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Music Production

ZBB’s Hopkins Goes Small in Big New Studio

A big part of Brighter Shade Studios’ sound comes from the comparatively smaller 500 Series chassis filled with modules in owner Hop’s workstation.

Atlanta, GA (August 14, 2018)—While he’s a founding member of Zac Brown Band, John Driskell Hopkins—or Hop as he prefers—has been a part of the Atlanta recording scene for decades. These days, that includes presiding over the latest incarnation of his Brighter Shade Studios.

The 2,500-square-foot facility, designed with Steven Durr, sports a full-service bar and lounge, but also includes an oversized, flexible-use main recording space large enough to hold a 30-piece orchestra, a voice-over booth, machine and mixing room, and more.

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Despite the size of the space, central to Hop’s workstation is something smaller—a Radial Powerhouse 500 series chassis loaded with 10 Radial modules. It was a straightforward choice as Hop had experienced Radial 500 series preamps at Southern Ground in Nashville, Zac Brown’s studio. According to Hop, “They were used during the recording of our most recent ZBB album, Welcome Home. The guys in Nashville couldn’t say enough good things about the Powerhouse, the preamps and working with Radial in general. I was sold immediately.

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The Powerhouse’s ten slots are fully loaded with duplicate Jensen Twin-Servos, Power Pres, Power Tubes, JDV Pres as well as EXTCs (reamping guitar effects interface.) Hop’s 2017 Christmas album put the better part of the rack to work. “We used these all over the Christmas album, and I have really been enjoying how they sound on my room mics with the drum tracks we have been cutting for the new Americana records we are doing,” Hop continued.

The JDVs stand out in particular for him. “They are so very convenient. I love the interface and the way I can pop into these awesome pres right from the control room. They are super quiet and have been delivering warm, consistent sounds for acoustic guitar, bass and keyboards.”

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Hop is putting the gear to work these days on several songwriter projects including a new albums and songs from The John Driskell Hopkins Band, Alex Guthrie, Mike Rizzi, Katie Deal and more.

Radial Engineering Ltd. •