I was lucky enough to engineer a demo session with Chris Estes, the founder of Endless Analog and the creator of CLASP (Closed Loop Analog Signal Processor). We used CLASP to record basics and overdubs using an SSL 4000G+, Studer A827, GP9 tape, and Pro Tools 9. For those who have not heard of CLASP yet, its purpose is to eliminate all of the negative aspects of using analog tape, but preserve the positive qualities of the sound. You can record to the tape machine as you are simultaneously recording straight to your DAW from the repro head. So you get your desired tape sound, with immediate transfer / back up into your DAW. Every engineer wants to save time in the studio, and if you are working on an analog project that will end up in Pro Tools for editing / mixing, CLASP is your dream come true.
It would be nice if the set-up were a little easier, but for what you are accomplishing, it is not that difficult. You should anticipate roughly an hour of set-up time for your first use, but it could probably be done in about 30 minutes. You just have to sync the CLASP with the tape machine and use DSUB-to-TT cables to access the patchbay. Then there is some set-up required in your DAW as well. One CLASP is a 2U rack mount and is capable of passing 24 channels of audio. It works with a surprising amount of tape machines. During the sync process, the plug-in will be able to determine what type of machine you are using. A list of compatible machines can be found on their website (CLASP COMPATIBLE TAPE MACHINES
One of the coolest things about using CLASP is that you can use the same reel at different tape speeds. So you can record drums to 15 ips, overdub vocals to 30 ips, and even overdub bass to 7.5 ips if you’d like. All without changing your reel. And you already have the previously recorded tracks in your DAW, so you can go over the same tracks on the tape machine if you need to. This also means that you could record an entire album with one reel rather than buying 2 or 3 reels per song. The CLASP goes for $7,495 on Vintage King. Chris Estes did say that they were working on getting the price dropped. I think the cost is probably the main negative aspect, but other than that, I really don’t see why you wouldn’t want to use this system. In this digital age, speed and convenience of DAWs are usually a necessity in the studio. CLASP helps bridge the gap between analog purists and the more contemporary engineer. So hopefully if this thing catches on, we can have the best of both worlds.