Originally posted by Chuckster
According to the engineers I have spoken to at length, the KHJ studio had 3 studios, plus a "mastering" room where they often cut transcription discs.
The large studio - the "radio theatre" - was where they often recorded the big band sessions, i. e. Billy May & Stan Kenton's solo band recordings, the Billy May/Riddle big band sessions with Sinatra and others, etc. As John Palladino explained it, they could place the band on the stage (elevated), and leave Sinatra on the floor. The slap-back echo and overrings produced by the sound of the band on a higher plane than the vocalist gave them a big, "fat" sound (hence the title of Billy May's album, "Big Fat Brass.")
The two smaller studios were used for the intimate recordings you spoke of: things like "Songs for Young Lovers," "Swing Easy," and the small group recordings for "Wee Small Hours." They also used one of the smaller studios for a lot of spoken word and radio-type announcer recording...
It still amazes me how much great sound those early Capitol engineers extracted and preserved with such (comparatively) limited technology at their disposal. Amazing stuff indeed.
There was also a 4th studio at Capitol Melrose - Studio B. John Palladino told me that it wasn't used for that long before they moved to the Tower. He explained that Studio B was like Studio A (the big "Radio Theater" room), but smaller. I think he said maybe about 1/2 the size. He also said he remembered that the first session they did in Melrose Studio B was a Sinatra session, with John Kraus engineering. He didn't know what songs were done though. Would've been sometime in 1955.