Sep/Oct 2007

Welcome to issue #61 of Tape Op.


As many of you might know and probably can relate to, I consider myself more a "fan of music" than a "fan of recording". Don't get me wrong, I love making records, owning a studio, editing this magazine and talking shop with my peers — but to me the means is all about the end. I love having recorded music in my life, and probably buy more CDs than the average person.

Recently I walked into a Barnes & Noble bookstore while waiting for someone. I thought I'd look through the CDs there and see if they had any of the new releases I was looking for. Little did I know how much the prices here would scare me off. Most new releases seemed to range between $18.99 and $15.99. Even back catalog CDs that should have been less expensive were running around $14.99. The only CDs for $9.99 were some crummy 10-song anthologies of artists like the Drifters and other deep back catalog items repackaged without any taste — certainly not up to Rhino Records' quality. I didn't buy anything, despite the fact that there was a batch of new records I wanted.

How does the average consumer perceive this? For someone whom music is a casual purchase, I doubt they'd drop this kind of money on any CD. On one hand we have record labels and the RIAA suing people for downloading music. On the other hand we have this scenario where even a hardcore music fan like myself walks away in disgust. Imagine if you walked into a music store and there were CDs on sale, new and old, for $5.99. Shit, I'd buy four without blinking. And what kind of CDs would be selling? Probably new ones as well as back catalog. And when back catalog sells more, do the labels make money? Uh huh. Look at my intro last month about the Long Tail — this can even apply on a reduced scale at retail. And what if downloads were 25 cents per song?

I ended up picking up a pile of CDs at a couple of excellent small record stores: Exiled Records (Portland, Oregon) and The Beat (Sacramento, California), where the prices were lower and the shelves were stocked with interesting music. And they're probably the kind of stores that larger labels couldn't care less about, since they don't move enough "units".

Let's hope that the larger labels eventually pull their heads out of their asses or die off. As music returns to being a cottage industry, maybe even the cost of CDs and downloads will come down to encourage listeners to buy more music. And in the end, that would be good for all of us.

-Larry Crane, editor

John Stephens, the founder of Stephens Electronics, whom Michael Andrews and I interviewed in issue 54, passed away on August 6th. John was a special innovator in the field of audio (among other pursuits), and the small number of Stephens tape decks he built found their way to many amazing album projects and still garner a loyal fanbase for their stable transport and amazing sound. We'll miss his unique view of the world. -LC

What a great mind. Who knows where he is now, maybe humming around as a positively charged electron somewhere. You remember he said he thought that the particle charges were misnamed? What an original. I am in my studio, just looking at my machine. -Michael Andrews 

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →


by John Baccigaluppi, Andy Hong

When John and I first started making plans to attend the May 2007 AES Show in Vienna, Austria, we talked about taking advantage of cheap intra-Europe flights and touring other countries. Having...


Columns See more →

End Rant


by Larry Crane

Over the years I've heard artists all tell me the same damn lies during the course of a session. Note that the people in question might just believe they are speaking the truth. It's some odd form of...


Gear Reviews See more →

Germanium Compressor

by Chandler Limited  |  reviewed by Mike Caffrey

The Chandler Germanium Compressor is yet another amazing piece from designer Wade Goeke, and "Chandler Germanium" continues to be synonymous with innovation. The Germanium Compressor is unlike any...


by Dangerous Music  |  reviewed by Thom Monahan

Hey kid, wanna make a record? Lord knows how you're going to do it. At home on a laptop, in some studio doing basics, probably to a computer, but maybe you're using tape. Your session changes...

GearBox Plug-in Gold Bundle

by Line 6  |  reviewed by

This is a plug-in bundle with a hardware front-end which doubles as a copy-protect dongle. As a plug-in suite for Mac OS X or WinXP, GearBox Gold is a home run! But, if you only want to use the...

M 88 dynamic mic

by Beyerdynamic  |  reviewed by Steve Silverstein

The M 88 is an easy microphone to overlook. It lacks the instantly-recognizable visual profile of its closest competitors, the Electro-Voice RE20/PL20 and the Shure SM7, and it cannot rival the RE20...

Green Glue

by Green Glue Co.  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

I wish I had known about this stuff years ago. It would have saved me time and money. It's a construction adhesive that turns regular drywall into one of the best sound-control building materials you...

K6 phantom-powered ribbon mic

by Karma Audio  |  reviewed by GH & Chris Moore

Karma is one of the newer microphone companies out there. They specialize in mics with unique sounds and designs at very affordable prices. We've been working with Karma on the beta versions of the K6...

Sub6 Be active subwoofer

by Focal  |  reviewed by Allen Farmelo

In Tape Op #60, I gave a glowing review of the Focal Solo6 Be studio monitors, and now I turn to the Sub6 Be, a mighty subwoofer especially designed for use with Focal's 6-range speakers. The Sub6...

High Speed Microphone Preamp

by Audio Upgrades  |  reviewed by Mike Jasper

Jim Williams has been making his Audio Upgrades High Speed Microphone Preamp since 1994, but largely on the down low-no advertising, no reviews, just a page on his website. The first...

XLogic Alpha Channel

by Solid State Logic  |  reviewed by Andy Hong

If you primarily record to DAW and you're in need of a high-quality recording channel, take a look at SSL's XLogic Alpha Channel. It streets for $1695, which is $50 less than the Rupert Neve Portico...

SCM20SL monitors

by ATC  |  reviewed by Craig Schumacher

Quick question... What is the most important piece of equipment in your studio? The obvious answer is you and your ears. Back in the day, the quality of the monitoring is what separated good rooms...

TLM 49 large-diaphragm condenser mic

by Neumann  |  reviewed by Andy Hong

When a representative from Neumann sent me this mic months ago, I was told that it was a killer vocal mic. So I did what I think many Tape Op geeks would have done; I tried it on everything else but...

Portico 5014 Stereo Field Editor

by Rupert Neve Designs  |  reviewed by Andy Hong

Readers who are familiar with my reviews know that I do a lot of sum-difference processing. In other words, I convert stereo Left/Right signals to Mid/Side, process the M/S, and reconvert back to L/R....

dfh EZdrummer

by Toontrack  |  reviewed by Josh Peck

The $179 price for EZdrummer is well worth the investment if you are looking for a virtual drummer with great-sounding, multi-mic'ed, live drums. EZdrummer comes with two excellent sounding kits with...


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

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