Say that you have a talented young band and you want to sound like the Beatles. What could help more than to record at Abbey Road Studio in Studio 2 using some of the same microphones? It is possible. Abbey Road Studio may now be rented, and the studio has kept much of the recording equipment it has used since its opening in 1931, including a vast array of microphones. You can learn more in the big, beautiful photohistory Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World by Alistair Lawrence with a forward by Sir George Martin.
Abbey Road Studios may be best known for rock recordings now, including Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon, but it began and continues to be a center for classical recording. The first official recording made in the studio featured Sir Edward Elgar conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in his own "Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, Opus 39." Sir Thomas Beecham, Arthur Rubinstein, Jascha Heifetz, Fritz Kreisler, Andres Segovia, and Pablo Casals recorded at Abbey Road in its early days. Violinist Yehudi Menuhin was associated with the studios for nearly 70 years. In the 1960s, cellist Jacqueline du Pre and her husband pianist/conductor Daniel Barenboim recorded there.
Since the 1980s, Studio 1 has been busy with recording soundtracks for blockbuster movies, including The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Braveheart, Evita, Apollo 13, and all of the Harry Potter films. Pages 212-215 show work on various Lord of the Rings movies. The studio provided historic microphones for use in The King's Speech.
Throughout the book, the author features the employees of the studio, including engineers, producers, artistic directors, and even tea ladies, and shows vintage and cutting edge equipment, making the book a sort of introduction to recording science. The engineers at Abbey Road developed and patented many audio innovations.
"And in the end" (Beatles quote), readers will open their phonograph cabinets or run to You-Tube to revisit the music. Abbey Road is a big book worth lifting.
Lawrence, Alistair. Abbey Road: The Best Studio in the World. Bloomsbury, 2012. 303p. ISBN 9781608199990.