web analytics

Posts Tagged ‘CLASP Analog Tape Recording Pro Tools DAW Integration’


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


Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Pro Sound News Europe - CLASP

CLASP Inventor Christopher Estes @ Hook End Mano Studios UK

“The world’s first truly hybrid analogue digital recording system”

is how Christopher Estes of Endless Analog describes CLASP (Closed Loop Analogue Signal Processor). Estes and Endless Analog, the company he founded in Nashville five years ago, invented the hardware and software solution, which is aimed at artists who have a purist analogue approach to recording and want the chance to work with tape again. CLASP is also helping to give value back to studios that have invested in now often dormant 24-track machines.

The system integrates multi-track tape machines with Pro Tools, Cubase or Nuendo, giving users the editing and functionality of a DAW combined with analogue tape. The CLASP unit is a 24 I/O on D-Type connectors that plug in via a DAW. So, for example, when working with Pro Tools recording is done to tape as users ordinarily would, but it is monitored through Pro Tools with zero latency. The actual audio signal is delayed from the Record head to the Repro head and then recorded back into Pro Tools and time stamped so that it is back in sync.

All the tape control and transport control happens on the DAW via the CLASP system, which can handle up to 24 channels at a time – up to three CLASP units can be chained for 72 channels of simultaneous recording. Another advantage of the system is that a whole project can be carried out on a single reel of tape so reducing cost. CLASP even offers the ability to jump between tape speeds on-the-fly to audition and then print, even mixing speeds in the same project, something that’s impossible in an all-analogue production.

“The idea behind CLASP came about because I started to get frustrated with the way my digital recordings were sounding,” explains Estes, a successful Nashville songwriter and producer. “I started out my career recording onto analogue tape when there was no Pro Tools and there was no plug-ins. I thought OK, these recordings sound better and so it forced me to come up with a solution so that I could actually integrate analogue tape into my workflow in a seamless manner. So that is what I did. It is literally analogue tape without any hassle. So even for people who aren’t very familiar with analogue tape it is an easy, user-friendly system to work with.”

Distribution for the UK is by KMR Audio, which took on exclusive rights for CLASP in April this year. Stefan Pope, KMR’s sales manager, comments: “I think this is a truly revolutionary product. The ingenious way in which it fuses a bygone technology that produced a sound that is still so incredibly popular, with a modern ‘digital’ workflow, is exactly what this industry needs. For too long the debate over plug-ins, analogue, digital, control, workflow, sound has raged. Well finally, you can have it all! The sound, delivered in a modern way. KMR is all about the hybrid future – the fusion of analogue and digital. Both have their place, and now, finally, they can work beautifully together.”

The product has been on sale for a little over a year with 170 units already sold worldwide. “The reaction has been incredible over here so far and we’ve only had it for about a month,” says Pope. “Obviously the market at the moment is to studios with tape machines that don’t get much use out of them – the studios that have thousands of pounds invested in a technology they want to use but can’t, gathering dust in the corner. Well dust off those tape heads, clean your tape stock, get the maintenance man in, get a CLASP in the rack and bang – your tape machine is once again making you money. Frankly, the market is as big as the number of people recording audio! So, quite big!”
Current users in the UK include Abbey Road, British Grove and Sphere Studios.

As well as demonstrating the product at AES London, KMR also organised a number of practical showcases with Estes. The largest of these was to members of the Music Producers Guild at Air Studios in May, which more than 50 producers and engineers attended. This demo also featured the recording of a live band using the new system. The event proved so popular that it was necessary to hold two sessions, and still not everyone could be accommodated. More demo evenings are planned for later in the year to satisfy those who weren’t able to attend. The previous day a private demonstration was held for a small number of attendees at Hook End Manor recording studios where the owner of the complex, Mark White, declared the results as “simply amazing”.





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.’”

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!


Post to Twitter Tweet This Post Post to Digg Digg This Post Post to Facebook Facebook

Austin’s Yellow Dog Studios Purchases a Second CLASP® From Endless Analog

Monday, November 1st, 2010

— Yellow DOG studios standardizes its control rooms with Endless Analog’s CLASP® —

David Percefull, chief engineer at Yellow Dog Studios

AUSTIN, TX, November 5, 2010 — Endless Analog’s CLASP® (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) system (booth 617), which uniquely integrates analog tape machines into the digital audio production workflow, has been so successful at yellow DOG studios in Austin, Texas, that producer and engineer David Percefull has installed a second unit. According to Percefull, the first CLASP unit has been in constant use since it was installed in Studio One earlier this year, ensuring that it would also take pride in placing a unit in the newly constructed Studio Three.

Percefull, who moved into the facility, formerly known as 5AM, with partners producer-musician Ed Robinson and singer-songwriter Steven Todd Hudson near the end of 2009, reports, “Everything that I record hits tape through CLASP and goes to Pro Tools. I thought initially I would use it on occasion, if the client wanted tape.” But as he quickly discovered while using CLASP at every available opportunity, “It’s a game-changer. I won’t do anything that doesn’t hit tape at this point.”

Soon after opening in spring 2010, the partners set about promoting the studio at South by Southwest, recording 23 artists over three days. “We laid it to tape, thinking that people would hear the difference and want to come here and record. It was wildly popular; everybody really loved our gear and the tone we were getting. A huge part of that is going to tape, but even more importantly the speed at which we were going to tape, and the availability to overdub and use different tape speeds within the same session – that was a huge deal.” CLASP’s proprietary SST® sample synchronization technology allows groups of tracks within a project to be recorded at tape speeds appropriate to their frequency content and transients.

Bookings started to come in and Studio One, the facility’s main tracking room, was soon also attracting mix projects. In planning Studio Three, the partners chose not to take the more traditional route of equipping a new mix room with a vintage console, different monitors, and so on. “We did things a little bit out of the box, so instead of doing that, we thought, why don’t we just mirror this control room? So we bought the exact same API 1608 console and set up a very similar monitoring scheme.”

With yellow DOG’s equipment complement now including both 16-track and 24-track MCI tape machines in addition to Pro Tools|HD2 with Apogee converters, a second CLASP unit was also a given. That makes a lot of financial sense, as Percefull explains: “The biggest impact has been in efficiency – I can get tones quicker. I go to mix and if stuff is recorded to tape it’s just very forgiving and everything sounds good, whereas in the digital world you suddenly have five EQs ganged up and you’re notching this out and doing that to try to achieve a sound that is immediate with analog tape.”

He continues, “Processing audio to tape inspired me to spend more time creating and shaping tone at the beginning of the recording process instead of keeping it safe and clean and dealing with at the end of the process, the way that I did when I was a kid cutting to analog tape. The sound of tape is much, much more musical and it’s inspiring to me.

Current projects at yellow DOG, all involving CLASP, include a new album by 97-year-old Pinetop Perkins, the last of the living Delta Bluesmen and one-time house pianist at Chess Records; iconic Texas singer/songwriter Brandon Jenkins, with whom Percefull has worked on seven previous albums; and Cody Canada’s first solo album with producer/engineer Adam Odor. “I’ve been recording with Brandon since ’96,” shares Percefull. “He got in here and started tracking some new stuff and was just blown away with the difference. That’s held true for many clients.”

CLASP fits perfectly into Percefull’s workflow, allowing him to spend more time on the creative process rather than fixing the audio: “I came up in the industry recording to tape; it was my only option. So it’s been great, because in my way of thinking it gets me to the end game much quicker — with much better results.”

Nashville Hit Makers David Brainard & Brian Kolb Grasp CLASP

Sunday, October 31st, 2010

Jared Neimann (left), Brian Kolb (center) and Dave Brainard (right)
with one of their two CLASP systems.
Nashville, TN (September 14, 2010)–Producer Dave Brainard and engineer Brian Kolb have been using CLASP while working on a project for artist Ray Scott at Mix Dream Studios in Nashville

The pair use a CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) system from Nashville-based Endless Analog, which sends digitally-recorded audio to analog tape and back to a DAW in order to achieve the sonic qualites of tape-based recording. Brainard and Kolb work 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 ?-inch 4-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 explains. “We can process the bass guitar at 7.5 ips, greatly adding to the low-frequency effectiveness, and the kick drum at 15 or 30 ips, which lets it retain the transient that gives it its punch. We can also see how each track reacts to different kinds of analog 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.”

Kolb, who mixed Scott’s record and others at Mix Dream using CLASP, says he 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 with no EQ, with the only processing coming through the CLASP system and tape. “She agreed that it sounded amazing,” says Kolb.

Endless Analog

BUTCH WALKER returns to tape with CLASP

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

Los Angeles, CA (October 18, 2010)–Songwriter, musician, producer and engineer Butch Walker recently purchased Endless Analog’s CLASP system for his new Santa Monica studio.

“I grew up cutting tape and I missed the sound and art form of it,” stated Georgia-born Walker. “Being the proud owner of Studer A800 MK III, I sadly had it in storage for 10 years because it just slowed down my workflow, so I gave it up to just go digital. But still to this day, nothing’s ever emulated tape the right way, so I was extremely happy when I finally heard CLASP [Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor].”

Walker’s first demo of CLASP was at the studio of his friend and noted producer John Fields. “I went over to John’s studio and he demo’d it for me,” Walker commented. “I really like being able to have everything hit tape first, not only because of the audio quality, but it’s no fun having to record everything onto tape and then dump it at a different time; it takes up the whole day. And so with CLASP, I liked the idea of it constantly dumping on to Pro Tools without having sync issues. I was also able to hear the actual audio again for the first time in years coming off of tape, and that’s enough to sell you!”

Walker will be using CLASP with his new 24-channel custom-made Tonelux Designs, Ltd. recording console and his selection of vintage analog tape recorders, which also include an Otari MTR-90III and an ATR-102.

Walker has penned numerous hits for artists like Avril Lavigne, Sevendust and Fall Out Boy. As a producer/engineer, he is credited with works by Katy Perry, Pink and Weezer, as well as being Rolling Stone‘s 2005 producer of the year. And as a musician/artist, he has received critical acclaim for his work with Marvelous 3, his DVD Live at Budokan, his studio record The Rise and Fall of Butch Walker and The Lets-Go-Out Tonights and Sycamore Meadows.


The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences adds CLASP to School Educational Program

Friday, October 15th, 2010

CRAS Administrator Kirt Hamm with CLASP

Endless Analog in Nashville reports that the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences (CRAS) in Arizona has taken delivery of two Endless Analog CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor) systems for its campus facilities in Tempe and Gilbert, Ariz. The CLASP units will be used in conjunction with CRAS’s SSL 4000 Series consoles, Studer A-820 2-inch 24-track analog tape machines and Avid Pro Tools HD systems. Beginning in 2011, CRAS will teach and certify its students on the operation of CLASP.

"We had CLASP here for a two-day demo, and it was immediately obvious that this is the next step in hybrid audio production,” says Conservatory Administrator Kirt Hamm. “The cost and time issues that put analog tape on the back burner are nullified by CLASP. It allows us to expose our students to the sonic palette that only tape can offer while still maintaining the speed and capabilities of digital audio workflow. We are proud to be the first audio recording school in the world to certify students in the operation of CLASP.”

Read Mix magazine’s Endless Analog CLASP Signal Processor review by technical editor Kevin Becka.

For more information, visit www.endlessanalog.com and www.audiorecordingschool.com.

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.”

MIX BLOG – The Future Is Analog

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

mix_logo_07 By Kevin Becka

I spent two days this week with CLASP cutting tracks with live musicians in the SSL room at the Conservatory of Recording Arts. The system allows you to record through analog tape, coming off the repro head and immediately into your DAW. It was a mind-blower and more fun I’ve had in the studio in a long time. It made me realize how one-dimensional digital recording has become and how I’ve gotten into the habit of settling for poor results.

In my career, I’ve seen the pendulum of our business swing from analog to digital, and now back to an analog/digital hybrid that marries the best of both worlds. I record on a regular basis using a lot of great mics, preamps, plug-ins and monitors. And while excellent audio gear can shape a track in many positive ways, the weakest link is digital conversion and what the digital mix engine does inside the box. Using tape again brought that ear-friendly component back, even after conversion, making the tracks mix easier and offering a palette of sonic color that is lost in conversion straight from the mic.

CLASP turns your conception of analog workflow upside down. There’s no rewind time and tape cost is cut dramatically because you’re not using it as a format but instead, as a medium. You can monitor off the repro head at different tape speeds on the same take so you can make judgements on how hard to hit the tape, what speed is best and then mix and match speeds and saturation over a series of overdubs, on the same song. The end result is dramatic and discernible, even to the untrained ear.

During two days of sessions, I invited enginers whose ears I respect, students, even non-audio folks and to the last person, they “got it”. They could hear the difference in the bottom end, the musicality of tape and how it effected their perception of the music. The musicians also loved it, urging on the experimentation. It became a shared peak musical experience: the best part of music production.

To read more about how CLASP can be integrated into a studio’s workflow, check out my interview with Lenny Kravitz and his audio team. He owns two systems and uses it across a range of tape machines. Since October, inventor Chris Estes has sold 21 systems, about one a week, and sales are strong. With all the bad news in our industry including studio closings, plunging budgets not to mention crappy music, CLASP is a bit of good news for audio pros who got into this business because of the sound of music.

Cleartrack Productions – Mike Johnson

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Clearwater Florida Cleartrack Productions

"It’s amazing how well CLASP has bridged the gap between tape and DAW. It’s perfect enough that it has completely ended the analog vs. digital debate as far as I’m concerned. I was getting sick and tired of what I heard when going all digital. I’ve always loved the feel and sound of tape, but I was never about to go all analog in a commercial facility, especially when clients weren’t willing to pay extra for tape. Yet I wanted music to sound good, and I really disliked the extra work I needed to put into digital recordings just to tame the pins and needles 2 dimensional sounding 1′s and 0′s. Now I can get back to just making music again. CLASP has changed my life and does so for everyone who records in our studio."
Mike Johnson – Cleartrack Productions


Barber Shop Studios

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Title: Barber Shop Studios
Location: Hapatcong, New Jersey
Link out: Click here
Description: Barber Shop Studios welcomes Endless Analog for a private who’s who demonstration of the CLASP Analog recording system.
Start Time: 13:00
Date: 2009-11-12
End Time: 17:00
Click to visit Barbershop Studios

Click to visit Barbershop Studios

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

BUSINESS TENNESSEE MAGAZINE – Endless Analog Across the State

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

business tn logo

By Kyle Swenson

Found in Translation


A new technology tries to recapture the warmth of analog in digital recording

It’s one of the music industry’s fiercest debates: digital or analog?

In the face of the recording world’s ever-growing need for speed, most artists and engineers have abandoned traditional tape machines for the easy production of digital recording, exchanging the classic warm analog sound for the flat feel of computer-based production.

But if one Nashville producer has his way, all that will change.

This summer, area musician and producer Chris Estes and his company Endless Analog unveiled the Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor (CLASP) system, a combination of hardware and software that allows users to digitally record with analog tape machines, bridging the gap between the much-loved sound of the classic technology and the convenience of 21st-century production.

“It’s going to become the new standard,” Estes says. “Some people are still having a hard time wrapping their heads around it because it’s the opposite of what everyone knows and is taught.”

A former musician and current producer, Estes first began to toy with the idea of wedding advanced technology to analog when he became fed up with the poor quality of digital sound. Knowing that many audiotape companies were nervous about the decline in analog recording, Estes shopped his ideas around to major manufacturers, hoping one would team with him and cover research and development costs. Although the companies were enthusiastic, they chose not to commit funds to spend on Estes’ idea.

Instead, Estes and his wife Amy decided to pursue the idea on their own. “We’ve spent the past several years in the music industry, and we’ve been investing our time and our money and our talents in other people,” Estes says. “We said we were going to invest in ourselves for once.”

Financing the research himself, Estes spent more than two years developing the CLASP system. The technology records using analog, but simultaneously transfers the recording in real time into a digital machine, where the track can be quickly altered or tweaked.

When Estes debuted his technology this summer at a local meeting of the Audio Engineering Society (AES) at Ocean Way Studios, it was immediately apparent CLASP could create a sizeable buzz. “Here in Nashville, it was standing room only,” Estes says. “We had to break it into two different demonstrations just to fit people in, and we received standing ovations.”

The industry excitement over CLASP is only growing. At an appearance at this year’s AES Convention in San Francisco, Estes came face to face with recording industry legends such as Chuck Ainlay and Alan Parsons, both of whom were interested in purchasing a system.

“It’s really the best of both worlds,” says Mike Poston, a Nashville sound engineer who has worked with producers and artists such as Ainlay and Mark Knopfler. “Digital can’t really duplicate the sound of analog tape, and CLASP gets rid of the negatives that we had with analog. It won’t be for everyone, but I think it will extend the life of analog.”

The retail price for the system is around $9,000 and can be built to each client’s specifications. Currently, the company sells the products themselves, but Estes is working to partner with various audio companies that will offer the system as well.

“This isn’t really something you sell at the local music store. It’s one of those things where a customer has specific needs, and they call me up and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got this type of tape machine,’” Estes says. “So we build a unit specifically for that client.”

Currently working with only his wife and one other employee, Estes says he plans to grow the business as much as is called for by incoming orders. And if the industry’s initial reaction is any indication, the CLASP system may revolutionize how music sounds.

“We project that we will be selling a lot of these things,” Estes says. “There’s a lot of movement right now to change the standard, and this will do that.”

Link to the Business TN Website

MIX MAGAZINE – Mix Certified Hits Awards honors CLASP

Tuesday, October 14th, 2008

By the Mix Staff Certified Hits Here are our editors’ picks for the Top-10 Certified Hit products from AES, listed alphabetically:
  • Allen & Heath ZED R16
  • Cakewalk SONAR V-Studio 700
  • CLASP Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor
  • DiGiCo SD8
  • Digidesign Pro Tools 8
  • JBL EON 500 Series
  • Korg MR-2000S
  • Neutrik ConvertCON
  • Soundcraft Si3
  • Universal Audio UAD-2
Click here for the Mix Magazine Online Link

PRO SOUND NEWS – Endless Analog Debuts CLASP

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008


by Frank Wells

While plug-ins modeling analog processing elements have replaced many legacy products, complete digital emulation of the complex sonic character of analog tape recording has remained ellusive and the interface of analog tape recording within a DAW centric recording project can be cumbersome and expensive. So, what if recording a true analog record path were as simple as using a plug-in?

“Being able to work the normal workflow that you’re used to with your digital audio work station, but getting the true sonic benefits of real tape, of a real tape machine, of the analog circuitry in the tape machine,” are the stated goals of Endless Analog founder Chris Estes. As a producer, Estes preferred the sound of analog tape, but worked in a DAW-dominated world. Some five years ago, he had what he calls his “eureka” moment, and began the quest to realize his vision of seamlessly marrying analog and DAW recording. “This has never been done before,” says Estes, citing the adage that necessity is the mother of invention. “I wanted to be able to use tape, ’cause that’s what I started out on–I think we all started there, and I wanted to get back to the sound of real analog.”

In mid-August, at a meeting of the AES Nashville Section, Estes unveiled the physical manifestation of his quest: CLASP, for Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor. The two basic components of the CLASP system are a hardware interface and control unit, and a companion VST plug-in. Rather than making analog connections directly to the A/D converters feeding the DAW, the signals are first connected to CLASP, which is interfaced with an analog tape machine. When a track is armed inside the DAW, the VST plug-in automatically sends track-arming and transport control information via MIDI Machine Control (MMC) to the tape machine through the CLASP interface. The engineer works inside the DAW as normal, operationally ignoring the tape machine. When any DAW track is armed, pressing Play on the DAW rolls the tape machine, and when Record is punched in, corresponding tracks on the tape machine enter record. Armed tracks are recorded on tape and the playback head signal is then immediately fed to and recorded by the DAW. “The plug-in–,” says Estes, “the only thing that it’s doing, is communicating what the mix engine needs to do to sync things up,” such as automatically adjusting for analog record path latency. A direct path through CLASP allows zero-latency monitoring. “If you’re using a digital console,” Estes says, “or even a digital headphone distribution system, those devices always have some sort of inherent latency that they introduce to [the signal path] and everybody just kind of deals with it. With CLASP, you can enter that information, and it’ll compensate for that as well.”

Estes undertook the R&D challenge himself, learning programming and circuit design, and forming Endless Analog, along the way. Before CLASP, says Estes, DAW users were turning to various emulation plug-ins to try and attain the sound of analog recording. “I figured you’ve got all these great tape machines that cost tens-of-thousands-of-dollars that are just collecting dust, and nothing beats the real thing. People would love to use tape, but the traditional method of using tape is such a headache. CLASP solves all those problems; there’s no headaches anymore.”

Estes cites a number of the problems associated with that “traditional method.” On his list: “having to use SMPTE time code; working with synchronizers; having to have your digital audio work station chase your analog recorder as opposed to the other way around; the cost of tape–having to buy multiple reels of tape to do an album project; the sound of tape, after it sits around for a while, it looses its energy and it doesn’t sound the same as when it’s first recorded; not being able to hit Undo–that’s a big one–everybody has gotten used to being able to hit undo, to work really fast.

“I’ve used it on numerous sessions,” says Estes, who’s worked with a prototype for over a year. Rather than accumulating a stack of analog tapes during the course of a session, he says, “with CLASP, you can do your entire album with just one reel of tape”-tracks are recorded off of analog immediately, with no need for later synchronized dumps to DAW. In this mode of working, the only operational differences CLASP adds to the DAW methodology are short reel time remaining warnings and (automatic) rewind time “In fact,” Estes adds, “sometimes during sessions, we’ve forgotten that the tape machine was even there–you’re not paying attention, and all of the sudden it’s rewinding.” An additional feature is the ability to change tape speed at any time with a push of a control panel button. Estes also says it is simple to do hybrid sessions–bypassing the CLASP path on select tracks.

Thus far, CLASP has reportedly been used with a Studer A827 and A800, an Otari MTR-90, and even with an Otari MX5050 two-track. Estes says as long as a tape machine has a rear panel control port, all Endless Analog needs to know is the machine type and they can ship CLASP with the appropriate cable. The complete CLASP system–the control chassis, interface cable and plug-in software–are expected to run around $8000.00. CLASP is DAW system agnostic, as long as the DAW supports VST (either directly or via a wrapper) and the system has a MIDI port available for MMC. Rear panel audio interface employs 25-pin D-sub connectors using the widely adopted eight channel pin-out per connector. Endless Analog will begin taking orders mid-September from its new headquarter space in the Emerald Sound Studios building on Nashville’s Music Row.

Estes says the goal for CLASP is “to bring analog tape back into the music production world to improve the sound of recordings. The main thing that people have to understand is that it’s not a plug-in that simulates tape–this is really using tape. It’s going to, hopefully, start an analog revolution. I’d love to get people excited about using tape again.”

Endless Analog - Digital Controlled Analog Tape Recording