Capitol Studios

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

Quality Takes Center Stage in Hollywood


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Drums and percussion

Drums and percussion

An emerging jewel in the crown of this effort are recent Capitol and Blue Note catalog re-masterings. Much time was spent on R&D and testing of the archival signal chain and many of the resulting exquisite remasters, from classic Blue Note titles to masterworks by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, are now commercially available.

Renowned producer/musician Don Was, now President of the legendary Blue Note label, says, “It’s an honor and a thrill to be the caretakers of this musical legacy. We want to protect and serve the original intentions of the artists, engineers and producers without editorializing about what we may think they ‘should’ have done. The challenge is to maintain the feel of the original vinyl releases while reintroducing the transparency and depth of the original master tapes. So far the results are sublime!”

Quality, of course, is also about people. Technology and processes are ever changing, and technical and creative personnel must be able to maintain the kind of motivation and inspiration that allows them to continually go the extra mile. Capitol’s heritage and the skill sets required to maintain it provide an opportunity for the Tower to be a place where those skill sets—from live music recording to tape handling, vinyl cutting, and archival re-mastering—can be developed, nurtured, and passed on to the community at large as well as to coming generations.

“We are so fortunate that, on any given day, we are likely to have some of the world’s most legendary artists, producers, and engineers as clients,” comments Paula Salvatore, Capitol’s Senior Director, Studios, and the person in charge of booking and studio management. “Because of that, we have always had high standards for our employees. But also because of that, our employees get the advantage of working with, and learning from, the absolute best in the business.”

Adds Waters, “Whether it’s building our own gear, leveraging the knowledge base of our staff, or pushing the envelope to create new techniques and sounds, we want our staff to be able to innovate when opportunities present themselves, whether they are a technician, a mastering engineer, a tape transfer specialist or a studio engineer.”

Studios as Strategic Asset

In the most basic terms, one could suggest that a record label has a straightforward role: To discover and develop talent, and to connect that talent to successful outcomes—to help establish, and then deepen, the emotional connection between artist and fan, and to reward the artist for that connection.

“If you believe, as we do,” says Moffitt, “that the depth of the emotional connection between the artist and the fan is directly related to the quality of the listening experience, then it follows that it’s the label’s mandate to champion quality in the recording itself.”

So do fans need to be provided with an optimal audio experience on whatever platform or format they use to listen to their music?

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