Welcome to issue #72 of Tape Op.
We get all sorts of emails from Tape Op's readers, and most of them are interesting, entertaining and/or informative. Many of these letters get printed in our "Letters to Tape Op" section, but there is a certain type of letter I won't publish. It usually starts out with the writer explaining what they are up to ("I'm a songwriter") and then gives us a little bit of information about what recording equipment they do have ("a PC with an XXXX interface") and maybe a few thoughts on what they might like to own ("ribbon mics and a compressor") and then the clincher — the writer will ask for us to select and recommend what their next purchases should be ("can you give me a few of your trusted brands?").
Why doesn't Tape Op run these letters? Several reasons: 1. This sort of personally detailed response could suck up hours of our workdays. I need time to edit this magazine, work on sessions, answer emails and live my life. Shouldn't someone be paid to handle this type of work? A professional studio consultant? 2. I'm wary of recommending specific brands to people. I know what gear I have that I like — and as you read in last issue's "Gear Geeking" column, I'm not afraid to mention some equipment at my studio that I find useful — but to give someone a list of the items and brands they need to buy isn't something I feel comfortable doing in the pages of Tape Op. 3. People need to do their own research. Read reviews, read about what other people use and go on forums. Ask questions of your peers. Talk to one of the many respected pro audio dealers, some of whom help support your free subscription to Tape Op. You could hire someone to try to sort out what you should buy, but in the end you'll have a better idea of what you need if you do the research and the work yourself. Trust me.
Larry Crane, editor