May/Jun 2018

Welcome to issue #125 of Tape Op.


This pic is me in 1983, just before I went to CCRMA, in the Buchla Modular studio at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, which was another amazing situation to throw myself into. The small blue box at bottom left is a 6800 CPU, and a prototype digital sequencer/DAC I built, that I wrote hex machine language code for to control the Buchla. Fun stuff!

I was recently in a conversation with John Baccigaluppi, my partner in Tape Op, about his college years and the brief few months he spent in the early '80s at Stanford's CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics) studying under John Chowning, the inventor of FM synthesis (the concept that led to keyboards like the Yamaha DX7). John told me, "I was in way over my head, but just being a fly on the wall was pretty awesome." This got me thinking about how we really learn the craft of recording. Most all of my experiences in music began with situations that were "over my head." Learning to be a disc jockey in high school, joining a band on an instrument I barely knew, putting out records, opening a studio, starting a magazine, and recording bands – all these began as unfamiliar territory for me that I just threw myself into. I also made sure to frequently surround myself with talented people that knew more than I did. Hanging out with musicians, producers, radio folks, teachers, gear designers, and others that had specialized skills forced me to try and assimilate larger amounts of knowledge. I had to at least understand the basics of a concept, and I eventually gained more personal resources to draw from in order to make better decisions. We all need to challenge ourselves to be the best we can be, and surrounding one's self with talented people will always provide the push that we need.

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

Gary Numan: Sonic Reinvention

by Roman Sokal

 Having recently released his twenty-second studio album, Savage (Songs from a Broken World), Gary Numan is no stranger to the recording process. Produced by Ade Fenton (see his interview this...


Columns See more →

End Rant


by Larry Crane

It was 1992. The band I'd been in, Vomit Launch, had called it quits less than six months prior. I'd decided to take a road trip to the Northwest, with the faint concept of finding a new place to live...

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy

by Andy Hong

16 years after first taking on my role here at Tape Op, I'm stepping aside, and starting with this issue, Scott McChane is the new Gear Reviews Editor. Scott has penned close to 50 reviews for the...


Gear Reviews See more →

ART Pro VLA Modification

by Revive Audio  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

Revive Audio is a small company based in Boise, Idaho, that makes boutique audio gear under the Vintage Audio name [MSL VCA Bus Compressor, Tape Op #102] and also modifies a wide range of moderately...

UnFairchild 670M II Compressor

by UnderTone Audio  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

Oh, my. Boutique pro audio builders/mad scientists at UnderTone Audio sent us their recreation of the revered, classic variable mu compressor/limiter, the Fairchild 670, and it does not disappoint....

CM251 & CM67se Microphones

by Advanced Audio  |  reviewed by Tony SanFilippo

The Advanced Audio CM251 and CM67se are both large diaphragm tube condenser mics. They come with nine polar pattern power supplies, shock mounts, multi-pin XLR cables, foam windscreens, and a nice...


by IsoAcoustics  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

This January I was wandering around the NAMM Show, looking at all the fancy new recording gear on display in the new Anaheim Convention Center North Hall, when I ran into producer/engineer Darrell...

ADI-2 DAC Converter

by RME  |  reviewed by Tom Fine

Set up as a straight DAC/headphone amp, RME's ADI-2 DAC sounds fantastic and is very much on the neutral and clear, perhaps "clinical" side of things. This tonality is exactly what a professional...


by Acoustic Geometry  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

The CornerSorber is a membrane-based low-frequency (LF) absorber from Acoustic Geometry. Designed to work in conjunction with preexisting treatments, such as the LF membrane Curve Diffusors [Tape Op...

XMAC-MS-A xMac Mini Server

by Sonnet Technologies  |  reviewed by Ryan Massey

In my 15 years as a studio owner (Sharkbite Studios, Oakland, CA), there is nothing I've dreaded more than operating system and Pro Tools software upgrades. This has become even truer over time, as...

VoxDoubler Thicken & Widen Plug-Ins

by Sonnox  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

Unless you're recording a singer on par with Michael Jackson in his prime, competently capturing doubled lead vocals will require acute attention to detail, an enormous amount of patience, and a lot...

Beginner’s Archiving for Musicians

by Save Your Stuff!  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Subtitled, "Beginner's Archiving for Musicians", this wonderful little ‘zine-like pamphlet presents some easy to understand concepts to help musicians (as well as engineers and producers)...

Revolver Dual-Channel Compressor

by Retro Instruments  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

I'll begin this review with a confession; in over two decades of mixing albums I've rarely mixed through a bus compressor. Why? The more I kept hearing that I "had to" in order to get good results,...

MA-50 Microphone

by Mojave Audio  |  reviewed by Ben Bernstein

From the moment I started using Mojave's large diaphragm condenser MA-50 mic, it sounded great on everything. There are many budget mics in the $200 to $300 price range, but the MA-50 is certainly...

The Blackbird Academy Foundations

by Kevin Becka & Mark Rubel  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

My colleague, Kevin Becka, is one of the founding studio recording teachers at The Blackbird Academy in Nashville, along with Tape Op contributor Mark Rubel. Kevin, being a teacher, saw a need for a...

Clear Professional Headphones

by Focal  |  reviewed by Tom Fine

France-based Focal is best known for pro and consumer audio speakers, but the company has, in recent years, moved into all aspects of the headphone market. Up for discussion here are the new Clear...

Music Reviews See more →



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

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