Capitol Studios

Nov 1, 2012 9:00 AM, Mix, By Maureen Droney

Quality Takes Center Stage in Hollywood


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Capitol President Dan McCarroll with Capitol friends and crew, from left: Don Was, Barak Moffitt, Eric Caudieux, McCarroll, Greg Koller, Jon Brion and Drew Waters.

Capitol President Dan McCarroll with Capitol friends and crew, from left: Don Was, Barak Moffitt, Eric Caudieux, McCarroll, Greg Koller, Jon Brion and Drew Waters.

New songwriter rooms have also been designed and built to bridge the traditional lines between songwriter, producer, engineer and artist. “We see those lines blurring,” states Moffitt, “and we want to foster an environment where that can happen in the best possible way.” Equipped with high-quality recording gear, it’s now easy for elements of demo recordings to transition to masters. The rooms are also used for overdubs, providing an economical and low-pressure alternative for clients tracking and/or mixing in Capitol’s three main studios.

Capturing the Performance

Creating an environment where artists feel creative and inspired to perform to the best of their abilities is one thing. Capturing the performances of the music they create is another.

“If you don’t capture a performance with the highest of sonic integrity, you are not doing justice to the artist,” says Drew Waters, Head of Studios Strategy and Operations. “We want to help create music that is sonically where the artist intended it to be. That requires creative and technical innovation, continual research into protocol and best practices, and investment in infrastructure.”

Capitol in recent years has labored under the same economic pressures as every other label and recording studio. Tight cost controls put a hold on expenditures, and time and its normal wear and tear were starting to take a toll. In 2011, a bold decision was made to address equipment, acoustical and infrastructure issues in the studios, most notably with the rebuild and re-outfitting of Studio A, the Tower’s largest control room and recording space.

The refurbishing of Studio A was a collaborative effort with input from a committee of technicians and seasoned engineers, including mainstay Capitol client Al Schmitt, Bolas, film mixer Frank Wolf and many others. Along with acoustic and design renovations by Kevin Hughes and Art Kelm, a new Neve 88R console was installed and power and wiring were replaced from the ground up. Key to the project was incorporating the flexibility to accommodate today’s varied sessions and their different workflow styles, from orchestra and string recording sessions to multiple surround formats for film mixing, with attention also paid to the specific requirements for recording live rock and current trends in pop and urban genres.

“I’m so excited by what was done to Studio A,” Schmitt says. “I love the new Neve 88R board, the acoustics in the control room are better than ever, and it still has the magic that makes Capitol one of the great studios ever.”

Passionately Reviving the Heritage

The phrase “stewarding the music” is one you’ll hear frequently at Capitol these days. That initiative encompasses not only capturing performances but also the treatment of archival assets and a new emphasis on research and protocol.

“The discipline of capturing a performance extends to our digital archives, tape transfers and remastering procedures,” notes Moffitt. “Revitalizing our catalog is one of our core strategies. With catalog, the art of capturing a performance for digital formats often starts in the analog realm. But we also need to employ the metadata disciplines that are required to ensure future-proofing and the ongoing commercial potential of the recordings.”

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