"Sonic comparisons of audio technologies and techniques." Given that my "end rant" is about critical listening, this is a perfect CD to recommend this issue. It has 52 minutes of comparisons in fifteen categories: digital mixer vs. analog, tape vs. digital, tube vs. solid state, etc. I sat and pored over these tests and worked my ass off listening for details. One of the most notable comparisons was between a 1708 Stradivarius and a standard violin-holy shit did the Strad sound much better. Some tests were hard to hear (like different guitar cables). Others were quite obvious (like tape hiss and low-end roll-off with 30 IPS tape). But either way, this is a great tool for building your listening skills while also gaining insight into different techniques and recording equipment. Steve Carr did a fantastic job of putting this collection together, and we should all take advantage of the results. ($34.95 MSRP; www.theabcd.com)

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

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