This article relies largely or entirely on a single source. (November 2019)
|Los Angeles, California, United States|
|Parent||Capitol Music Group|
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. Capitol Studios is renowned for its impressive selection of vintage gear, microphones and state-of-the-art recording equipment, as well as their eight subterranean echo chambers. The studios are owned by Vivendi, the parent company of Universal Music Group, which in turn is the parent company of Capitol Music Group.
For over 60 years, Capitol Studios has hosted some of the most celebrated artists, from Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Michael Jackson, and Dean Martin to Barbra Streisand, Paul McCartney, and the Beach Boys. Along with traditional recording sessions, the studios have been the location for numerous iTunes, Sirius/XM sessions, CMG Productions such as: Top of the Tower concerts and 1 Mic 1 Take Series. The Studios have also hosted music video shoots (Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie"), TV/Documentaries (Behind the Music, Classic Albums, PBS Specials, Showtime Original Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued and HBO feature If You're Not In The Obit, Eat Breakfast as well as feature shoots (Ray, Sandy Wexler). The studio has hosted "The Oscars" for the past two decades for the orchestra pre-records and hosts dozens of branded experiential and playback events each year.
The ground floor, the only rectangular part of the circular building, includes Studio A, was remodeled by Jeff Cooper in 1989. In 1990, a retractable wall was installed between Studio A and Studio B enabling them to be joined together to accommodate up to 75 musicians for the recording of orchestral and soundtrack music. Studio B was designed by Jack Edwards and Studio C was remodeled by Vincent Van Haaff. In additional to recording space, the first floor includes two mastering rooms and the studios' offices. The second floor, referred to internally as T2, includes Studio D as well as three additional mastering rooms.
Studio A is the largest recording space. Originally built in 1956, Studio A has more than 2700 sq foot of floor space. Often used for orchestral sessions, Studio A holds up to 50 musicians and has been utilized by everyone from Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole to Imagine Dragons and Michael Buble. In 2012, the studio was outfitted with a Neve 88RS recording console. Studio A has a variable decay time that can be tailored to artists needs by adjusting the louvered wall panels. Additionally, the studio features two isolation booths. Artists in need of a piano for their recording session can choose between a Yamaha C9 and a New York Steinway "B". The studio also features a large private artist lounge located above the Control Room.
Studio B has a long list of legendary albums that were recorded there over the years, including projects from Green Day and Bob Dylan to Neil Young and John Mayer. Often touted in the industry as the classic Rock & Roll studio with one of the best sounding drum rooms, it is also sonically responsive enough to handle orchestra sessions. The control room features a vintage Neve 8068 56 input recording console. The room is designed for adjustable decay times, has one 154 sq ft. isolation booth and a recently renovated private artist lounge that overlooks the studio. The studio has a New York Steinway "B" (used by Nat King Cole) and Yamaha C9 for studio clients in need of a piano. Studio B is 1023 sq ft of floor space.
Studio C a large, fully scalable mixing suite, has been the site of multiple Grammy winning mixes over the years. Along with Jazz, Pop and Rock, the room is often used to mix music scores for feature films such as: (Across The Universe (film), True Lies, The Revenant (2015 film), Independence Day: Resurgence and Chips. Studio C has a full array of outboard gear, surround capabilities and a large format Neve 72 input 88R console, outfitted with Encore Automation system and full surround monitoring scoring formats. In 2017, Studio C expanded to accommodate Auro-3D and Dolby Atmos multi-channel immersive sound for audio and video production.
Studio D is a 259 square foot space where artists can record (vocals or overdubs), mix and edit. Located on T2, the second floor of the Capitol Records Tower, this room includes a vintage Neve 8058 console with an adjacent vocal booth. The studio has full access to Capitol Studios' classic gear collection and echo chambers.
The studio also has a Capitol Studios' drum set, vintage Rhodes and Wurlitzer keyboards, as well as a Hammond B-3 Organ available for sessions. This particular organ is featured on Nat King Cole: The Billy May Session released in 1993. The album includes a selection of songs recorded between 1951-1961.
- 1956- Capitol Studios opened (Note: 2016 marked the 60th anniversary of this legendary studio.)
- 1956- First artist to record at Capitol Studios was Frank Sinatra Frank Sinatra Conducts Tone Poems of Color
- 1963- The Beach Boys record portions of their iconic Surfin’ U.S.A. album
- 1967 Bobbie Gentry recorded "Ode To Billie Joe"
- 1968- from ’56-’68 Capitol Studios was originally reserved strictly for Capitol Records artists, but in 1968 they opened their doors to other non-Capitol artists.
- Key artists who recorded at the studios in the 60’s: Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, The Beach Boys, Bobby Darin, Nancy Wilson (rock musician), Wayne Newton, Lou Rawls, The Seekers, The Stone Poneys, Glen Campbell, Peggy Lee, and The Kingston Trio
- 1977- Carole King records "God Only Knows" and "In the Name of Love"
- Key artists who recorded at the studios in the 70’s: Natalie Cole, Steve Miller, Carole King, Bob Seger, Rosemary Clooney, Grand Funk Railroad, George Benson’s Breezin' album and Merle Haggard
- 1985-1986 Bob Seger & Silver Bullet Band record Like a Rock
- Key artists who recorded at the studios in the 1980s: Duran Duran, Tina Turner, Heart, Iron Maiden, Poison, Little River Band, Missing Persons, Anne Murray, Juice Newton, Dwight Yoakam and Prince
- 1990- Studio A control room updated with a Neve VR-60
- 1990- Retractable walls were installed between Studios A & B to accommodate up to 75 musicians
- 1991- Natalie Cole recorded Unforgettable
- 1994- Studio C was renovated and equipped with 5.1 surround sound
- 1995: Toto record Tambu
- 1999- Elliott Smith records his final album, Figure Eight
- Key artists who recorded at the studios in the 90’s: Bonnie Raitt, Garth Brooks, Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, Harry Connick Jr., Celine Dion, Natalie Cole, Tanya Tucker, Richard Marx, and Dave Koz
- 2004- Ray Charles records Genius Loves Company & Green Day records American Idiot
- Key artists who recorded at the studios in the 2000s: Sting, Ringo Starr, Oasis, Green Day, Coldplay, Train, Britney Spears, Faith Hill, Mariah Carey, The Wallflowers, and Weezer
- 2012- Studio A control room updated to a Neve 88RS console. The first artist to record in the revamped studio was Paul McCartney‘s Kisses on the Bottom Live from Capitol Studios.
- 2012- Capitol Music Group launches 1Mic 1Take a series of stripped down performances filmed exclusively at Capitol Studios
- 2013-2014: Toto record Toto XIV
- 2014 - Bob Dylan records Shadows In The Night
- 2014-2017- John Mayer records The Search For Everything
- 2016- Capitol Studios celebrates 60th anniversary
- 2016- Studio C console was updated to a Neve 88R
- 2017- Studio C is in the process of being expanded to accommodate Auro-3D and Dolby Atmos multi-channel sound for audio and video production
- Key artists who recorded at the studios in the 2010s: Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Imagine Dragons, Tori Kelly, Sam Smith (singer), Muse, Mary J. Blige, Beck, Ryan Adams, Michael Buble, Seth MacFarlane, Queen Latifah, and Emeli Sande
One of Capitol Studios most unusual and coveted assets are the eight subterranean echo chambers. Located 30 feet underground, the trapezoidal rooms can be accessed by the studios and mastering rooms to add rich reverberation to a vocal. Each of the chambers have thick concrete walls and ceilings. Sound from the studio is sent to speakers in the echo chambers, which is then picked up by microphones and returned to the recording media. With speakers on one side and microphones on the other, the chambers can provide reverberation lasting up to 5 seconds.
Mastering: The Craft
Capitol Studios also features an on-site mastering department with five dedicated mastering rooms and two Neumann lathes used to cut lacquer for vinyl. Their team also has access to the legendary echo chambers, analog tape machines and digital technology, as well as proprietary custom-built gear, handmade in-house by Capitol's technical and engineering staff. Artists like Pink Floyd, the Bee Gees, the Beach Boys, R.E.M., Deep Purple, Glass Animals, N.W.A., Red Hot Chili Peppers, Miley Cyrus, and Selena Gomez have all had projects mastered at Capitol Studios.
Vinyl mastering is a specific craft. The characteristics of the format require the engineer to pay particular attention to decision that precede the cutting process related to the mix, EQ, compression, and timing.
Capitol Studios mastering department includes two vintage Neumann lathes used to cut lacquer in all formats including 7", 10" and 12". Their vintage lathes have been used to cut some of the most iconic albums like Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of The Moon, the Bee Gees Saturday Night Fever (soundtrack), Paul McCartney's Band On The Run, George Harrison's All Things Must Pass, John Lennon's Plastic Ono Band, Ringo Starr's album Ringo 2012, and Boston's debut studio album Boston.
For the last 27 years, Paula Salvatore, Vice President of Capitol Studios, has managed the studios. Arthur Kelm is the VP/General Manager and Chief Engineer and Patrick Kraus, from Universal Music Group, is the SVP, Head of Studio, Production and Archive Services.
Recording activity at the studios could become hampered by the proposed construction of a nearby condominium building and underground parking lot, which would involve heavy equipment working within 18 feet of the underground chambers.
- Pool, Bob - Plan to build next to Capitol Records studios sounds just awful to music biz. Los Angeles Times, June 17, 2008
- Schoenherr, Steven E. Recording Technology History. Department of History at the University of San Diego, [July 6, 2005]. Includes Pictures of Studio A