May/Jun 2024

Welcome to issue #161 of Tape Op.


It's no secret that ever since the internet took over our lives that we live in an "I want it now" culture. That is the opposite of how I started recording music and running a studio. It was 30-plus years ago when I began a quest to finally learn recording. As an artist in a band, I'd made four albums with other people producing and engineering (including John Baccigaluppi, my partner in Tape Op). While setting a mic preamp level, using a compressor, or figuring out how to route the inputs and outputs of a tape deck to a console were things I grasped the concepts of, I had no idea how others did these things or what the "right" way was to do them. Sure, I wanted simple and quick answers, but I never got them. As I've stated before, I would go to the library for "recording" books, buy magazines at local bookstores, and hope to find answers. I would read a whole book about microphones, yet I'd still be looking for information on techniques. It might not be what some of you want to hear, but the reality is that amassing this knowledge took a lot of time and effort.

I had a tape deck, a small mixer, and a few mics. I'd record my band and keep trying different mics on the sources. When friends began trusting me to track them in my basement, I had to get better fast. I made a lot of mistakes – I accidentally recorded over a few good takes or bumped against the tape flange during an overdub – but I slowly got better at my craft.

I was struggling to make recordings of the quality I wanted, but I still worked at my non-studio job. It wasn't until I quit my job, moved my home studio out of the house, rented a space, and worked non-stop in Jackpot! Recording Studio that everything started making far more sense and it finally became easier to get the sounds that I wanted. The key was to be constantly applying myself to the recording process, and always trying to get better. Something I still practice, decades later.

The journey taken to acquire the knowledge you need is very important, and it won't happen overnight. Maybe we can't "have it now," but we can make the time to learn, and that is the most critical of all the steps towards making better recordings.

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

Are You Backing Up?

by Mike Kosacek

There is an old saying: “Only back up what you can’t afford to lose.” As musicians and audio personnel, I believe most of us can’t afford to lose any of our product (aka...


Columns See more →

End Rant

One Size Doesn't Fit All

by Larry Crane

I do a fair amount of one-on-one remote "teaching," many times working with folks running small studios, as well as a wide range of home setups. It's always fun to face this educational challenge, as...


Gear Reviews See more →

AT2040 Podcast Mic

by Audio-Technica  |  reviewed by Danielle Goldsmith

As an audio professional, I'm often asked by friends who record podcasts at home for microphone recommendations. So, I was excited when I got the opportunity to review Audio-Technica's new AT2040...

Part 1: Instrument-Related

by Non-Recording Gear Studio Essentials  |  reviewed by Larry Crane, Geoff Stanfield

Congrats! You have a solid collection of mics and mic stands, a battery of plug-ins, a few pieces of outboard gear for that extra special sauce, a great pair of monitors and stands, and even some...

HD 490 PRO Plus Headphones

by Sennheiser  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

We've all grown far too accustomed to the head puckering, bass muffled, ear-smushing, insulated fake spaciness of crappy small speakers strapped to our skulls masquerading as headphones. I've been...

AC1STB94 Splicing Tabs

by TME Recording Products  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

If you’re just making a few edits on open reel tapes, or attaching a leader to tops and tails, it won’t kill you to cut off a piece of leader tape from a spool. But there are times where...

Trio6 ST6 Active 3-Way Monitor

by Focal  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

I’m always reluctant to review speakers. It’s hard to do client work on unfamiliar monitors. My room was tuned for my current nearfields over ten years ago, and since then I haven’t...


UTEQ500 500 Series EQ

by UnderTone Audio  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

I’m an EQ guy and always have been. When I began working in studios, the debate was whether or not to EQ to tape or wait to EQ when mixing. Fuck that; get the sound the way you want it when...

RTM SM900 Analog Tape

by Recording The Masters  |  reviewed by John Baccigaluppi

The name of this magazine is Tape Op, and we know that lots of people still love working on analog tape machines. We also know that there are a lot of people who have never worked with tape machines...

Mini K67x Condenser Microphone

by Roswell Pro Audio  |  reviewed by Geoffrey Knecht

The need for flexibility is paramount in many recording situations, and affordably meeting that need is a challenge. Fortunately, Roswell Audio’s Mini K67x cardioid large diaphragm condenser mic...

UE 150, 250, & 350 In-Ear Monitors

by Ultimate Ears  |  reviewed by Geoff Stanfield

For most live performers, the days of wedge floor monitors are a thing of the past. IEMs (In-Ear Monitors) have become the new standard for stage monitoring, and for good reason. A monitor engineer...

apTrigga3 Sample Trigger Plug-In

by apulSoft  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

apTrigga has been around since 2004 (and it was good back then!). In 2015, apulSoft released a full rewrite of their sample trigger plug-in that included AAX support, which I grabbed immediately and...

TG Microphone Type L

by Chandler Limited  |  reviewed by Gus Berry

When I was managing Jackpot! Recording Studio, I was fascinated by Tape Op editor and studio owner Larry Crane’s approach to gear-buying. The studio is mostly made up of new equipment with a few...

Head Voice (magazine)

by Issue #1, Autumn 2023  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

With mottos like, "You're doing nothing wrong" and, "Nothing is wrong with your mix," Head Voice arrived last fall as a mission statement and an "audio recording zine focused on creativity." Founded...

Royalty Tube Mic

by Monheim Microphones  |  reviewed by Tony Vincent

I've had the opportunity not only to sing and play into many sought-after microphones, but I've also been able to use even more mics on artists and instrumentalists as a producer and engineer. I...

Bloom Tone-Shaping Plug-In

by oeksound  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Proclaimed as "an adaptive tone shaper," Bloom is a new plug-in by oeksound, known for the handy tone-fixers Soothe2 [Tape Op #138] and Spiff [#137]. I constantly use Soothe2 to fix tracks that have...

PatchCAD 3 Patchbay Label App

by PatchCAD  |  reviewed by Scott Evans

Folks, please label your patchbays: Not with a paper key that sits on top of the bays, not with a PDF on your computer, but with labels on the patchbays. For years, I made labels using a carefully...

Push the Right Buttons (book)

by Neil Kesterson  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

With the subtitle "A Practical Guide to Becoming and Succeeding as an Audio Engineer and Producer," the goal of this book should be obvious. But where many books of this ilk usually fail, this book...

Notepad-8FX Mixer

by Soundcraft  |  reviewed by Geoff Stanfield

The Soundcraft Notepad-8FX is an entry-level mixer that seamlessly connects as a USB 2.0 interface to your laptop, tablet or phone. It has two mic/line XLR combo input jacks (one of which has a...

Level-Or Mk2 DUAL Limiter

by Standard Audio  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

Some 24 years ago, my pal Craig Alvin [Tape Op #137] found out that one of Tchad Blake's [#133, #16] ubiquitous mix distortion devices was the Shure Level-Loc. Level-Locs were Shure's attempt at a...

Silver Bullet MK2 Plug-In

by Louder Than Liftoff  |  reviewed by Liam Nelson

The Louder Than Liftoff [Tape Op #122] Silver Bullet mk2 plug-in is my new favorite in the box processor by a wide margin – and that’s kind of hilarious, considering that my trusty...

P455 MDN Sidecar Plug-In

by Pulsar Modular  |  reviewed by Matt Anderson

Pulsar Modular’s P455 MDN Sidecar plug-in was designed in conjunction with engineer Marc Daniel Nelson. Although there’s definitely some API style inspiration involved, they’ve taken...

UA Bock 251 Tube Mic

by Universal Audio  |  reviewed by Scott McChane, Kirt Shearer

At the last few pre-pandemic AES conferences I attended, my brief conversations with David Bock centered around his opinions about the classic microphones that were built incorrectly. Most of his...


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