The Green Button

Otari MTR-12 | www.robertfeist.com

Otari MTR-12 Mastering Tape Machine

I sat down between the speakers and pushed the green play button on the remote. I heard the plastic leader rolling through the machine, and then the speakers filled with music, wide and full of lows and highs. The intro played. The vocal entered, and the texture of the recording was warm and open and natural, a sound from the past. I hadn’t heard a master analog tape in some time, and the beauty shocked me. 

I recorded the song on a sixteen-track tape machine running two-inch tape, so the arrangement was clean and simple. The song was performed without a click track or computer quantizing, so it felt relaxed and natural, the vocal a stunning performance with emotional continuity. It was recorded with everyone in the same room at the same time, listening to each other, playing off of each other, and we pushed to a place where the performance moved us emotionally. That’s what we worked for. That’s when it was good. 

Tears filled my eyes because of beauty past, the rolling of tape through a machine, a song written and played by people without the help of a computer, the mix laid together by feel and emotion to pull the most from the music and nothing more. This old tape machine is now just something cluttering up the garage—a remnant. Later today, I’ll write an ad for Craigslist: Otari MTR-12 mastering tape machine in good condition, tested and working.