Made In The Shade At Mapleshade Studios

by Les Turoczi

Having been fortunate to visit studios of several different styles, I was not ready for the unique and fascinating situation that exists under the name of Mapleshade Studios in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

Chief engineer and owner Pierre Sprey has established a marvelous setting in this rural Washington, DC location, where musicians can find the time and space to be at peak creativity and comfort. The studio itself is an old and stately mansion that is part of a former tobacco plantation. The quaint and rustic nature of the overall set-up exudes a novel approach to capturing sound on analog tape, which while not specifically "high tech" is, indeed, far from primitive.

Some Background

What Makes Mapleshade Different

"An excellent studio must provide an environment where musicians will want to play as well as they have ever played."
"An excellent recording must create for the listener the excitement of hearing live music."
"We record only in live spaces where musicians can hear themselves and each other; the studio sound has a warm 'chamber' sound, not the dead acoustic of outer space."
"Drum or vocal booths are never used, because they destroy the creative cohesion of any music group and kill the feeling of a natural acoustic space."
"The minimum feasible number of microphones and tracks are used....Every extra microphone kills a little more of the natural space and depth around each instrument, the purity and breathiness of the singer's voice, and the percussive impact of sticks, hammers or plucked strings."
"All of the recording electronics in use are selected by ear, not by measuring numerical specs. The equipment, which is measured after selection, shows wider frequency response, higher dynamic peaks, and much quicker transient response than standard studio equipment; the tape recorder has almost an extra octave of treble over first-rate professional machines; the planar pressure zone microphones, with proprietary modifications to both mechanical and electronic elements, are used in acoustic arrays of custom design."

The Proof Is In The Pudding