PHOENIX, AZ: A successful decade behind the console of his Manhattan-based Vault Mastering Studio, convinced engineer, Nathan James that he could shift his growing family back to their hometown of Phoenix and maintain a thriving business. Having developed a strong client base ranging from rockers like The Fray to jazz vocalist, Gretchen Parlato and comic Louis C.K., James was confident his skills would continue to attract interesting national projects. After establishing temporary quarters with a local mastering house, James’ next order of business was to retain the Walters-Storyk Design Group to create his new studio.
“My clients were very happy with the quality of the various rooms I worked out of,”James says.”But, for several years early in my career I assisted Scott Hull at the WSDG-designed, Classic Sound in NY. I always dreamed of having my own John Storyk Room. Our move to Phoenix was the perfect opportunity to make that happen. My conversations with John convinced me it was doable, both financially and physically. We started the ball rolling as soon as we were settled in.”
WSDG Project Manager Matthew Ballos, flew to Phoenix to access the site, take measurements and perform acoustic tests. “Nathan had purchased a handsome three – level house,” Ballos says. “The lower floor presented a perfect location for a 300 square foot studio. We had an 8-foot ceiling height, and a large window capable of providing natural light, and a sense of connectivity to the outside world. Windows are rare in studios, given the option, we take advantage of them.”
Ballos and WSDG principal/architect/acoustician John Storyk, collaborated on a studio designed to maximize the existing space and provide ceiling and wall isolation to eliminate sound leakage. “While it wasn’t necessary to ‘float’ the room, we incorporated a 2mm thick, rubberized mat beneath the hardwood floor to reduce sound transmission. “During design we envisioned a front wall treatment comprised of three overlapping curved, stretch fabric – wrapped absorptive panels,” Ballos reports. “We developed a corresponding ceiling cloud and rear wall panel which complimented the aesthetics and completed the room tuning requirements.”
WSDG also devised a 6-foot wide, absorptive acoustic window treatment built with Clearsorber Deamp perforated transparent panels. The treatment is hinged to open the window and provide James and his clients with friendly breezes, when work issues permit. The studio also incorporates a custom-designed wall sleeve, which houses the sliding glass acoustic studio door when it’s not in use.
James was fortunate to find a local contractor with extensive recording studio credits to handle the build. “WG McKenzie has built studios in NYC and Phoenix,” Matthew Ballos reports. He was extremely sensitive to the technical concerns of building acoustically pristine environments. We spoke frequently throughout the construction process, and we were on the same page on virtually every issue.”
“The new Vault Mastering Studio meets every one of my specific requirements, and when you walk in, it’s got that WSDG wow factor,” Nathan James says. “I migrated my entire mastering setup from New York, from the Custom DM console to the Duntech Sovereign/Cello amp monitoring combination that I’ve relied on for well over a decade. I brought all my trusted processing tools as well. Everything I need to get the most out of every recording is available at my fingertips. This is the studio I’ve always dreamed about. My original NYC Vault was aptly named because it radiated a sense of total sonic security. The new studio sounds and functions in a totally natural way. Sunlight enhances the creative vibe of the room during the day, and in the evening; it takes on an entirely different atmosphere. When I say I’m totally at home in my new Vault, I mean that both literally and figuratively,” James concludes.
1 WSDG designed The Vault Mastering Studio in Phoenix, AZ for engineer Nathan James (pictured)
2. The Vault Mastering Studio In Phoenix
Photos by John Brinkman.
Walters-Storyk Design Group has designed over 3000 media production facilities in the U.S., Europe, the Far East and Latin America. WSDG credits range from the original Jimi Hendrix Electric Lady Studio in Greenwich Village to NYC’s Jazz At Lincoln Center performance complex, broadcast facilities for The Food Network, CBS and WNET, over twenty teaching studios for The Art Institutes around the US, and corporate clients such as Hoffman La Roche. Recent credits include Jungle City, NY’s major new destination studio; private studios for Green Day, Jay-Z, Timbaland’s Tim Mosley, film composer Carter Burwell, Aerosmith, Bruce Springsteen and Alicia Keys. WSDG principals John Storyk, Beth Walters, and Dirk Noy lecture frequently at universities and industry events, and contribute regularly to industry publications. WSDG is a seven-time winner of the prestigious TEC Award for outstanding achievement in Acoustics/Facility Design, including 2012 for Jungle City. WSDG maintains offices in NY, SF, Miami, Argentina, Brazil, Beijing, Germany, Mexico City, Spain and Switzerland