and the current Matrix module within SONAR [Tape
Op #99]. Scratchpad is easily my favorite of these, and not just because it is the simplest,
but because it works intuitively with no muss or fuss. It is simplicity itself, so of course
my only complaint is that it’s too simple, mainly due to the iPad platform. While Dropbox
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is great for some use cases, it’s a less than ideal storage solution, especially for live use,
and Scratchpad begs to be played live. Moreover, the current version of Scratchpad does
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not support iTunes File Sharing for wired transfers. A bigger screen for more pads would
be nice, too, like on my Windows tablet, which also has a USB slot for expansion and
storage. Fortunately, the app was programmed with cross-platform support in mind, and
Cakewalk’s CTO has said that they are considering other releases. As cool as Scratchpad is,
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a Windows version with scrollable columns on a full-sized touchscreen would make a great
instrument — either as a standalone application or as a VST. While I wait for that version,
my fingers won’t be crossed; they’ll be busy playing Scratchpad for iPad.
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($6.99 download; scratchpad.cakewalk.com)


–Alan Tubbs <www.bnoir-film.com>

www.tapeop.com
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see more of our bonus &


archived reviews online!
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ADK Microphones Diffuser City
Z-67 tube mic Unpainted Nebraska diffuser
The Neumann U 67 is one of my favorite mics of all time;
I use it on nearly every tracking date that I do, on a variety
Acoustimac
of instruments, including electric and acoustic guitars, as DMD acoustic fabric
well as vocals. When I got the Z-67 from ADK’s Z-Mod line to While making acoustic adjustments to one of our control
review, I rang my friend Jonathan Tyler and asked if he’d rooms, we decided more absorption and diffusion were
indulge me with some songs so we could check out the mic needed for the front wall. Diffuser City is a small company
against its spiritual grandfather. that makes one-of-a-kind diffuser panels hand-assembled in
Upon opening the rather large case, I found a great set of the U.S. from 100% reclaimed wood. (Since their products
tools: the hefty power supply, a well-constructed shockmount, are made-to-order, be sure to factor lead-time into any
an AccuSound XLR cable, a 7-pin mic cable, a nice pop filter, project deadlines.) We installed nine units from their
and of course, the mic itself. The Z- 67 is solidly built, with a Unpainted Nebraska line. These are 1 ft × 1 ft block-type
great vintage-style hammertone finish. The circuit board is diffusers with a twist. Instead of precisely shaped cubes
simple and populated with quality electronic parts. placed in a quadratic-residue scheme, these use remnants,
I plugged the Z-67 into the balanced power in my studio, unpainted pieces, and sections of wood cut at multiple
along with my favorite U 67 at The Complex, and let them angles and randomly mounted on a plywood base. Each unit
cook for a while. The first thing I noticed when I patched weighs about 8 lbs and mounts via a French cleat, which is
the mics into my Chandler TG2 preamp [Tape Op #39] was the a bracket made from a single piece of bevel-rip-cut lumber.
significantly lower self-noise of the Z-67 — despite the U This is a time-tested mounting method that provides
67’s NOS Telefunken tube. stability as well as precise positioning. The wood is
First up was a finger-strummed acoustic guitar. Placed unfinished, and could be stained or painted to taste.
about 18’’ from the guitar, I got a big full sound with the Diffuser City sells several other reclaimed wood treatments,
U 67, with the great presence rise that I love on this mic. including more mathematical lines (based on MLS and
The Z-67 seemed to have this rise at a lower frequency, and QRD/Schroeder scatterings). Be sure to see which type might

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seemed very mid-forward in comparison, making the U 67 fit your needs.
sound almost scooped. Here, the U 67 had better clarity. One Purists will note that the Unpainted Nebraska diffuser does
point to the U 67. not follow any of the accepted equations for block diffusers
(standard and inverse 1D and 2D quadratic methods). I’m

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On a pick-strummed guitar, however, the Z-67’s presence
bump highlighted the plectrum-on-string detail that I was fine with that. The test space did not require a specific
looking for. All the while on acoustic guitar, the Z-67’s bottom frequency scatter nor is this the only diffuser in the room.
end was consistent and never boomy. One point to the Z-67. I’m really happy with the performance, appearance, and

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On JT’s voice, this mic was just stunning. It complemented
his tone with a clarity that I’ve been searching for. It was
head and shoulders above the U 67 for this application. The
construction of the Diffuser City units. Clients continually
comment how interesting they are, making it a focal point
that is both functional and fashionable. Combined with the
other treatments, the room sounds much tighter without
Z-67 never folded, never distorted, and he could really work
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the mic to get a dynamic take with hardly any compression being totally dead.
necessary, using the realistic proximity effect to his benefit We also installed a good deal of rigid fiberglass on the
on quieter passages. Jonathan reported that it felt very same wall. For covering material, we turned to Acoustimac,
who offer a range of acoustic fabrics. Some people avoid
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natural to sing into the mic, and he could really feel what he
was doing. Point to the Z-67. acoustic fabric, citing that it is expensive. However, I’m not
Electric guitar produced mixed results between the two sure that’s completely true, and meanwhile, the benefits of
mics. On a late ‘60s Telecaster Deluxe plugged straight into acoustic fabric are many. First, they allow sound to pass
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an incredible ‘50s tweed Fender Deluxe amp, the presence without the same coloration imparted by sewing-store
curve of the Z-67 could make it a little harsh sounding at fabric. Second, the bolts are wider than our local fabric place
times, while the U 67 was a little more gentle and forgiving. sells. And finally, many acoustic fabrics have fire treatments
I could imagine the Z-67 being more useful on a darker for increased flame resistance. We chose fabric from the DMD
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sounding combo amp to bring out the detail in the part. On line, but Acoustimac sells many styles and textures, and even
chunky parts, the Z-67 felt “faster” and more responsive to has a custom photo-print option. I hope to look into the
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transients than the old U 67, which could get a little custom printed “skins” later. The fabric pieces can be up to
saturated and maybe a little soggy sounding. I feel like this 53’’ wide and as long as 96’’. I strongly suggest buying a
application is a draw. sample swatch pack, because you can’t trust the color
calibration of your computer screen when making choices —
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Overall, the Z-67 is a solid mic with a great feature set


and sturdy construction. That it compared so favorably to and you don’t want to return a heavy bolt of cloth when you
one of my favorite mics is a testament to the enormous can make the right choice to start.
amount of work that ADK has reportedly put into developing I’m a proponent who believes that the vibe of the studio
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this mic. ($2999 street; www.adkmic.com) affects the performances. Having acoustic treatments that
–Ryan Hewitt <www.ryanhewitt.com> glow of creativity is a positive in my book. If you want
something fresh and very different from the manufactured

Tape Op is made foam or plastic look, check these lines out. (Unpainted
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Nebraska $29.99 each, www.diffusercity.com; DMD acoustic


possible by our fabric $9.95 per yard, www.acoustimac.com)
advertisers. –Garrett Haines <www.treelady.com>
Please support them and tell them you
saw their ad in Tape Op.
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56/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/(continued on page 58)


Gear Geeking w/ Andy…
Despite everything that we know about acoustics, and the
trouble we go through to treat our rooms properly, a popular
practice in recording studios is to place nearfield monitors
on top of the console’s meter bridge. In many cases, doing
so will result in the console acting as a mirror-like reflecting
surface for sound traveling from the speakers to our ears at
mix position. Because this first reflection has to travel
farther through air than the direct sound from speaker to
ear, it wreaks havoc on timing — smearing transients and
collapsing the image — and disrupts frequency response
too from the resultant comb-filtering. A quick way to check
for console reflections is to rest a mirror (or even an iPad
with the screen off) on the console. Move the mirror around,
and try to visually locate each of the speakers through it. If
there is no mirror position that will offer you a view of the
speakers while you’re sitting at the console, then you’re
fine. In my personal studio, my ADAM S3-A monitors [Tape
Op #33] sit at ear height, on top of Ultimate Support MS
series stands [#90], behind and above the meter bridge of
my console, so that there are no first reflections off of the
console reaching my ears. (My walls and ceiling are also
treated to absorb and diffuse first reflections.) My second
monitors are a pair of Avantone MixCubes [#55, #88]. These
I want closer to my ears, so I have them on top of the meter

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bridge, but for various reasons, I do not want to raise them
to ear height. Audioengine DS2 Desktop Stands ($34 pair;
www.audioengineusa.com) are perfectly sized and shaped
for this application. The DS2 stand is a hollow rubber wedge

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that has just enough tilt so that each MixCube’s single
driver points directly at my head, and importantly, the 2.25’’
rise at the front of the wedge is enough to prevent a first
reflection off of the console. I also employ a pair of DS2
wedges to prop up the 16’’ wide Boston Acoustics CS225C
center-channel speaker underneath the Panasonic plasma
screen in my filmmaker wife’s office. Before the wedges, the
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glass surface of the flat-panel table/mount upon which the
speaker was placed was causing a first reflection that was
most noticeable in the midrange, exactly where you want
the center channel to be most accurate — problem solved
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with the DS2 wedges. Moreover, the wedges look great —


purposeful but unobtrusive. Audioengine claims that the
dense silicon rubber provides acoustic damping and
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isolation. I haven’t compared the performance of the DS2


against more expensive solutions, like the Primacoustic
Recoil Stabilizers [#62] that I use in my studio office as
well as in my living room. Recoil Stabilizers, in addition to
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providing isolation, couple with the speaker cabinet to


increase mass, reducing movement and resonance of the
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speaker itself, which benefits transient response. They come


in many sizes and several angles, but none that are
appropriate for my MixCubes and center-channel speaker.
Anyway, I can say that placing these speakers on DS2
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wedges is helping the sound immensely; the improvement


from the elimination of first reflections is not subtle, and I
haven’t noticed any sympathetic vibration or resonance. But
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that’s not to say there aren’t other solutions that might lead
to similar gains. For example, I’ve seen $10 foam yoga
blocks repurposed as speaker stands and even cut into
wedges. Whatever method you choose, you’ll hear more
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accuracy and less phasing-induced distortion if you identify


and minimize the amount of energy reaching your ears from
first reflections, including those from your console or
worksurface. –AH
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Please Support Our Advertisers/Tape Op#100/57


Purple Audio
Sweet Ten 500-series rack w/
Moiyn & Cans II modules
The 500-series market has seen a flood of new products, to say the least. I keep waiting for
Dyson to come out with a 500-series vacuum. Or maybe Bodum will make a milk frother for the
format. The cool thing about everybody doing something is that it makes the exceptional stand
out even more in sea of relative mediocrity. The Purple Audio Sweet Ten is a product that does
just that! The Sweet Ten is a 10-module 500-series rack boasting unprecedented flexibility and
configurability. Mine arrived with Moiyn and Cans II modules installed, turning it into an 8×2
summing mixer. This review will cover the Sweet Ten in this configuration.
The first thing I noticed out-of-the-box is its build quality. It’s much more solid than the many
500-series racks that have visited High Bias. This thing is an absolute tank without feeling bulky
at all. It’s rigid and still sleek. It feels like it’s going to outlast the building my studio is in. The
next thing I noticed is the attractive venting on the top and sides of the chassis. These provide
more than ample heat dissipation without exposing the insides. Maybe I’m imagining things, but
it seems to run way cooler than other racks of its ilk. Next, I noticed the high-quality Neutrik
connectors on the back — always a good sign. This being my first 500-series rack, I was intrigued
and excited by the number of I/O points on the back. More on this later. Mine was installed in
mere minutes, and I was on my way!
While I was waiting on delivery of several 500-series modules I’d ordered for my new rack, I
was blown away by Chris Garges’ review of the AwTAC Awesome Channel Amplifier [Tape Op #93].
That and the knowledge that it would really take advantage of the Sweet Ten’s unique features led
me to contact the ingenious and affable Dave Raphael, and he happened to have a few channels
he could spare for a week until my other modules arrived. A pair of AEA RPQ500 mic preamps
[#96] ended up arriving ahead of schedule, so the AwTACs had some company!

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Bars Of Gold are quite possibly the best American rock band you’ve never heard of. Certainly the
most earnest. Cross The Constantines and Repeater-era Fugazi fronted by Bruce Springsteen giving
the most harrowingly inspirational halftime speech in the history of coaching, and you get the
picture — barely. Anyhow, we had spent a yearish off-and-on tracking, overdubbing, re-tracking, re-

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amping, and eating my homemade salsa by the time the Sweet Ten arrived. First, we used the Sweet
Ten to power the AEA preamps fed by an AEA R88 Mk2 stereo ribbon mic [Tape Op #96]. Everything
sounded great — no surprise there. One of the guys had borrowed an API six-slot from Vintage King

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in case the Purple didn’t show up in time for our session. We took full advantage and A/B’ed the
two. While that mic and preamp combo sounded great in either box, the Sweet Ten seemed to provide
a more substantial sound stage. There was more depth and weight. The image wasn’t wider, per se,
just bigger. It’s nice and super rare when something already great becomes almost 3D sounding. The
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reason? Clean power. The Sweet Ten provides 150 mA of current per slot from a built-in, high-
frequency switching power supply with extensive filtering and shielding.
With that last bit of tracking done, we mixed the record out from my DAW, summing through my
trusty Sony MXP-3036 console. I was dying to use the summing features of the Sweet Ten, but with
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only four modules, I decided to wait. With longer projects like this, I often mix in stages, and this
proved to be the second-to-last stage. A few days later, we did touchups. It was a classic example
of the band asking for a few final tweaks, but being generally stoked, and me feeling like the record
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deserved more real-estate sonically. Too much In A Silent Way box-set-on-headphones, I guess. So I
opted to patch the AwTACs and sum through the Purple Audio rig where my master fader would be —
then straight out of the Purple’s mix bus and into a Prism Sound Maselec MLA-2 compressor [Tape
Op #93]. I then mult’ed the outputs, and a pair went into the DAW and another back to my master
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fader. The results were exactly what I had hoped for. Again, the above description regarding depth
and weight applied, but other things happened too. Tracks sat better, details I had long forgotten
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reappeared, and the mix just seemed more cohesive and confident. Problem solved!
A few months and more modules later, the day arrived when full 8×2 summing in the Sweet
Ten became possible, thanks to the wonderful people at Moog, Radial Engineering, and Rascal
Audio — just in time for my session with Chit Chat, a band of young upstarts hailing from Ann
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Arbor, MI. They play bad-ass garage-y psyche rock with super huge, fuzzed-out guitars. They know
how to lay it down when it comes to guitar tone. Same deal as usual — I mixed some, the band
gave notes, I mixed some more. My fiancé, much to her delight (or chagrin, depending on the
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day) has to walk through the control room to get to our apartment. She has a pretty good ear
and listens more than I would if I were in her shoes. She heard the first pass on Monday and
commented accordingly. On Friday, when I did the touchup session, as the last chord was ringing
out, she uttered “What the fu#*k?!?!?” It scared the bejesus out of me, as I had no idea she was
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in the room. She said the mixes sounded enormous and asked me what was different. I told her
it was the Purple Audio rig. On her way out, she said “You better buy that thing!” Anyone who
has a studio and a significant other can relate to what a miracle this is! The Chit Chat mixes
sounded great to me too, and their singer Izzy asked what was different, even though the mix
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changes were pretty minimal, yet the sonic picture was drastically improved. Pretty cool.
58/Tape Op#100/Gear Reviews/
A few more months in, and I’m just now scratching the
surface of the extra I/O the Sweet Ten has to offer. Each slot has
two inputs and two outputs available. This opens up possibilities
for inserts, linking, fader loops, as well as stereo modules in one
slot! All of the Purple Audio modules take full advantage of this.
For example, the Biz [Tape Op #55] and Pants mic preamps have
inserts as well as split outputs! And the new Dex is a high-quality
line-level and phono mixer with a cross fader.
Mounting the Moiyn in slot 9 allows high-quality summing
of the modules in the first eight slots. The Moiyn uses
differential summing input amplifiers, reducing the load on the
outputs of slots 1–8. This means you can still use the individual
outs to go to your DAW or tape machine. It also sports custom
hexifiliar output transformers, providing two stereo transformer-
isolated feeds. The Moiyn uses two KDJ3 op-amps and two KDJ4
op-amps in its signal path. This all goes through a high quality
stereo rotary master fader. It has headroom for days! In
addition, the two inputs for slot 9 serve as a stereo input to the
Moiyn mix bus for cascading multiple Sweet Ten racks, meaning
you can have a killer 16×2 mixer in six rackspaces!
What goes in slot 10? The Cans II module! Cans II is a discrete,
stereo headphone amp and control-room preamplifier. There is an
internal jumper to send one of the Moiyn’s outs to the inputs of
the Cans II using no cables. Because of the Cans II’s bridging
transformer inputs, the pair of rear XLR inputs for slot 10 can be
used as a second set of stereo outputs for the Moiyn — very cool.

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The Cans II sports buttons for channel swap, mono mode, cut for
each channel, and dual cut. It also has a precision matched, stereo
level control and a toggle switch for switching between its two
outputs. All of this, and a 1/4’’ headphone jack on the front panel!

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Continues on Page 64>>>

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Gear Reviews/(continued on page 64)/Tape Op#100/59


<<<The Future from Page 39 Ergonomic efficiency will be vastly improved with

post houses with giant mixing consoles, racks of


scalable depth-of-field. In other words, whatever
function you want to control comes to you. Haptic Mastering
outboard hardware and patch panels, video editing
suites, box-bound audio monitors, touch screens,
touch (emulated physical feedback) will add an extra
layer of realism (2030+). Any device in the virtual & Recording
hardware input devices, and large acoustic control
rooms will become historical curiosities. We will have
studio can be changed with one voice or gestural
command. Don’t like the sound of that Helios console? Services:
long ago abandoned the mouse. DAW video screens will Install The Beatles’ EMI Abbey Road console. Prefer a All of these studios support the
be largely obsolete. Save for a quiet cubicle and a Millennia NSEQ-4 over the NSEQ-2? Any change Tape Op Community & would welcome
comfortable chair, the large, hardware-cluttered becomes quickly engaged for fast A-B comparisons. the opportunity to talk to you about
“production studio” will be mostly a quaint memory. mastering your next project. Go to
Real-space physicality (e.g., pro audio gear) will be PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES www.tapeop.com/mediakit/
replaced with increasingly sophisticated head-worn Today, a $400 Sony PS4 employs around 5 billion to find out about putting your
virtuality. Trend charts suggest that by 2050, head- transistors, with 2 teraflop graphics processing – about studio on these pages.
worn audio and visual 3D realism will be virtually the same computing power as one mouse brain
indistinguishable from real-space. Microphones, (according to inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil). By
cameras, and other front-end capture devices will 2027 a commodity gaming console will be 10,000
become 360-degree spatial devices. Post-production times more powerful than today’s machines. That’s the
will routinely mix, edit, sweeten, and master in head- processing power of a human brain sitting on your
worn immersion. desktop – roughly equivalent to the power of IBM’s
During this transition, perhaps the only remaining Watson supercomputer in 2010. With effectively
piece of CEH (clunky external hardware) will be the unlimited processing power, and profoundly advanced
sub-woofer, which cannot be emulated with a head- AI, our future production tools will allow us to call up
worn device. In live environments, such as movie a visually and musically correct symphony orchestra in
theatres and concerts, patrons will be given spherical any concert hall of our choosing. Let’s add a Bulgarian

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augmentation headsets similar to the 3D handouts in choir, or maybe Yo Yo Ma on his carbon fiber cello.
today’s theatres. Theatres will be smaller, but will Immersive media creation systems will allow us to
deliver a total sensory-immersive experience using sub- organically develop our own musical ideas by
intelligently interacting with each desk of a symphony

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frequencies, physical agitation, and head-worn AV.
Technology charts show that electro-mechanical orchestra, or a gamelan orchestra, or a rock band – or
devices have been halving in size every 2.5 years for whatever – of any size, and in any space (assuming our
the last 50 years. This suggests that head-worn A/V desired players, instruments, and acoustic spaces have
immersion hardware will continue to shrink in size and
weight as it becomes more resolvent. It’s not a stretch
to envision ultra-lightweight “transparent headgear ”
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been characterized). Gestural and voice commands will
make refinements to the score and performance, just as
a conductor or producer would rehearse real-space
which keeps eyes and ears fully open to one’s real- talent, until the ensemble plays exactly as we envision.
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space environment, while providing immersive Our technology growth charts suggest that by 2040,
qualities on demand. Transparent headgear solves the we will achieve all of this (and perhaps more) in a VMW
problem of socializing and sharing with others in a – Virtual Media Workstation.
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common A/V space.


Future recording studios will give us our familiar
working tools: mixing consoles, outboard equipment,
patchbays, DAW data screens, and boxy audio monitors.
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The difference is that all of this “equipment” will exist


in virtual space. When we don our VR headgear,
everything required for audio or visual production is
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there “in front of us” with lifelike realism. In the virtual


studio, every functional piece of audio gear – every
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knob, fader, switch, screen, waveform, plug-in, meter,


and patch point – will be visible and gesture-
controllable entirely in immersive space. Music post-
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production will no longer be subject to variable room


acoustics. A recording’s spatial and timbral qualities
will remain consistent among any studio in the world, The future of audio, music, film making, game
because the “studio” will be sitting on one’s head. design, TV, industrial apps – any creative media –
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Forget the classic mix room monitor array with big becomes effectively unbounded. Personally, I dream
soffits, bookshelves, and Auratones. Head-worn A/V about recording music directly from my thoughts: a
allows the audio engineer to emulate and audition non-invasive brain-machine music interface. It turns
virtually any monitor environment, including any out that this dream is moving from science fiction to
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known real-space or legacy playback system, from any reality. And if we chart a conservative two-year doubling
position in any physical room. period for cortex sensing resolution, by the early 22nd
Matured gestural control (2035+) will allow us to century our non-invasive brain interfaces will be about
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reach out and control any “thing” in the studio. 20 orders of magnitude more powerful than today.
60/Tape Op#100/the Future/(continued on page 63)
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Please Support Our Advertisers/Tape Op#100/61


For this 100th issue, John and I tried to think of Madonna Ray of Light
some of the albums that captured the attention of Magnetophone Sea Saw
our contributors and interviewees in our early Massive Attack v. Mad Professor No Protection
years, as well as what has made for good listening Moby Play
in the studio and at the “luxurious” Tape Op Nada Surf Let Go
offices. Think of this list as part of the soundtrack Neko Case Blacklisted
for reading Tape Op back issues. And by no means is Neutral Milk Hotel In the Aeroplane Over the Sea
this a complete version of anything. Far from it in Nine Inch Nails Ghosts
fact. Yes, there is a lot of indie rock. But that’s not all Papas Fritas Helioself
we listen to… Pedro the Lion Achilles Heel
-LC & JB Quasi R&B Transmogrification
Radiohead OK Computer and Kid A
Beastie Boys Hello Nasty Rilo Kiley The Execution of All Things
Beck Sea Change Robert Plant & Alison Krauss Raising Sand
Bonnie “Prince” Billy Master and Everyone Sam Phillips Martinis and Bikinis
Bon Iver For Emma Forever Ago Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings Dap Dippin’ with…
Bright Eyes I’m Wide Awake it’s Morning Shellac 1000 Hurts
Calexico The Black Light and Feast of Wire Sigur Rós Ágætis byrjun
Calvin Newborn New Born Sparklehorse Good Morning Spider and It’s a Wonderful Life
Chris Knox Beat Spoon Girls Can Tell
Coldplay A Rush of Blood to the Head Steve Fisk 999 Levels of Undo
David Byrne & Brian Eno Everything That Happens Will Happen Today Talk Talk Laughing Stock
DJ Shadow Endtroducing The Apples in Stereo Fun Trick Noisemaker
East River Pipe Poor Fricky The Chills Kaleidoscope World
Elliott Smith Either/Or and Figure 8 The Clean Unknown Country
Fugazi The Argument The Flaming Lips The Soft Bulletin

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Gillian Welch Time (The Revelator) The Low Anthem Oh My God Charlie Darwin
Grandaddy The Sophtware Slump The Mammals Evolver
Guided By Voices Bee Thousand The White Stripes Elephant
Iron & Wine Our Endless Numbered Days The Yayhoos Fear Not The Obvious

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Jeremy Enigk Return of the Frog Queen
Johnny Cash The Man Comes Around
Tim Bluhm California Way
Tobin Sprout Moonflower Plastic
The Tape Op
John Frusciante The Will to Death Tom Petty Wildflowers
Office
John Vanderslice Cellar Door
Lambchop Nixon
Latin Playboys S/T
Low Things We Lost in the Fire
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Tortoise Millions Now Living Will Never Die
Trans Am TransAm
Varnaline Man of Sin
Wilco Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
Soundtrack
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Macha See It Another Way Yo La Tengo I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One

Rainbow Electronics
5800 Madison Avenue, Ste. G
ot

Sacramento, CA 95841
916-334-7277
www.rainbowelectronics.net
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Specialists in repairs of professional and consumer audio equipment


from vintage tube to modern digital multi-track technology.
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We service most major brands in or out of warranty.


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New Subscribers: $200.00. Re-newal $150.00.
($25 discount for Tape-Op readers)
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62/Tape Op#100/Music Reviews/(continued on page 64)


<<<The Future From Page 60
Will high resolution brain sensing truly give us the ability
The Warmenfat
Pure Tube
to think music and imagery directly into our computers? Class A Micro Amplifier!
Or does this simply blur the line between our brains and
our computers, so that the entire paradigm of augmented
thinking and collective knowledge is radically shifted? At
that point – when we have billions of devices globally
networked, and each device is trillions of times smarter
than the combined intelligence of all humanity – what will
our species become? What will our collective thought
processes look like? Will our future notions of “art”
resemble the forms of art we cherish today?
The machine is getting closer to us. Our creations are
becoming more lifelike, more like us. Machines were once

$499
“out there” as separate ideas doing separate work. Moving
forward, smart machines will become an increasingly
intimate part of daily life; they’ll exist on our heads, closer
to our senses, and in the infrastructure of our homes,
vehicles, and businesses. I find this both exciting and
direct!
• Standard instrument input: Lead or bass guitar, keyboards—You name it!
frightening as radically new opportunities, and profound • —26 dB input: Low sensitivity input. Perfect for that snare drum.
social challenges, await us. • Transformer speaker output: Use as a guitar amplifier.
One hundred years ago, Oscar Wilde noted that life • Transformer balanced output: Perfect DI. (Max output level over +25 dBm.)
• Transformerless unbalanced output: Ideal for re-amplifying or inserting into an effects loop.
imitates art. Today, technology mimics science fiction. In
• Direct output (before gain controls): Boost classic guitar amp independently of DI output.

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the not-too-distant future audio engineers will have a • High Gain switch: Selects between triode and beam tetrode tube operation.
Holodeck on their head. The future of music, audio, • Pre and Post Gain controls: Adjust from clean to crunchy.
filmmaking, gaming – any creative media construction, • Custom output transformer: Allows any speaker to be used as a microphone
from inception, to post-production, to delivery – is truly (for kick drum or guitar cabinets) while simultaneously providing a balanced output.

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boundless and limited only to our collective imagination. r Manufactured by Rainbow Electronics - specialists in audio repairs since 1963
Visit tapeop.com for relevant graphs and references for
www.warmenfat.com • 916-334-7277
this article.
John La Grou is co-founder and chair of POW-R, the
world’s leading audio bit-length reduction algorithms.
Roughly one-third of all CD and downloaded music is
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processed with POW-R (licensed to Apple, Avid, etc.). He is
founder and CEO of Millennia Media, a design leader in
critical audio recording, live sound, post-production,
mastering, and archiving. Read more at his LinkedIn profile:
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www.linkedin.com/in/lagrou

bonus article:
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http://tapeop.com/interviews/100/the-future/
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the Future/(Fin.)/Tape Op#100/63


<<<Music Reviews from Page 62 <<<Gear Reviews from Page 59
Patty Griffin Silver Bell I’ve been a fan of Patty Griffin’s since I heard her first album, Living After using this setup and about 20% of its feature set for a few months, it occurred
With Ghosts in 1996. The record is just Griffin solo with her acoustic guitar, and the sound quality is to me that the reason for all of these features is a plan for how people will record and mix
pretty rough. It sounds like an SM58 knockoff on the vocal and a direct out of the acoustic guitar in the future! The Sweet Ten was built both as a standalone piece and to be part of a near-
recorded straight into an early DAT machine. I’d heard that the album was the demos that resulted infinitely configurable modular studio. In the upcoming months, Purple Audio will release
in her signing to A & M, and that the label was unable to match their feeling with more produced the MFTWENTY5. There’s too much to cover here, but in short, it’s a 1RU-height discrete
recordings of the same songs. It was a wise decision, as the intensity of the performances easily summing mixer that uses all ten slots of the Sweet Ten — and then some. Super impressive.
overcomes the amateur recording. I’ve remained a fan, catching Griffin performing live, but having The idea of building a modular console out of these guys has become a distinct possibility
followed her recordings over the years, nothing she’s done since Living With Ghosts had really grabbed here. The ability to add as you grow, as opposed to saving high five figures for a console
me. Her records certainly sounded “better” but the production always seemed to be a miss for me, in one pop, is super appealing.
and the albums struck me as trying to break Griffin through to some bigger level. In the decades So, clearly the Sweet Ten, Moiyn, and Cans II configuration does a ton of stuff. To be
since Living With Ghosts, she’s maintained a solid solo career, written songs for the Dixie Chicks, and honest, it took me a few months to really grasp it. Thankfully, in addition to being some
recorded with Robert Plant. It seems a bit ironic then that Silver Bell, which I think might be the kind of audio genius and future-proofer, Purple Audio owner Andrew Roberts is a helpful and
best record she’s ever made, was shelved by A & M 13 years ago after she recorded it. The songs are patient man! This setup has really changed the way I think about workflow. Sonically, the
all keepers, the recording and arrangements are perfect, and the performances spot on. The record Sweet Ten is scary good, regardless of its extensive feature set. It’s a proud addition to High
strikes me a bit as Griffin’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, but unlike Wilco, her management and label at the Bias. If you’re looking for a superior way to power your modules, and then some, or looking
time were, for whatever reason, not able to find a path to release the album. to build a modular audio reality, I can’t think of a better choice than the Sweet Ten.(Sweet
Whatever the circumstances, it’s nice that the album has finally seen the light of day. In the liner Ten $800 street; Moiyn $725; Cans II $500; www.purpleaudio.com)
notes Griffin looks back with perspective and gratitude at the album, and notes that “Silver Bell was –Chris Koltay <www.highbiasrecordings.com>
the last of many things. This was the last record I made for A & M Records. It was the last record
recorded in its entirety at Daniel Lanois’ [Tape Op #37] Kingsway Studio in New Orleans. It was written SwirlyGig
and recorded within the ending of an era in which major record labels were smaller, and defined by SwirlyHook headphone holder
the musical tastes of the people who ran them and loved them.” The album has two producers, Jay Headphones tend to get dropped, placed, or temporarily forgotten on the studio floor —
Joyce and Craig Ross. The Joyce tracks are more “rock” and take more chances with the arrangements, right? And then stepped on, tripped over, and/or kicked and busted. And once they are
while the Ross tracks (one of which features Emmylou Harris) are more rooted in Americana. broken, they need to be replaced (at $40–$150 a pop), since almost none of them are user-

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Surprisingly the tracks coexist and mix quite well with each other and make for a great listen, with repairable. One solution to this classic problem is to simply keep the headphones off the
variety and enough consistency to hold together and flow well. The entire album was recorded 13 floor by providing the client/artist a handy hook to easily hang the headphones on.
years ago by Ethan Allen, and was then remixed for this release by Glyn Johns. Whatever the Traditional headphone hooks/holders are a bit of a pain in the neck to mount and have

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circumstances, it strikes me that the album does not sound at all dated, and whether through Johns’ associated problems such as stripped screws and, “Crap, I’m using the wrong mic stand —
revisiting of the tracks or the strength of the original arrangements and recordings, it’s a telling the one without the headphone hook.”
reminder that timelessness, as opposed to trendiness, will usually reward both the artist and listener. Enter SwirlyGig. Where has the SwirlyHook headphone hook been all my life? It’s an
We were able to chat with Glyn about mixing the album and according to him, the record, “Was on ingenious little piece of twirled PVC-coated metal that easily attaches to mic stands. There
analog tape, which is what I would have preferred anyway.” According to Glyn, the album was mixed
unattended at “the best studio in England,” Mark Knopfler’s British Grove Studios (Tape Op #97) on
their API console down to 1/4-inch tape at 15 ips, with the NAB alignment curve. We asked Glyn
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are no moving parts, no mounting screws. It stays put with gravity and friction. So simple.
There are a few different variations — drink holders, drumstick holders — but my fave is
the ultra-basic headphone holder hook. ($10.99 and up; www.swirlygig.com)
about the challenges of mixing tracks from two different producers. “It wasn’t a problem at all, the –Pete Weiss <www.weissy.com>
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common denominator obviously being Patty. I’m sure she was involved in the production, along with
the producers, and that made it all work perfectly well. I didn’t really pay any attention to who
produced what, I just put it on and made the best of it as it were.” Asked about the challenges of RIBBON MICROPHONE REPAIRS
REPAIR AND REFURBISH ANY TYPE RIBBON
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mixing the record, Glyn said that, “The style in which it was recorded, which was for then a very
contemporary one where pretty much everything is limited to buggery, sort of limits your options. MICROPHONE. WE USE AUTHENTIC RCA RIBBON
You can’t un-limit or un-squash something. Basically I had to disentangle some of the more MATERIAL.WE ALSO UPGRADE LESS EXPENSIVE
objectionable sounds on the record. I’m sure to a contemporary or young engineer now it would have MICS WITH RCA RIBBON MATERIAL AND LUNDAHL
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been manna from heaven for them, but it was a little bit odd for me as that’s not the way I record.”
TRANSFORMERS.
I mentioned to Glyn that the record sounds pretty timeless and he responded, “If you’ve got good
musicians, good material, and a good singer, then your job is relatively easy to make it sound ENAK MIC REPAIR. CLARENCE KANE.
timeless. For me to try and make something contemporary now, I wouldn’t know where to start.” RCA - 35 years, Enak Mic 24 years
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Glyn laughed a bit and continued, “It was a bit of a challenge for me to try and get any kind of sense 856-589-6186 609-636-1789
out it, but in the end it wasn’t too difficult.” The album was mastered by Andrew Mendelson at WWW.ENAKMIC.COM ENAKMIC@COMCAST.NET
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Georgetown Masters in Nashville. Great work by all involved. (pattygriffin.com) -JB


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64/Tape Op#100/the Continued On Page/


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The End of The Day
by Larry Crane

It’s getting late. We’ve been working on this album off and on for months. We’re nearing
the end of the last mix, and it’s sounding pretty good. It came together fairly easily, as we’d

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carefully critiqued sounds, takes, and overdubs along the way. Everyone in the room knows we
worked hard on this track, and that it’s paying off now. It sounds “right” to us.

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Over the decades these people that I first met in my studio have become my friends. They
came to me with their abstract dreams of what these songs might become, and I tried my best
to contribute to their sound. For years we all honed our skills, and I believe the songs and
albums prove it. Every album gets a little better than the last, and lessons learned always make
the process go more smoothly. It is rewarding. il
The last note of the final mix fades out slowly. A long sigh of relief courses around the
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room. “Well, shit. We’re done.”

We set the computer to backup our


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session and pop around the corner for a beer


or two before retrieving our hard drives and
heading home to loved ones. I raise a beer and toast my
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friends on another fine album completed. Everyone is tired but satisfied.

I feel honored to be a part of this process and to help people create records
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that come out better than they ever imagined. Honored to be their trusted
sounding board and guiding hand in the studio.
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This is all I ever wanted, and I feel lucky to be here right now.
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66/Tape Op#100/End Rant/


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