From the world-famous to venues you’ve never heard of – get your backpack on and take a tour of 12 of the most unique recording studios around the globe.
Its been a while since the North American Phonograph Company notably created the ‘first’ recording studio in the 1880s. After Edison brought the phonograph into the world, a group of smart people got together and made the first recording studio. It wasn’t long before they were crippled by debt, the law, and technology that wasn’t quite there. By the time the First World War kicked in, recording studios had popped up in most major cities.
In the big-band era, we start to see things taking shape. As each decade goes by you’ll see more microphones and more janky-looking equipment. However, as the Second World War came to a close, the discovery of the Magnetophon tape recorder would revolutionize the way audio was captured. Fast forward to the ’60s and we’ve got some of the most notable studios in full swing.
Nowadays, overcoming the technological hurdles involved with recording is largely a thing of the past. But there are still hallowed venues around the globe that are tailor-made for inspiring brilliant recordings. Let’s trek to all four corners of the planet to discover these cathedrals of audio and what makes them so special.
Abbey Road Studios
Located in London, Abbey Road Studios is known for recording some of the most influential artists in history, like Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and being the early creative home of producers like Sir George Martin. Originally intended to be a classical recording studio, there were enough forward-thinking minds to push this place into what it has become today.
Today it features six creative spaces ranging from Studio 1 and 2 — where all the magic happened in the ’60s — to some of their most recent additions like The Penthouse. The studios feature Neve and SSL mixing consoles, equipment from Lexicon, Fairchild, and Avalon, plus an extensive microphone list with everything you can dream of. See the video below of The Beatles in the studios in 1964 with accompanying outtakes of the audio. Complete with funny faces, and people smoking cigarettes indoors.
For a full list of equipment and pictures of it today, head to Abbey Road Studios.
Black Bay Studio
No, it’s not in Dubrovnik where the set of Blackwater Bay is. Black Bay Studio is a wonderous recording studio placed at the real edge of the world, otherwise known as Great Bernera, Scotland. Complete as a destination, it has accommodation, as well as all the visual inspiration you could need for your recording getaway. Plus, it’s home to some of the most exciting equipment you could put your hands on.
Featuring items like a Cadac J-Series 54 channel modular console, rare and forgotten British amplifiers, and a fantastic selection of drums, as well as microphones. It also sports more than a few types of DAW, conversion, and capture methods, including tape machines.
For more dreamy Scottish landscapes and gear porn, head to Black Bay Studios.
Now we’re jetting over to continental Europe. The Funkhaus Berlin is a space considered to be one of the grandest in the world. Designed by Bauhaus architect Franz Erlich, it’s not just a recording studio. Considered to be one of the most well-designed acoustic spaces on the planet, it was the home of the East German Broadcast, hosting massive symphonies and larger ensembles.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, came the decline of Funkhaus. The illustrious space fell into disarray and was under-utilised for years. Recently, the studio has flourished as it rejuvenated as a space capable of hosting not just symphonies, but also events that would benefit from Erlich’s prized project. It makes everything on Grand Designs look inferior in comparison.
Have a wonder of Funkhaus Berlin‘s website to stare in awesome more.
Black Rock Studios
Go from recording your latest hit to pretending you’re Roger Moore in For Your Eyes Only, on the Greek sun-kissed island of Santorini. A truly world-class recording location, Black Rock residential recording studios gives artists and musicians a merry sailor’s island getaway. Having had the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, and Joe Bonamassa walk through the doors, the studios come packed with premium gear and the experience to utilise them.
Featuring a control room powered by SSL 9000 J series, with more gear from Neve, Manley, Chandler, and Empirical Labs. Theres’ a 7 x 4 metre live room, separate drum room, and an isolation booth. Under the hood, you’ll find effects processing from Lexicon, Eventide, with microphones from Royer, Neumann, Sennheiser, and more.
To see more gorgeous content, head to the Black Rock Studios Website.
Space Mountain Studio
Or maybe you prefer a recording studio placed with views of the final frontier? A short walk from the village of Albuñuelas in southern Spain, and a half-hour drive from the city of Granada, lies Space Mountain. It sports views of the Sierra Nevada Valley and an unadulterated view of the stars. Not just a pretty location, it was founded by renowned producer Youth (The Verve and Paul McCartney to name a couple) and designed by Terry Ottley from Olympic Studios. It is floor to ceiling artistry.
At the helm is a 32-channel TL Audio VTC Valve console, with one large gorgeous live space and three smaller isolation booths. There are Yamaha NS-10s, Genelec 1039A, and Mackie 624/824 for monitoring as well as a neat selection of outboard gear, amplifiers, and microphones. Featuring Drawmer, Focusrite, Universal Audio, Ampeg, and Pearl equipment, Space Mountain Studios is a boutique premier recording studio from your Spanish dreams.
For a comprehensive run down, head to their Milco website.
Across the Atlantic, in Hollywood lies Capitol Studios, located in the Capitol Records tower. It opened its doors in 1956 to its first recording artist, the legendary Frank Sinatra. Sinatra’s smooth voice to be a pivotal promotional piece to show the studio’s potential as one of the best-sounding studios of the time. Pushing boundaries in recording with technologies such as magnetic tape, and German microphones like the Neumann U 47, as well as the incredible echo chambers designed by Les Paul.
Other notable artists include The Beach Boys who hit the recording studio to bring to the world their iconic album Surfin’ USA. 2014 brought a new age for the studios with fresh decor and an improved set of equipment. It appropriately accommodated the 21st century and a new wave of modern recording artists. Today it even features event spaces to give guests front row seats to a view of Holywood.
Have a look around Capitol Studios’ website for a deep dive.
Sound City Studios
Sound City has been the place where many of rock’s greatest albums were recorded, or at least partially recorded. Since 1969 it has given us albums like Nevermind by Nirvana and Rumours by Fleetwood Mac just to name a couple. Dave Grohl loved the sound so much, he even dropped a wad of cash on the console that was used on the Rumours sessions.
Producers like Rick Rubin and Greg Fidelman have said over the years that it’s one of the best spaces for drums. The studio owners over the years never repainted to walls or re-did the floors for fears it would change the sound. Grohl even made a documentary about the space in 2013, not long after the studio would reopen in 2017.
Who likes good old fashion, rock ‘n’ roll? We know you do. Here’s a place that made some classics and is even noted as “the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll.” Sun Studios in Memphis, Tennesee is another world-class recording studio. This is the place where fresh-faced eighteen-year-old Elvis Presley first had his luscious baritone tracked. Blues legends like B.B. King frequented the space, so did Johnny Cash.
Back in the day, it was known as Sun Record Company. Not only did it record but it also served as a platform for these legends to sell their music. The studios continue today stocked with everything you need to do the blues right. Gibson/Epiphone guitars, Fender amplifiers, and a nice collection of microphones and even RCA Tube consoles.
Look at the full list of juicy equipment here.
Fancy a small slice of paradise while you record? Studio 28 in Thailand has you covered, with world-class facilities served neat. Featuring a gigantic 325 square metres of floor space, you can fit orchestras and large ensembles, or just utilise its high ceilings for whatever you need. Stocking smaller isolation rooms and an SSL Duality console, it’s a modern recording powerhouse.
Containing the best of both digital and analog equipment, the team at Studio 28 knows how to achieve your goal. Equipment from manufacturers like Chandler, Manley, DBX and more populate the outboard racks. The studios also allow for event hire and feature smaller production rooms to get your creative juices flowing.
See more of this exotic location at Studios 28.
Next up, Studios 301 in our very own sunny city of Sydney. Originally a subdivision of the Columbia Gramophone Company, its been through numerous iterations over the years. Relocating more than enough times a studio should, it currently calls Alexandria home. Some artists to have graced its spaces include Amy Shark, Lana Del Rey, and Matt Corby.
It features some of the largest live rooms in the southern hemisphere. Recently rebuilt from the ground up and designed by Dr. Tom Misner and master acoustician Jochen Veith, it sounds incredible. As a result, it has earned its place among the most iconic recording studios in the world. Sporting equipment like Neve and SSL Consoles alongside a stock of legendary outboard gear Lexicon, Urei, Pulltec, and much more.
Full gear list and gorgeous photography head to Studios 301.
Bophuthatswana Recording Studios
More commonly known as BOP Studios, was built in 1991 in South Africa. It was considered one of the top three residential recording and creative spaces at the time of creation. Designed and built by the Swiss architects Thomas Rast and Tom Hidley, it contains three separate, self-sufficient studio spaces.
Studio 1 features a custom-built Focusrite console — one of only ten that were ever built this size. A decadent selection of outboard gear ranges from Alesis to T.C Electronics, Aphex, and Urei to name a few. The studio also has an outstanding selection of tape machines and all the juicy gear actually floats between studios and can be booked and patched in to suit. The two additional studios also feature larger-than-life consoles from Neve and SSL.
More drool at BOP Studios.
Behold, the world’s first and only recording studio that is inside a football stadium: only in Brazil. Audio Arena is a sophisticated section of Morumbi Stadium. You can go there for the VIP experience of watching football, recording sessions, and even gigs. AudioArena packs a team experienced with all sorts of recording, from tracking music to podcasting.
The studio features some cutting-edge modern gear like the AWS 948 Delta SSL Console, and Genelec monitoring. It boasts a plethora of outboard units like some tasty 500 series Neve and API rack gear, alongside a sweet selection of backline from Ampeg, Hartke, Orange, and more. A timeless location for a studio in South America, who wouldn’t want to get rowdy at the football while enjoying a session?
Find out more about AudioArena.