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