Jul/Aug 2010

Welcome to issue #78 of Tape Op.


I frequently get emails from friends, colleagues and readers asking for advice on recording equipment, in order for them to make a (hopefully) educated choice on some piece of gear they are planning to purchase. While I appreciate the fact that someone would respect my opinion, in almost all of these cases there hasn't been anything that I could advise them on. Many times the query comes in the form of an imaginary shootout, where three or more items are listed with a, "Which is better?" And guess what? I'm lucky if I've ever used any of the gear they are talking about. Why's that? Because there are so many options out there that most times I might have only used one of the items in question — and even then I may have just tried it once, five years ago on only one source. Some of the gear in my studio I've only used a handful of times or only for a specific purposes. This isn't bragging — it's just my habits and the way I like to work (plus some of the equipment we have was chosen based on other engineers' suggestions.) My sessions start with some gear set up that might do the job, and before any songs are rolling, a few things have always been changed out. Do I do a "shootout" in the middle of someone's session? Rarely, and usually only on vocals. Things happen fast, and work needs to get done. And before you know it, another email arrives asking me about three kinds of mics I've never used...

Larry Crane, Editor

Walter Sear, the outspoken owner of New York's Sear Sound, engineer and synthesizer pioneer, passed away April 29th. We ran a fun interview with Walter six years ago (issue #41) and soon after that my pal Steve Masucci took me over to Sear Sound one day for several hours of cigarette smoke and conversation with Walter and his long-time partner Roberta Findlay. I'll never forget it. Walter's rants about the perils of home recording led to his wonderful essay, "Do Brain Surgery at Home for Fun and Profit" — a fun-filled blast against the changing times, and one of my favorite reads. Walter, we will miss you. www.searsound.com

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

Polvo: On recording with Brian

by Alex Maiolo

After taking a break for more than a decade, Polvo released In Prism on Merge Records at the end of 2009. Working with Brain Paulson at Echo Mountain Recording in Asheville, NC, they recorded an album...

Q Division Studios

by Alex McKenzie

The Boston music scene has a character all its own. It never had the glamour of L.A., the grime of New York or the slick professionalism of Nashville — it's neither hip like Portland, nor weird...

Terri Winston

by Larry Crane

Years ago I got an email from a college teacher in San Francisco stating that she was planning to start up a program to encourage and foster women in music production and the recording arts. Soon she...

Monitor Positioning

by Carl Tatz

Do Do toe in your near-field monitors to a 30 degree angle.  Do space your near-field monitors far enough apart so that the apex of your equilateral triangle is 18 inches behind your head....


Columns See more →

End Rant


by Larry Crane

For years I've thought about possibly interviewing a number of people who quit recording music for a living; people who had worked full time in studios and eventually decided that moving on to another...


Gear Reviews See more →

ONE USB mic & audio interface

by Apogee  |  reviewed by Dave Middleton

The existence of the Apogee ONE is hardly surprising. Ever since the Duet interface (Tape Op #65) was released a while back - complete with a rounded-rectangle brushed-aluminum body and the...


by Standard Audio  |  reviewed by Eli Crews

This 500-series device is a line-level JFET limiter, modeled after the Shure Level-Loc PA limiter, which I will tell you all up front that I have never used. I tried to borrow one to test against the...

MA-101fet condenser microphone

by Mojave Audio  |  reviewed by Dana Gumbiner

Here’s a relatively new, pencil-style, solid-state condenser microphone with interchangeable cardioid and omnidirectional capsules from the folks at Mojave. Notably, the electronics were...

m103 channel strip

by Grace Design  |  reviewed by Scott McChane

The new m103 is anchored by the m101’s (Tape Op #68) transformerless preamp design, which offers an honest and transparent, yet deep character — with loads of headroom and 75 dB of gain. I...

C715 condenser mic

by Josephson Engineering  |  reviewed by John Vanderslice

My recording studio in San Francisco, Tiny Telephone, sees a tremendous amount of foot traffic from freelance engineers, and plenty of records are tracked under intense time constraints and budgetary...

DRS-Q4M preamp

by Phoenix Audio  |  reviewed by Allen Farmelo

With the number of preamps available on the market today, it’s really easy to get confused, so let’s get some confusion out of the way. UK’s Phoenix Audio does three things that give...

K-Micro Silver Bullet mic

by Karma Mics  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

The Karma K-Micro Silver Bullet is a small-diaphragm condenser mic designed to fit into tight spaces and tight budgets. At just under 2’’ long, the tapered body does resemble a bullet...

P3S Stereo Compressor

by Foote Control Systems  |  reviewed by Allen Farmelo

And I thought my API 2500 stereo compressor was complex and versatile! Welcome to the Foote Control Systems P3S Stereo Compressor, a self-proclaimed “Swiss Army Knife” that actually lives...

AT4080 & AT4081 ribbon mics

by Audio-Technica  |  reviewed by Andy Hong

We’ve published many reviews of Audio-Technica microphones in Tape Op — for good reason. Audio-Technica manufacturers gear that’s consistently high in quality and relatively...


Model One B equalizer

by Square State, Solid State  |  reviewed by Marc Alan Goodman

I first set eyes on the Model One B about three years ago. I was working at Studio G in Brooklyn and a mysterious package arrived. It turned out to be an equalizer designed and built by a member of...

Spark Mic & Fiddle Mic

by Bartlett Microphones  |  reviewed by Mike Jasper

Bruce Bartlett and Steve Mills, former mic designers for Crown and Shure, now create their own designs under the Bartlett Microphones banner. Recently, I got a chance to try out two of their miniature...

JRS-34 and JRS-34-P ribbon mics

by Cloud Microphones  |  reviewed by Craig Schumacher

One of the benefits of being a Tape Op subscriber is finding and meeting other readers in your home town. That in turn points you towards your resident gear geeks. The original rumor we heard here at...

Fat Bustard

by Thermionic Culture  |  reviewed by Matt Foster

I am sure I’m not alone here in my curiosity of Thermionic Culture products. The literal meaning of the company name, the not-just-free-from-digital but “free from solid-state...

Music Reviews See more →

Music Reviews


by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | reviewed by Jeff Slate

Tom Petty is sitting at the mixing board in the control room of Manhattan's Germano Studios with his wife Dana on his left. I'm sitting on his right. Pretty cool. We're listening to the 5.1 Blu-ray...

Music Reviews


by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | reviewed by Jeff Slate

Tom Petty is sitting at the mixing board in the control room of Manhattan's Germano Studios with his wife Dana on his left. I'm sitting on his right. Pretty cool. We're listening to the 5.1 Blu-ray...



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

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