Sigma Sound Studios

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Sigma Sound Studios was a recording studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1968 by recording engineer Joseph Tarsia.[1]

Located at 212 N. 12th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,[2] it was one of the first studios in the country to offer 24-track recording and the first anywhere to successfully employ console automation. Tarsia was formerly chief engineer at Philadelphia's Cameo-Parkway Studios. On April 15, 1972, singer-songwriter and pianist Billy Joel played an hour-long concert at Sigma Studios. The recording of "Captain Jack" from this event received extensive radio play in the Philadelphia area, long before Joel became widely known, which helped him establish a national following.

In 1977 Tarsia opened Sigma Sound Studios of New York City in the Ed Sullivan Theater Building. From its beginning Sigma Sound Studios was strongly associated with Philadelphia soul and the sound of Gamble and Huff's Philadelphia International Records (its driving rhythm a precursor to disco music), as well as the classic, sophisticated sounds of Thom Bell. Both featured large productions with strings and horns creating what became known as the "Philadelphia Sound". Their success attracted artist and producers from across the US and as far as Europe and Japan, all coming to capture "the Sigma magic". By the late 1970s, Sigma was operating ten music rooms on a 24-7 schedule. Sigma's long time general manager, Harry Chipetz, managed the business operations and work hand in hand with Tarsia in developing a staff that at its peak numbered close to fifty. Sigma is credited with well over 200 gold and platinum awards with a client list that begins with Aretha Franklin and ends with ZZ Top. David Bowie recorded much of his album Young Americans in August 1974 at Sigma Philadelphia. Madonna used the New York studios to record her 1983 debut album, Madonna.

Tarsia sold the New York studios in 1988, and in 2003 sold the 212 N 12th Street location but still retains name Sigma Sound Studios. The unclaimed tapes from Sigma's 35 year old tape library are now part of The Drexel University Audio Archive. Much of Sigma Sound Studios history can be found in the Temple University Library Archives.

It was reported in the April, 2015, issue of Pro Sound News (a NewBay Media publication) that "the building that houses the historic Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia has been sold for $1.55 million, with the intention of renovating the space for office, retail or residential use." When checked on April 9, 2015, the Sigma Sound Studios website, is available for viewing, but shows no current information on the studio's status.


  1. ^ DeLuca, Dan (31 July 2003). "Sigma Sound is getting new owner". (Interstate General Media, LLC). Retrieved 24 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Seay, Toby (1 June 2012). "Capturing That Philadelphia Sound: A Technical Exploration Of Sigma Sound Studios". Journal on the Art of Record Production (6). Retrieved 24 December 2014. 

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Coordinates: 39°57′22″N 75°09′33″W / 39.95605°N 75.15905°W / 39.95605; -75.15905