I don't know about the actual studios used to record in, but two labels that come right to mind for consistently outstanding recordings (SQ) are Jordi Savall's label, Alia Vox (early music - many of which are recorded in a stone church rendering an outstanding sense of ambiance and space - think the Trinity Session). Also ECM, Manfred Eicher's label, just can do no wrong. They put out mostly jazz, classical and world music. Sound quality is consistently outstanding.
Without being venue-specific, Keith Johnson's work with Reference Recordings, and Kavi Alexander's Water Lily Acoustics stand out.
For venues, the large room at the original Columbia facilities in NYC, and David Gilmour's Britannica studios.
In the US, likely SkyWalker Sound (Wow you'd have to see to believe), Das Boot (James Guthrie's studio) and possibly Bob Ludwig's studio (though I've not been there, I've heard great things). Lookout Sound studio in Montana has invested heavily in getting great sound also.
In the UK, there is no studio that cares about great sound and gets it more than Astoria (David Gilmour's). Real World (Gabriel) is very lavish but their goals do not include ultimate fidelity. Mark Knopfler has put huge sums of money into building a state of the art studio in London.
Samuel - Thanks. I don't know what I was thinkin' with "Britannica" The houseboat is Astoria. I typed it while at the library, so maybe I was thinking about encyclopedias.
I have to agree about Skywalker Ranch. I interviewed for a job there in the early '90s and the tour blew me away. I couldn't take the job because although the pay was good, I could not afford to live in or anywhere near San Rafael.
there is nothing like being in Abbey road. But Mark Knoplers studio called British grove is way up there. It is a joy to work there, and has some of the worlds finest electronics and mics from every era all in pristine condition.
The acoustics are great and the main monitoring (surround sound all custom ATCs built for the studio) is probably too good. The monitors are suspended from the ceiling in another room, outside of the floating room within a room control room. They are motorized so can be moved to suit your positioning with a joy stick...! It's the little things in life that make life worth living.
Bob Ludwig's studio? someone should tell him snare drums should have a crisp snap to their sound.DOH.
Forget the big boys, these little chaps who do an incredible
job with sound and recordings. None finer.
I disagree with the premise of the original post. To a large extent a specific studio is irrelevant to getting a good sounding recording. Pretty much any reasonably equipped studio can produce a great sounding recording. Actually, you don't even need a studio -- great sounding records can be produced in people's living rooms -- Shelby Lynne comes to mind. The key to a great sounding recording is not the equipment or facility, but the people using the equipment. It's their technical skill and artistic vision that is the key determinants.
Actually, you don't even need a studio -- great sounding records can be produced in people's living rooms
Well this is a bit of a stretch. I agree that golden eared experts are crucial but high quality Studios with word class equipment and acoustics are going to be beat you hom eliving room every time.
Shadorne, it begs the question, why is it that they don't,
and is often the little studios, even bedrooms that can sound better?
Springsteen's Nebraska album was done on a four track in his house, the producer Landau and Springsteen thought recording in the studio would not sound as good.
The gear is only as good as the person operating it.
Not heard the Nebraska album, has anyone? what is the quality like? I think I stopped at 'The River' with springer!
In my firm's line of work, I am priviliged to get to see many great recoring studios, sound stages and sound mixing consoles. And I will tell you that they are all very, very different.
For example, one of our customers has a renowned large recording room that is absolutely acoustically dead - no reverb whatsoever. They add in what they want through their analog console. Another very well known studio has a very live room they use for jazz/R&B recordings. Little or no reverb is ever added (or needed) afterwards. Both of these studios produce great music; often times in the same genre.
IMHO it isn't the room or the studio that necessarily is responsible for great music - it's the artist and then the producer. Most really great producers I have met seem to know how to get the most from whatever recording venue they are working in. Not that there aren't differences; there are. But I agree with Gawdbless that the gear (and the room) are only as good as the operator.
I agree with Br3098. Gear wise it is horses for courses. If you like a live room or a dry one it makes little difference. You use what you have.
I think it is the ability to catch the moment that is the key to all of it. A lame performance captured on the greatest gear is still lame. A wonderful performance captured on rubbish equipment will still stand up. I have even heard some compelling performances of demos recorded on dictaphone! Somehow magical even on the built in 1 inch speaker which vibrates the casing of the dictaphone, adding all sorts of distortions and harmonics.