Hi. Tape Op is made possible by our advertisers.
Please support them by clicking on their ads.
Letters from Our Readers
I love getting new issues of Tape Op. I read them cover-to-cover to pick up whatever ideas and inspiration are scattered throughout. I've lost track of how many times someone's offhanded remark has spurred some new approach to my own recordings. One such comment was in the (excellent) interview with Ed Stasium when he talked about the Motown session players coming out to New Jersey. He said, "We'd... start with a loop. That's what they did in Motown - make a hi-hat loop on a mono tape machine and play along to it." Wow! I've done similar things (easy now, with a computer), but I'd never heard of that being done on the classic Motown recordings! It seems like such a cool, cutting-edge idea for the time, and is still a great way to build a groove. I tried doing more research into the history of it, but came up short. Do you have any other stories or examples of this approach to recording? I'd love to hear more!
Yeah, it seems like a revolutionary, if obvious, solution; yet I've rarely encountered the mention of a loop being used as a metronome in that era. Many folks played with tape loops before this, of course, but mostly in electro- acoustic music and not as an unheard timekeeper for pop songs. There is the well-documented use of the drum loop from the Bee Gees' "Night Fever" (credited as "Bernard Lupe") being used as the drum beat of "Stayin' Alive" in 1977, albeit four years later.
Ed and Larry, I saw your exchange of letters in Tape Op about transferring cassettes [#98]. I've done this far too many times, so I wrote an in-depth article about this subject on my website. The information may be of use to you. <http://endino.com/archive/cassettes.html>
Congratulations on one of the most compelling, profound, and enjoyable Tape Op articles. The Manny Nieto article [Tape Op #98] is nothing less than inspiring. It clearly shows the bridge in humanity that music can serve. A compact, minimal setup which can record musicians in obscure locations, who can't or don't have any way to put out their music, is wonderful. Thanks Manny, and thanks Larry...
I'm a long-time Tape Op reader, and a huge fan. I feel greatly indebted to the mag as an engineer. I saw you at AES [the 135th Audio Engineering Society Convention in NYC] and would've said hello, but I didn't want to interrupt all the conversations you seemed to be having with old friends. Anyhow, I just wanted to thank you so much for running the Manny Nieto story [Tape Op #98]. That's what it's all about. It's such a life-affirming, inspiring story. Just reading it made me excited to get back in the studio. Thanks for that.
I’m curious about the current cover [Tape Op #97]. Is it some kind of diffusion/decorative wall? If so, from where? Is there any math or science behind this?
The ceiling treatment at The Panoramic House in Marin County, California, was developed from the need for a balance in diffusion/reflection, as well as a desire for something more aesthetically interesting (as opposed to the typical bulky Styrofoam and pre-fab diffusers). I like the use of wood, as it adds warmth to the sound and space. For the ceiling, we installed 3-inch wide cedar shingles, spaced 3 inches apart, which get increasingly longer as they near the back of the room. There was no math, per se: we built a mock-up above the listening position, listened closely, and adjusted the size and spacing accordingly until it felt right.
Great job (as usual) on the most recent issue of Tape Op [#98]. I particularly enjoyed your End Rant about the service industry. It reminded me of a quote, which I just came across this summer and have shared with my colleagues. Thought you might enjoy it:
"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so." - Mahatma Gandhi
I love your magazine! Keep up the wonderful work and I look forward to what you have up your sleeve for issue #100.
I just finished reading the article, "John McBride: A Man Obsessed" [Tape Op #97]. I was particularly intrigued by the school he is starting. He talks about turning out high quality graduates from his program, and I am sure he will be successful. However, my son is a recording engineer in Nashville and from what I have seen, the industry is fatally flawed. Everyone seems to want something for nothing and few are willing to pay for what something is actually worth. Plus, there are thousands of graduates flooding recording studios each year looking for situations that basically don't exist. For the 1 in 10,000 who can find a place to work (as a self- employed engineer - there are no "jobs" the way normal people think of jobs), it takes them many years to make a living at it, and a meager living at that. I am just saying, what good does it do to turn out high-quality recording engineers when the industry is set up to "eat its young"?
Thanks for responding to the interview. Yes, you have a valid argument. However, I will tell you that there are jobs out there for audio engineers and they can make a lucrative living. The recording industry has changed a lot in the 12 years that Martina and I have had Blackbird Studio. Running a studio today isn't what it once was, but there is still a lot of music being recorded in a lot of different ways. Records are made at studios, in bedrooms, and even in the back of a tour bus. Things are not the same - and that is one of the reasons Martina and I started The Blackbird Academy. We love audio, we love music, and there is room in this industry for great engineers, even at a lot of the big studios.
Your son knew what he wanted to do - to be an audio engineer. You cannot talk him out of that, no matter how great an argument you might have. When someone sets their mind to something; that is what they are going to do. In realizing this, Martina and I figured that there might as well be a program that teaches people what they really need to know, in a short amount of time, and for a not ridiculous amount of money. Thus The Blackbird Academy was born, with like-minded people that feel the same way at the helm. We need to teach the next generation how to make great recordings, and we have the ability and the means to make that happen. When Don Was, Nick Raskulinecz, Tim McGraw, and Dann Huff show up in the same month to mentor and teach, that means great things are happening. All to the benefit of the students.
This doesn't happen anywhere else. Our students have the advantage of being mentored by great people and learning what it takes to truly succeed in this business.
I really enjoy Tape Op and read every issue from cover to cover. I'm also a big David Bowie fan and felt compelled to write after reading issue #95's feature on Hansa Tonstudio. In the feature Alex Wende talks about the magnetic train that connected Gleisdreieck and Potsdamer Platz. Bowie also sings about it, "Had to get the train / from Potsdamer Platz / you never knew that / that I could do that" in his love song about Berlin "Where Are We Now?" from his recent album The Next Day. This struck a musical chord in me and really made me connect to the feature and to the song.
I am only a hobbyist, but I eagerly look forward to each issue of Tape Op. I just loved the End Rant in the latest ["Ease of Use" #97] issue. I have never read anything better on the subject of needless complexity. Ever. You elegantly summed up the genius of simplicity. I am a computer consultant by trade and am faced periodically with having to upgrade operating systems and computers. Most of the time these upgrades are purely because Microsoft wants to sell me new stuff. The new user interfaces are different, but they rarely get simpler or easier to use. The security features get more and more difficult to figure out. I spend more and more time looking up how to defeat or work around most of the new "features" included in the latest release of their software products. The genius of simplicity can be applied to any discipline. Just give me a product that works and does not make my job more difficult. Thanks, Larry, for summing it up nicely. I can only hope that Bill Gates stops by Tape Op and reads your blog.