Jul/Aug 2021

Welcome to issue #144 of Tape Op.


During the recording process, so much of what we do involves intense collaboration. I absolutely enjoy helping an artist achieve their vision in the studio, and that shared nod of the head when something sounds right (a new part, a take, or a mix) is the best feeling. But what do we do when the collaborator is no longer sitting on the couch behind us or waiting on an email? In my chat with Ryan Ulyate this issue, we discuss the process of making these sorts of decisions when dealing with music from songwriters who have passed away. Ryan worked with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers for decades – engineering, mixing, and co-producing – and now finds himself working on posthumous releases with Tom’s family and former bandmates. I worked in the same capacities with the late Elliott Smith and have overseen his audio archive and releases for decades now. Carrying the spirit and intention of an artist’s work forward without their valuable input is a rough task, but I know we both feel honored to help this amazing music get released.

So many times in the studio I still find myself wishing I could turn around and ask my long-lost friend, “Does this sound right to you?” I miss that collaboration and the reassurance that we were on the right track, pushing his music to be its best. Both Ryan and I are drawing on the extensive previous experiences we’ve had – as I talk about in my End Rant this issue – allowing us to follow intuition, and ultimately helps lead us to where the music needs to go.

— Larry Crane, editor & Founder

Bill Bottrell

The photos above, and the photos on the front cover, are by Gary Lappier and are of legendary "Wrecking Crew" (Tape Op #107) drummer Hal Blaine’s percussion collection. Yes, those are the sleigh bells used on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and thousands of other records.
See the interview with Hunter Lea, here for the full story.

In This Issue See more →


Columns See more →

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy

by Andy Hong

The LED indicators on my Cherry SPOS G86-61410 USB keyboard [Tape Op #56] cherryamericas.com are stuck in forever-blinking mode. Reflashing its firmware didn’t expunge the gremlins, so I decided...


Gear Reviews See more →

P331 Tube Loading Amplifier

by Whitestone Audio Instruments  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

The P331 Tube Loading Amplifier is the debut product from Whitestone Audio Instruments. Dave Rosen investigated making a device for line level audio signals to enhance wife Kim Rosen’s [Tape Op...

iD14 MKII Interface

by Audient  |  reviewed by Chris Hughes

My biggest fear when using a new interface is always, “How much downtime will there be before I can get this thing up and running?” The drivers are never up to date out of the box, my OS...

Tantra Bass Tube Preamp

by Sonic Farm  |  reviewed by Kirt Shearer

A bass amp is not a typical product often seen on the review pages of Tape Op. Reviews usually center on mainstream recording equipment as opposed to performance amps, but I was really curious about...

THERMAL Distortion Plug-In

by Output  |  reviewed by Scott McDowell

I’m a big fan of distortion plug-ins – these days, who isn’t? If you are, you’ve got to check out THERMAL, from Output. There’s so much to this plug-in that I’ve...

RootOne Plug-In

by Leapwing  |  reviewed by Scott McDowell

If you find yourself chasing modern low end, you’ll eventually end up playing with a subharmonic synthesizer. There are plenty of options, ranging from outboard gear like the dbx 120A...

Brusfri Noise Reducer Plug-In

by Klevgrand  |  reviewed by Gus Berry

About two months ago, I was mindlessly scrolling on Instagram when an ad for a “Noise Reducer” plug-in caught my eye. (Yes, I know, I got reeled in by an Instagram ad). It showed an artist...

73JRII 500 Series Mic Preamp

by Heritage Audio  |  reviewed by Geoff Stanfield

If you’re an audio professional, it’s likely you know the simple number “73” means only one of two things: It’s either a reference to the revered Neve 1073 mic pre/EQ, or...

249 Multi-Pattern Tube Mic

by Flea Microphones  |  reviewed by Don Gunn

I usually like to structure my reviews with a full description of the product I’m writing about, then provide my experience with it (along with use cases during the review period), and...

Expression Knob

by El Garatge  |  reviewed by Jonathan Saxon

For effects pedals with an expression input, consider using the Expression Knob by El Garatge. It’s well made, saves space, and is easy to use – I love it! This L-shaped device has a...

Stellar X3 Microphone

by TechZone Audio  |  reviewed by Tony Vincent

I love microphones. When used – or abused – in the right situation, I’m a firm believer that nothing will give you an interesting tone or character like a unique microphone. Whether...

LL2A Compressor Limiter

by Little Labs  |  reviewed by Eli Crews

I’m always excited to see a new product from Little Labs. I’ve been collecting Jonathan Little’s [Tape Op #75] ultra-handy studio devices for over 15 years, starting with the...

A133 Condenser Microphone

by Audix  |  reviewed by Dylan Ray

I would be hard-pressed to remember a recording project where I didn’t use an Audix microphone. Your initial reaction to the name Audix may paint a picture of affordable workhorse dynamic...

Classic 5 Studio Monitor

by KRK Systems  |  reviewed by Fiona Gurney

Learning the ideal applications of your gear is an excellent ear training exercise, and frankly half the job – whether you’re a recording engineer or a musician. For me, simply remembering...

DBX 160 Compressor/Limiter UAD Plug-In

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Mike Kosacek

Universal Audio has been quietly updating some of their previously released plug-ins with new features that you may have overlooked if not watching closely. About four years ago, I purchased the dbx...

Rockfield: The Studio on the Farm (Film)

by Hannah Berryman, Director  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

In 1963 in the Welsh countryside, brothers Kingsley and Charles Ward set up shop and began recording rock bands on their family’s farm. A few years later, they became the first...

UF8 Advanced DAW Controller

by Solid State Logic  |  reviewed by Tony Vincent

I vividly remember the first time I was exposed to moving fader automation. I was 12 years old, and the medium-sized recording facility was centered around two seminal Yamaha DMP7 [Tape Op #122]...

Comp IIT Compressor

by Daking  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Geoff Daking began his career as a drummer in a signed band, then became a recording engineer, and almost three decades ago began building his own brand of recording gear in California. This is to say...


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

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