The Village Studios
The World's Top Recording Studios: Where Great Artists Go To Record
The popularity of home studios and mobile recording rigs is not a new trend in the recording industry, but those who can afford to make records any way they choose still have some incredible options. Recently, Billboard rounded up the world's top recording studios in 2017, a testament to the professional recording facilities that survived the technological boom that replaced so many studios with laptops, budget gear, and other more affordable recording options.
This impressive list includes the best-of-the-best in terms of tracking and mixing spaces, studio equipment, talented staff, and inspirational vibe. So put on another pot of coffee as we take a tour through some highlights from the list.
Los Angeles leads the list with 11 of the 24 selections hailing from the L.A. area. With so much rich recording history – from Frank Sinatra to original cast recordings and major motion picture soundtracks – it's hard to compete with Hollywood's historic Capitol Studios. Vice president Paula Salvatore claims, "As producer Phil Ramone used to say, 'People play better here.'"
But Capitol is just where L.A.'s list of legendary studios begins. Recoridng spaces such as the scenic Conway Studios (The Weeknd, Starboy), the majestic Eastwest Studios (Beach Boys, Pet Sounds), the welcoming Larrabee Studios (where "Despacito" was mixed), Bernie Grundman Mastering, and this writer's alma mater Record Plant (Kanye West, Graduation) are just as active and relevant as they are iconic.
Moving to the east, Billboard's list fetes Memphis' seminal Sun Studio and Nashville's divine Ocean Way before heading south to Miami's Criteria Recording Studios, the birthplace of the 40th Annual GRAMMY Awards Album Of The Year winner, Bob Dylan's Time Out Of Mind, among many others.
Of course, New York gets its due for claiming the mystical Electric Ladyland Studios and the newly purchased Power Station. Billboard also includes Honolulu's Island Sound Studios and Portland, Maine's Gateway Mastering Studios before jumping across the pond.
Four studios in England account for a staggering amount of recorded music history. Perhaps the world's most famous recording studio, Abbey Road – explorable in this mind-bending virtual tour – joins the list, along with London mainstay AIR Studios and hit-making Metropolis Studios.
Perhaps the most unusual studio on the list is also the most remote. Way up a single-lane road outside Bath, England, Peter Gabriel established Real World Studios. Marked by its massive control room with a view that removes the traditional physical separations between artist, engineer, and the outdoors, Real World has hosted the likes of Van Morrison, Alicia Keys, and New Order. For anyone lucky enough to visit, it's obvious how inspiring – and different – the effect of the design can be on the art of the process.