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During our last visit to Gold-Diggers Sound in Los Angeles, the studio had just opened and we were standing in the middle of the live room. I clocked the spraypainted Slayer logo on the wall and assumed it was the remnants of some hesh tenants from the past. Wrong (well, kind of). This is the band's old practice space and they put it there.
But what makes Gold-Diggers special isn't that it's Slayer's old rehearsal room or that Ed Wood shot his films there. What makes this place unique is its owner Dave Trumfio. He's a studio lifer who wants to create incredible spaces for making music. And that's what he's done for as long as Vintage King has been in business.
We recently caught up with Dave to talk about his career in the recording world, how he first met up with our team, and, of course, some of his favorite gear. Let's get to it!
You've been in the recording game for a long time. What was it like trying to find gear back in the early 90s?
Ahhh, the before times! Back then, the recording gear scene was very different. You had your music shop semi-pro stuff geared for making demos, and then you had your high-end gear dealers. No websites, no showrooms, just some guys that had a warehouse-type space or just a person with the hookup to be a dealer that could order from the companies direct. Nowadays, it's crazy what's available direct to consumers.
Slowly, during the 1990s, bigger stores like Guitar Center were starting to offer higher-end gear. Vintage gear!? That was the Wild West. Vintage King was one of the first brokers I was aware of dealing in the hard-to-find gear!
How did that change when you found Vintage King, and how did you initially meet up with the company?
I was aware of Vintage King and White Room Studios in Detroit, but at that point, I had Kingsize Soundlabs Chicago and we were pretty kitted out already. When I moved to LA and started putting together Kingsize Soundlabs LA, I was back on the “hunt,” and my friend Manny Nieto introduced me to Jeff Ehrenberg.
Jeff was representing Vintage King on the West Coast. He was one of those guys with a garage of kickass gear, as well as representing some of the great new gear builders hitting the scene on behalf of Vintage King. He’d drive over to me with his car full of gear to checkout. It was awesome!
I’m a strong believer in studios having their own sound and character. All our rooms have their own thing. With that said, there are "greatest hits" every studio should have. At least commercial facilities geared for outside clients. LA-2a, CL 1B (a newer favorite), 1176, Neve, API, SSL... These are the greatest hits, among others, and clients are familiar with them.
Of course, the preamps or consoles in any given studio play a big part of the overall sound. We have our Neve 8068 in Kingsize Studio A, the new API 2448 at Gold-Diggers 1, Neve 8014 in Gold-Diggers 2, a 1970s MCI at 64 Sound. They all have their sound and glue when used as the main front end of any given recording.
We also have rooms with the more modern outboard preamp approach. These are more geared for writing and overdubs and offer the Neve, API, and SSL flavors along with some other boutique flavors such as the Retro Power Strip or Tree Audio. I’ve been a huge fan of Inward Connections gear since Jeff introduced me to them way back in early 2000s. They make great-sounding gear!
The boutique gear scene has blown sky-high over the last 10 to 15 years and peppering these pieces in with the greatest hits really brings recording to the next level. To my ears at least, you have your main course then you have the gravy.
How did Vintage King play a role in gear selection, servicing/set-up, and build-out of these spaces?
Jeff has been a great sounding board over the years. I’d sometimes reach out to him saying I’m going to be gearing up a new space, what’s out there right now. For example, when we were putting together Gold-Diggers, I told him my perfect console for Studio 1 would be one of the Sound Factory APIs. A great simple rock n roll API minus the service bills! He said, “Hey man, do you mind signing an NDA? I got something you’d be interested in!”. Of course, I signed the NDA, and the next thing I know we are on phone with API while they were designing the new 2448. It was exactly what I was looking for and we ended up taking delivery of the first 2448 out of the factory. That was pretty fun and cool to be a part of!
What are some of your favorite pieces of gear that you have purchased from Vintage King over the years?
Big fan of my Inward Connection gear. Of course, the Neve 8068 and API 2448. One of the first mics I bought from VK was the Korby Convertible with four capsules (47, 67, 12, 251). It's a great mic and is unavailable now. On and on really…
Ha! Don’t get me started! I’m really into the new speaker technology coming out. Just bought a pair of Kii monitors and love them. I look forward to the new groundbreaking designs of the future in all gear.
How has the industry changed since you first opened your doors and how has your studio adapted to those changes?
The business and gear are always changing. I find we have to reassess things every five years or so. We were one of the first to offer production room lockouts for example. I noticed people shifting from camping out for six weeks to record a record to booking two weeks and less for basic tracks and then going to a smaller garage-type spot to finish and mix.
We pivoted and opened a hand full of production rooms with a control room and one ISO and never looked back. We’ve grown that to multi-rooms and various locations complimenting our tracking rooms. Many of these rooms come unequipped for long-term lockouts to producers, writers, and mixers. They bring their own gear and we offer the infrastructure.
Looking back on the last 30 years of being in the recording industry, what are you most proud of or excited about in terms of your history in the studio?
I’m just amazed I’ve / we’ve been able to do this for as long as we have! I love making and recording music! I’m a lifer and proud of it. It hasn’t been easy and I’m not going to lie, it's kind of an addiction.
What are your future plans for Gold-Diggers and Kingsize?
We were just saying, "Let’s focus on making our businesses the best they can be heading into 2023." We got all the gear we need (gulp) let’s book the studios and make some great recordings!
Want to hear more from Dave? Watch our Inside Look on Golddiggers Sound and API 2448 installation story below:
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