Sep/Oct 2023

Welcome to issue #157 of Tape Op.


In this issue, we were lucky to speak with friends, family, and bandmates of the late Mark Linkous, aka Sparklehorse, about his recently released posthumous album, Bird Machine. In 1999, we interviewed Mark for issue #12, and his adventurous recording landscape was an inspiration to many of us. Mark would take studio sessions home to add more tracks on his own, he would fly in a phone call for a vocal, or he'd sing into a blown-out mic. This all might seem like fairly commonplace techniques these days, but it wasn't quite the norm back then. That type of “anything goes” spirit informs so much of current recording, and we should appreciate all the folks like Mark that always bent the process to suit their vision.

There's one simple yet incredibly insightful observation within our interview about Mark and his album. I'll leave that for you, the reader, to glean – but I can tell you it's such an obvious-yet-ignored studio situation that it spun my head around. A clue? Keep in mind that when creating art with others that communication is key. I think you'll all find it quick enough! It’s absolutely something you’ll want to make a priority next time you are collaborating with others.

— Larry Crane, editor & Founder

PS: On Bird Machine, Mark wonderfully covers Robyn Hitchcock's [issue #17] song "Listening to The Higsons." As some fans will know, this track was originally recorded (by Matthew Seligman) onto a Tascam Portastudio "in a barn in Sussex… on a full moon" in June 1982. The track features incredibly distorted vocals, a "struck wok" for percussion, and a drum machine "programmed as Vince Ely" (of The Psychedelic Furs).” I'd say we're seeing a direct lineage to "anything goes" with home recording here!

In This Issue See more →


Columns See more →

End Rant

Are You Being Lazy?

by Larry Crane

Somewhere along the line, when working on any recording project, there are points where the "real work" needs to be done. Real work, to me, is the time where intense listening skills are brought...


Gear Reviews See more →

Syntrx II Analog Synthesizer

by Erica Synths  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

The first-generation Syntrx from Latvian synthesis maestros Erica Synths was a fantastic "reimagining" of the 1972 EMS Synthi AKS. The original Syntrx was a highly desirable analog synth with a...

VSX Headphone Mixing System

by Steven Slate Audio  |  reviewed by Mike Kosacek

I watched and waited for over a year before I finally purchased the Steven Slate Audio VSX headphone mixing system. VSX is a set of over the ear, closed-back headphones and accompanying software (to...

Benson Studio Tall Bird Plug-In

by MixWave  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

In issue #126 I reviewed Benson Amps' stereo Studio Tall Bird Spring Reverb, a wonderful piece of hardware that gets used a lot at Jackpot! Recording. The original Tall Bird has been discontinued, but...

PSP stereoController2

by PSPaudioware  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

There are many stereo field processors out there, but they are usually simply fixer tools or effects processors. Among the effect types, most of them do only one thing – meaning if you don't...

Herchild 670

by Heritage Audio  |  reviewed by Dan Knobler

It’s a good time to be an enthusiast of the classic Fairchild limiters of the past. Not all that long ago, there were no mass-market reproductions of the Fairchild 660 or 670, and only a...

C-80 Condenser Microphone

by Sony  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

Who doesn’t love Sony microphones? Their reputation is built on the C-37A, C-800G, and the C-38B; all of which deliver. I'd previously reviewed the C-100 series of mics [Tape Op #132] and was...

PSP auralComp Multichannel Compressor

by PSPaudioware  |  reviewed by Adam Kagan

For those of us who have dived headfirst into immersive mixing (Atmos or Sony 360RA), there comes a vexing moment where we realize that there is no simple way to apply bus compression for the mix glue...

4DI Quad Vacuum Tube DI

by Hazelrigg Industries  |  reviewed by Jeremy Wurst

In 2020, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Hazelrigg Industries VDI [Tape Op #48]; Earlier this year, Hazelrigg Industries released their latest creation; the 4DI. In the three years since I demoed...

Push 3

by Ableton  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

The new Push 3 is finally here! I've been an Ableton Live DAW [Tape Op #143] user since version 1, and was an early adopter of both of the first two generations of Push hardware, so I was eager to...


Newton Channel Preamp/EQ/Compressor

by Rupert Neve Designs  |  reviewed by Alan Tubbs

A new, affordable, single rack unit channel strip, Rupert Neve Designs' Newton Channel isn’t a stripped-down version of their Shelford Channel [Tape Op #118] or a direct replacement for the more...

UF1 Advanced DAW Controller

by Solid State Logic  |  reviewed by Matt Anderson

At some point, we all have heard enough of the never-ending “analog vs. digital” debate. It’s getting harder to argue when the digital side of recording continues to get better...

Copperphone AV20 Microphone

by Placid Audio  |  reviewed by Joel Hamilton

It has been more than 20 years since I got my first original Copperphone microphone and wrote a review for Tape Op about it [Tape Op #42]. I fell in love with that microphone the moment I heard it,...


Carnaby 500 Harmonic EQ

by Cranborne Audio  |  reviewed by Scott McDowell

The Carnaby 500 is a groundbreaking audio processor. Hands down, this device is stunning. At first glance, it looks like a three-band EQ – which it kind of is – but it's not like any...

Hiding in Plain Sight (book)

by Jackson Long, Author/Illustrator  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

This fun little book is an 8-inch square, 16-page, hand-illustrated history of – as the subtitle says – "Studios of Seattle & Tacoma" in Washington State. Of the nine, I've worked out...

KD1 Kinetic Drive APB Plug-In

by McDSP  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Built to work only with the McDSP APB ("analog processing box") units (APB-8, APB-16) [Tape Op #134], the KD1 Kinetic Drive is a plug-in that uses this interesting system. The APB essentially is a one...

FLEA ELA M 251 Tube Microphone

by FLEA Microphones  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

The original Telefunken ELA M 251 tube-powered condenser mics were made for Telefunken by AKG in the early '60s – when Neumann had pulled their U 47 distribution from Telefunken – and were...


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

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