Cascade Microphones ( sent Tape Op a number of ribbon mics to evaluate, so when JB and his crew at The Hangar were asked to set up a remote studio for Devendra Banhart's new album, he figured it would be a good chance to evaluate the mics during the three months of location recording. Here's what JB wrote: "The X-15 stereo ribbon ($399), Gomez Michael Joly Edition ($499, Tape Op #66), and Vin-Jet long ribbon ($349) mics all got lots of use on Dev's record and made the cut on keeper tracks. Engineer Bryce Gonzales and producer Paul Butler of The Bees were very impressed — so much so that when Bryce brought the mics back to The Hangar, he kept using them, sometimes favoring them over our more expensive ribbons from Coles, Beyerdynamic, Royer, RCA, and Shure. Since then, I've had a chance to try them out as well, along with engineers Thom Monahan and Robert Cheek, and we're all believers. While voiced differently than some of the better-known ribbons — the X-15 has more midrange (in a nice way) but less detail in the highs than the Royer SF-12, the Vin-Jet is in the ballpark of the RCA Type 77-DX, and the Gomez is similar to the Coles 4038 — the Cascades can hold up against mics at twice the price. The one downside is that less than a year along, the Cascades are showing their age (in physical wear) much more than some of the classic mics that are four to forty years older." ••• As Gear Reviews Editor, one of my core responsibilities is to make sure the reviews you read in each issue are relevant, informative, and educational. Granted, not all of the products mentioned in these pages will engage all (or even a majority) of our readers. Budget, production style, gear/software requirements, and even exclusivity — all of these factor into whether a product will hold interest to some group of our readership. We receive countless requests from manufacturers to cover their gear — many times the allotment of available review slots — but we (including LC, JB, SM, AL, and GH) strive to include an effective sampling of what's available. Moreover, all of our contributing writers endeavor to deliver a story that will be meaningful to as many readers as possible — even readers that might not find the product immediately compelling — by offering history, technique, or even descriptions of specific use cases that might be out of the reader's norm. I think that's what makes our reviews interesting. Sure we tell you what it is, but we also try to tell you what it can do, whether by design or not — and if we can share a trick or two that you can add to your engineering regimen, regardless of what product is being reviewed, even better! ••• Our newest reviewer is Matt Foster (Vertigo Sound VSC-2 in this issue). Entering the studio ranks as a tape op for EMI Music, he's since graduated to engineering, mixing, or producing the likes of Whitney Houston, Tin Tin Out, The Corrs, Goldie, Grant Nelson, Jungle Brothers, Coldcut, Gorillaz, The Darkness, KRS-One, and Sasha. He works mainly out of the many Milico Studios ( and teaches at The London School of Sound ( ••• Fearless writer Allen Farmelo, who reviewed the Neve-inspired BAE 1023 (Tape Op #73) and Vintech X73i (#47) preamp/EQs, is working on an extended review of preamps that purportedly offer the Class A, transformer-rich sound of a Neve at a maximum cost of $1500 per channel. Trouble is, his list of affordable Neve-alikes keeps growing, but hopefully, he'll have something for us to publish soon! -AH

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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