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Tascam captures audio for legendary Monterey Pop Festival’s 50th anniversary

A Tascam recorder captured the sound for the 50th anniversary film of the iconic 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.

This year’s festival, which took place from June 16-18 in California, featured original line-up acts Eric Burdon and The Animals and Booker T, as well as more contemporary artists such as Regina Spektor. The original festival is remembered for the first major American appearance by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, the introduction of Otis Redding and the first large-scale public performance by Janis Joplin.

The 1967 festival was filmed for the well-known documentary Monterey Pop, directed by noted documentary maker D.A. Pennebaker. The 2017 festival was also filmed for a documentary, directed by D.A.’s son Jojo Pennebaker, with audio captured on a Tascam DA-6400 recorder.

Single Fin Studio Group owner John Baccigaluppi and Sacramento-based audio engineer John Bologni were asked to record the audio less than 10 days before it began.

Baccigaluppi said: “Recording the festival was a daunting and complex task and setup, so we were scrambling to put together a rig. Very early on, we identified the Tascam DA-6400 as a high-quality, reliable capture device.”

The film team had a 34-person crew, including Baccigaluppi and Bologni, who filmed with seven cameras. An analogue snake brought a 48-channel split from the stage to a Dante network, by way of Focusrite RedNet Dante interfaces, where the digitized audio was routed to a DA-6400 equipped with Tascam’s optional IF-DA64 Dante card.

“Dante was amazing,” Baccigaluppi said. “I wasn’t sure about all that data coming through one Ethernet cable – but it worked!”

In addition to the 48-channel stage feed, the recording team had five audience mics. One band had a separate system, which was only connected to the house speakers, so Baccigaluppi and Bologni took on a 10-channel stem split, adding up to 63 inputs.

“I just put it in ‘record’ and tracked 64 tracks all the time,” Baccigaluppi said. “There are sets where we only used a few tracks – when Regina Spektor played, it was just her and a piano – but it was easier to keep everything on and rolling. Besides, we had input lists and stage plots but a lot of them had changed, so it was safer to record all channels all the time.”

Sound company Ultrasound provided the sound system for the festival. Said Baccigaluppi: “The Ultrasound people said ‘we’re going to give you an analogue split, and we’re going to move that split every set, but you will get the proper split’ – and to their credit, they never messed up once.

“They’re one of the most professional sound companies I’ve ever worked with. The people they hired did a great job,” he added.

“The Tascam DA-6400 captured every set of 24 bands in three days without a hitch,” said Bacciagaluppi. “It worked flawlessly. The removable drive caddies were a huge feature because at the end of each night, I just pulled the caddy and gave the drive to the media person from the film crew, whose job it was to back everything up. Then I put a new drive in the caddy, and the next morning I was ready to go, without having to worry about anything.”

“I had no time to prepare or to wade through a manual,” he added. “There are so many options in the DA-6400 that I felt like I should have read the manual, but I simply didn’t have time. So I just hit record and treated the DA-6400 like a tape recorder – and it worked great.”