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Posts Tagged ‘Analog Tape’

MIX MAGAZINE – Aerosmith records “New Dimension” with CLASP

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Steven Tyler singing.
Steven Tyler recording vocals.

Warren Huart on Steven’s vocals: Most of Steven Tyler’s keeper vocals were cut at Swing House with a Neumann U 48 that Huart had used previously on The Fray, James Blunt, Adele and others. Other pieces of the chain included a Brent Averill Enterprises 1073, “and then I mult to two sets of compression and I parallel compress. I have two [dbx] 160 VU’s, which I set pretty lightly, like 2-to-1 or 3-to-1. I split those out of a mult and then each of those goes to an 1176 set to limit on 20:1 and they just catch the peaks. I’ve got one for verses and softer vocals, attacking it lightly, and then when he goes into that louder, crazier Steven thing I have another set of compression set at half that. They’re multed back together and that’s the vocal sound. What it does is give you huge, fat vocals all the time. I ride the 1073—I’ll click the gain settings up and down depending on where he is on the vocal. It’s pretty old school. As an engineer, you’re blessed to work with a singer of that quality, because he makes your life very easy.”

Tape machine.

On Tape and CLASP: Douglas and Huart joined the growing ranks of producers and engineers to embrace the Endless Analog CLASP system, which Huart says “gives you a sound only tape can give you. You can’t fault it on drums—it gives you a nice little low that’s never going to be the same if you just EQ. You can also boost the top end on your overhead in the mix without it sounding brittle.” For this project, the recording team used CLASP in conjunction with three Studer A800 two-inch analog recorders—a 16-track (for drums) and a 24-track at Pandora’s Box, and another A800 24-track at Joe Perry’s Boneyard.

Swing House studio.

Douglas on Swing House: “The vibe [at Swing House] was totally relaxed. It’s like a clubhouse. Crystal Method was in there awhile, Marilyn Manson. And we had visitors, too—Richard Lewis, Rick Nielson, Jack Black, Johnny Depp, so it was a lot of fun.” Depp and Julian Lennon are among those who helped on backing vocals.

Douglas has done so much work at Swing House over the past five years that he has merged much of his personal equipment with the studio’s, including his (now-rare) SPL Charisma dual-channel processors and some Retro gear, such as the 176 (the modern version of the 1176), which he lauds for its highpass filter. “Also, their version of a [1950s-era] Gates Sta-level [compressor] and passive EQ are very good.”

Swing House studio compressor.

Other favored pieces of gear included Pulse-Tec’s modern versions of the classic Pultec PQ-1 and PQ-2; and the Vertigo Sound Quad Discrete VCA Compressor, which Huart likens to the “the classic dbx 202 VCAs that are in the original [SSL] 4000 bus compressor, though the control over it is much better. What I like about it is the highpass filter, which is very modern. It’s set at 60 and 90 and it really allows the bottom end to breathe.”

Both of Swing House’s two main rooms were used for the Aerosmith project. The control room of Studio A includes a vintage 20-channel API console, a Cadac sidecar and an assortment of Calrec and Neve mic pre’s. Studio B features a gorgeous vintage 24-channel, 8-bus Neve 8058.

SONIC SCOOP – Research & Development: Inside the Making of Machine Matrix from Endless Analog

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

How does an audio offering come to life? Welcome to the new SonicScoop series “Research & Development” where we’ll be exploring the genesis of hardware, software and services that catch our eye.

What's the story behind Endless Analog's new Machine Matrix? (Photo Credit: Jake Harsh)

First up: When Endless Analog first launched the CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) in 2010, there was no guarantee that the world would warm up to their system.

Patented by Chris Estes, the CLASP design bridged analog and digital recording techniques by seamlessly integrating tape machines into Pro Tools. The result was the ability to record to tape while maintaining the speed and flexibility of a DAW, delivering real-time analog monitoring with zero-latency through a mastering grade audio signal path.

In 2012, there are no doubts: CLASP is here to stay, with deployments for Lenny Kravitz, Aerosmith, Abbey Road Studios, John Shanks, Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift), Beck, Michael W. Smith, Denis Savage (Celine Dion), Butch Walker (Panic at the Disco, Pink, Avril Lavigne), Dave Cobb (Shooter Jennings, Jamey Johnson), Chuck Ainlay and John Fields (Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Switchfoot), and more.

As Estes spent time in the field with CLASP, however, he discovered that something more was needed for the line — CLASP users with multiple tape machines needed an additional level of control. For that, Endless Analog has just introduced a powerful complement to the CLASP line: the Machine Matrix ($3,750). Here, Estes explains how and why his new made-to-order system came into being.

(l-r) Chris Estes and Lenny Kravitz. (photo credit: Mathieu Bitton)

What’s the principle behind the Machine Matrix?

With the Machine Matrix and a CLASP system you can switch back and forth between tape machines in the middle of the song without any patching or re-syncing all with a single mouse click. Machine Matrix is software/hardware controlled analog tape with mastering grade auto signal routing.

What sparked the original idea for this addition to the Endless Analog line?

The original idea for the Machine Matrix came from Lenny Kravitz’ studio. I spent a good amount of time with Lenny at his studio in the Bahamas and he was one of first customers to utilize CLASP with the Studer J37 one inch four track. His J37 was actually used by The Beatles to record Sgt. Pepper.

He has several different tape machines, and and he wants to use them all. So that was the inspiration for creating the Matrix — a seamless way to switch between tape decks during a session that doesn’t disrupt the creative flow. With our old CLASP software you needed a separate template for each machine, but with the Machine Matrix and our version 3.5 software and hardware there is only one master template for all your tape machines, so you never have to stop the creative flow of the session, break down, and connect your Pro Tools and patchbay to the new machine.

With the Machine Matrix it’s just literally as easy as one mouse click, and within the time it takes to click the mouse your CLASP is switched over to a new tape machine, and everything is patched and synchronized instantly.

For example, let’s say your studio has an Ampex ATR ½-inch machine at 30 ips, but you also have a Studer A80 1-inch that’s running at 15 IPS. You could have 20:32 of tape left on the Studer machine, while the Ampex ATR is running at 30 IPS with 07:31 minutes left — it doesn’t matter. The Machine Matrix keeps track of it all. When you switch to the new machine, the CLASP hardware is automatically updated to the newly selected tape deck.

What did you learn from the rollout of the original CLASP – what was surprising/unexpected for you in terms of how studios were integrating them into their workflow, and using some of the features of the system?

(click to enlarge) This diagram depicts a CLASP system installation using pre existing D-Sub patch bays and pre existing wiring. There are 3 patch modes; (1) CLASP mode which requires no patching. (2) Pro Tools Only mode which requires only one patch from the mic pre outputs to the Pro Tools inputs. (3) Analog Tape Only mode which requires one patch from the analog tape deck outputs to the console line inputs. All of the patchbays are half normaled except for bays 1 & 2 (microphone lines to mic pre amps).

One of the things we learned was how to efficiently and economically integrate CLASP into a studio with minimal wiring. We now have a patchbay configuration diagram that uses mostly your pre-existing wiring. And if you already have a DSUB patchbay then it’s even easier. (see diagram) CLASP is designed to be plug-and-play, you take it out of the box, plug it in and go. It only takes literally one minute to install the software in your Pro Tools.

Another thing we learned was how to improve the software interface and its functionality. We had great suggestions from a few engineers at Abbey Road.

So with those in mind I reworked the interface, and in this new version 3.5 you see the culmination of suggestions from our users — a much better GUI where you can see the track arming status of all 24 tracks of the CLASP hardware simultaneously, better functionality such as Input Monitor and Repro monitor controls on the plugin. An auto update feature that scans for track arming eliminating the need to bank through channels manually with HUI. And we’ve put more controls on the plugin to control the hardware, because that’s mostly what the software is doing — controlling our hardware.

In addition to Lenny Kravitz’ studio, can you give us another example of how the Machine Matrix can optimize the CLASP workflow?

The Machine Matrix makes it extremely convenient to work with all of the machines in your arsenal for overdubbing, mix down — you name it. For example; you might decide to track with your 2-inch machine, but then overdub with your half-inch 2-track and then mix. Or you might be in a tracking session and you have two totally different 2 inch machines you want to A/B for a song. Well, now you can A/B without stopping the session.

You’re one mouse click away from any machine you have in your room. It’s possible to have three completely different 2-inch machines, 1-inch machines, half-inch, quarter-inch or any combination all connected to the Matrix at the same time. It takes as long to switch between decks as it does for you to click the mouse.

One of the best examples I have seen is a CLASP studio with two different 24-track machines (Studer A80, MCI JH24) and an ATR 102 that used a different 2-inch for each song at different tape speeds that best suited the vibe of each song while tracking, then switched into the ATR for vocal overdubbing and the final mix processing.

It’s really exciting to see how people use CLASP. A lot of guys are using it in the mix stage now. They insert the half-inch two-track into the mix chain after their bus compressor and set it on “input” using the VU meters on the two-track to keep an eye on the mix buss gain structure. After the mix is about 80% dialed in, they set the two-track into “repro” and take its transport online with the CLASP.

So now Pro Tools is driving the tape transport (automatic) and they are listening “through the tape” and making final mix and buss compression tweaks, letting the tape react to the fast transients instead of their buss compressor. They fold the output of the two track back into Pro Tools on a fresh channel and use a make up gain plugin like the Slate Mastering Plugin to offset the gain difference going from 0db @ -18VU. The results from this are amazing.

Back view of the Machine Matrix. (Photo credit: Jake Harsh)

What’s the most challenging aspect of designing an entirely new product, as you’ve done with the Machine Matrix?

I think the most challenging thing is to do it so it integrates with our pre-existing lines — that’s what I set out to do. Seamless integration was the goal: When you have a Machine Matrix and want to plug into a CLASP 8, 16, or 24, you’re there. It just plugs in and sees it.

The form factor also takes a lot of careful consideration. Originally we were going to make the audio routing and machine control routing of the Matrix as a separate pieces of gear, but in the end we decided it made more sense to put everything together — that this would give the customer more value. Fortunately it wasn’t difficult to integrate! I just had to re-work the circuit board designs.

Lastly, why is product evolution an essential part of what you do – what are the market forces that make new product features and models a necessity for manufacturers like Endless Analog?

As a music artist it is necessary to keep writing, performing and inventing. I used to write songs and make records — that’s what I did for a living, and then I had the idea for CLASP because I was feeling frustrated about how my digital recordings were sounding. So this is just me being an artist, just like when an artist writes a new song: You have the song in you, you want to get it out and make it happen you want to see it materialize. These are my songs in the form of gear.

Eventually CLASP will be a lot more than what you see right now. It took about five years for us to get the first patent issued for CLASP, which is kind of like getting your songs copy-written. So these first pieces of Endless Analog CLASP gear are like the first few tracks on an album that has been written. Now we’re recording the rest of the album for release a few tracks at a time and hopefully people will continue to like our music.

Just like we each like different genres of music, some engineers like plugins, and that’s fine. But when it comes down to it, we like the sound of using the real thing any day over a simulation. And why not use the real thing if you can? A real tape machine running in the studio is always way more inspiring than a plugin any day.

– David Weiss


MUSIC RADAR – Joe Perry’s gear, Steven Tyler’s ear, CLASP technology

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

By Joe Bosso When Aerosmith release a new album this year – their first since 2004′s Honkin’ On Bobo, and their first collection of fresh material since 2001′s Just Push Play – longtime fans are hoping that it will mark a return to the mean, raunchy, riff-oriented, blues-rock sound the group mined on the ’70s classics Get Your Wings, Toys In The Attic and Rocks. Joe Perry lays down a guitar track at Swing House Studios while producer Jack Douglas (center) and engineer Warren Huart (right) look on. In that regard, producer Jack Douglas says the upcoming record won’t disappoint. He’s in a uniquely qualified position to make such a claim: not only is he helming the new set, but he also manned the board for most of the group’s best-loved discs. “We’re going back to the rawness,” says Douglas. “There’s something special about the vintage Aerosmith vibe, and that’s what we have here.” For Douglas, capturing the group’s untamed spirit on tape means just that – using tape. To that end, the veteran producer, whose resume also includes work with John Lennon, Cheap Trick and Patti Smith, is utilizing CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor), a unit which allows him to integrate real two-inch tape technology into a DAW signal and workflow. Joining Douglas behind the glass is fellow tape and CLASP enthusiast, Warren Huart. Huart serves as engineer on the Aerosmith project, but in recent years he’s produced The Fray, James Blunt, Howie Day and Augustana, among others. What’s more, he’s also the proud owner of Swing House Studios in Hollywood, where the Aerosmith team have called home for the past few months as they lay down vocals and overdubs on one of 2012′s most-anticipated releases. MusicRadar caught up with Douglas and Huart recently to talk about the sonic wonders of CLASP, their approach to working with Aerosmith, the band’s indefatigable energy and how the director of Desperado and Spy Kids somehow fits into the picture. How did you two start working together? Jack Douglas: “I was working at Swing House on other projects, a few film things, and I did a Michael Monroe record there. I really liked Swing House, and it kind of became my place to park myself on the West Coast. The rooms are comfortable, the equipment is great – I keep a lot of my gear there, actually. Warren Huart: “Probably 50 percent of the equipment at Swing House is my gear and 50 percent is Jack’s. We share a lot of tube equipment. Jack’s Pulse Technologies stuff is fantastic – they’re replicas of Pultecs.” Douglas: “Warren and I would trade rooms on and off for about two years, and we became friendly. I knew he was knowledgeable and extremely capable. Plus, he’s a guitarist, which is good – knowing guitars is very important when it comes to working with a band like Aerosmith. When the new project came up, I gave him a call. “The person I usually work with on Aerosmith, Jay Messina, he has boundaries – he won’t go crazy with his hours. With Aerosmith, you have to be ready to work when they’re ready, and on a long-term basis. You can’t do five days a week, eight hours a day with these guys. The other night, we were working till one in the morning – that’s just what it takes. Warren was up for that, so I brought him out to Boston. The boys liked him, and that was that.” Douglas and Huart flank CLASP inventor Chris Estes. So Warren, what’s it like working with Jack? Huart: “It’s great. What can I say? You know, I produce 90 percent of the stuff I work on. Even when I engineer something for a major label – whether it’s Howie Day or James Blunt or whomever – a lot of the time I’m the co-producer, and I even play on the stuff, too. “In this role, as an engineer, you have to be with somebody you can respect. Jack’s worked with Aerosmith and John Lennon and incredible artists. But Jack is in the handful of guys, he’s like a Phil Ramone or a George Martin. He has a real vision, but he’s able to make everybody feel comfortable, which allows people to do their best. And that lets me be creative, too. You don’t have to be afraid to bring up an idea.” How did you guys first become aware of CLASP? Huart: “I got in very early in the development stage. I had an assistant who knew Chris Estes, who invented it, and when I first heard about it, I knew it could be phenomenal. I grew up with tape, I loved working with tape. Who doesn’t? You can do so much with it. So, to me, CLASP offered the best of both worlds. You can use and abuse tape on the way in, and then you can have it instantly in a digital stage to edit it.” Douglas: “I think it was my son, Blake Douglas, that first turned me onto it. He owns some studios in LA. He has Record One, which used to be Ocean Way; he has Stage & Sound; and he has a room on a yearly lease at EastWest. He’s in the hip-hop business. But he’s an equipment dealer, too, and he was the one to tell me about CLASP. “The whole idea of CLASP got me really buzzed. I went out and bought a beautiful old A80, anticipating that I was going to buy a CLASP unit. I met with Chris Estes, and we talked about the technology. I thought, This could really work for Aerosmith; this will sound pretty good. “We got a couple of units on loan for the band’s studio, Pandora’s Box, and they fell in love with them, so they purchased the CLASPs. Then Joe bought one for his A80 for his room, the Boneyard. Everybody embraced the whole philosophy of CLASP.” Huart: “I was very excited to make the Aerosmith record my first CLASP project. The other way to do it would be to record everything to tape and then put it to Pro Tools. Working with CLASP seemed like a far better way to go.” What are the advantages of CLASP? Douglas: “Well, you can keep the warmth of the tape, which, to me, is the big, big plus. There are no advantages to working all-digital. I moved over to digital in 1979. I was curious, so I started using the first 3M machines. Then I went to Mitsubishis and Sonys, but I would go back to tape. I always preferred tape. And I love mixing to tape – the sound is better. “I do like the convenience of Pro Tools, however. CLASP is the real answer, one which allows me to work with the sound of tape and have the convenience of digital. To record Aerosmith, CLASP has been great. The band totally loves it.” Huart: “The band cut their teeth on tape. The sound of those records, the ones everybody knows and loves, comes from tape. Plus, they have the know-how and the experience… They know the difference sonically. They know what translates for their music. I don’t think, with this record, to do it all-digital, would have been a great way to go.” Douglas is Shure of his choice of headphones. Has the band worked with any outside songwriters? Douglas: “Marti Frederiksen. Marti’s contributed some. On the lyrical side, I wanted Steven to really have somebody to bounce his lyrics off of, so I said to Sony that we should bring in Stephen King.” Stephen King, the novelist? Douglas: “That’s right. They thought I was crazy, but I thought he’d be into it. Here’s who I had on my list: Stephen King; Robert Rodriguez, the director; and Tim Burton. They thought I was nuts, but I said, ‘Let’s try.’ As it turned out, Stephen King said, ‘I wish you had contacted me a month earlier – I’m writing with John Mellencamp!’ [laughs] How funny is that? People thought I lost my mind, and there he is, working with Mellencamp.” These are amazing ideas! Douglas: “I think you have to be creative. So what’s happened was, Robert Rodriguez has come in, and he and Steven have gotten together. Robert’s got great ideas – he’s a brilliant director, but he’s a musician, too. We’re waiting to hear from Tim Burton, but in the meantime, we’re doing fine.” What new pieces of gear do Joe Perry and the rest of the band have? Douglas: “The thing with Aerosmith is, you don’t find a lot of new pieces, but you find some incredible old pieces. Joe has a connection to these amazing RCA and Bogen PA amps, and they’re being converted to 30-watt guitar amps, so we’ve been using a lot of them. We’ve been using my Producer Model Morris amp – they’re a boutique company out of St. Catherine’s, Ontario. “The only new thing that I think is new is an Epiphone Casino, which has been reissued. Brad fell in love with that – it’s got a great, woody tone. The band collects a lot of incredible pieces that sound wonderful. They’re a part of history, but we do use them.” Huart: “You go into Joe Perry’s place, and it’s like a wish-list of stuff. You stand there and say, ‘I wish we could use a…’ and there it is. ‘Oh, I’d like to try a preamp like…’ and he’s got it. His console is full of 1073s. He’s got a tape machine. You name it, it’s there. I’ve gone into professional studios, and they can’t match what Joe Perry has. “But he’s still into trying out new pedals and things. The whole band is. They have a thirst for sound, a quest for tone, that you wouldn’t believe.” Jack, you’ve worked with the band for so long, but what impresses you about them these days? “First, you have to consider that these guys are all over 50 years old and still have the ability to just rock really hard. There’s so much edge going on, and they still have the vitality they had when we started 40 years ago. “Also, Steven has an incredible ear. He and I share an interest in classical music and American standards and jazz. We’ll talk about music and Gershwin will come up – we’re not afraid to talk in those terms. So that’s great that we have that catalogue thing going on. Plus, Brad is such a fan of blues, and the whole band loves ’60s British rock. There’s deep musical roots to these guys.” And Warren, what impresses you about Aerosmith? Huart: “That they play like a band in their 20s. We’re not putting a lot of things together, at least not what you’d think. Most of these tracks have been flat-out, off-the-floor performances. Their enthusiasm and commitment is not what you’d expect for a band over the age of 25. They feel the same way about playing music as they did when they were making their first album. “Take Joe Perry: He ‘s in here, on time if not early, to do overdubs. Steven’s in here at all hours working on vocals. He does American Idol and then he comes in here. We’re talking about amazing talents, and they work hard. What they do is beyond human, but it comes from work and commitment.” Douglas gets hands on in the studio, adjusting mics on Joey Kramer’s drums. Aside from using CLASP, what kinds of discussions went down as far as the sound for album? Douglas: “We’re going back to the rawness. There’s something special about the vintage Aerosmith vibe, and that’s what we have here. It’s got that ’70s feel and sense of humor. It’s a bit of a concept album – there’s a theme running through it, but I can’t really talk about that right now. But to get that edge and spirit, it made sense to capture tracks live with the band playing all out. “The way Pandora’s Box is set up, we can get that. It’s a gorgeous room that was designed by John Storyk, and the board was designed by Jay Messina and myself. It’s 24 tracks of Neve broadcast modules, eight tracks of API, eight tracks of old Focusrite, and then PAD built a custom eight-buss for us. So they all speak to one another. It’s just like having one board – we call it ‘Frankenstein.’ I had a lot of my gear and my mics sent over to the place. “Pandora’s Box really allowed me to record the band like I did in the ’70s. We’d sit in the production office and start with the germ of a song – just acoustic guitars and some basic ideas – and then we’d take that and go into a rehearsal room. In that room, we have small amps and keyboards, and we’ll record everything we do there into my laptop. After that, once it’s right, we’ll take it into the big room and record it. If we need to make changes, we’ll make them later. “We recorded everything at Pandora’s Box except for two songs, which we did at Swing House. One song was something we decided we could do a little better, and the other one was brand new – that’s the one that Sony likes and is convinced is a big hit single.” But you are doing some overdubs at Swing House. Douglas: “Well, yeah, we’re doing a lot of the guitars, the leads. When Steven gets done with American Idol and comes in to do vocals, we’re figure out what has to go around them.” Throughout the process, have there been any demos at all? Douglas: “Yeah, sure. Very often, if a song didn’t begin with a germ of an idea in the studio, it was from a demo. But again, we’d sit and listen to that and get a lot of the band’s input, and then we’d knock out some changes. I think it’s fun to track right away because everything is fresh. For me, the demo stage is when we’re in that rehearsal room. We’ll spend days in there listening to what we have.” And when the band tracks, it’s off-the-floor live performances? Huart: “A large portion is just that: off-the-floor takes. It’s the band playing together. That’s the beauty of this band – they can play. Joey Kramer hits those drums. He’s an animal.” Douglas: “Right. Steven’s in the middle with a vocal mic – he knows where the verses and choruses are. It’s live.” Jack, what do you think the band looks to you for? Do you give them “brutal truth”? Douglas: “It’s brutal truth, sure, but we’re like brothers, really. There’s never any pretense. I’m willing to listen to any idea the band has. It’s very communal. We always support each other. Even when I wasn’t producing their records, whether it was during the ’90s, there was a lot of hanging out. We know what each other can do. There’s no bullshit.”


Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

In theory it might sound a little confusing, but in reality, SIMON TILLBROOK finds that there’s simply nothing to compare to CLASP.

Pro Sound News Europe - CLASP

“It is not very often that you get to have a look at something technically unique in this business, but I have had the opportunity to do just that recently with a visit to KMR Audio and a demonstration of a unit, designed by one Chris Estes of Endless Analog, called CLASP. ”   –   Simon Tillbrook, Audio Media Magazine


CLASP stands for Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor and, in simple terms, integrates real analogue tape recording into your DAW signal and workflow.

The concept can be quite confusing when looking through the literature and diagrams associated with CLASP, but the system is, in practice, much simpler when demoed, with some very clever stuff going on in the background.

CLASP currently allows your Pro Tools or Nuendo/Cubase DAW (other DAW support is being talked about but not available as yet) to integrate a number of analogue multi-track options from Studer, Otari, Ampex, 3M, MCI, Tascam, Scully, and Sony.

CLASP is packaged in a 2U box with a front panel consisting of a large display (usually set to display tape time remaining) and five large buttons.

These buttons are labelled IPS, MON, SYNC, and RTZ. IPS (inches per second) enables you to select the tape speed for the counter (you need to manually change the speed on your multi-track). POST allows additional post roll after recording. MON is selected for latency-free input monitoring; SYNC is used during the initial setup of CLASP with your DAW (more later) and, finally, RTZ (return to zero). The rear panel of CLASP is a sea of Tascam protocol

25-pin DSUB connections for use with any multi-track machine. The first three accept input from your console buss outputs or feeds from pre-amplifiers (for example), then the next three deliver the signal to your analogue multi-

track inputs. The analogue multi-track outputs (that come from your multi-track REPRO head) would then feed your A/D converters into the DAW system, completing the input connection configuration.

Output from your DAW D/A converters then feed back into CLASP through the three DAW return DSUBs, and then finally the Monitor DSUBs get the signal back into your console’s tape returns.

In addition to these audio connections, we have a Tape Control 15-pin connection to connect to your analogue multi-track to control transport, track arming, etc. You can specify which machine you are using and the appropriate cable will be supplied.

XLR connections for sync in and out sit next to MIDI in and out sockets.

It is through MIDI machine control and the HUI protocol that CLASP translates machine control information from your DAW to your analogue multi-track through an appropriate USB to MIDI interface.

It is worth noting that you can chain up to three CLASP units together for control of three analogue machines for 72-Tracks.


We have our CLASP hardware configured; now we need to sort out the software side of things.

I am talking about the set-up with Pro Tools specifically, but remember that Cubase/Nuendo are also catered for.

For the system to work in terms of machine routing and control, as well as delay compensation (more soon), we need to have a master fader for each DAW output used in the session.

Once you have created this, you can hide these and just run your session as normal, they just need to be part of your session set-up to give routing and arming control to each specific analogue track.

Within your Pro Tools session itself you need a single instance of the CLASP Bridge control plug-in to be present. This can be on any track and is used to communicate through MIDI/HUI transport and track arming information to your analogue multi-track.

The CLASP Bridge plug-in is used to store delay compensation and transport control data for up to three tape machines, each with three different speed options. The display in minutes and seconds then behaves according to the selection you have made.

Initial Set-Up & Use

Audio runs through the system input, recorded onto your analogue tape, and then played back via the REPRO head into your DAW where it is recorded. There is obviously a delay between heads on your multi-track, and this is the really clever bit with CLASP.

CLASP needs to learn the specifics of your multi-track machine from a control, speed, and head delay standpoint, so you run a sync setup for each tape speed for your system to learn.

This is a simple button push affair, and CLASP informs you when the process is complete and successful. From then on you simply run your session as normal.

When you record the audio from your analogue machine, it is recorded into your DAW in real time and, with input monitoring alongside your DAW output, you enjoy zero latency.

When you push ‘stop’ at the end of your recording, CLASP time stamps and realigns your audio into the future on your timeline based on the delay compensation calculated during the initial set-up…very clever.

You can select between different speeds from one take to the next, taking advantage of the different characteristics of your machine, tape, and speed at the push of a couple of buttons and, because you are storing your audio directly into your DAW system, one reel of tape can be constantly reused across multiple sessions until you deem it to be no longer of optimum use to you.

Summing Up

The CLASP system works. It does exactly what it claims to do, and there is nothing else to compare it to. It is a system that is almost impossible to get your head around in theory but, when seen in use, it becomes surprising simple in operation.

The initial set-up with CLASP in terms of

session layout and synchronisation is the tricky

part but, done once, you are good to go.

Studios with tape machines that have become idle will love the opportunities CLASP offers, bringing them back into service and offering clients an even greater sound pallet to incorporate into their projects.

For those who have had the experience, CLASP lets you rediscover all that you loved about tape and its interaction with sound but which, maybe, had just slipped from your memory.



INFORMATION £ GB£5,000.00 (exc.VAT)

A Endless Analog, 3212 West End Ave, Suite 500, Nashville, TN 37203, USA

T +1 866 929 4446 W www.endlessanalog.com

A UK Distribution: KMR Audio 1375 High Road, Whetstone, London, N20 9LN

T +44 (0) 208 445 2446 W www.kmraudio.com


Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

ProSoundNews 06.22.2011 New York (June 22, 2011)–

Engineer/producer Greg Collins and Kiss are using Endless Analog’s CLASP System to record the band’s next album.

KISS bandleader Paul Stanley with co-producer engineer mixer Greg Collins in the studio with CLASP.

KISS bandleader Paul Stanley with co-producer engineer mixer Greg Collins in the studio with CLASP.

Commenting on the use of CLASP during the sessions, band leader/producer Paul Stanley stated, “CLASP allows us to go ‘back to analog’ for all the warmth and classic sonic characteristics but with all the convenience and advantages of Pro Tools. It’s a no brainer and you just can’t lose with CLASP. I’m a believer.”

On their first collaboration, 2009’s Sonic Boom, music was recorded on analog tape and edited in Pro Tools, but the two processes were separate from each other, necessitating frequent extended pauses in recording for tape transfers. For the recording of the new LP, Endless Analog’s CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) system, which integrates analog tape machines into the digital audio production workflow, is allowing the band to use analog tape while tracking to Pro Tools in real time, opening up the sonic space of tape while providing the editing capabilities of the digital recording workspace.

Collins recalls, “I went to Endless Analog’s web site and saw Bryan Lenox giving a pretty thorough description, and this was right around the time we were making plans for the new KISS album. We had done a majority recording for Sonic Boom using tape, and we loved the sound, but punch-ins were challenging at times, and getting the tracks into Pro Tools for editing took a lot of time. But mainly, we enjoyed the process of using tape, and everyone enjoys the convenience that digital recording offers. If there had been a way with that first record to get the best of both worlds at the same time, we would have done it. And now there is that reality [with CLASP], so we had to give it a try.

“I sat down with Paul, who is once again producing, while I am co-producing, engineering and mixing. Paul really knows his way around a studio, but he lets me manage the gear side of things. He gave the go-ahead to use CLASP, so we went for it.”

Once they acquired CLASP, Endless Analog President/Founder and CLASP inventor Christopher Estes made a personal visit. Collins continues, “I got in touch with Chris, and he was good enough to come out and set us up on the first day in the studio, and he stuck with us through the first few days of tracking to make sure that it was all going smoothly, which it did. And it was such a good experience. For me, the tape sound, for a hard rock band, is the ideal sound. It deals with the transients in a way that’s really nice and easy on the ears. Drums for instance – it keeps them sounding punchy and powerful, but not ‘painful,’ like you might associate with a digitally recorded drum sound. Tape is an important part of the right sound, and CLASP makes it possible to not have to sacrifice any of the perks of digital.”

Collins also recalls how nice it was to keep things moving. “There was zero downtime needed for transferring the tracks into Pro Tools. The band is so tight and well-rehearsed, and it’s so great to just start a session and knock out a song in two or three takes. A few punch-ins and the track is pretty much there. It’s so efficient; it just keeps the creativity and performance going. And the band loves the sound. Honestly, every time the guys walked in the control room for playback, everybody was so impressed – they said, ‘It sounds even better than last time, and we loved what it sounded like last time.’”


Saturday, April 23rd, 2011


Recently opened, Blade Studios is world-class sound recording studio complex  in Louisiana. Behind it are drummer/producer Brady Blade, executive producer/media developer Scott Crompton and chief engineer/producer/mixer Chris Bell. Inside is the latest placement of Endless Analog’s Clasp recording system.

Clasp integrates analogue tape machines into digital audio production workflow, and follows the thinking behind Blade’s complement of modern and classic recording gear. With it, Blade can run an analogue tape machine alongside a DAW, combining classic sound and digital convenience.

The studio is running a Studer A827 with the Clasp (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) system and an SSL Duality console – which combines an analogue path signal processing with DAW control. Recent studio sessions have involved Rolling Stones touring bassist Daryl Jones with Brady Blade on drums.

Bell (pictured) was in the process of selecting equipment for the new facility, when he came across Clasp online. ‘I read a couple of articles on it, and I thought it sounded very interesting,’ he says. ‘I grew up using analogue tape, but in recent years it’s just been disappearing. Last year. I think I only did one record on tape.

‘But Clasp opens up that possibility again in a very real, modern way. So I contacted my sales rep to track down a Clasp, and got in touch with Chris Estes, who invented the Clasp box and runs Endless Analog. He was immensely helpful, and he helped me get the unit up and running. That was just a few months ago, and we’ve already been using it on sessions here at the studio.’

‘The most important thing we do for our clients is create an atmosphere where they are inspired, breathe easy and feel great about the room and the sessions that are taking place,’ says Crompton. ‘We want them to perform confidently and enjoy the sound of their own voice and playing, and Clasp is an important piece of that puzzle – a tool to make that happen. A lot of people want to use vintage gear, but they don’t necessarily want the hassles associated with it – high costs for tape reels, time for rewinding or transferring things to Pro Tools and so on. Clasp solves those problems; you only need a small amount of tape, and no time is needed for transferring things.

‘The artist can always be in the moment, and no inspiration gets lost. That is a tremendous gift. Artists are generally more at ease when they don’t sense the pressure and ticking clock of burning through expensive tape. Now, they can walk in and see Clasp and think, “I can do a thousand takes; I can do a million takes, and it’s all going to tape and it all sounds sweet”. Clasp separates itself from all other gear – it’s like riding around in a beautiful old Gullwing Mercedes and not having to worry about it breaking down or anybody backing into it.’

‘It’s so nice to see reels of tape rolling again – everybody is so curious about the tape machine,’ Bell continues. ‘They say, “Man this is cool. We haven’t done this in a while”.

‘It really makes an enormous difference in sound, and since it’s not slowing down the session, you don’t really think about the fact that it’s there and working. You just know that feeling when everything sounds rich and nuanced, coming right from the moment of performance. The tape adds that smooth, full compression on the front end, so I don’t have to add as much compression later on – it’s changed the way I mix to more how I used to mix once upon a time, pre-digital. You can just let the tape machine do so much.’

More: www.endlessanalog.com
More: www.solid-state-logic.com
More: www.bladestudios.com

Blade Studios Grand Opening Party

Blade Studios had a very successful grand opening party on Saturday April 2, 2011. With close to 600 in attendance, the crowd enjoyed food and drinks while exploring the newly constructed studios. The highlight of the night was the jam session where musicians could sit in and jam with other fellow musicians. Brian Blade led the jam session starting out with his father Brady Blade Sr singing. The jam session was recorded on Blade Studios new CLASP system running to a Studer 827 then recorded to Pro-Tools at 96 Khz. Some of the mixes will be posted soon on the Blade Studios Facebook page.

Here is one of the songs from the jam session:

Blade Studios Grand Opening Party Jam 3 by bladestudios

Here is a new tour video of Blade Studios:

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Endless Analog CLASP at the Motor Museum – exclusive review by Mike Crossey…

Monday, December 13th, 2010

endless analog clasp at Miloco The Motor Museum, LiverpoolIt’s a pleasure to welcome guest blogger Mike Crossey, our partner at the Motor Museum Studio in Liverpool, to share his thoughts on the latest piece of gear at the studio, the Endless Analog CLASP – Tape to DAW synchronization hardware…

I have always been a big fan of recording to analogue tape, for me it adds another dimension to the recording that is impossible to get with digital. It emotionally has more impact on me. All of the records I have worked on that have stood the test of time with me personally have all had tape in the chain at the recording process.

As a huge fan of this way of recording I can list many advantages to recording this way!

Tape gives those slight differences in tone that provide cinematic width to your stereo sounds.
Tape thickens your transients providing a more meaty punch to your drums and percussion.
Tape smooths your dynamics in a much more musical way than any compressor can, leaving you with more power in your raw tracking.
Tape provides a sonic thumbprint to all your individual tracks that allows them to marry together perfectly in the mix.
Tape forces you to use good engineering practice with your gain structure and levels.
Tape laces your sounds with harmonic richness that makes your EQ feel more powerful in the mix.
Tape running at 15 ips gives a huge tight low end that has to be heard to be believed.
All that vintage gear everyone loves, U47s, Vintage Neve mic pre-amps etc, were all designed to hit tape and sonics of that process were allowed for in the design. Check it out!

In my view, the reasons that tape has been left behind to the pro tools generation have never been sonic reasons but financial reasons and convenience. Much of modern culture makes this sacrifice, quality for convenience/cost.
Imagine being able to work with the speed and editing possibilities of pro tools but still have all of the benefits of tape! I never thought this would be possible until now!

When I first heard about the Endless Analog CLASP system on youtube I was literally straight on the phone to the designer Chris Estes In Nashville to have him explain it to me more. The main challenge for Chris is to actually get across how seamlessly CLASP works and how this is achieved. I’ll have a go…

CLASP allows Pro Tools to take complete control of your tape machine. Once the tape is loaded on the machine, you never need to touch the tape machine again for the whole session. You can work in Pro Tools as you would normally! How amazing is that!
CLASP has a built in switching system that automatically controls how your performers can monitor what they are playing (with zero latency!) and what is routed to tape.
CLASP learns your tape machine and can take control of the pro tools delay compensation engine to automatically compensate for the delays between the record head and the repro head in real time.
CLASP is constantly sending information about the status of your tape machine to pro tools via MIDI and in vice versa, can control your tape machine through the cable that would normally run to your remote transport.
CLASP allows you to change tape speeds on the fly mid session. Would you like to record your bass and drums at 15ips and your vocals at 30ips? No problem. This was never possible before when working just with tape.

Lets say for example you have a singer with the vocal chain patched into multitrack input 3, you then arm track 3 in pro tools ready to record…

1. CLASP routes the live mic directly to channel 3 on the console from here the vocal can be sent to foldback, this allows the performer to monitor themselves with ZERO LATENCY.
True zero latency monitoring is not possible when monitoring post converter in pro tools. I have noticed a marked increase in the comfort and performance of a musician performing to a true analogue signal of themselves.

2. CLASP then also simultaneously routes this signal directly to the 3rd input of the tape machine, when you put Pro Tools into record, your tape machine automatically jumps into record also.

3. Whilst in record during the take, CLASP automatically transfers the take straight from the repro head into input 3 of Pro Tools.
All delays involved in this process are corrected in real time!

3. Once your take is finished and you press stop, as soon as you disarm track 3 in pro tools and CLASP automatically then routes Pro Tools output 3 to track 3 on your console in place of the original live mic ready for playback.

4. In summary, the recorded region in pro tools has hit tape, been played out off the repro head, transferred to pro tools and been placed in sample accurate time with your existing tracks. Seamlessly and instantly!

This process allows you to work with playlists, comp between takes, edit arrangements and everything else you would normally in a pro tools session but with every track recorded to tape with that sound :)
As you are working with the tape machine in a non linear way, there is no need to rewind the tape between takes. My preference is to work at 15ips on our studer A80, this allows for 30 minutes solid record time before a 45 second break is needed to let the tape rewind again, CLASP warns you when you are about to run out of tape and you can of course rewind the machine directly from pro tools without having to leave your workflow.
Because of the way CLASP integrates Tape with Pro Tools, you also see less tape wear and wear on the machine itself. This allows reels of precious tape to go a lot further and minimum maintenance required!

Anyway as I’m sure you can tell from this blog, I am blown away by this system and it has allowed recent sessions to run smoothly and quickly without any compromise to the sound quality, suddenly I am able to use tape on the single sessions where only a few days are booked for tracking!
Here at the motor museum, we have also been having fun experimenting with different lineups on the Studer. Adding a slight high lift at 10Khz on the record lineup at 15ips and setting the bias by ear on a 40Hz sub tone Steve Albini style being my favourites!
Producers and Engineers, Come and check it out!


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MIX MAGAZINE – The Secret Sisters Record Debut Album using CLASP with producer Dave Cobb and executive producer T Bone Burnett

Saturday, November 20th, 2010

The Secret Sisters are real-life sisters 
Laura (left) and Lydia Rogers.

The Secret Sisters are real-life sisters Laura (left) and Lydia Rogers.

Considering the music industry buzz surrounding the impressive debut album by the neo-traditional country duo the Secret Sisters, it’s remarkable to think that a year ago the act didn’t exist and that real-life sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers hadn’t been knockin’ ’em dead at talent shows or coffee houses in their hometown of Muscle Shoals, Ala., the past several years. They’re that polished, that charismatic.

About the only concession that was made to modern technology was using Pro Tools as a storage medium, but even that had an old slant: Cobb and Bolas used Endless Analog’s CLASP system in which the recording signal bounces off the repro head of an analog tape recorder (in this case, a Studer A27 2-inch 16-track machine) directly to a DAW so that the recording retains the favored characteristics of analog tape without requiring thousands of dollars of the medium. (For more on CLASP, see the Mix June 2010 review.) “We also had real slap going the entire time off a Studer B-67 and we printed slap live. We were printing effects as we were going,” Cobb says. The producer lauds Blackbird’s “incredible chamber, which is like a two-story-high entryway, but the ceiling goes up and goes down so you can change the size of it. It’s pretty magical.”

Indeed, as their producer Dave Cobb recalls of their origins, “We discovered them at an open-call audition in Nashville in October [2009]. One sister—Laura—got up and sang, and it was just the most magical thing: She sounded like Snow White or something; I’d never heard anything like it. It seemed very different but also sort of timeless. And she said, ‘My sister is coming in a couple of hours and you should check her out, too.’ So we paid attention to her, and she was great, too, and then they sang together and they were so good. But they’d never officially been a band or a group or anything and had never performed live. They didn’t consider themselves professional singers.”

Laura and Lydia Rogers, both in their early 20s, are from a musical family and had been singing for years informally in church and around the house, but as Laura Rogers says by phone from San Francisco where she was about to perform with her sister and T Bone Burnett’s band at the famed Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, “Up until the point we were ‘discovered,’ nobody had a clue that we were singers. I have friends from high school who message me on the Internet, and say, ‘I didn’t even know you could sing! You just played the Ryman, you recorded with Jack White, you made a record.’” She laughs at the seeming absurdity of the Secret Sisters’ truly meteoric rise.

“It’s been a crazy year,” she continues. “Obviously, we never expected this. It’s almost like we get these Christmas presents every few months: ‘Oh, guess what, you’re going to be doing a taping [for an upcoming TV special] with Jakob Dylan and Elvis Costello and T Bone Burnett’s going to be there. And then you get to play in San Francisco for the bluegrass festival.’ It’s pretty humbling and very moving for us emotionally to know that these big names are inspired enough by two little girls from Alabama who nobody has ever heard of before, to want to be part of what we’re doing.”


For Cobb, after the Nashville audition had knocked him out, “We had to figure out what to do with them because it was so out of left field—it’s certainly not your Lady Gaga or Katy Perry. What do you do with this? So my manager—Andrew Brightman—and I flew them out to L.A. and cut a couple of songs with them at my studio [known as 1974, after the year Cobb was born] and they were signed within a week. They had a couple of songs that they knew and we did an experiment with the recording and really had a good time trying to do something different. I love old records—I’m a huge fan of RCA Studio B [Nashville] recordings of the ’50s and ’60s, and also the whole Wrecking Crew era in L.A., and that’s what we tried to do with it [sonically]. I thought it would be cool to bring back a little bit of Skeeter Davis and a little bit of Patsy Cline, a little bit of George Jones and kind of blend it all together. Country, but also pop. So we had some A-list guys here in L.A. come down—some friends of mine—and we did it really quick. We did the demos with this engineer named Greg Koller, and he had access to all sorts of original Universal Audio 610s and Fairchilds and [RCA] BA6A compressors, and we really tried to pick period-appropriate gear.” Though none of those tracks made the eventual album, it set the tone for the duo’s aesthetic—retro but with a modern twist.

“Then we went to Nashville,” Cobb continues, “and did the record at Blackbird, mostly in Studio A, with the help of this pedal steel player named Robby Turner who used to play with Waylon Jennings, and he suggested Pig Hargus as the piano player. Pig was part of the whole RCA Studio B scene, and he actually helped invent that style of piano along with Floyd Cramer. It was funny, when we were going through and picking songs for the record, he’d say, ‘Oh, I played on that one.’ ‘Yep, I played on that one, too.’” [Laughs.] Rounding out the house band were guitarist Jason Cope, bassist Brian Allen and drummer Chris Powell. The songs are a blend of old country nuggets by the likes of George Jones, Buck Owens and Hank Williams; a couple of traditional pieces; and two originals written by the Rogers sisters. As Laura Rogers notes, “It was pretty cool to know that songs we had written in the 2000s were compatible with songs from the 1950s.” Their sound at times resembles a female Everly Brothers (and Louvin Brothers)—“It’s that thing where two voices sort of sound like one when they’re together,” Laura Rogers says. “Being sisters helps.”

Cobb notes that at Blackbird, “We did it all live in one room together, though the girls were in a booth separately but looking at the band the whole time. There was a lot of bleed. The first round of songs we did were with [engineer] Niko Bolas, and he did a great job capturing everything. Once again, we stuck with the old equipment. Blackbird really has anything you could want; it’s unbelievable. I stayed up at night dreaming about the gear in the place! So we really took advantage of what they had there, plus Niko had some original tube mic pre’s from a DeMedeo desk here in L.A. But the studio had some [Telefunken] V76s for the vocals and [Blackbird owner/engineer] John McBride had these old RCA OP6 [pre’s] that he recommended and sounded incredible. Then we used all period microphones: Greg Koller, who did the demo, had an original RCA KU3A ribbon, which is a mic they used to use for film in L.A., and it’s a great-sounding mic with a crispy top end, as well as the low end of a [RCA] 44; so we used that [as an overhead] on drums, a [AKG] D-30 on kick and then Niko also put up a couple of side mics—[RCA] 77s—to fill it in between the rack tom and snare, and one in between the floor tom and the kick. But in the final mix, it ended up being mostly the overhead and the kick. Nearly everything else was miked with 77s, except the guitar, which was an RCA BK-5—a really cool mic John McBride turned me onto. The girls were singing on a Neumann U48—just one mic in cardioid—and then on one particular song, ‘House of Gold,’ they were facing each other and we did that one in figure-8.

“We did the bulk of the tracks in about three days together—three or four songs a day—and they were just nailing the lead vocals on the scratches. We set ’em up so they could maybe punch in or come back to something, but we didn’t really need to. We did several passes on most of the songs and every pass was good. It was just really, really easy for them. They actually told us after a couple of days, ‘This whole recording thing is really easy,’ and we were thinking, ‘Girls, you have no idea how laborious this usually is!’ I’m not kidding—it was like hearing a finished record by pulling the faders up. We actually had a few more days booked for [Blackbird] Studio B for overdubs and fixes, but we mostly just ordered food,” he chuckles.

Though Laura Rogers says she and her sister had some typical first-time nerves in the studio, “Luckily, we really connected with all the session players who were there and Dave [Cobb] was such a huge source of comfort for us. It felt like there was no pressure. All we had to do was walk into a room and sing, which wasn’t hard for us.”

In truth, the whole Secret Sisters “package,” if you will—the name, the look—came after the sessions for the most part. Laura Rogers comments, “Dave was especially instrumental in helping us hone what we wanted to do. We knew that we loved that old kind of music and we knew there wasn’t a huge amount of it out there for the general public to hear, so we really kind of blossomed in the studio sessions at Blackbird. That’s when we became the Secret Sisters. We really became ourselves in that moment. And then, once the music was there, that’s when the label stepped in and they wanted us to have a unique look, so we decided the best way to go was let the style of what you see when we come out onstage match the music that you hear. So far it’s working pretty well because people are starting to recognize that aesthetic of the Secret Sisters. When we walk out onstage, you’re going to see us looking like we just walked out of 1957. At the same time, in our regular everyday life, we don’t dress that way and we prefer it that way because nobody knows who we are whenever we’re dressed like regular people and we like that anonymity. It’s kind of like the only time you get to see the Secret Sisters is when they come out onstage and perform. We like that mystery.” The name was suggested by manager Andrew Brightman.

After the Blackbird sessions and some subsequent mixing work by Darrell Thorp, Burnett heard the Secret Sisters and was so floored that he wanted to get involved, too, and signed on as executive producer of the fledgling act’s first disc. As Cobb says, “T Bone really opened up a lot of doors for people to pay attention to the record.” Burnett suggested cutting one last song for the album—the haunting Bill Monroe ballad “The One I Love Is Gone” (which the Rogers sisters sing similarly to duo versions by Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard)—and also a couple of B-sides recorded at Blackbird with Cobb producing and McBride engineering. Burnett’s engineering team, including Jason Wormer and Mike Piersante, also supervised the recording of a few guitar and steel overdubs (by Russ Pahl) and re-mixed the album at Burnett’s Electro Magnetic Studios in L.A. on an API console, with Piersante and Burnett tackling four songs, Wormer the rest. Wormer says, “T Bone wanted to change the aesthetic a little bit and kind of bring it closer to what we do, which is a very traditional sound, but a very modern traditional sound. It sounds old-timey, but it’s also full-fidelity big. I think Dave [Cobb] and those guys were going for more of a pure ’50s sound, but when you hear the girls sing, they immediately take you to that era anyway, so T Bone wanted to hear something a little different.”

Separate from all of these sessions was a day the Rogers sisters spent cutting a one-off single with Jack White, who had also become enamored with the Secret Sisters’ sound. The feeling was mutual: “We’re huge fans of his and had to pinch ourselves and try not to seem like girlie fans,” Laura Rogers says. White and the ladies recorded the traditional “Wabash Cannonball” in a fairly straight style, but transformed the Johnny Cash nugget “Big River” into a full-blown, White Stripes/Raconteurs thrash number. “We were thinking it was going to be the same tempo as the Johnny Cash version, maybe have Jack play some bluesy bottleneck guitar on it, but before we know it, he’s got that guitar and he’s shredding!”

Not bad for a couple of unknown country girls—and that was all before their first album even came out. Their performing career is actually just beginning now. They’re off to a good start.

Chuck Ainlay

Monday, September 20th, 2010

Chuck Ainlay

World-Renowned Grammy Winning Engineer and Producer.

Dire Straits , Vince Gill , Sheryl Crow , Dixie Chicks , Peter Frampton , George Strait , Willie Nelson

“For anyone seriously interested in making a great sounding record, analog is the way and with CLASP there is no waiting for tape to lock up which means you can work at the speed we’ve become accustomed to on DAW’s.

CLASP works invisibly in the background allowing you to capture all the great warmth off the tape but without impeding the workflow and since you’re not saving endless out takes of tape, CLASP is easy on the budget as well.

We just used CLASP to layback 5.1 and stereo mixes for the DVD re-release of Dire Straits, Alchemy live album. It worked perfectly for that. We were able to use Mark (Knopfler’s) 2″ eight track with CLASP and yet maintain perfect syncronization with the video.

Of course I’m way into CLASP!”–Chuck Ainlay


Chuck Ainlay Endorses CLASP

NASHVILLE SCENE – The Innovations Issue

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Reel Time

Note to all audio engineers: Hope you held onto your tape machines, because as they languished in garages around the country as digital advancements won the day, Nashville engineer, producer and musician Chris Estes was scheming to make them relevant again. Two patents issued last month are proof he may have just blown the dust off a nearly extinct breed of deteriorating gear.

His invention: the CLASP system, short for Closed Loop Analog Signal Processing, or a fancy way of saying that he figured out how to make the predictable but clinical Pro Tools and the unreliable yet thrilling vintage tape play nice. Previously, merging the two in the studio was a lot like Elizabeth Taylor and men — a big hit in theory, but incredibly time-consuming and tedious in real life, and almost always regrettable.

Many studio folk consider two-inch tape the recording medium of the gods, but when Pro Tools took hold in the early ’90s, it bewitched with its more efficient, dependable and cost-effective appeal. In short, it made analog look like your grandpa’s way of doing things. But music aficionados still mourn the loss of analog’s more honest sound, in spite of its high-maintenance reputation.

CLASP, which Estes spent some five years finessing, not only promises all the benefits of analog’s pleasing electromagnetic charm, but throws in digital’s speed and ease of use. Plus, it extends the working life of tape, now in shorter supply with only two manufacturers worldwide and a price tag of $289 a reel.

"”With CLASP, tape is no longer linear or destructive,” Estes says. “You’re not actually storing on it. It’s just used as the medium.”

With tape as the puppet and digital as the master, it’s the best of both worlds. And it couldn’t come at a better time: Artists like Jack White still champion analog’s superior sound, and vinyl sales just jumped 33 percent in 2009 from the previous year, proof that just when you thought the analog vs. digital debate had exhaled its dying breath, it’s been resurrected.

Estes already has a number of marquee clients, with the likes of Lenny Kravitz using the system in his Gregory Town Sound studio, Taylor Swift producer Nathan Chapman and Neil Young producer Niko Bolas on board, and a few dozen clients on the coasts and overseas.

It’s been adopted by a handful of Nashville producers, but CLASP has been met with skepticism and befuddlement from some locals. Perhaps Music Row — itself slow to embrace Pro Tools once — is now so devoted to digital that it isn’t sure if there’s enough room for both formats in town. Not so with engineer Brian Kolb.

"”It’s a dream,” Kolb said on a recent visit to studio The Mix Dream, owned by producer Dave Brainard, where Kolb was in the midst of recording Ray Scott, a country crooner coming off a Warner Bros. debut. Kolb’s been recording in Nashville for a decade, using Pro Tools for eight of those years, and can recently boast the mixing credit for Jerrod Neimann’s third studio album Judge Jerrod & the Hung Jury, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard last month.

“We were cutting at Ocean Way, and our drummer came in, who’s one of the best in the world,” Kolb recalls. “And he smiled when he saw the tape machine and said, ‘I’m gonna have to play good today, aren’t I?’ And I said, ‘Well, of course you are, but we can still punch,’ ” he says, referring to the process where the artist re-records a specific part of a take. With tape, when you punch, you lose the previous version, for better or worse. With CLASP, you can record a new take (or portion thereof) while preserving the old one, and you have the freedom to do it over and over. “He said, ‘Really?’ And the other guys were just like, ‘What?’ We still had all the benefits of tape, but we weren’t confined to it. We could still try things.”

Kolb figures Nashville’s resistance is fear of trying something new. Or maybe they just can’t understand how the thing works — Estes’ patents were initially rejected twice by the patent office; it took an in-person demonstration in D.C. for them to understand that he wasn’t just creating a new tape machine.

"”A world-class engineer at a studio took me out in the hallway and argued with me for half an hour saying it was physically impossible,” Estes recalls. “He said I must have invented the flux capacitor for this to work.”

That’s because the real trick of Estes’ innovation is time stamp manipulation of each digital audio file. Just don’t ask what that means unless you want a lesson in engineering, physics and a little time travel.

"A demonstration from Estes with an acoustic performance by Ray Scott had Scott’s voice, a mischievous baritone, go from Randy Travis to Johnny Cash with the flip of a switch. Or as Scott puts it, “All I know is he makes me sound better. Digital stuff slams, but it loses all the feeling.” Lucky for him, he’ll never have to choose between the two again.

—Tracy Moore


Sunday, May 16th, 2010


by Clyne Media

Nashville, TN (May 14, 2010)–Working on material for his next album, contemporary Christian recording artist Michael W. Smith was introduced to the CLASP Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor system.

CLASP was developed, manufactured, and is exclusively distributed by Nashville-based Endless Analog, and Smith has reportedly become an ardent fan of the system. Grammy-winning producer/engineer Bryan Lenox has also been using the system, and together Smith and Lenox are integrating CLASP into the way they track and mix, aiming to make Smith’s next album a landmark album sonically.

“If there’s a downside to the digital revolution, it’s that we lost the warmness of what tape did. It makes a huge difference on some of the old records,” notes Smith. “But CLASP bridges both worlds, getting that big warmness of tape and being able to operate that in Pro Tools or another DAW. You have the brightness and fatness of two-inch tape, which you can run at 30, 15 or 7.5 ips – and the streamlined workflow of digital. I’m in the middle of making a new record, and we are using this piece of technology, and it’s pretty much blowing my mind. I’m so glad I didn’t sell my tape machine 20 years ago–it’s back in my studio and operating along with the CLASP, and it’s rocking.”

Smith notes that the CLASP has been useful for him as he tracks vocals. He adds,

“Every time we use CLASP, I am impressed, because it brings out the right sounds and colors. I’ve got a love song on the new record for my incredible wife called ‘Forever Yours,’ and obviously I’m recording all the vocals with CLASP. The tone is wonderfully warm, and it perfectly complements the song’s melody and lyrics in a special way. The vocal is so present that there’s no denying what you’re hearing, because you feel like you can almost touch it, it’s that present.”


Thursday, December 17th, 2009

" I love the CLASP. It has made it possible to finally use my entire collection of tape machines from the Abbey Road J37 to my 3M M79 and the Studer 827 all at different ips settings. I really like the way I can hit the tape machines as I normally do and instantly be able to edit in Pro Tools, without having to do syncing or bouncing back and forth between the two mediums. I’m happy someone finally figured out how combine tape and Pro Tools and now it is an integral part of my studio setup. Thanks Chris and Amy for preserving analog.”

Lenny Kravitz…

P.S. Tell Grandma I miss her brownies.
( photo credit Mathieu Bitton )
Click for more information

CLASP inventor Chris Estes with Lenny Kravitz in Lenny's new studio Gregory Town Sound.

Eric Greedy

Friday, October 30th, 2009

Eric Greedy

Engineer and Producer

Hurt, Atomic Solace, Destiny’s Child, Smashing Pumpkins, Barbara Streisand, Ringo Starr

"This is the greatest thing to come along since I can remember…. TAPE AGAIN!! …it works seamlessly. It makes ‘the difference’ more than any plug-in, or any other piece of outboard gear, I can think [of]. Now I am only bummed it’s not in every studio I visit. I just recommend it hands down… especially of you already have a tape machine and you do any form of rock. I used to love tape… haven’t had it in a few years, and I love it. This made using it with pro tools so easy and kept the work flow smooth as well as making it so you only need one reel per project."
Eric Greedy


Eric Greedy CLASP Recording

SONIC SCOOP – “Best of AES 2009″ List

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Best of AES 2009

By David

Endless Analog CLASP – Holy CLASP! What the heck is that? It’s the Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor (CLASP) from Endless Analog. Invented down in Nashville by Chris Estes, CLASP seamlessly integrates tape machines with Pro Tools. It’s that simple, y’all. Yes, it really works. Yes, Pro Tools and tape are now one.

We’re actually afraid this could have unintended consequences, like when the guys in Ghostbusters cross streams on their laser gun thingies, but it may be worth it if we can finally get that real analog sound down on our hard drives.

Click here for the Sonic Scoop Online Link

MIX MAGAZINE – The Well-Accessorized DAW

Thursday, August 6th, 2009


Aug 1, 2009 12:00 PM, By George Petersen


“The CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) from Endless Analog (www.endlessanalog.com) turns your 2-inch analog deck into a tape-flavored “plug-in” for your DAW. The system comprises a hardware interface, VST plug-in (one for every channel) and a sync cable. Just run the session from your DAW as usual and CLASP performs real-time, synched transfers from the repro head of your deck.”

Click here for the Mix Magazine Online Link

Endless Analog - Digital Controlled Analog Tape Recording