Jul/Aug 2018

Welcome to issue #126 of Tape Op.


As people intimately involved with the recording and producing of music, we are always told to follow the mantra of "the song comes first." Many will often re-iterate, "A great song makes a great album." But in so many cases this is just patently not true. Some pieces of music originate almost exclusively with sounds, such as ambient music and electronic-based works. And many songs can be quite simple in structure, yet remain an expertly crafted soundscape that can make them a treat to listen to. There are popular songs through the ages that turn unique sonic tropes into hits, like Joe Meek’s [Tape Op #100] work on The Tornados’ "Telstar," or the fuzztone guitars on Norman Greenbaum’s "Spirit in the Sky." Or what about bands like Pink Floyd, renowned for their production savvy in the studio?

Photo by Lia Darjes, outtake from Nils Frahm interview

Listeners’ ears are always hungry for change. Techniques, such as different instrument lineups for each song, drastic arrangement diversity between tracks, or tracking similar sources with varying mic placement and sonics can all make a set of songs sound diverse and interesting. Sure, a great songwriter and performer can trot out a collection of amazing tunes with simply a piano or guitar accompaniment and hold our interest, but not every record is (or should be) created this way. The sounds that we get can be as important as the music being delivered, and knowing when this matters is the key to making great recordings.

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

Modern Loudness

by Aaron Mullan

How many of you ladies and gentlemen are making music these days intended for listening primarily on a five CD changer set to shuffle? If that's your audience, you might feel forced to use multiband...


Columns See more →

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy

by Andy Hong

While attending the Summer NAMM Show, I ran into several friends who thought I had left Tape Op completely. I apologize if my “Gear Geeking” column in the previous issue wasn’t clear...


Gear Reviews See more →

Pro Tools 2018.7

by Avid  |  reviewed by Andy Hong, Kathryn Ourlian

It's been a few years since we reviewed Pro Tools 11 [Tape Op #101], the first version of the venerable DAW that featured 64-bit architecture and a newly reimplemented Avid Audio Engine, as well as...

Dear Client (Book)

by Bonnie Siegler  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

I stumbled on this book from a recommendation by a friend from my past corporate life, and I'm passing this tip on. You may not know the name Bonnie Siegler, but you've encountered Siegler's work. The...

Studio Tall Bird Spring Reverb

by Benson Amps  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

I love electro-mechanical reverbs. I've owned several plate reverbs and currently have a Hamptone-customized EMT 140 along with two different Demeter Real Reverb units [Tape Op #21, #109]. I use these...

ASP8024-HE Console

by Audient  |  reviewed by Kirt Shearer

Large-format recording consoles; there just aren't as many of them being made these days compared to decades past. A portion of the industry has moved towards totally mixing in the box and tracking...

Mixing with Impact (Book)

by Wessel Oltheten  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Subtitled "Learning to Make Musical Choices," Wessel Oltheten's book is one of the most comprehensive guides to mixing music I have ever come across. As Peter Katis [Tape Op #31] is quoted on the...

UR-RT4 interface

by Steinberg Media Technologies  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

Uh-oh. Looks like the cool techs at Steinberg have been up to something. Audio interfaces are traditionally designed to offer transparent conversion from capture to representation. Though the new...

Classic Microphone Cables

by Fjord Audio  |  reviewed by Pete Weiss

Recently, while pondering the anonymous-yet-crucial role of the lowly microphone cable in studio and on stage, Fjord Audio owner Spencer Tweedy found himself in a quandary: could there be high quality...

RS-1215 Rack-Mount Power Strip

by Tripp-Lite  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

The rack-mount power strips I bought on eBay years ago (lots of server equipment to be found for cheap there) had blank front panels and six or eight outlets on the rear. I've since replaced them with...

Cakewalk by Bandlab

by BandLab Technologies  |  reviewed by Alan Tubbs

The reports of the death of the PC/Windows DAW Cakewalk were greatly exaggerated. With tens of thousands of users, many willing to pony up a hundred dollars plus every year for updates, and various...

Shape Twin Active Monitors

by Focal  |  reviewed by Thom Monahan

Monitors of all shapes and sizes have always seemed like an extension of the stereo speakers I saved up my paper route money to buy when I was a kid. Over time they got better, clearer, definitely...

Auto-Tune Pro Plug-In

by Antares  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

I didn't realize Auto-Tune was 20 years old this year, and I'm sort of in shock. I remember renting the ATR-1 hardware version from a local studio back then and trying to tune some poorly pitched...

Live 10 Suite

by Ableton  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

Ableton once again delivers a compelling update to their always imaginative music creation software suite, Live. Version 10 feels like an addition of significant fit, finish, and refinement to what...

M-8S Rack-Mount Power Conditioner

by Furman  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

Unlock the studio and walk in. Power up each rack, then the console, then lean over the console to turn on each powered monitor. Be sure to do the monitors last or they go pop and swearing ensues. Ten...

A Spy in the House of Loud (Book)

by Chris Stamey  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Subtitled New York Songs and Stories, producer, musician, songwriter, engineer, and occasional Tape Op contributor Chris Stamey details his youth in North Carolina and his adventures in NYC of the...

Fab Four 4-Channel Mic Preamp

by Sphere Recording Consoles  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Sphere Recording Consoles may not be the most recognized name in pro audio, but to those in the know, Sphere represents the holy grail of mixing consoles. [See Wally Wilson's article on Sphere...

Session Files Vol 1

by Alan Parsons' ASSR  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Alan Parsons' Art & Science of Sound Recording (ASSR) encompasses an array of audio recording educational tools and events built around Alan's [Tape Op #42] studio mastery and patient explanations...

Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor Plug-In

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Don Gunn

In the "modern recording era" (let's say 1950 until present), there are a few compressors that can easily be called Classic with a capital "C". You know, the ones by Fairchild, Teletronix, UREI, dbx,...


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

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