Adam Box moved from Meridian, Mississippi, to Nashville in 2010. He has a musical background, having grown up playing drums at church and in his dad’s band. Box is also adept enough on other instruments to mix, arrange, and produce. “I would never claim to play anything other than drums,” he says. “However, I do find myself playing anything that a song calls for, on any instrument, since I get an unlimited number of takes in my own studio.”

Box has lived in various locations around Nashville, but his preference is where his current studio is located, west of town. “I’d been renting a log cabin that was close to the entrance of Natchez Trace, which is one of the most famous motorcycle-riding spots in the U.S.,” he says. When he was ready to buy, Adam was fortunate to find a house in that area. His real estate criteria were pretty simple. “I needed to create a space where I would have a hard time leaving,” he says. “My previous home-studio designs were simply making do with what I had available. But in my new place, I had a blank slate. The house is three stories, including a walk-out basement that has nine-foot ceilings. It had a two-car garage, as well as another finished space. I hired contractor Joshua Niles to work with me, and together we took the space down to the studs and rebuilt it. Josh worked on getting the geometry correct for all of the angles as well as placing his custom-built acoustic treatments. I did the aesthetic.”

Box Studio1
Box Studio 2
Box Studio 3
Box Studio 4

Box’s goal for the redesign was to give the room a live feel. It was also important for him to have all the gear ready to record without having to step over a web of cables. “I wanted to be able to do everything from laying down drum tracks to full-band production,” he says. “I was a little torn between having one large, open room or a separate control room. I’m pretty hands-on throughout the recording process, and I like to hop from the computer to whatever I’m tracking. But I opted for a control room, and I’m glad I did.”

When it came to choosing mics, preamps, compressors, and other gear, Box went for classic pieces that he’s always loved. “The workhorses in my studio are my CAPI preamps by Jeff Steiger,” he says. “They’re in the API family, which are the standard preamps for drums. Even if I’m doing acoustic guitar or bass, I can record with the CAPI gear, and it’ll sound sensational.”

Gear Box

Drumsets

• 1960s Gretsch with 20″, 22″, and 24″ bass drums and various toms
• 1970s Ludwig Classic (13″, 16″, 22″)
• 1970s Tama (13″, 16″, 22″)
• Sonor Martini kit

Snares

• Ludwig 5×14 Acrolite, 5×14 hammered Black Beauty, and 5×14 Supraphonic
• Slingerland 7×12 copper and 7×12 steel
• DW 6.5×14 steel
• Baldman Percussion Junk Hat (for handclap sounds)

Box Studio 6

Box doesn’t consider himself a gear head; when he’s looking for a certain sound, he’ll first sit down at the kit with whatever he has set up. “Sometimes I’ll go with whatever I was playing last,” he says. “If it’s cool, I’ll take full credit. Otherwise I’ll start swapping out pieces. I have a pretty nice collection of snares, all tuned differently, so I’ll switch out for whichever one is called for. At this time, my go-to snare is a great old Slingerland 7×12 copper.

“I’m using Shure SM57s on the snare and toms,” Adam continues. “And I use an Electro-Voice RE20 on the kick drum when I want a tight, focused sound with minimal high end. For a more rock sound, I might switch out to a Shure Beta 52 or an AKG D112. I’m using AEA R88 ribbon mics for my overheads and N22s for the rooms.”

Box has to occasionally adjust his playing style and mic positioning when recording. “Since my ceiling is nine feet, I sometimes fight with bleed coming into my drum mics,” he says. “So I’ll keep my overheads closer to the drums than I would in a bigger space with taller ceilings. I also have gobos that I can roll around the room in order to tame certain frequencies in different situations. Most of the time there is no method to the madness in here. I just go with what’s set up and make it sound good.”

Being in a residential subdivision, Box was aware of keeping the noise from disturbing his neighbors. “One of the biggest challenges came when insulating the walls where the two garage doors had once been,” he says. “We installed five layers of drywall, with each layer separated with attic insulation and green glue noise-proofing. I’m pleased that nobody hears anything.”

Story and photos by Sayre Berman