New Zealand's Iconic Recording Studios

New Zealand's Iconic Recording Studios

If you’re into music, you know that the magic doesn’t just happen. Behind every great album, there’s a great recording studio—or in the case of New Zealand, quite a few! We may be more famous for our breathtaking landscapes than its recording booths, but make no mistake: New Zealand's studios have seen some serious musical action, from local legends to international stars.



Roundhead Studios, Auckland

Roundhead Studios, located in Auckland, is the creation of Neil Finn, the lead singer of Crowded House. Officially opened in June 2007, Roundhead quickly became a go-to destination for both local and international artists. The studio has hosted several high-profile artists, including Kanye West. The studio features a mix of vintage and modern recording equipment, most notably a Neve console originally built for The Who, which was previously housed at Bearsville Studios in New York. This combination of historical and cutting-edge technology makes Roundhead Studios a versatile and attractive choice for musicians seeking a high-quality recording environment​​.

Roundhead Studios offers two main recording spaces: Studio A and the Brick Room. Studio A is renowned for its acoustics and sound isolation, achieved through a 100mm thick concrete pad on rubber mounts and specially designed acoustic glass windows. These features ensure that external noise and vibrations are minimised, providing a pristine recording environment. The Brick Room studio below is similarly isolated, allowing for concurrent sessions without interference. The studio's comfortable and inspiring atmosphere, along with its top-tier equipment, has attracted a wide range of artists, from Neil Finn's own projects to international acts like Wilco, who recorded their album Wilco (The Album) at Roundhead​​.

York Street Studio, Auckland (closed)

York Street Studio was once a cornerstone of Auckland's vibrant music scene. Although it closed its doors in 2014 due to the lease ending, the studio's impact on New Zealand music remains significant. During its years of operation, York Street hosted a variety of notable artists, both local and international. Bands like Split Enz recorded here, making the studio a key player in the creation of many iconic tracks. The studio was known for its exceptional recording quality, attributed to its state-of-the-art equipment and acoustically treated spaces, which provided a professional and inspiring environment for musicians​​.

The closure of York Street Studio marked the end of an era for many in the New Zealand music industry. Despite its absence, the legacy of York Street lives on through the music that was created within its walls. The studio was a hub of creativity and collaboration, fostering the development of numerous artists and contributing to the rich tapestry of New Zealand's musical heritage.


Stebbing Recording Centre, Auckland

Stebbing Recording Centre is a historic fixture in Auckland's music landscape, having been in operation since the 70s . Known for its vintage gear and rich history, the studio has recorded a wide array of artists over the years, from icons like Hello Sailor and the White Stripes. The studio's longevity and reputation for quality have made it a beloved landmark in New Zealand's music community. Its combination of classic and modern equipment allows for a diverse range of recording projects, catering to both traditional and modern musical styles​​.

Stebbing Recording Centre's significance extends beyond its equipment and history. The studio has played a pivotal role in preserving and promoting New Zealand music. Its commitment to high-quality recordings has helped many artists achieve professional-grade outputs, contributing to the global appreciation of New Zealand music. As a result, Stebbing Recording Centre remains a vital part of the local music industry, supporting both established artists and new talent as they develop their sound and craft.


The Lab, Auckland

The Lab, nestled in Auckland's Mt. Eden, is a top-tier recording studio with a rich history and state-of-the-art facilities. Located in the basement of an old picture theatre, which was a popular dance hall during the rock'n'roll boom of the '50s and '60s, the studio still features the original polished Kauri dance floor. This historical touch adds a unique character to the studio's live recording space, blending the old with the new.

The Lab boasts a spacious live room, a isolation booth, and a comfortable control room equipped with a Pro-Tools HD2 Accel suite. Central to its setup is a custom vintage Neve console, alongside a collection of vintage and modern compressors, preamps, and effects units. This versatile equipment caters to a wide range of musical styles and production needs. Additionally, the studio offers a well-stocked microphone cabinet with both classic and unique options, as well as a variety of instruments available for artists to use.

Over the years, The Lab has evolved from a small project studio into a world-class facility, while maintaining a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. This welcoming environment, combined with its professional-grade equipment, has attracted a broad spectrum of New Zealand's music community and international artists. The Lab's experienced staff are adept at handling projects across all genres, ensuring high production values and exceptional recordings.

Surgery Studios, Wellington

Wellington’s Surgery Studios, operated by John McLeary, is a prominent recording space known for its blend of cutting-edge technology and a cosy, creative environment. Bands such as The Phoenix Foundation and L.A.B. have recorded at Surgery Studios, attracted by its innovative setup and welcoming vibe. The studio's facilities include modern recording equipment and acoustically treated spaces, ensuring that artists can achieve the best possible sound quality for their projects​​.

Surgery Studios is also notable for its commitment to fostering a creative and collaborative atmosphere. Musicians who record here appreciate the studio's supportive environment, which encourages experimentation and innovation. This focus on creativity, combined with the studio's technical excellence, makes Surgery Studios a key player in Wellington's music scene, helping to nurture local talent and contribute to the city's vibrant artistic community.

Marmalade Audio, Wellington (closed)

Marmalade Audio in Wellington, although now closed, was known for its dual focus on music production and film scores. Musicians who recorded here include Dave Dobbyn, Shona Laing and Shihad. During its operation, the studio served as a creative hub for both musicians and filmmakers, contributing significantly to the local arts scene. Marmalade Audio was equipped with both modern digital recording gear and vintage analogue equipment, providing a versatile environment for a wide range of projects​​.

The studio's closure was a loss to Wellington's creative community, but its impact continues to be felt through the works produced there. Marmalade Audio was more than just a recording space; it was a place where artists could experiment and collaborate, resulting in innovative and high-quality productions. The legacy of Marmalade Audio lives on in the music and films that were created within its walls, highlighting the studio's role in fostering creativity and supporting the local arts scene.

Montage Studios, Auckland

Montage Studios in Grey Lynn is known for its laid-back vibe and high-quality equipment, making it a popular choice for both emerging bands and established acts like Fat Freddy’s Drop. The studio provides a supportive environment where musicians can focus on their craft, with facilities that include state-of-the-art digital recording gear and vintage analogue equipment​​.

Montage Studios has earned a reputation for fostering creativity and collaboration, attracting a diverse range of artists who appreciate its relaxed atmosphere and professional capabilities. The studio's commitment to providing a nurturing space for musicians has made it a cornerstone of Auckland's indie music scene, helping to develop and showcase local talent.


Orange Studios, Christchurch

Orange Studios in Christchurch doubles as both a recording space and a live performance venue, making it a unique and versatile addition to New Zealand's music scene. The studio is particularly loved by jazz and classical musicians for its superb acoustics and intimate setting, which fosters a close connection between artists and audiences​​.

The dual functionality of Orange Studios allows it to serve a wide range of needs, from high-quality recordings to live performances and events. Its excellent acoustics and welcoming environment make it a favourite among musicians seeking a professional yet personable space to create and share their music. Orange Studios' role in the Christchurch music scene underscores its importance as both a recording studio and a cultural venue.

Tour of the studio: NZ Music Month Studio Tours 2016 - Orange Studios Christchurch, NZ

Why These Studios Matter

These studios are more than just recording spaces; they are integral to the musical heritage of New Zealand. They offer platforms where local artists can develop their sound and where international stars can add a unique Kiwi touch to their music. Each studio plays a crucial role in fostering the diverse and dynamic music scene of the country.

Recording studios are about the people who run them and the communities they support. They provide environments where musicians can freely experiment, create, and collaborate. These studios become essential spaces for artists to develop their craft and produce their best work.

For music enthusiasts, these studios are full of history and creativity. Whether you're a musician recording your next track, a fan of the artists who have worked there, or someone who appreciates the art of music production, understanding the role these studios play gives you a deeper appreciation of the music itself. So next time you listen to a track from one of these iconic studios, remember the inspiration and hard work that went into making it.

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