The recording studio is where you can make it or break it. We all know that. What we sometimes forget is a music studio’s aesthetic can often contribute to the creative process. We tracked down a few impressive studios around the world. They leave an impression in different ways. Their music studio inspiration might be a rich history, a unique mystique of an individual composer, or a refinement in how boards and speakers, instruments and mics are set up to perfection. The 20 recording studios in this collection might simply inspire you, but they might also help you take a look at your own space and consider what kind of music studio inspiration you can create at home.
Real World Studios
Location: Bath, England
In 1986, singer/songwriter Peter Gabriel brought this studio to life and with it the renewed vigor of bandmates recording together in the same room. The complex has four studios of various types and sizes. You can’t beat the location and they offer a huge collection of vintage and modern audio equipment.
The set of buildings were part of a mill until the late 1950s, with a river running under the property. Talk about the stuff of future music studio inspiration! The property had the scale Gabriel wanted, the country appeal that made it beautifully quaint, as well as easy access to London. The idea for a perfect studio was coming into fuller view. The next step was to strip the buildings and rebuild them into the legacy we know today, 25 years after the property’s purchase. It’s now a place where artists seek for its acoustic character, quality of the equipment, and technical expertise of the engineers.
Location: London, England
Air Studios was founded by legendary producer of The Beatles, Oscar-nominated composer Sir George Martin. He entered the music business in 1950, and five years later became head of the Parlophone label at EMI. In 1962 he signed The Beatles to EMI and went on to produce every record they made until the band parted ways in 1970. He also produced a host of other artists in the 1960s and 1970s, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers, Matt Monro, Elton John, Jeff Beck, John Williams, Cheap Trick and Ultravox.
With three other leading record producers, Ron Richards, John Burgess and Peter Sullivan, he established Associated Independent Recordings and opened AIR Studios in central London in 1970.
More than 70 albums were recorded there in ten years, including Hot Hot Hot by Arrow, Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, Ghost in the Machine and Synchronicity by The Police, Elton John’s Too Low for Zero and Steel Wheels by the Rolling Stones. Duran Duran, Ultravox, Lou Reed, Black Sabbath and Eric Clapton all passed through the idyllic Montserrat studio.
Today, it’s the place to record with a list of film scores that include Darkest Hour, Wonder Woman, Interstellar, Casino Royale, Les Miserables, Atonement, The Life of Pi, Batman Begins, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Pride and Prejudice, The Da Vinci Code and The Grand Budapest Hotel, among many others. Meanwhile, television scores recorded on-site include Doctor Who, Sherlock, and Black Mirror.
Location: Upstate New York
Upstate New York packs a punch with this 85-acre mountaintop studio that overlooks the Catskill Mountains, just two hours from New York City. Its main room has 45-foot high vaulted ceilings. It’s been the pick for David Bowie and Norah Jones.
The estate’s house was built in 1928 as the summer family compound of American businessman Raymond Pitcairn of PPG Industries, now a Fortune 500 company. The home changed hands in 1995 when musician Randall Wallace bought it and converted it into a collection of studios. It serves as both a mountain oasis and an important studio for several A-list artists.
Location: London, England
Welcome to an iconic range of dynamic tracking and mixing, the best mastering suites found anywhere, and a whole collection of writing and production rooms. The location takes up more than four floors at The Power House in West London.
Born in 1985 as a studio, the Metropolis was once home to the Chiswick Power House, a massive and beautiful building commissioned in 1900 to house the London Tram System. When built, the boast was for its engineering technology and massive size. That same charm comes through today at the Metropolis.
Completely restored, the building is a showpiece of a different kind. Now, the Metropolis serves musicians in a warm and sophisticated environment, pushing those who record into laying down great music and seeing it mixed and mastered with great precession.
Hans Zimmer’s Studio
Location: Los Angeles, CA
This is a studio worth the time-traveling because you will arrive in a 19th-century Viennese brothel with all the power of today’s gadgetry. With the likes of Gladiator, The Dark Knight, Inception, and The Lion King to his name, Zimmer knows a thing or two about recording marketable music and setting up the ambiance to create music studio inspiration every time.
Location: Nashville, TN
It just looks intriguing with all the wooden dowels to help the acoustics work their magic. The country power couple of sound engineer John McBride and singer/songwriter Martina McBride opened this studio in 2003. They also offer classes on sound engineering when they aren’t catering to giants like Keith Urban, The Chieftans, Taylor Swift, and Kid Rock.
The origins of the studio origins came from John McBride’s desire to install a vocal booth in his garage. Instead, he worked to acquire and rebuild Creative Recording Studios. The studio offers state-of-the-art facilities and bleeding edge technologies. In fact, it’s now developed into one of the most successful and renowned recording complexes in the world. The studio consists of eight different recording studios, each with a style that has been described as The Four Seasons meets Moulin Rouge.
Location: Seattle, WA
Orbit is one of the West Coast’s finest recording facilities, and it features a multitude of amazing vintage and modern recording equipment. Hundreds of artists lay claim to the Orbit charm including Mackelmore and Ryan Lewis.
It’s based in the old Pioneer Square district of Seattle and opened in 1995. The control room is centered around a stunning 56-channel SSL G series console, linked with a top-of-the-line Avid HDX system running the latest version of Pro Tools, with conversion courtesy of a Burl B80 Mothership. The outboard racks feature a huge amount of stunning kit, including original Neve 1073 preamps, EQs from Pultec and API, and dynamics from DBX, Chandler, Urei, and many more. You’ll also find a 24-track Studer A800 and a beautiful half-inch Ampex tape machine on hand. The large live room offers a grand piano and Hammond organ, along with the incredible mic list, which includes a valve U47, several U87s and U89s, Coles 4038s, and plenty more.
Brennan Heart’s Studio
Brennan Heart is a Dutch DJ and a hardstyle producer. We think his studio speaks for itself. He wanted to move away from ready-made acoustic panels because they often do not benefit the sound. He feels like his setup helps create a clean and authentic sound. “The room is stylish,” he says, “and it gives me peace and triggers my creativity, but most of all it’s technically correct and that is something that I’ve dreamed about for the last twenty years as a full-time producer.”
Abbey Road Studios
Location: London, England
Abbey Road Studios is perhaps the most famous studio of them all because of the worldwide stardom of The Beatles. In its 80-year legacy, the studio also played host to the London Symphony Orchestra and film scores like Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings, and the Harry Potter series.
Originally a nine-bedroom house built in 1829, it was purchased by the Gramophone Company in 1928 who went on to build the world’s first purpose-built recording studio. The St John’s Wood address was chosen for its large garden and ideal location – close enough to the performance spaces of the time, but away from the noise and vibrations of the traffic and trains.
Abbey Road is of course synonymous with the legendary work of The Beatles, who worked with EMI producer Sir George Martin and recorded 190 of their 210 songs at the studios. But Abbey Road’s unparalleled history spans the wild experiments of Pink Floyd to iconic recordings from Shirley Bassey, Aretha Franklin, The Hollies and many more.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Talk about musical legacy, Capital Studios is home to Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, and The Beach Boys. More recent artists include Bob Seger & Silver Bullet, The Smiths, and Green Day. The best part is that the studios are now fully refurbished, cutting-edge, and everything state-of-the-art.
Capitol Studios is a recording studio located at the landmark Capitol Records Tower in Hollywood, California. Established in 1956, the studios were initially the primary recording studios for American record label Capitol Records. While they are still regularly used by Capitol recording artists, the studios began making the facility available to artists outside the label during the late 1960s to early 1970s.
Platinum Sound Recording Studios
Location: New York City, New York
This is the place for countless Grammy Award-winning records and albums, receiving a collective 12 Grammy nominations in 2010 alone. Everyone from Justin Bieber to Kanye West has come here to record. The campus is home to three recording studios that offer near-perfect acoustics and all the equipment to produce the next nominees including racks full of the best vintage and modern analog and digital equipment feed directly into Pro Tools HD systems.
The studio was founded in 2000 by Wyclef Jean of The Fugees and Jerry ‘Wonda’ Duplessis, multi-platinum Grammy Award winning producer. The two came together with the goal of giving artists an unparalleled studio experience. By focusing on sound quality, productivity, and privacy, they have created a truly world-class space where artists instantly feel right at home, able to get into their creative flow and record the next big hit.
Since its establishment, Platinum Sound Recording Studios has been the birthplace for countless Grammy Award-winning records and albums, receiving a collective 12 Grammy nominations in 2010 alone. Everyone from Justin Bieber to Kanye West has come through our doors, seeking our production and engineering expertise.
A Sharp Recording Studio
Location: Sydney, Australia
1978 marks its beginnings but 2014 marked its refurbished bliss. It actually has the claim for being the oldest independent recording studio in Sydney. A Sharp is the freelance musician and audio engineer’s dream. It boasts acoustics you can trust, the highest level of industry-standard equipment, one of the most sophisticated and largest recording studios, and four isolated areas to record.
Sharp is being recognized by many musicians and freelance audio engineers including Steve James, Matt Stewart, and Daniel Natoli as a studio of preference.
Cue Recording Studios
Location: Falls Church, Virginia
The studio that brought the 24 track analog studio to DC in the 1970s is now stock full of digital recording and Pro Tools goodness. Its modern footprint carries an impact in the Virginia suburb with more than six studios in 5500 square feet. Besides the long history, the studio boasts 12 Gold & Platinum Awards, three “Best Studio” Wammies, and a Billboard # 1 Hit.
Location: Atlanta, GA
Once Bobby Brown’s Bosstown Recording Studios is now Stankonia. Among the hip-hop artists who continue to grace the studios is OutKast, who recorded its best work here with Mr. DJ. The claim is this studio is, “A place where all funky th’angs come from.”
Vulture.com helps paint the picture of this incredibly creative place: “Stankonia Studios, the birthplace of some of Outkast’s — and, in turn, America’s — biggest hits over the last decade, is a squat gray building in a residential block of midtown Atlanta. The inside, where platinum plaques hang on the bright red walls and Big Boi welcomes us while distractedly puffing on a Black and Mild, is more in line with expectations. But it’s no cozy movie-set: worn couches, Chick-Fil-A bags, legal pads, Bud Light cans, masking-tape rolls, extra-large Kroger-brand-aspirin bottles, and the sugar packets/stirrers/creamer set-up familiar to any office dweller make it clear this is a place of business.”
Converse Rubber Tracks
Location: Boston, MA
Converse, yes the shoe, has a collection of studios that artists use to put immaculate sound to creation. This one is right next to their world headquarters. It boasts a 1,100-square-foot studio and control room, a live room, an isolation booth, and a vesti-booth.
The studio was designed by acclaimed studio designer Fran Manzella will be the first-of-its-kind in the New England region and follows in the footsteps of the flagship Converse Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn, NY, and the second studio in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Location: Sydney, Australia
A long history often means you can carry the illustrious legacy into the present day, as with Studio 301. Artists who have graced the place include Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Lady Gaga, U2, David Bowie, INXS, Elton John, Prince, and Bob Dylan.
The studio was founded in 1926, as part of the Columbia Graphophone Company. In 1954, the studios relocated from their original site in Homebush site to 301 Castlereagh Street, Sydney, and underwent a name change from Columbia Graphophone Studios to EMI Studios. In 1978 they were renamed again as Studios 301 and completely re-equipped. Today’s studio has four recording/mixing rooms, three mastering studios, and four pre-production rooms, all in a hip complex.
Hannes Bieger Studio
Location: Berlin, Germany
Sometimes analog is all the charm. Bieger certainly makes the case with his Berlin-based studio. His set up includes a high-end Speck Electronics LiLo console with +28 dBu headroom, first-class outboard gear by API, Chandler Limited, Manley, Pendulum Audio, Electrodyne, Tube-Tech and Urei, and reverb processors by Quantec and Lexicon. And, your mix will be printed in analog and A/D converter.
Location: Ontario, Canada
Deadmau5 is Joel Zimmerman. He runs a custom-built Modcan modular synthesizer (the world’s biggest B Series synthesizer) alongside Buchla modulars, and a host of insanely great synths. The studio space has dedicated floating floors which helps with all the wiring… and check out his speaker system. He has ATC 300 speakers, a series of ATC 25 ceiling speakers, a 5.1 and 7.1 mid-field surround system, and 11.3 Dolby Atmos system.
The facility is built into half of his double penthouse suite in Toronto. Joel has a massive collection of electronic music instruments, synthesizers, and effects, the idea was to create an ergonomic environment that would enable him to quickly re-purpose his equipment according to his production needs and provide a listening environment that is highly accurate.
Genelec 1035B monitors are used in the control room and soffit mounted into a controlled reflection geometry shell. Low-frequency control in the room is provided by ceiling trapping, reactive rear corner traps, and a composite nested diaphragmatic absorption assembly on the rear wall. Specular absorbers are used throughout to control unwanted early reflections.
Location: Mafikeng, South Africa
You’ll find BOP in the outskirts of Mafikeng, South Africa. And you’ll discover a world of sound possibility. Choose from three studios designed by Tom Hidley, who evolved studio technology for more than 50 years. Each control room is equipped with a set of flush-mounted Kinoshita RM-7V monitors by Rey Audio featuring T.A.D. transducers, capable of 130 dB! And Studio 1 is fitted with a Focusrite Studio Console, one of only 10 ever built.
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Riksmixningsverket or RMV is a fresh, clean studio located in a magical spot, the island of Skeppsholmen in the center of Stockholm, just a stone’s throw away from the king’s palace. The building is a 150-year-old naval warehouse, which makes it easy to accommodate up to 45 musicians in the live room. It also offers state-of-the-art equipment with the NEVE 8068 console at the heart. All the better, the room overlooks the Stockholm waters!
It is Sweden’s newest high-end studio is built on very strong foundations, both literally and metaphorically. The building stands on the solid bedrock that underlies the city of Stockholm, and the people behind RMV (which is short for Riksmixningsverket) unite several strands of the country’s rich pop history. With RMV, they are setting out to add yet another chapter to a Swedish success story.