Capitol Studios

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

Quality Takes Center Stage in Hollywood


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“We can’t control how the consumer hears music,” Moffitt continues, “so it is our responsibility to understand the music and consumer ecosystems and to ensure that we provide the most optimal audio experience for whatever platform they are listening on—an iPod, a TV commercial, a movie soundtrack, a state-of-the-art auto sound system, or one of the hundreds of millions of mobile devices in use every day.

“In order to do that, for new works, we strive to start from the highest-definition source possible. For our catalog, we always start with the original tapes. The transfer process is paramount to the kind of quality we need to achieve; it’s not an afterthought.”

Underlying this effort are tightly engineered protocols related to managing the analog-to-digital chain, from electrical power to tape machines, cables, converters, software and conversion protocols at the highest resolution.

“It’s important to note that when it comes to re-issuing our catalog into the digital world,” says Moffitt, “we consider digital a format in its own right. We’re at a unique crossroads in music technology where we no longer have a physical media that influences the sound of the recording. And while digital has its challenges, there’s opportunity for high-definition formats where the listener can hear the artist’s performance—perhaps in the most transparent way possible since the advent of the recording.”

Ultimately, the team at Capitol recognizes that the studios are a valuable strategic asset—sort of a manufacturing floor for the company’s core product: music recordings. But, although they are a special place that nurtures creativity, they also need to earn revenue. The task is therefore to balance a sensible commercial approach with the fact that the studios are a unique creative asset.

”You can never stop getting better, and sometimes you’re not starting from where you’d like to,” concludes Moffitt. “In many ways we’re just getting started. We want to be a center of excellence and we need to help carry our cost with revenue. We do that through the studios, brand partnerships, Capitol Engineering where we offer engineering services outside the building, Capitol Mastering with mastering and transfer services, and Capitol Beacon, our newly launching, unattended, online mastering, engineering and transfer sessions.

“The industry in general is finally getting to a place where quality is becoming central to the discussion. We’re really excited about that, and about having the opportunity to start living that out with the privilege of Capitol Studios.”

Maureen Droney is Senior Executive Director of The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing.

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