— The first CLASP® purchaser in the U.K., Smith knows the importance of rich sound, even on the most contemporary pop and dance tracks, and CLASP is now one of his essential tools to get him there — Endless Analog’s CLASP® (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) system, which uniquely integrates analog tape machines into the digital audio production workflow, has recently become an integral part of the studio setup of award-winning British producer, songwriter, mix engineer and multi-instrumentalist Fraser T. Smith. In fact, Smith has the distinction of being the first in the U.K. to purchase CLASP, and of being among CLASP’s highest-profile users to date. One of the hottest writer -producers in today’s pop music scene, Smith’s discography includes tracks on recent smash albums from Adele and Cee Lo Green and a track on Britney Spears’ new album, Femme Fatale, as well as work with such talents as Taio Cruz, Clare Maguire, James Morrison and more. Dedicated to warm, nuanced sound, he is a firm supporter of the use of analog tape in the recording studio, and his recent purchase of CLASP has revolutionized his workflow and helped him capture the classic sounds he is looking for while producing thoroughly modern dance and pop tracks.
It did not take long for Smith to fully appreciate CLASP. He notes, “It is so flawless. Basically we can’t even tell it’s working, which is a great thing. We can just hear the difference. It’s invisible. A lot of other producers and engineers are using CLASP and tape intentionally to get a more traditional sound, but I use it in a different way – on modern dance records – and I think this shows the versatility of tape and of CLASP. Aside from vocals, bass, guitar and drum tracks, I’m tracking all my drum machines and synths through it – it’s incredible.”Smith became acquainted with CLASP through a friend in Los Angeles, who knew of CLASP through Nathan Chapman, best known as Taylor Swift’s producer. He recalls, “I knew Nathan’s work on the fantastic Taylor Swift stuff, and my friend was reiterating how great CLASP is, so I felt compelled to visit Endless Analog’s website and learn a bit about the box. I was struck by the amount of engineers, producers and musicians who I totally respect, giving their endorsement and raving about CLASP. I knew I had to get one immediately.” Smith’s signal chain was already utilizing a mix of classic and modern, with a vintage Otari Mark-III analog tape machine. “We were already using the tape machine, but we were bouncing stuff out after we recorded it in, as many engineers do,” he states. “I figured if we could integrate CLASP in the way I hoped, it would save many steps in the recording process and indeed improve the sound across the board. And that’s what happened.”
CLASP has also helped Smith get great performances from his artists. “When you’re tracking with an amazing singer like Cee Lo or Adele, the zero-latency monitoring really helps the performers deliver at the top of their game. And because they’re hearing that richness in real time, we get to record some magical moments. Artists like that feel at home when they are in the vocal booth, and out of the corner of their eye, they can see tape roll. And beyond that, there is no time wasted waiting for tracks to bounce or tape to rewind. And finally, when the mixing starts, I find the tracks so much easier to blend, because I’m using less EQ and compression. The tape has put its own natural EQ and compression on the track, which is better all-around.”Smith’s star will continue to rise throughout 2011, as he is currently working on high-profile projects with such artists as Natalie Findlay, Rough Diamondz, and The Kooks. Through it all, he will be working with analog tape and his CLASP. “It’s an unbelievable system,” he adds. Visit www.endlessanalog.com and www.frasertsmith.com for more information.