Show Us Your Space: Tiny Thunder Audio in Maplewood, New Jersey

Welcome to another installment of Show Us Your Space, our series that explores and celebrates the unique music-making environments of studio owners, builders, and musicians at all levels. While we've showcased everything from live-in practice spaces to Electric Lady Studios, today we're heading to a small but mighty mixing and mastering studio in Maplewood, New Jersey.

Below, studio owner, producer, and engineer Serge Espitia talks about downsizing from a full studio to his new location. But as you'll see, the gear he has on-hand is top-shelf.

Have you assembled an awesome music space that you want to show off? From bedroom production rigs to historic concert halls, we're interested in seeing and sharing it. Contact us at showusyourspace@reverb.com. For more information on Tiny Thunder Audio, check out the studio's website here.

Tiny Thunder Audio was founded in 2011 in Greenpoint Brooklyn as a fully equipped recording studio. After a couple of relocations and a brief hiatus, TTA has found a new home in Maplewood, New Jersey as a mixing and mastering suite specialized in providing online services exclusively.

So what's changed since 2011? A couple of things. First I wanted a room with a smaller footprint as well as the ability to work from home. By achieving these two requirements, I was able to really focus on how to treat and equip the room and achieve great results.

Since I started out, I have always used GIK Acoustics products—they're great and really easy to move around (and they also look really cool once all the panels are up). Currently, the room is laid out as follows: corner tri-traps behind the monitors, 244 panels on the walls. Two monster bass traps mounted on the ceiling as a "cloud" and a couple of 242 panels placed around the room to help with absorption in certain areas.

After adjusting a couple of times, I was able to get the room sounding really nice. Since I do have a big window, working around the reflections was a bit tricky at first. Once I was able to work around those limitations, I have found the overall sound is quite nice, very lively but controlled. It's a great space to mix as well as to listen to records when I have some down time.

OK, time to get a bit geeky. The whole studio is built around a Neumann U475 32x4 summing mixer. I designed the mixer and had it built by Paul Taylor at VintageMaker. The mixer features 32 channels of analog summing and two main mix outputs as well as six send and returns for the first six channels, which can also be split to mono. These two options are very handy since they allow patching for multiple pieces of outboard as well as the ability to bypass them for comparison.

As far as conversion I use and Antelope Orion for summing. Playback audition and printing is done with the help of two Mytek Brooklyn converters (ADC-DAC). The Mytek stuff is absolutely incredible, and something really cool about the DAC is that it features a phono preamp. I have this connected to a vintage Ariston Audio RD11 Turntable (with an Ortofon blue cartridge) so I'm able to easily change the output in case I want to listen to my record collection at any given moment.

For monitors I use a pair of Barefoot MM27 gen 2 speakers. I've been through a lot of speakers over the years and I was never fully satisfied with what I was using. In 2016 I finally decided to take the plunge and get the Barefoots. Since then I have never looked back—they are absolutely incredible and they can pretty much play the crap out of whatever you throw at them. Finally, I use a pair of Dorrough 40-A for metering.

As far as outboard goes I decided to get the pieces that would help me represent my clients' music to their full potential. For mixing projects, I have a hybrid approach that consists in using analog equipment for mix-bus duties as well as for the key elements of a song, such as drums, bass, and vocals, and Universal Audio plugins for everything else. Some of the pieces I use for this are: IGS RB 500 EQ, TK Audio BC501 bus compressor, Rupert Neve Designs 542 tape emulators, as well as gear from Acme Audio, API and Empirical Labs.

For mastering duties I try to keep an analog chain in which I'll use a Manley Massive Passive, an AMS Neve 33609/N compressor, TK Audio TK-lizer, and an Avalon VT-747sp for color.

Although I really like to work on all styles of music, most of my work comes from hip-hop, rock, and singer-songwriters.

Maplewood is a great place to be, and even though I have only been here for a couple of months, I have to say that I really love it. The town has a great diverse artistic community, great restaurants and cultural activities, and it's a short drive to New York City—so it really has a little bit of everything going on.

For more info, feel free to check my website at http://www.tinythunderaudio.com/.



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