May/Jun 2012

Welcome to issue #89 of Tape Op.


People often mistake what the art of recording music actually is. Learning how to choose and set up a microphone is simple. Gain structures should be obvious, once you learn the basics. Recording software is prevalent and the rudiments are easy to grasp. Hell, even tape deck calibration can be picked up in an afternoon. These are all basic skills one can learn in school or read about in books.

But I think the true art of day-to- day record making is being able to solve problems as they present themselves. Steve Albini mentioned this recently in Tape Op #87: "I'll have a way of getting through the problem." This is the real skill that we bring to recording sessions and we all have our unique ways of solving problems.

I recently had a string of days that made me reconsider this aspect of my work:

Tuesday: I was tracking an album's worth of drums (to pre- recorded metronome/vocals/guitar) during a one-day session. The drummer was prepared and competent, but one song just wasn't gelling. It seemed to me that if he heard the (missing) bass line, the song would come together for him. The solution was to grab the bassist, plug him into a DI and record him along with the drummer. The take came together right after that.

Wednesday: We wanted to track an electric guitar in stereo, but there was a weird crackle in one amp. We swapped it for our Magnatone but the problem persisted. The guitarist went home and grabbed his Fender Super Reverb. However, after the final take, we still heard an odd crackle. During the mix I decided to put a SansAmp plug-in on the track and the noise cleared up.

Thursday: We wanted more control over the frequency balance of the mono output of an old Hammond analog drum machine. We solved it by running the DI'd output through a cheap crossover and printing the low and high tracks separately. It totally helped.

A great engineer/producer brings a huge bag of tricks, all gathered from previous experiences, to every recording session. All of this gained insight is what we offer, and in my mind the technical end of record making is only one part of any successful project. Learning everything one can about gear is important, but at in the end problem solving is what ultimately gets things done.

-Larry Crane, Editor

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →


Columns See more →

End Rant

I Have a Credit Problem

by Count

Over the last few years we've seen an explosion of online music services. Pandora, iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, Soundcloud and dozens of other platforms are touted as groundbreaking ways to deliver...

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy...

by Andy Hong

After reading Brad Kelly's review of the Flents Flitemate earplugs (Tape Op #86), I ordered a pair for myself. I tried them in several different applications, but I wasn't excited as Brad was; in my...


Gear Reviews See more →

Fast Track C400

by M-Audio  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

I'm often asked by clients and artists I work with, what good, inexpensive recording interface I recommend. I used to recommend the Mbox, but the USB C400 is my new choice. I was looking for something...

Pro Tools 10

by Avid  |  reviewed by Eli Crews, Andy Hong

A little over a year ago, I asked three other writers to contribute to a four-opinion review of Pro Tools 9 (Tape Op #81), which in my mind, was the most significant upgrade to the venerable DAW in...

PowerPre 500-series preamp

by Radial Engineering  |  reviewed by Andy Hong

If you have any open slots in your 500-series rack, the PowerPre should be on your shortlist of preamps to consider. Like other products from Radial Engineering, the build-quality is top- notch, and...

GuitarJack 2 iOS interface

by Sonoma Wireworks  |  reviewed by Pete Weiss

The number of audio and music-related iOS apps has exploded lately and so has the need for ways to get sound in and out of the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. There are a good number of such interfaces...


Harrison 500-series 32EQ

by Great River  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

These are four-band sweepable-frequency EQs with 12 dB per octave high and low-pass filters. I've been using these EQs for over six months now and have had a hard time finding the right slant to write...

Megalith Fuzz Pedal

by Mountainking  |  reviewed by Al Lawson

When I first heard about this pedal, I was told that it was used all over the recent OM and Shrinebuilder albums, and it was claimed to be the heaviest sounding fuzz pedal ever. I was interested to...

SRH1840 headphones

by Shure  |  reviewed by Andy Hong

Let me preface my statements here with a general note that everyone's heads, ears, and ear canals are shaped differently; therefore, everyone will hear a set of headphones differently. With that said,...

Duet 2 USB audio interface

by Apogee Electronics  |  reviewed by Alex McKenzie

Building on the success of the original Duet, while taking into consideration customer feedback, Apogee has set a new standard in A/D conversion for home and project studio with the Duet 2. Simply...

Germ 500 MKII Pre Amp (500-series)

by Chandler Limited  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Chandler has created a strong following in the niche market of vintage-inspired preamps, compressors, and tone-shaping tools. Wade Goeke has derived modern tools from the original components and...


Roger Schult W2377 Six-Pack EQ

by MasteringWorks  |  reviewed by Marc Alan Goodman

Roger Schult had a very interesting idea. His mastering equalizer, the UF1, which he calls an Aural Editing System for Mastering Environment, has been getting rave reviews from the few people lucky...

Ozone 5 Advanced

by iZotope  |  reviewed by

Ozone 5 Advanced is the latest version of iZotope's software mastering suite, comprised of six programs: Dynamics, Equalizer, Exciter, Imager, Maximizer, and Reverb. Any single title offers enough...

Music Reviews See more →

Music Reviews

What Kind of World

by Brendan Benson | reviewed by Larry Crane

In Tape Op #82 I picked Brendan's brain about his thoughts and experiences with recording. Here he drops his fifth solo album, this one recorded at the decidedly retro-ish Welcome to 1979 Studios in...

Music Reviews

A Wasteland Companion

by M. Ward | reviewed by Larry Crane

As a recording engineer I can't even count the number of albums I've worked on where my participation didn't end up on the final album - hell, some records never even came out. I'm by no means saying...

Music Reviews

Smoking In Heaven

by Kitty, Daisy and Lewis | reviewed by Larry Crane

Last issue, #88, Liam Watson opined, "using older equipment or simpler recording techniques doesn't necessarily mean you intend things to sound 'lo-fi.'" In Tape Op #67 we interviewed Lewis Durham,...

Music Reviews

El Camino

by The Black Keys | reviewed by Larry Crane

Brian Joseph "Danger Mouse" Burton co-wrote and co-produced the seventh Black Keys studio album with band members Patrick Carney and Dan Auerbach. There's something really great and crunchy about...

Music Reviews

Trio Drop Hop

by Alan Evans | reviewed by Larry Crane

In Tape Op #76 I interviewed drummer, producer, engineer, songwriter Alan Evans of the band Soulive. He's recently formed this ready- to-tour combo to record and play a batch of his new tunes. Wanna...

Music Reviews


by Glenn Brown & Intergalactic Spiral | reviewed by Larry Crane

With a name like Intergalactic Spiral you know it's going to be a journey into [sonic] space. Think Stomu Yamashta's GO project, featuring a little King Crimson and some out there Miles Davis. The...



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

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