Dave Brainard and Brian Kolb

Producer Dave Brainard and engineer Brian Kolb have discovered new ways to use analogue tape recording effects during a recent session at Mix Dream Studios in Nashville.

Laying tracks with new country artist Ray Scott, Brainard and Kolb used the Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor system (Clasp) from Endless Analog to send digitally-recorded audio to analogue tape and back to a DAW, using variable tape speeds within the same session. But where engineers have previously had to make a choice between using 15ips to enhance low frequencies or 30ips to accentuate upper mids and high frequencies, Clasp allowed them to mix different tape speeds in the same takes.

Brainard and Kolb are working on Pro Tools systems in separate control rooms at Mix Dream Studios. When overdubs are finished, they begin to run individual tracks, up to four at a time, to a vintage Studer A807 MkII half-inch, four-track deck via Clasp. ‘The advantage here is that we can take a single track or group of tracks and listen to them individually as they go to tape from the Pro Tools environment,’ Brainard says. ‘We can process the bass guitar at 7.5ips, greatly adding to the low-frequency effectiveness, and the kick drum at 15ips or 30ips, which lets it retain the transient that gives it its punch. We can also see how each track reacts to different kinds of analogue processing – tape speed, saturation, compression and so on – and treat it for maximum effectiveness. The idea of being able to have different tape speeds on the same song is incredible. Every track gets exactly what it needs.’

Brian Kolb, who mixed Scott’s record and others at Mix Dream using Clasp applies it to virtually every kind of track: ‘I have clients who come in to listen to a mix and they tell me they’ve never heard their vocals sound so good,’ he says, noting that a vocal for country and gospel singer Sonia Isaacs was recorded and mixed without EQ, the only processing coming through the Clasp system and tape. ‘She agreed that it sounded amazing,’ he adds.

He also applied Clasp to the entire song on a tracking session recently at Ocean Way Studios in Nashville. ‘We did the drums at 30ips and processed the lower-key songs at 15ips. It was amazing to have that kind of control with such great-sounding processing.’

‘No one could have imagined being able to use multiple tape speeds on the same song years ago,’ Brainard says, adding that there’s never an issue of synching tracks back up, thanks to Clasp’s proprietary SST sample synchronisation technology. ‘Clasp is a fantastic system to work with. It puts a big old smile on my face.’

More: www.endlessanalog.com

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