Dave Zimmerman of Noisebox Studios combines studio magic, passion, and expertise to create positive music in an ever changing industry
Orem, UT – Right hand on the mouse, left hand flying across the keyboard hitting hotkey after hotkey, Dave Zimmerman is in the zone. Projected on the two black flat-screen computer monitors above his head is a seemingly undecipherable array of colored bars and sequences. The cursor controlled by Zimmerman darts across the screen to enlarge a lead vocal track where he has heard something he needs to edit. The sound of the bass guitar and lead guitar that pulsated through the Event ASP8 speakers seconds before, suddenly disappears as he isolates the lead vocalist and the drum tracks. Concentration shows on his face as he reaches for a pair of headphones; he has pinpointed a flat pitch in the lead vocal track. A deft hand, eye, and ear coordination developed over 12 years of professional sound recording/engineering makes the mixing process seem like a choreographed dance. And he’s not even breaking a sweat.
The process sounds alien to the untrained ear, but the final product is a work of art. This is Zimmerman’s talent, his craft. Below his humble red brick home in downtown Orem, he has created a four-room professional sound recording studio. Zimmerman is the engineer and owner of Noisebox studios, and today he is working on two projects. Long after the band that recorded earlier in his studio has gone, Zimmerman is sitting at his Avid’s Flagship Pro Tools HD2 Accel System performing the “dark art” of studio engineering.
To understand the recording process one must understand Zimmerman’s passion for music and music production. Now a master of Pro Tools and Logic Studio, Zimmerman started out as a pianist and percussionist. He played and studied percussion at BYU before becoming involved with audio engineering at Tuacahn Center for the Arts. He has worked on projects as diverse as The Beauty and the Beast to Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits series to currently recording the up and coming rock band The Whits. Over the years he has kept a singular goal in mind, to have a positive impact on the music industry.
Music is a unique art form. Zimmerman believes that music has a huge influence on its listeners. He asks, “How can people say that music really doesn’t affect you? It really does. It’s so powerful.” At Noisebox studio he has developed a very strong policy regarding positive and uplifting music.
“Because we are committed to uplifting music, we do not record music that’s profane, vulgar, violent, satanic, or sexual. If you are not sure if your music fits these categories, contact us and we can further clarify.” - excerpt from Noisebox Studios mission statement.
Like any artist with a vision, as a sound engineer Zimmerman wants his work to serve a purpose. His policy can be considered a form of censorship, and he realizes that everyone is not going to agree with it. Taking such a stance against explicit material is controversial, and Zimmerman admits he’s received his fair share of criticism regarding the First Amendment. He’s also been praised for his dedication to promote uplifting media, and he feels it’s about doing the right thing for the community. In one of his online bios he writes, “There is so much crap out there in the media that has a bad influence on our future generations. I hope to bring out the talent that has a positive influence on people and our future.”
In the level above his basement studio, Zimmerman’s wife is cooking dinner and his young son Ezra is playing on the kitchen floor. Dave is a family man. His profession as a sound engineer and as an artist may directly affect his family and community. Although his policy may cost him valuable clients, he considers it a responsibility to have a positive impact on the music scene. When a 15 year-old rapper came in with his mother to record, Dave was forced to turn them away after the young artist’s songs were laced with profanities. Other band’s have changed their lyrics just to be able to record at Noisebox; a nod, perhaps, to the quality of work Zimmerman produces in his studio.