7/22/2010 8:54 AM
Endless Analog/CLASP Demo in San Francisco
Bridging the Gap Between Analog and Digital Recording
by Grace Larkin
On Tuesday, July 6th, San Francisco’s Studio Trilogy held a two-hour demonstration of the newly released Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor, also known as CLASP. Five years in the making, CLASP is a breakthrough way to incorporate analog tape into digital production through turning any tape machine into a DAW plug-in processor. In other words, this product reduces rewind time as well as tape cost, allowing for the same reel to be used for an entire recording, running the reel front to back before rewinding. The release of this form of hybrid analog/digital technology is overwhelmingly exciting in the production world, and I was lucky enough to experience the processor in action.
Inside the studio, CLASP inventor, Chris Estes ran the show, explaining to various recording engineers, journalists, and curious faces like myself how the thing really works. Estes sat behind the control panel, with all of us over his shoulder, and effortlessly executed a live session with Bay Area band The Trophy Fire, a three-piece group willing to lay down a track with Estes while he simultaneously explained the process as they went. The band (guitar, bass, and drums) played through the song one time instrumentally, felt they had the cut they wanted other than a 5-second guitar punch-in fix, and were on to the vocals.
Because the major part of the recording went by so smoothly, and because the equipment was equally flawless, Estes was able to show us some of CLASP’s cool secrets. One feat was CLASP’s 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-analog production,” quotes Kevin Becka, representative of Endless Analog/CLASP. Why is this important, you might ask? Gino Robair, former editor of Electronic Musician, who was among those attending the demonstration has an answer, and goes into impressive detail in his wonderfully elaborate report on the gear. In short, Robair says, “In general, the faster the tape speed, the higher the fidelity. On the other hand, the slower the tape speed, the more old-school the sound becomes—rounded transients, beefier bass frequencies, and a bit more oomph. Because everything is, ultimately, sent to disk when using CLASP, you can do a recording pass of the vocals at, say, 30 ips (inches per second), and then do the lead guitar at 15 ips to fatten the tone. During the session at Studio Trilogy, Estes demonstrated the sonic differences that changes in tape speed make and the results were remarkable. It’s the kind of sound we all want from plug-ins, but never seem to get.”
The tape machine ran throughout the session, and it was hard to believe the digital side of things was really going to be fluidly integrated with this large piece of analog equipment. Beyond our expectations, though, Estes lay on the last vocal cut, mixing the final product with a sound so pristine it had us all drooling for our own Endless Analog/CLASP. Quick, easy, and professional beyond all expectations, the CLASP setup proves to be the biggest breakthrough in recording technology we’ve seen in years. Learn more about the equipment and how it could work for you at www.endlessanalog.com.
Me with CLASP inventor Chris Estes, holding CLASP product.
CLASP inventor Chris Estes and CLASP Vice President Amy Becker.