Studio Icons: Electric Lady Studios

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Studio Icons: Electric Lady Studios

Electric Lady Studios
Words by Lewis Noke Edwards

Electric Lady has a reputation beyond music and record-making.

Electric Lady Studios is the legacy of one of the most influential musicians in history, its energy and aesthetic inspiring decades of music, film and lifestyles. Jimi Hendrix bought a defunct nightclub in 1968 with the intention of restoring it to its former glory, a place he had visited for impromptu jams and performances. The nightclub, The Generation, had seen the likes of B.B. King, Chuck Berry, and Sly & the Family Stone gracing its stage.

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Eddie Kramer and Jim Marron, advisors on the project (Kramer being a recording engineer closely associated with Hendrix) convinced Hendrix to convert it into a studio and Electric Lady Studios was born. Architect and acoustician John Storyk designed the structural details, who went on to build video production/post-production studios and performance venues, as well as private recording studios for artists like Bruce Springsteen, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, Bob Marley, Aerosmith, Green Day and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Patti Smith

Electric Lady was brought to life by bringing together a relaxing, creative environment and a professional studio space. Since opening its doors in 1970, Electric Lady has hosted artists like The Clash, Led Zeppelin, Lou Reed, the Rolling Stones, Blondie and KISS, and more recently Adele, Clairo, Keith Richards, U2 and Taylor Swift.

The studio was bought and sold in 2010 before undergoing a renovation that saw the addition of Studio C, that mix engineer Tom Elmhirst has held for some time.

More recent work at the studio includes Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers, Frank Ocean, St. Vincent, Adele, Japanese Breakfast, Jon Batiste, Clairo, Taylor Swift, and Lorde. Over 50 years of recording making has developed Electric Lady into the mecca that it is today.


Studio A

A walk through the space begins with Studio A, at its heart is Neve 8078 console, Electric Lady’s largest live room and an impressive but very practical list of outboard equipment in addition to the preamps and EQs of the console. Studio A is built for making records, with preamps, compressors and EQs available to shape and control sound as it’s recorded.

A small collection of effects, modulation and time-based processors accompany this, intended to inspire or augment sounds.

Electric Lady Studio A

Studio B

Studio B is home to one of the most impressive, expansive SSLs on the planet. An SSL 9000J, the console has been refinished in purple, as well as being curved to surround the engineer. The control room is filled with racks of outboard like preamps, dynamics processors and compressors, as well as lots of reverbs and delays from Lexicon 224x system and Yamaha REV-7 to more outlandish effects like the MXR Auto Phaser and Flanger, or the Roland RE-201 Space Echo. Both Studio A & B are home to EMT plate reverbs.

Studio B was home to Michael Brauer for a period, the SSL’s routing and customisation option allowing him to create huge, enveloping mixes for The Kooks, Vance Joy, Phoenix, The Fray and Bon Jovi.

Studio C

Studio C is home to superstar mix engineer Tom Elmhirst. With 16 Grammy Awards under his belt, Elmhirst has mixed for Adele, Frank Ocean, David Bowie and Amy Winehouse, currently holding the record for most Grammys won by an engineer in a single year. Studio C also houses a small live room and B-Rig.

Tom Elmhirst’s space is home to a Neve VR – a modern incarnation of the classic Neve designs. Neve VRs feature flying faders and recall; entirely necessary for someone as busy as Tom. Elmhirst has monitoring covered with custom Augspurger 2-Way Main monitors, ATC SCM50’s paired with an ATC C6 Subwoofer and a pair of Auratone’s classic 5C monitors.

Outboard wise, Elmhirst relies on a who’s who of famous devices, like DBX 160s, a Chandler Curve Bender and Tube-Tech CL-1B to name a few.

Electric Lady Studio C

Studio D

Studio D is a cosy, light-filled space that’s home to an Altec 9200 custom 16 channel console – a rare addition! Altec have been producing industry-leading audio equipment for almost a century; the operative word here being ‘industry-leading’. Their earlier pieces now becoming decidedly vintage, filled with tubes and complex, hand-wired components.

Studio D is filled with light in both the control room and live room, the Altec console sitting at the heart of the room, surrounded by outboard like Altec and Focusrite preamps, Distressors and a blue stripe 1176.

Monitoring is via custom Norman Druce mains, and secondary monitors are either ProAc Studio 100 or ATC SCM45A.

Studio D

Electric Lady is a professional studio with world-class design, construction and equipment, without the sterile feeling of some other studios. The way it’s laid out is built for creativity, with sounds, instruments, equipment and sunlight always available, and the records made in the studio speak to this.

The equipment is definitely leaning on the vintage side, but modern computing and plugins bring the studio into the modern age. The tools available in any of the four studios allow you get sounds right at the source, all of it easily available to quickly patch in and use to filter, shape, distort, compress and refine your sound.

Find out more about Electric Lady here.