Iconic Recording Studios In London

08 Jul 2024

From venues and clubs to bars, pubs and record shops, decades of diverse musical influence can be heard throughout London. Be it Bowie or The Beatles, many of the world’s most adored artists recorded and sought inspiration for their seminal works in the city.

Despite the notoriety of these artists and albums, however, many overlook the profound influence of the studios from which they emerged. Be it the producers, engineers, recording techniques, hardware or atmosphere, these recording spaces exist as the secret sauce in the modern masterpieces of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

As such, we feel it’s only right to pay homage to a handful of London’s most iconic recording studios. 

Metropolis Studios

Firstly, we have Metropolis Studios, Europe’s largest independent recording space. Located on Chiswick High Road, just north of the Thames, Metropolis prides itself on state-of-the-art equipment, creative immersion and an unparalleled sonic environment. From Brits to MOBOs, Metropolis has earned a reputation for award-winning quality, working on hit projects for the likes of IAMDDB, Rihanna, D Double E, Elton John, Stormzy, Rae, Future, Travis Scott, AJ Tracey, Foo Fighters, Common, Kendrick, Adele and Amy Winehouse.

Aside from their pioneering techniques and engineering wizardry, Metropolis is renowned for its versatility. With six industry-leading studio spaces on site, as well as writing and production rooms, it is no wonder that creatives from all corners of the globe have crafted breathtaking works between their walls.

At ACM, we’re proud to maintain a unique partnership with Metropolis Studios, granting our students exclusive access to Chiswick’s legendary musical powerhouse. This relationship invites individuals from any course to attend once-in-a-lifetime Masterclasses delivered by the studio’s visiting artists, performers, producers and executives.

Ask any artist or engineer, and they’ll tell you that recording studios are much more than the sum of their parts. Regardless of the amps, racks, desks and gear collected along their lives, these spaces exude a sense of creative je ne sais quoi, igniting the spirits of those fortunate enough to cross their thresholds and experience their magic. 

Abbey Road Studios

Synonymous with many of the 20th century’s most celebrated musical works, Abbey Road Studios have certainly earned their legendary status. Once a grandiose Georgian townhouse, the property was bought by the Gramophone Company in 1929, before being converted into the world’s first purpose-built recording studio in 1931. 

Most notably, of course, the studios provided a space in which the sonic sorcery of the 1960s could flourish. From Pink Floyd’s experimental debut album, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, to The Zombies’ The Odessey and Oracle, Abbey Road played host to a plethora of rock and roll’s brightest stars. In more recent years, bands such as Florence and The Machine, Massive Attack and Oasis recorded Ceremonials, Blue Lines and Be Here Now, respectively.

In addition to the inception of groundbreaking recording techniques, such as Artificial Double Tracking, the studio was responsible for the development of the first transistorised Mixing Desk, the TG12345. This purpose-built piece of kit revolutionised the Abbey Road recording process and became famous for its clear, polished sound. The ‘Abbey Road sound’, as it would be known, can be heard throughout the Beatles’ eleventh studio album of the same name.

Trident Studios

Slap bang in the heart of Soho, Trident Studios first opened its doors in 1967 under the careful guidance of founders Norman and Barry Sheffield. Despite its unassuming exterior, the 5,000 square foot space swiftly established itself as one of the most highly-respected studios in the world, with singles such as Manfred Mann’s My Name Is Jack earning it a place on the musical map of the late 60s and 70s.

The studio’s unique atmosphere is often credited to the physicality of the space itself, with great 20-foot ceilings inspiring larger sounds and creative experimentation. This vertical expansiveness, combined with the production room’s unique 46-track capabilities (achieved via the synchronisation of two machines), earned the studio a reputation for technical excellence among artists and labels worldwide. Superstars such as David Bowie, Thin Lizzy, Queen and The Beatles favoured Trident for their free-thinking ethos, a step away from the somewhat clinical experience of their contemporaries.

AIR Studios

Few names hold as much weight in music production as Sir George Martin. It is no wonder, then, that the fifth Beatle’s very own studio space exists as a reflection of his own raw talent and creative ingenuity. Founded in 1970, following Paul McCartney’s announcement of the Beatles’ dispersion, AIR Studios’ first site was constructed within an old banqueting hall in Oxford Circus.

Established as a studio by producers, for producers, AIR soon made a name for itself. Boasting 24-track recording, multi-track tie-lines between studios and some of the most impressive young engineers in the game, Martin’s brainchild became synonymous with technological innovation and forward-thinking production. 

Today, AIR Studios facilitates the production of exceptional work across music and film, including Oscar-winning film scores for Atonement and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Whether you’re looking to take your first steps into professional composition, performance or production, discover why so many choose to begin their journeys at ACM today.