Some studios have a particular degree of cultural significance, so we’re looking at some of the best recording studios of all time to find out more.
Great artists have always found ways to produce memorable records all over the world. That being said, there were times in the golden era of recording when certain studios became like creative Meccas in their own right.
The Best Recording Studios of All Time
There’s a unique chemistry that arises when you combine the best artists, engineers, and producers with innovative recording tools and acoustic spaces. Let’s take a look at some studios in history where lighting seemed to strike in the same place continuously.
This famous house on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan was the first HQ of Motown Records, purchased by Berry Gordy in 1959. A repurposed photographic studio in the back end of the property quickly became a melting pot of activity, open 22 hours a day.
Within 7 years of operation, Motown Records had expanded its offices to 7 locations in the immediate vicinity, each housing a different department, from A & R to artist development and finance.
Searching for the Motown sound? In collaboration with Motown engineer John Windt, Universal Audio has recreated the Hitsville Reverb Chambers in plug-in format.
- More about Hitsville U.S.A.
Sunset Sound Recorders
Sunset Sound Studio on Hollywood’s Sunset Boulevard was initially established in 1958 to record sound scores for popular Walt Disney motion pictures like Mary Poppins, Bambi, Bedknobs & Broomsticks, and 101 Dalmatians.
However, over the years the studio became synonymous with classic rock, with bands like The Rolling Stones, Van Halen, and Led Zeppelin recording there, as well as The Doors.
With its unique collection of modern and vintage, the studio’s mystique also attracted artists like M83, The Black Keys, and Jason Mraz.
- More about Sunset Sound
Capitol Studios, known for its “echo chambers”, opened in 1956 as the primary recording house for Capitol Records. This meant that some of the biggest music icons like The Beach Boys, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra created classic records there.
Like EMI Studios/Abbey Road, being part of a major label creates the sound of an era simply due to the scope and sheer volume of artists who graced the studio and inspired artists like Daft Punk, Outkast, Aaliyah, and Oasis to do the same.
The studio also had plenty of recording gear that was designed specifically for its needs. This included the CM5511 tube mastering compressor, which has been meticulously modelled as a plug-in by Universal Audio.
- More about Capitol Studios
Rock ‘n Roll has its roots in the Blues, so before Sam Phillips’ Sun Studio was recording Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison, it also hosted Howlin’ Wolf, Junior Parker, and B.B. King.
U2 also recorded their famous Rattle and Hum album there in the late 1980s, which was produced by Jimmy Iovine. Since then, the studio has become more of a monument than a record factory, but it’s still a top tourist destination.
Sun Studio was also known for its Ampex 351 Tape Machine, which is often referred to as the “holy grail of tape machines”. If you’re after a similar sound, check out the Warm Audio WA MPX, which is based on the Ampex preamps.
- More about Sun Studio
Formerly known as EMI Studios, Abbey Road is easily the world’s most famous studio for many reasons. Home to The Beatles, Sir George Martin, The Goon Show, Pink Floyd, and many others, Abbey Road has become immortalized in recording history.
Besides being the birthplace of endless classic records, film scores, and radio productions over the years, Abbey Road was also famous for the recording equipment used there which was invented in-house at EMI.
Want that Abbey Road sound? Chandler Limited works closely with Abbey Road in building authentic modern recreations of classic EMI recording equipment, used by top recording artists today.
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- Hitsville U.S.A.: Wikipedia
- Van Halen at Sunset Sound, 1979: Sunset Sound
- Capitol Records: Capitol Records
- Sun Studio: Sun Studio
- Abbey Road: Abbey Road