Sep/Oct 2021

Welcome to issue #145 of Tape Op.


It feels like we’ve all been in a cold, dark, chilling era for the past 18 months and I hope we get out of it soon. I spent most of 2020 and half of 2021 working unattended in the studio, only doing a few select attended (masked up) tracking sessions last year. Thankfully, I’d been building up a steady “remote mixing” career and clientele for well over 15 years (especially once we could easily transfer files online), and that – along with freelance and staff sessions, virtual recording workshops, and careful budgeting – managed to keep Jackpot! Recording Studio financially afloat for a year and a half.

Coming out of this time, it’s been life-affirming to do actual attended sessions once again. Like John mentions in his End Rant this issue, collaborating with others in real time, face-to-face, is something I also find rewarding, and a process one is unable to completely achieve while working remotely.

Hello and Welcome to Tape Op #145
Mixing at Jackpot! Recording Studio. Thanks to Shady Cove for hand modeling.

My first attended session a few weeks ago was with local legends The Dandy Warhols, a group I had never had the pleasure of working with before. We ended up throwing a bunch of overdubs at a track, and, after they left, I assembled an “idea” of what the arrangement could be. For our next session, we arrived at a wholly different approach to the song and mix, via much input and experimentation. There was no possible way we could have gotten to that point without being in the same room, bouncing concepts around, and trying things out on the fly. Body language, last minute overdubs, and reading the mood in the room can do so much more in finding the potential of any recording than 20 emails or a single Zoom call. It felt like I was home again.

It was an incredibly challenging year, and there are many lessons I’ll carry forward with me from this time. But one thing I know for sure is that my appreciation of human connection will never change. Let’s get together now, and create the best music we can.

— Larry Crane, editor & Founder

In This Issue See more →

Gary Kemp: Ahead of the Game

by Larry Crane

Esteemed songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist Gary Kemp was the force behind Spandau Ballet for many years, and currently plays in Nick Mason’s Saucerful of Secrets, performing older Pink Floyd...

Jerry Kee: Duck-Kee Studios

by Kim Ware

When I first sat down with Jerry Kee of Duck-Kee Studios in Mebane, North Carolina, I didn’t even realize we were coming up on the 30th anniversary of the recording of Superchunk’s...


Columns See more →


Gear Reviews See more →

VocAlign Ultra Plug-In

by Synchro Arts  |  reviewed by Dave Hidek

The newest iteration of VocAlign, a timing and pitch control plug-in from the award-winning UK-based software developer Synchro Arts, comes in the form of VocAlign Ultra. This new version elevates its...

H47tube Microphone

by Heiserman  |  reviewed by Jon Regen

I love vintage gear. Actually, I love using vintage gear. Owning it, on the other hand, is often a full-time job in itself. Throughout my 25 years of recording I’ve owned a myriad of vintage...

LIFT Motorized Speaker Stands

by Space Lab Systems  |  reviewed by Jesse Lauter

I like to bounce around the room quite a bit when mixing records. I obviously sit centered when I launch into the proceedings, but once the mix is in a good place, I tend to move around my studio. How...

Serrano 87 Mic

by Serrano Audio  |  reviewed by Liam Nelson

The first time I went into a “real” studio, the engineer had me sing into a Neumann U 87 and then quickly got inside my head about mic technique, making for a less than stellar...

Planar Headphones

by Avantone Pro  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Avantone Pro has dropped a new pair of headphones that use planar magnetic technology. Unlike the standard cone technology used in dynamic headphones, a planar is a thin electrically charged...

Alien8 Figure-8 Dynamic Mic

by DrAlienSmith  |  reviewed by Matt Anderson

When DrAlienSmith started teasing a new transformer-balanced microphone design (loosely based on the fabled beyerdynamic M380 and AKG D30) with two headphone drivers used as mic capsules shoved in it,...

Nadine Upright Bass Mic

by Ear Trumpet Labs  |  reviewed by Ben Bernstein

Love at first sight – make that love at first listen. Nadine, where’ve you been all my life?! Seriously, I play, record, and mix upright bass a lot. It is my Achilles heel. Especially...

Al Schmitt Signature Plugin

by Leapwing Audio  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

Our community lost a titan when Al Schmitt passed recently. I suppose if there is any consolation, it comes from knowing that Al shared his experience through tools such as his Pro-Channel for Oram...


Artistic 500 Series EQ

by Fredenstein Audio  |  reviewed by Daniel Ryan Morse

When I recently reviewed the Fredenstein Bento 8 500 series chassis [Tape Op #144], the company kindly included a clutch of their own 500 Series units to demo as well. I had fun tracking and mixing...

Alpha 65 Evo Powered Monitor

by Focal  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

I was already stoked with my Focal Alpha 65 powered monitors [Tape Op #104] before their updated replacement model, the Alpha 65 Evos arrived at my door. In my review of the original Alpha 65s (which...

OVER-KILLER Inline Soft Clip Limiter

by Prism Sound  |  reviewed by Brian Bender

Simply put, the OVER-KILLER is Prism Sound’s soft clip limiter circuit from their vaunted line of converters, made into a passive, standalone device. It is housed in a Switchcraft XLR barrel,...



by Solid State Logic  |  reviewed by Eamonn Aiken

The ULTRAVIOLET EQ from SSL is a 500 Series format expansion of the Fusion processor’s [Tape Op #131] Violet EQ. It retains the high-pass filter and four-position stepped high and low bands and...


RB 500 ME Passive EQ

by IGS Audio  |  reviewed by Jeremy Wurst

This past year I’ve been on a low-key “Pultec quest.” I’ve always loved the sound of the famous blue passive EQ – the big curves, simple design, and ease of use has...

UAFX Starlight Echo Station Pedal

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

Universal Audio recently entered the stompbox pedal market with their UAFX line of DSP-based analog-modeling pedals. Overall, this new trio of pedals is an exciting application of UA’s DSP and...

Cortado MkIII Contact Mic

by Zeppelin Design Labs  |  reviewed by Dan Knobler

It’s been a long time since a microphone has given me the thrill of being a kid playing with my first 4-track, but when a pair of Cortado MkIII contact mics showed up for review from...

MA5 500 Series Mic Preamp

by Avedis Audio  |  reviewed by Slater Swan

My expectations were high going into reviewing the Avedis Audio MA5 – several engineers I trust had been talking them up for years. This preamp blew my expectations out of the water. Within...


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

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