The Outfield and the Fascination with Phase

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These days phase effects are common. DJs do it in the clubs, usually using an effect processor and it's still a favorite sonic seasoning of producers in the studio. But I'll always remember the first time I successfully created the phasing effect with a turntable and a cassette deck. It was the coolest thing and I couldn't get enough of it. I would spend hours experimenting with any kind of music. At first I simply recorded the track to a boombox and than played with the speed of the turntable to get the phasing effect. Later, after I acquired a reel to reel things got more interesting. I started experimenting with monitoring the signal as it was recorded by flipping the monitor output from source to tape. Running the tape signal through a Radio Shack mixer and back into the reel to reel yielded a delay effect. At the slowest speed the delay was longer and at the fastest speed the delay was more like a slap echo. Faster tape speed also yielded better signal to noise ratio and frequency response. And changing speeds while flipping switches created funky effects too. I worked that reel to reel so much that I eventually wore it out. It started eating tapes so my precious mixes were left to hibernate in a cardboard box.

Several years later I got my hands on an old Akai reel to reel and have been able to salvage some of my old experimental tapes. I have all kinds of recordings. The original recordings and early songs are painful to listen to and I cringe to even let those closest to me hear just a few minutes. The Dr. Dimento stuff is still funny. Hey Frank Zappa got more play on Dimento than anywhere else for many years. Earth Wind and Fire Live is one of my favorite recordings. My buddy Brock taped a live HBO special on his parents' Betamax machine and I transferred it to reel. It was one of EWF's best shows ever.