I first bumped into Brad Vosburg years ago, when I was living in Memphis and he was a young hotshot engineer working at a number of studios around that town, like Kiva, Ardent and, particularly, Eli Ball's studio The Warehouse, which was part of a production venture through PolyGram at the time. I lost touch with Vosburg when he moved to L.A. and I relocated to Nashville. While in L.A., he worked extensively with Digidesign, primarily as a technical support specialist, technical trade show manager and product specialist. I recently found out he had moved back to this part of the country and is the owner of a studio he built, Fox Mountain Productions (www.foxmountain.com, Brentwood).
Brad Vosburg at his Fox Mountain studio, which offers a Pro Tools space, a good tracking room and extreme isolation between studios and home.
Photo: Rick Clark
Vosberg clearly loves the change from L.A. “I've always felt more comfortable in a studio environment producing, engineering, et cetera,” he says. “It's like putting on an old pair of sneakers that just fit right. After working at Digidesign for five-plus years, I decided to come back to my roots in the South and slow it down. My wife and I became parents recently, and I wanted to raise my daughter in a different environment from Hollywood. I also decided this was a great opportunity for me to leave Digidesign, stop talking about Pro Tools and use the knowledge I had accumulated over the years. Nashville was the logical choice for me because it's got so much music diversity now and there's always a demand for someone with my skills.”
Besides producing and engineering, Vosburg decided to draw upon his extensive Pro Tools experience to offer one-on-one instruction in the Nashville market. Anyone who is stumped on how to navigate something in Pro Tools or just wants a great, pro-level tutorial on that format would do well to look him up; after all, Vosburg has received certification as an Expert Operator of Digidesign's Pro Tools Audio Workstations, a level of expertise presently shared by only nine other people in the world.
“It became apparent that there were engineers here that desired a more personal instruction approach, either to learn advanced techniques or basics from the beginning,” says Vosburg, who teaches out of Fox Mountain. “So much more information can be covered in the same amount of time, and for high-end professionals, time is money.”
In putting together Fox Mountain, Vosburg set out to create a unique environment — not just another Pro Tools mix/overdub space. He also wanted to have a good tracking room and extreme isolation between the studio and the rest of this house. “We lucked out with 12-foot ceilings in our basement, so we did a ‘room within a room’ — floated floors, angled windows, dead air space, multiple layers and buckets of liquid nails. One of the things I'm most proud of was my insistence upon having natural light. The designer pleaded with me to brick up the existing windows, but I found a way to keep the light by using glass blocks and laminated glass sheets.”
Vosburg has also been working on a number of projects, most recently with producer James House. One artist that has Vosburg particularly excited is Loretta Lynn's granddaughter Tayla Lynn. The project is for House's Villa One label, which is being distributed through RCA.
To record Lynn's vocal, Vosburg pointed out one of their favorite signal paths that best captures the magic: An Audio-Technica AT4060 and the API 512c mic pre through the classic Universal Audio 1176.
Vosburg also recently wrapped up working with an indie modern pop/rock quartet called Dime Store Thieves for their album Got to Get in to Get Out. “They sound a little like Coldplay, mixed with Radiohead, a dash of Tom Petty and a pinch of some otherworldly jam band,” says Vosburg, who co-produced the project with the band, as well as engineered and mixed. “They have this incredible work ethic and were very focused in the studio and open to experimenting with different recording techniques. Their songs are now available on iTunes.”
Another project Vosburg has recorded is the hip hop artist Versus for his upcoming spring release, Listening Session. “I mixed the record here at Fox Mountain using Pro Tools|HD, lots of outboard gear, [Empirical Labs] Distressors, 4-channel Transient Designer, some UA stuff, and for plug-ins, Waves C4 and L3,” he says. “I love everything about the Distressors. Besides the ‘nuke’ setting for room mics, which is obvious, I just like the way they sound at less-extreme settings. They're great for a gentle vocal smoothing.
“The Transient Designer is also amazing! Back in the day, we used slow attack compression and frequency adjustments to give percussive tracks more thwack! With the TD4, I can dial in my attack or sustain independently of the frequency and tone. Now that I've used one, I can't imagine mixing without it.”
The Nashville Club Cubase/Nuendo users group has been meeting every fourth Thursday of the month at SAE for a little more than two years now, and at least once a year, they like to have a big event. This year, Grammy Award — winning songwriter/producer Tommy Simms and Grammy- and Dove Award — winning producer/engineer Bryan Lenox came in to track an unsigned artist whom they are developing named Nikki Leonti.
They did the 32-track session on a Dual-Core AMD Opteron system running Nuendo 3.1 at 24-bit/192k. The session also used the new Lynx Aurora 16 AD/DA converters and the AES-16, and RME AES-32 sound cards. The DAW had two Raid Zero arrays with more than a Terrabyte of storage, backed up to FireWire drives.
Steve Lamm, of Cryptic Globe Recording and the host of Nashville Club Cubase/Nuendo, felt the event was a great success and was pleased with the level of participation throughout. “Dave Piechura from Vintage King brought in a lot of great high-end gear from the likes of Chandler Limited, Korby Microphones and Universal Audio,” Lamm says. “Blackbird Rentals also donated a lot of excellent high-end outboard gear for the event. We also featured Seventh Circle Audio Preamps. Vince Melamed — who has played with The Eagles, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffet and others, and is also a very successful songwriter — led a discussion about songwriting and technology. He shared so much about how he uses technology for creativity and songwriting. Chuck Moore from SAE led a discussion on surround sound technology and mixing. Greg Ondo, who is the national product specialist for Yamaha/Steinberg, was also in attendance and talked about new Steinberg products and fielded Steinberg-oriented questions.”
Lamm is also very enthusiastic about SAE and the school's support of Club Cubase/Nuendo. “SAE is an outstanding teaching facility,” he says. “They have a fantastic studio with an SSL 4000G and second control room with Neve VR Series console. In addition, they have a surround mixing room and many, many other smaller rooms for a huge variety of workstations. They have a first-class teaching staff and strive to keep on top of current technology, as well as old-school knowledge so they can pass it along to their students. They have been kind enough to let us host this users group from the time we started it.”
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