Brendan Benson and engineer Joe Costa have incorporated Endless Analog’s CLASP into the songwriter’s latest solo project.
CLASP (Closed Loop Analogue Signal Processor) is designed to bridge the gap between analogue and digital by integrating analogue tape machines into the digital audio production workflow.
Allowing users to record on real analogue tape with digital speed. CLASP aims to provide sample accurate tape synchronisation with zero latency analogue monitoring, while delivering a true analogue front-end recording solution for Pro Tools and other DAW’s.
“When I first heard about the CLASP, I was intrigued, and I said, ‘Sure, let’s give it a shot,’ but I’ll admit I was leery,” recalled Benson. “But then Chris Estes - Endless Analog president/founder and CLASP inventor - was generous enough to show my engineer Joe Costa and me how it worked and let us hang onto it for a few days. I must say I was very impressed. It does exactly what it is supposed to, and its stability is rock-solid – it just doesn’t screw up. Joe had a crash course in CLASP, and he was just as impressed as I was. We ended up buying the unit and have been using it ever since. And CLASP is just so cool – there’s no latency.”
Costa also welcomed CLASP into his workflow for the project. “CLASP is a great, very innovative piece of hardware and software,” he noted. "Since you are recording to analogue and capturing it immediately, there's no concern with high-end loss, from the tape passing over the heads time and time again during overdubs.”
“The sound using CLASP and analogue tape is definitely noticeably better, compared to strictly-digital,” added Benson. “I’m always going for that warmer analogue sound. I understand why the digital tools are important, but there are so many analogue sounds that are musical and pleasing in a way that digital is not. Drums and cymbals are a great example – when you hit a cymbal, it kind of flaps around and it sort of sprays the sound, which is hard to pick up digitally. But on tape there’s this glue and natural compression that makes all the difference in the world.”
With regards to signal flow, Benson and Costa were open to experimenting with CLASP, being the first people to use it with a quarter-inch mono head stack machine. Costa commented: “We actually used three different tape machines so far. The initial sessions, before we had CLASP set up, were done with an MCI JH24 2-inch 24-track tape machine. I transferred those tracks into Pro Tools, and then, when we were setting up CLASP with Chris Estes for more tracking and overdubs, we had an MCI JH110 quarter-inch mono tape machine, along with Brendan’s MCI JH110 one-inch eight-track machine. Chris set up CLASP for both, and then we just kept going back and forth. Depending on what we were doing for an overdub that would determine our tape machine. We ended up using the mono quarter-inch for anything that needed some saturation.”