Miami's Ten Best Recording Studios
Tom Dowd came to Miami and made music magic.
Photo by Terry Townsend
Sure, two high-school girls can make a "Chonga Song" with an old PC and a USB mic, and go viral. But there's still nothing like a professionally recorded song produced with quality gear and a dedicated engineer in an acoustically sound environment.
Miami's great musical history is proof. Outside of New York and L.A., this great city has probably generated more global music hits than anywhere else in the world.
And since the invention of microphones and audio tape, there have always been recording studios open to independent artists trying to make their big break. With all that's changed in music over the past ten years, that has stayed the same. And these are Miami's ten best recording studios.
The beauty of this North Miami warehouse studio is the full and rich array of analog and vintage gear, especially the wide selection of old school keyboards, synths, and pianos. They also have an original console from Capitol Records' C room used to record the Beach Boys. Their guitar and amp collection is nothing to scoff at either; And their microphones are top notch. Not only did Cocaine Cowboy Mickey Munday record his "Tall Tales" album here, but so have a variety of off the wall electronic groups from around the world.
9. Noise Match
This up and coming state of the art studio in the heart of Wynwood just clocked their first Gold Record for Alejandro Sanz's 2013 Grammy winning album "La Música No Se Toca." The finely crafted facility is built for major label artists and professional independents alike. Miami's own Aaron Lebos Reality recently finished their "Turning Point" album there, as did Natalie Cole, with "En Español."
Way back in 1958, an electronics and engineering genius by the name of Mack Emmerman built the greatest studio that ever was. It's where Eric Clapton recorded "Layla," James Brown recorded "I Feel Good," and Atlantic Records sent anybody who needed a hit. Thanks to another electronics genius named Jeep Harned, and his Music Center Incorporated, the consoles were always top of the line. The floorplan and buildout of the space meant the acoustics were scientifically perfect, and the million-sellers flew out faster than they could be recorded. In 1999, The Hit Factory bought the joint, and now everybody from Justin Bieber to Timbaland go there for the same million dollar sound it's always had.
via Ferny Coipel
7. Shack North
This funky warehouse jam pad and recording studio has hosted some of the best of South Florida's underground bands for around a decade. Bands like the Curious Hair, Devotchka, and The Stop Motion have all worked there. Not just them, but guys like Jorge Moreno too. Any given night of the week a veritable symphony of local talent erupts forth with their distinct sounds of joyful and creative abandon, and that's what makes the place great.
Chris Blackwell, founder of Island Records, opened this studio when he bought the Marlin Hotel on South Beach. He hired a local guy named Freddie Stonewall (who co-wrote E.T. Boogie with Henry Stone and Larry Dermer) to run the place. And the place has been slammed with business ever since. Not long ago, Blackwell sold the hotel, but the studio still stands today, and the likes of Kanye West, Mariah Carey, and Gwen Stefani serve as testament to its recording relevance today.
via Circle House Studios
Can you say poolside vocal booth? When it comes to vibe, no South Florida studio comes close to Circle House and Circle Village studios. Founded by Ian Lewis and Touter Harvey from Inner Circle after they left Jamaica following singer Jacob Miller's tragic death, the Circle compound offers one of the most unique and comfortable recording environments in the country. Trick Daddy cut hits here back in the day, Calle 13 did so more recently, and last week new Atlantic Records artist Katy Tiz did too.
4. Audio Vision
Two of the founders of this SSL stronghold are the guys responsible for mic placement on the aforementioned Criteria Records hit "Layla," by Eric Clapton, back when they were young dudes working at that studio under the expert tutelage of multitrack recording innovator Tom Dowd. One of their other partners, Steve Alaimo, was the vice president of TK Records back when they were selling vinyl by the millions. This studio also offers great internships and programs for the local youth of North Miami
3. The Dungeon
The greatest punk band in the history of Miami is Against All Authority. They took the sounds of the streets of the 305, put them on wax, and toured the world. That's no small feat when you're from the bottom of the map and playing pure underground music. But if not for The Dungeon, it's entirely possible nobody outside of South Florida would have ever heard of the band. This joint has also tracked New Found Glory, Sofia Vergara, and Johnny Dread to name a few. For the independent artist looking to make a quality recording, it's home.
This Hialeah-named studio in the City of North Miami is Andrew "DJ LeSpam" Yeomanson's tribute to all that is great in the musical history of the Magic City. The avid vinyl junkie is a collector's collector, and can tell you just about anything you might want to know about local labels like Glades, Cat, Dash, and Dade, to name a few. He's also the founder of the Spam AllStars, a band who live to play in the MIA. His comfortable homestyle studio has hosted the likes of Elastic Bond, Fusik, and the world renowned Lee Boys. It has also produced the soundtrack for Rakontur's movie "Square Grouper," and recorded the world's first commercial rapper, a Miami dude by the name of Blowfly. This year the studio is up for a Knight Arts grant to keep up the good work by providing old school analog recording for local bands and artists.
Not only does this studio have multiple Grammy, Gold, and Platinum albums under its belt, it's also got history on its side. Beginning in 1972, this one-stop full service production facility was capable of film, video, and multi-track audio services. Credits include the tv show "Flipper," and the movie "Smokey and The Bandit." In 1990, Studio Center expanded to Miami Lakes; and this is where Boukman Eksperians recorded "Kalfou Danjere," and rapper Juvenile recorded "Juve The Great." For continually serving both majors and independents alike with professional service in a variety of genres and formats with a commitment to excellence Studio Center continues a beautiful tradition of recording history in Miami.
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