Expansions & Additions

There's a big sound coming out of the "Motor City" these days, and it's emanating from the Detroit-area headquarters of Thunder Audio, which was first established in the late '70s by Owner Tony Villarreal thanks to a wisely-invested $1,500 income tax refund. Today, some 30 years later, this regional-turned-international touring sound reinforcement company counts top acts like Garbage, White Stripes, Metallica and Steely Dan on its roster of regular clients, a testimony to the high quality of its engineering team and equipment.

In its efforts to compete for larger, more technically demanding tours, Thunder Audio has undertaken a concerted multi-year campaign to upgrade its gear. Thunder Audio VP Paul Owen is very sure of what he likes and what works for touring, having served as Metallica's monitor engineer for well over two decades now. "In this day and age, you have to be diverse to attract a wider range of clients yet still accommodate your current ones," says Owen. "As we continue to grow at Thunder Audio and the digital world takes over from analog, we increase our inventory according to demand, performance and popularity."

Considering that new equipment choices can often have a very real effect on a touring company's bottom line, Owen notes that Thunder Audio's purchase of the Soundcraft digital console was not made lightly. "We first looked at the console about a year ago and, at that point, it was still quite new and not appearing on many riders or being seen on tours yet. However, as we've observed, a year can certainly make a big difference in the development of a console and its profile. So we have invested, and fully expect that it will deliver a significant return on our investment."