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Project Studio: Menza Music

Mark Menza Music in Dallas recording studio profiled in Mix magazine

Mark Menza’s new recording/composition studio was designed by Mark Genfan of Acoustic Spaces.

Photo: Kris Hundt

Composer/sound designer/engineer Mark Menza had a good thing going when his studio was embedded in DNA Productions, the animation company behind Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, The Ant Bully and more. “But then the partners, John Davis and Keith Alcorn, decided to downsize so I needed to find other studio space here in Dallas,” Menza says.

Menza entered into a co-op-type arrangement with some picture editors who purchased an 8,500-square-foot warehouse and built their own studios, as well as shared kitchen and lounge spaces. To design his setup, Menza retained Mark Genfan of Acoustic Spaces.

“We came up with the arrangement of two medium-sized control rooms that share a cutting room,” Genfan says. “It’s in a warehouse district, so there are trucks outside, as well as train tracks down the street. So all three rooms are fully floated and decoupled. We also concentrated on ergonomics and workflow because Mark Menza is a composer, as well as a mixer. He needs to move easily from composing to overdubbing to mixing.”

Genfan designed a cockpit-style arrangement in the main control room, where Menza’s keyboards and a Sony DMX-R100 console rest within rolling racks. Genfan says that aesthetically, acoustically and technically, Menza Music is a “high-level build-out,” made possible in part because Menza contributed his own sweat equity.

“A musician friend of mine is a professional carpenter, and I got him to do the woodwork, but I said, ‘It will save me money if I can be your grunt.’” Menza says. He personally installed seven pallets of insulation in the studio, which, he laughingly recalls, “really sucked. I would call up Mark [Genfan], and say, ‘It needs to be solid, right, not a cavity?’ and he would say, ‘Solid insulation; don’t call me back till it’s done.’”

Menza also designed the rear-wall woven-wood diffusers based on an Oriental room divider he’d seen in an art gallery. “I pitched the idea to Genfan on the back of a napkin,” he says, “and I think he was afraid it might be rattle-y, but it’s very solid. It’s great acoustically and visually.”

Genfan and Mike “Spunky” Brunone of gear provider Audio Dawg helped Menza audition speakers; they settled on Genelec 5.1 monitoring: 8050As L/R/C and 8040s for surrounds. Projects completed by Menza since the studio went online last fall include ad music for United Regional Hospital, Pier 1 and the YMCA, and audio branding for local energy provider Oncor Electric. “This morning, I mixed a piece of music that I wrote for ukulele, of all things, for a Pier 1 spot. Then we added sound effects, recorded the VO via ISDN from L.A. and mixed the thing with clients here in the room.”