Jan/Feb 2020

Welcome to issue #135 of Tape Op.


I recently had the experience of listening to hundreds of new albums in a slightly disassociated context; many times I knew nothing about who the artists were or what style of music they were supposedly playing. Removing any of these preconceptions can be a liberating moment, and I found myself getting into lots of interesting groups I might not have stumbled across otherwise. The funny thing is that if some of these albums had been contextualized – like by theoretical genre, popularity, or even where they originated from – I might have passed on listening to many of them. Stripping away all of this "other" information helped clear the way for me to really hear the music.

When I start a new session with a band, I always hope they don't tell me that their sound exists inside some pigeonholed micro-genre subcategory. I want to hear them with fresh, open ears and do my best to capture their songs in a unique and sympathetic manner. Genres, labels, and preconceptions can often only get in our way.

Enjoy music, and begin every day by attempting to really hear the beauty within all that you listen to. Stay open and creative, and keep your ears ready to hear something new.

— Larry Crane, Editor


This issue's cover is an homage to the Pink Floyd song "Echoes," from the album Meddle. The idea came to me after I saw Brian T. Silak's photo of Jack Antonoff's vintage tape delays, as the Binson Echorec features prominently in that track. "Echoes" was also used as the soundtrack in the classic surf film Crystal Voyager, in which the last 23 minutes of the film is footage of seminal surfer George Greenough riding inside the tube with this track as the score, hence the wave photo. The text was lettered by Bobby Lurie and is the first verse of the song, written by Pink Floyd (Gilmour, Waters, Wright, Mason) and published by Warner/Chappell Music, Inc. -JB

This illustration by Scott Hansen (Tycho) instagram.com/tychomusic
Reprised from Tape Op #123 cover art
Check out our recent podcast with Tycho here.

In This Issue See more →

Leo Sidran: Handed Down

by Mark Whitcomb

Leo Sidran is an accomplished solo artist, multi-instrumentalist, award-winning music producer, and podcast author. He grew up surrounded by great musicians, producers, engineers, and recording...


Columns See more →

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy

by Andy Hong

In 2014, I attended the inaugural Advanced Audio + Application Exchange (A3E) conference and wrote about it in the TapeOp.com blog. A3E has continued to grow, and A3E events now run tangentially with...


Gear Reviews See more →

500PRE 500 Series Tube Preamp

by Retro Instruments  |  reviewed by Eamonn Aiken

Years back, when I installed my console and sidecar, I sold off most of my outboard preamps. I was looking forward to a new era of not having to choose preamps, and instead just getting on with what...

U 67 Tube Microphone Reissue

by Neumann  |  reviewed by Eli Crews

I'm not going to do the thing where I give you the full history of Neumann microphones and how the U 67 fits into it. There are already plenty of places to read about all of that. We're taking it for...

TF-5 Microphone Pair

by RĂ˜DE Microphones  |  reviewed by Tony SanFilippo

The latest addition to the RØDE microphone line is the TF-5 small diaphragm cardioid condenser matched stereo pair. The mics come packaged in a nice two-tiered box with precision cut dense foam...

V1S Stereo Pencil Condenser Kit

by Vanguard Audio Labs  |  reviewed by Ed Hickey

Vanguard Audio Labs' latest offering is the V1 small diaphragm condenser microphone. Each mic comes with four interchangeable 22 mm capsules: cardioid, wide cardioid, hypercardioid, and...

Modern Mastering Bundle Plug-Ins

by NUGEN Audio  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Mastering audio today involves more than just creating loud and exciting stereo music masters. The mastering engineer takes on the roles of quality control, metadata oversight, and of course,...


by United Plugins  |  reviewed by Mike Kosacek

Full disclosure: I saw an introductory promotion offering the United Plugins FrontDAW plug-in for free, so I downloaded and registered it. The promotion has since expired, and the plug-in is now...

Transformer-Based I/O Card

by Mara Machines  |  reviewed by Anthony Gravino

At this point, it is safe to say that analog tape recording is not going away. Tape machines still have a loyal and enthusiastic user base all around the world, ranging from professional engineers and...

Oxford Drum Gate Plug-In

by Sonnox  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

For years, I've been tortured by drum gates. First, in the analog realm, where I'd be mixing poorly-recorded tracks (sometimes my fault) and I'd attempt to use gates to add punch and clarity to my...

Clearmountain's Domain Plug-In

by Apogee Digital  |  reviewed by Gus Berry

Bob Clearmountain [Tape Op #84, #129] is responsible for mixing some of rock music's most iconic records and happens to be one of my favorite mixing engineers of all time. So, when I heard Apogee had...


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

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