Nov/Dec 2019

Welcome to issue #134 of Tape Op.


Larry is Tape Op's editor and founder; and his duties also include overseeing all the editorial for this magazine. But although I'm known as the "publisher," we always confer about what interviews we have on hand that will fit together well for upcoming issues. During the production cycle of an issue, both of us will come up with new ideas for photos and sidebars while I'm working on the design and layout. It's a fruitful,long-term collaboration.

During the final week of our production cycle for issue #133, we got word that our friend and Tape Op contributor Neal Casal had passed away from suicide. It was a difficult week to get through, but it instigated discussions between us and led to some of the focus of this issue.

Neal's death came just a few weeks after the death of musician David Berman (the Silver Jews), also by suicide, and the list of musical artists who have taken their own lives – both well-known and not so well-known – is getting too long. Contributor Justin Douglas had already submitted a piece, "Working Happy," and it felt like the right time to run it. It's the first article here, and I believe it's a good place to begin as you take in this issue. As we planned out the rest of the content, we found similar threads in the interviews we were running. Mark Howard discusses how he became physically ill from stress in the studio. Erin Barra notes how she feels happier understanding her role in helping other people with their music as opposed to pursuing a career as an artist. Andrew Sarlo discusses self-doubt, vulnerability, and how making great art can be very difficult. In his End Rant, Larry describes his struggles with feelings of frustration and anxiety when working on unattended mix sessions.

Even Annie Clark (St. Vincent), who most artists and producers would agree has had an enviable level of success, says, "You couldn't possibly judge me harder than I judge myself," at one point in her interview. Her take on life, work, and creativity is a good example of balance. As she points out, "I've learned the benefit – and you can speak to this too – of going, 'I am working these days. This is what I'm doing. Then these couple of days, I am not working.' If I don't specifically say I'm not working, I'll work all the time. Then I don't have things to bring into the work."

So, as you read through this issue, keep in mind that music, art, and your career are important and can be life-affirming, but they're not the most important part. You are the most important thing, so make sure to take care of yourself.

— John Baccigaluppi, publisher

Memorial Paddle Out for Neal Casal in Ventura, California, September 15, 2019. Photo by Thom Monahan

  This issue of Tape Op is dedicated to Neal Casal.

Read John's post here.

In This Issue See more →

Mark Howard: Listen Up!

by Roman Sokal

Born in the UK and raised in Canada, Grammy-winning veteran engineer/producer Mark Howard has traveled the globe, combining whatever vibe he conjures while oftentimes applying an experimental and...

Working Happy

by Justin Douglas

When I was an assistant engineer at a prominent studio – back when those two things existed – I worked a short stint with a well-known rock producer. After a long first day that featured...


Columns See more →

End Rant

The Guessing Game

by Larry Crane

In issue #133 of Tape Op, I interviewed Andrew Scheps. "I take everything personally. I curl up in a ball," Andrew told me when we discussed dealing with mix revisions from clients. I've been...

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy

by Andy Hong

Ever since I reviewed a silent, ionizing air purifier almost 20years ago [Tape Op #25], I've received countless requests to recommend an air cleaner for studio use. Just last month, I was asked this...


Gear Reviews See more →

June-60 analog chorus pedal

by TC Electronic  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

Anyone familiar with the iconic Roland Juno-6 or 60, will know and love the analog bucket brigade (BBD) chorus effect that is part of that instrument. Now that classic effect is available as part of a...

FlexBase25 Subwoofer System

by Amphion  |  reviewed by Lars Fox

If you really think about it, choosing studio monitors is strange – they shouldn't sound like anything. They need to be capable blank slates. We base most of our decisions on monitors, but if...

Livemix Personal Monitor System

by Digital Audio Labs  |  reviewed by Eli Crews

I reviewed the Aviom A320 & A360 Personal Mixer system [Tape Op #108] (quite glowingly) on these pages four years back, have been happily using that system ever since, and have been recommending...

Successor Stereo Bus Compressor

by Heritage Audio  |  reviewed by Eamonn Aiken

Admission: I was first drawn to Heritage Audio's new Successor stereo compressor because at first glance everything about it screams "Neve" – metal knobbed 33609 and 32264a models are among my...

Brush Panel

by Networx  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

Many of you have run into this situation. You have audio cables that need to connect to jacks on the rear of gear and out to the front of a rack. I've drilled holes in blank panels, filed the sharp...

551 500 Series Inductor EQ

by Rupert Neve Designs  |  reviewed by Geoff Stanfield

Ah, Neve EQ... the stuff dreams are made of. Famous for the 1073 and 1081. Fixed EQ points and basic controls. Warmth, silky smoothness, robust and solid lows. What if you could have all this in a...

FLEA 12 Tube Condenser Mic

by FLEA Microphones  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

We had this mic at Jackpot! Recording Studio for a while before I got a chance to try it out, so I dropped a line to our manager and Tape Op contributor, Gus Berry, to ask him what his impressions...

RedNet X2P Interface

by Focusrite Pro  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

If you've been to Focusrite's website lately, you may have noticed that under the "Products" navigation menu, there is a "Focusrite Pro" tab. This tab brings you to into the realm of their RedNet...

Capitol Chambers Plug-In

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Don Gunn

The eight reverb chambers built under the parking lot of the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles are some of the most highly revered, and closely guarded, environments for generating natural...

TF51 Tube Microphone

by Telefunken USA  |  reviewed by Brad Allen Williams

In any discussion of large-diaphragm tube condenser mics, five models seem to get mentioned more than all others combined: the Neumann U 47, U 67, and M 49, the AKG C12, and the Telefunken ELA M 251....

APB-16 Analog Processing Box

by McDSP  |  reviewed by Scott McDowell

The most remarkable thing about McDSP's APB-16 is just how simple it is to use. One of their ads says, "The Future is Here," and they're not wrong! It really feels like Colin McDowell and his team has...

Apogee Native FX Plug-Ins

by Apogee Digital  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

Hey, look! Unique low-latency plug-ins from Apogee Digital, the same folks that have brought us such stellar hardware interfaces over the years. Though it may strike some as a late entry into a...


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