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Bob Clearmountain Calls On Cups ’N Strings for Tape Rescue

Pictured L-R at Cups ’N Strings Studios are Bob Clearmountain’s assistant engineer, Brandon Duncan; archival restoration engineer Bruce Maddocks; and Tim Davis of Recording Data Service, one of Avastor’s major L.A. dealers. Photo: David Goggin.

In addition to mixing new releases for both major established artists and emerging acts, Bob Clearmountain is also called upon to work with archival analog multitrack masters and mix projects for new releases in today’s high-res digital formats. Recently, Clearmountain found tapes from nearly two decades ago to be unplayable on his multitrack deck, and brought them to Bruce Maddocks at Cups ’N Strings in Santa Monica, Calif. for restoration.

“Bruce Maddocks did a great job,” explains assistant engineer Brandon Duncan, who works at Clearmountain’s Los Angeles–based 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 2-inch, 24-track reels from a major artist’s earlier work,” explains 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 L.A. studio.”

“We treat hard drives here like we used to handle multitrack masters in the past,” Duncan explains. “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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