Bob Clearmountain Calls On Cups ‘N Strings for Tape Rescue

In addition to mixing new releases for both major established artists and emerging acts, Bob Clearmountain is also called upon to go back to archival analog multitrack masters and mix projects for new releases in today’s high-res digital formats. In a recent case, tapes from nearly two decades ago were put on his multitrack deck and discovered to be unplayable.

“Bruce Maddocks did a great job,” explains assistant engineer Brandon Duncan, who works at Clearmountain’s Los Angeles Mix This! studios. “We came in at the last minute and it was a rush thing – we needed them yesterday. Bruce was very accommodating and professional, got the job done and everything was good. Bob was very happy with the transfers and was able to complete the job without a hitch.”

“It takes some care when you are working with nine two-inch 24-track reels from a major artist’s earlier work,” explains Bruce Maddocks. “There is only one analog master. The tapes were suffering from bad sticky-shed and the binder was falling apart. We had to first bake them delicately in our lab grade convection oven and then quickly put them on the Studer and digitize them out to 96K 24-bit broadcast WAV files. Brandon brought over Bob’s Avastor hard drives so that we could FedEx to the studios he was working at in London and New York City, as well as his LA studio.”

Besides establishing himself as a successful producer with acts such at The Pretenders, Simple Minds, and Bryan Adams, Clearmountain maintains a reputation for getting the best out of tracks recorded by other top producers through his versatile mixing talents. He is equally at home mixing Bruce Springsteen or The Rolling Stones as he is with the live worldwide television broadcasts of “Live Aid” and numerous other acclaimed broadcasts.

When asked about the Avastor hard drives, Brandon Duncan explained: “We treat hard drives here like we used to handle multitrack masters in the past. The material lives on the hard drive. But the data is going back and forth, copied here and there, and it can be complicated to locate the original source and documentation. We treat the master drives like master tapes, and keep them secure in their Lockboxes for storage and safe shipment.”

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