Mar/Apr 2023

Welcome to issue #154 of Tape Op.


In 1996, not long before I opened the doors at Jackpot! Recording Studio, I had to decide what format we would track to. I had been using a Tascam 8-track tape deck for the previous couple of years in my Portland basement, but it was becoming quite limiting. Digital recording, via the Alesis ADAT and Tascam D88/38, were common choices for smaller studios back then, but I'd heard horror stories of these machines failing or not synchronizing. Additionally, and equally concerning, I'd also heard some less-than-stellar albums done on them. (Looking back, I don't think it was all the ADAT's fault!) I knew that linear tape capture of digital information would soon be superseded by hard disk recording; I'd even briefly used John Baccigaluppi's Digidesign Sound Tools four years earlier, with its $2000 600 MB drive. Pro Tools (renamed from Sound Tools) was available in 1996, but still very expensive, and I knew the technology (16-bit?!) would be changing rapidly. I could envision easy editing and high track counts down the road, but not yet for me.

So, I looked backwards. In the history of recording, 16-track had naturally followed 8-track. I went looking for a 16-track, 2-inch tape machine, and found an old MCI JH-16 deck. It was a nightmare to keep this deck running, but it sounded great and many cherished albums were made on it. At the time, I recall (foolishly) telling people I would never have a computer in my control room. But come 2002, John Goodmanson [Tape Op #35] loaded in his Pro Tools 888 rig so we could digitally track Sleater-Kinney's One Beat, and I quickly realized I had to jump in and learn fast. Not much later, I found myself with a Digi001 (and 002) running Pro Tools LE. It had been over ten years since I'd first seen and utilized Sound Tools.

Adopting new technology in the studio always presents an interesting conundrum. One might not want to be the first; but if your clients demand it, you might have to reconcile with the reality of having to pony up for cutting-edge gear. Do I want to outfit Jackpot! with an extensive array of monitors and a new monitor controller so I can offer Dolby Atmos? Financially? No, not at all. If Atmos becomes something our clients start to ask for (and are willing to pay more for)? Well, then I will have to start thinking about it. Will Atmos and its ilk stick around to be the main format for music consumption? I just don't know. Maybe I'll blurt out something stupid I regret, like last time, or maybe I'll hold my tongue and carefully watch what happens.

Enjoy Scott Anthony's thoughts on this very subject in this month's End Rant.

— Larry Crane, editor & Founder

In This Issue See more →


Columns See more →

End Rant

Open Minds, Open Ears

by Scott Anthony

"No drum machines were used on this album!" "No synthesizers!" These liner note proclamations were, for a time, a "cool" way to indicate a declaration of purity. But bands like Queen, who made these...

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking w/ Andy...

by Andy Hong

When we lust over aspirational recording gear, what often comes to mind are vintage hunks of steel and vacuum tubes from the likes of Fairchild, Telefunken, Neumann, RCA, Pultec, Collins, and Altec....


Gear Reviews See more →

Pyra-Sum Summing Mixer

by Undertone Audio  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

I still believe that analog mixing sounds better than in the box mixing, and I enjoy the workflow more as well. I’ve been mixing with a hybrid analog/digital setup and process for years now, and...

PC-100A Rack Mount Power Strip

by ADJ Products  |  reviewed by Mike Kosacek

I like to think of my mixing desk as the control center. I hate running around the studio, behind racks, or bending down to search for a power switch, which is why I have several power strips in racks...

Select SV12 500 Series Compressor

by API  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

We’re all super excited over here at Tape Op when API introduces new gear, and the enthusiasm doubles when said equipment is priced affordably. Additionally, a joyous hysteria breaks out...

10-Inch 2-Way Active Studio Monitors

by Wayne Jones Audio  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Wayne Jones' career as a successful bass player led him to develop a line of well-respected bass amplifiers and cabinets for the stage and studio, utilizing his custom-manufactured Kevlar-impregnated...

MBOX Studio USB-C Interface

by Avid  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

The new MBOX Studio demonstrates why Avid remains at the top of the heap for music production professionals. After spending several weeks with this interface, I can attest that it brings unparalleled...

1973 Condenser Mic

by Soyuz Microphones  |  reviewed by Kirt Shearer

This is going to be shorter than my usual overly wordy review – not because the product doesn’t warrant the page space, but because the message is fairly simple. So, let me give the...

BV-1 MkII Tube Mic

by Avantone  |  reviewed by Tony Vincent

Avantone began making microphones close to 20 years ago, and has recently updated their BV-1 large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone to the BV-1 mkII. First off, this upgrade comes as a significant...

H251 Tube Mic

by Heiserman  |  reviewed by Anthony Gravino

Clones of classic vintage tube microphones have become a common occurrence in pro audio. As a result, I have had the opportunity to hear and compare many different reproductions of famous mic designs...

PSP 285 Semi-Modular Delay Plug-In

by  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

I made sure to start this plug-in delay's review without touching a single preset. Despite the feature-filled control panel, I understood and utilized most functions without reading any manuals and...


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

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