Mar/Apr 2011

Welcome to issue #82 of Tape Op.


When an aspiring engineer/producer/musician asks me how they should get their start, I always tell them that the most important aspect for me early on was being part of a community, and not necessarily one based on where I lived. This issue of Tape Op illustrates that quite well. Jack White III and Brendan Benson originally hailed from Michigan, and now live in Nashville, Tennessee. Besides their collaboration in The Raconteurs, Brendan's excellent solo career and Jack's groups The White Stripes, The Dead Weather and his Third Man record label have had far-reaching effects with others all over the world. Producer/engineer Vance Powell grew up in Missouri, but now also living in Nashville he's worked extensively with Jack in the studio — the career trajectory he's taken is filled with collaboration, hard work and friendships. Dungen might hail from Sweden, but they have recently cut a single for Third Man, with Jack producing and Vance engineering.

It all ties together through a shared love of music.

It was 15 years ago that the first issue of Tape Op made its debut. I photocopied all the sheets, spray- painted the covers and hand-stapled the pages together. My goal was to learn more about music recording, to note that it could frequently happen outside of a proper studio and to celebrate that making records is truly an art and not simply a technical process.

In my heart I still know the most important aspect of creative music recording is the fact that this is art we're dealing with. Creating works that resonate with listeners and communicating through music and sound is our goal. Recording equipment is necessary, but gear is only part of the tools that we use. If anything, the changing face of audio production technology only proves that it is the music and creative recording process that matters, and not merely the equipment.

Over the years thousands of readers have joined us for the ride and many have become contributors. My partner, John Baccigaluppi, deserves half of any praise due. A few years into Tape Op, he took my raw ideas and helped turn a tiny magazine into a leader in its field — something I could've never imagined in 1996. I gratefully thank John, our Tape Op staff, all of our wonderful contributors and, of course, our faithful readers. I also thank my beautiful wife Jenna, who has literally been with me since the beginning of this journey.

There are a million ways to create and record music. There always will be. Keep your minds and hearts open, use and improve your skills and bring more music into the world.

Our own Tape Op Books is extremely proud to announce that we have published Phill Brown's Are We Still Rolling? In Tape Op #12 Chris Eckman and I interviewed Phill, and in issues 16 to 32 we ran excerpts from his then unpublished book. An amazing story, this is one of the finest memoirs of classic studio sessions one will ever read, with Phill's own personal story setting an arc across the music of the '60s to the current day. Many readers have asked us when this book would come out, so we did it ourselves. You can find Are We Still Rolling? wherever books are sold, so grab a copy today!

We're also excited to show off the magazine's new website. Dave Middleton, Hillary Johnson, AJ Wilhelm and the gang have been hard at work rebuilding and redesigning our site and filling it with more content than ever. Look for online bonus articles with each new issue, search our past gear reviews and enjoy videos and other new online content at

— Larry Crane, editor

In This Issue See more →

A Good Ear?

by David Payette

I had arrived. Led by my ego, I waltzed into the recording studio and began to warm up. A jazz pianist about to study at conservatory, I prided myself on my ability to hear what others could not. I...


Columns See more →

End Rant

Bad Investments???

by Larry Crane

A reader in our letters section [Tape Op #75] recently bemoaned the fact that a virtual instrument plug-in he had purchased was no longer functioning properly and that he had received no support from...

Gear Geeking

Gear Geeking #82

by Andy Hong

Larry's review of Wings of Nature Organic Health Bars (Tape Op #81), in which he discussed healthy, in-studio snacking, inspired me to comment on another important means of staying happier and...


Gear Reviews See more →

Portico II channel

by Rupert Neve Designs  |  reviewed by Alan Tubbs

Somebody likes the Portico II. I had to wait a week for RND to cook up a fresh batch when the review unit they were supposed to send was bought instead of returned. It arrived welcomed, if late....


by Avid  |  reviewed by Allen Farmelo

I don't need to spell out the fact that countless recordists who work on digital systems are on the quest to get a warmer sound. Nor do I need to delve into the 10,000 tools, tricks, and techniques...

PRO 900 S-Logic headphones

by Ultrasone  |  reviewed by Jeff Elbel

With a broad line designed for both home audio and professional use, German designer Ultrasone knows headphones. The PRO 900 headphones advance many features included in 2007's HFI2200 model, a...


by Cakewalk  |  reviewed by Alan Tubbs

In the beginning, Twelve Tone Systems begat Cakewalk MIDI Sequencer for DOS, and Cakewalk begat Pro Audio, which begat SONAR, which begat SONAR X1. Just as SONAR kept much of Pro Audio’s...

PhantomFocus System

by Carl Tatz Design  |  reviewed by Larry Crane

For over seven years, Carl Tatz, studio designer and former owner of Recording Arts in Nashville, Tennessee, has installed his proprietary PhantomFocus monitoring systems in studios around the world...

1073LB 500-series mic preamp

by AMS Neve  |  reviewed by Eli Crews

Doubtless the most famous microphone preamplifier in history, the Neve 1073 has spawned countless imitations — from cheap knockoffs to component-precise replicas. The sincerest flattery has been...

Mastering Backbone

by Manley Laboratories  |  reviewed by Garrett Haines

Manley Laboratories had been building custom mastering consoles on a case-by-case basis, but the waiting list grew too long to manage. (I know - I've been on it.) In a nutshell, it takes a long...

Vienna Ensemble Pro

by Vienna Symphonic Library  |  reviewed by Will Severin

When you find a product that streamlines your workflow simply and unobtrusively, you wonder, "Hey, how come nobody thought of this sooner?" Vienna Ensemble Pro is one of those products. So, what...

Alchemy Soft Synth

by Camel Audio  |  reviewed by Alan Tubbs

There are many jobs for which hardware still rules the music roost. But there are some that software does better - synths, for example. Though no software will replace my analog Minimoog, many...

Music Reviews See more →

Music Reviews

We Live in Rented Rooms

by East River Pipe | reviewed by Larry Crane

When I started Tape Op Magazine, one of the thoughts I hoped to impart (as noted in my intro this issue) was that great music could be recorded far outside of a professional studio. I would look at...



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

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