Recording

Live From Big Wall Studios

The Mario Ortiz All Star Band recorded live with engineer Jesus Canton and shot a music video at Big Wall Studios.
Photo: Roli Benitez

This multi-studio complex in north Miami’s theater district has kept its big rooms booked by opening them up for band rehearsals and video shoots, as well as live recording. Santana, Pit Bull, Phil Collins and many others have used the studio for band rehearsals (Collins also recorded an audio book in the studio), and bands that record live at Big Wall—like the Mario Ortiz Allstar Band, pictured—often track concert-style, with a film crew on hand in addition to their music recording team.

“That’s one of our specialties,” says studio owner/manager John “JT” Thomas. “We get some of our work from Sony, and we’ve also done a lot with La Banda and [Telemundo talent competition show] La Voz Kids.”

Big Wall comprises two large live tracking rooms and three additional studios, all loaded with vintage and modern outboard gear and microphones, Pro Tools and Logic systems, and a wealth of musical instruments. Thomas’ staff includes two house engineers, Emilio Martinez and Simon Conella, and multiple Latin Grammy winner Cesar Sogbe frequently mixes at the studio.

Thomas also uses Big Wall to realize his own projects: He frequently composes and mixes background music for ESPN and Fox Sports. While a lot of that work can be done in his personal studio, he takes advantage of Big Wall’s recording space to track real drums.

“I have a studio at my house, but there are some things you can’t do at your house,” Thomas says.

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