Show Us Your Space: Powerplay Studios in Maur, Switzerland

Welcome to another installment of Show Us Your Space, our series in which we invite studio owners, builders, and musicians at all levels to share their unique music-making environments. Over the past few months, we’ve featured studios from all over the world, from Chicago and Aspen, to Sydney and Vouvray, France.

Today, we’re taking a look inside Powerplay Studios—a longstanding institution located just 15 minutes from Zurich International Airport in the small town of Maur, Switzerland. The studio features beautiful live rooms filled with mouth-watering gear collections, and even boasts killer views of Greifensee Lake and the Alps.

Be sure to follow along with Powerplay's studio manager, Cyrill Camenzind, who provided all of the photos and descriptions of their space. Have you assembled an awesome music space that you want to show off? Contact us at [email protected].

Powerplay is a full-service studio, offering that rare blend of analog tape recording with state-of-the-art technology to produce high-quality sound for a wide variety of projects. The studios were built from the ground up in 1980 to ’83. The acoustic room was designed by Eastlake Audio's David Hawkins. When Adam Lambert was here for a session, he remarked that it “even smelled like Eastlake." That’s a good thing.

The big breakthrough for the studio came in 1986, with Swedish rockers Europe. The Final Countdown was recorded on our SSL 4000 E/G+ in Studio A, and Powerplay quickly became a global destination for artists looking to capture the magic. In fact, the guy who played the main synth melody from "Final Countdown" lives just around the corner. He’s often here just for a coffee and has a quick chat with our clients about this time.

Also part of our international roster of clients is Lady Gaga, Lenny Kravitz, Wu-Tang Clan, Keith Jarrett, Snoop Dogg, Backstreet Boys, Yello, Gianna Nannini, and Gotthard.

While on tour in 2011, Prince also recorded at Powerplay. He wanted to work, so he found the studio, checked us out, liked what he saw, and stayed for 10 days. Some of his last creations were recorded here, in a session engineered by Reto Muggli. Prince would demo his songs on Pro Tools in Studio A but would only use the Studer A800 MKIII for the final recording. He also set up our ping-pong table to play against band members between takes.

Our SSL 4000 E/G+ is a longstanding member of Powerplay Studios with a great history—if this board could talk, we’d be writing a book. Like all of our equipment, it’s well-maintained, in good shape, and ready to record.

We have a nice collection of outboard equipment, like Urei 1176LNs, 1178s, LA-4A, Retro StaLevel, 176, Summit MPC-100A, TubeTech CL1A, PE1B, Chandler Germanium Comp, Audio Design F700 RS, and two EMT 140 Plates.

Studio A is 130 square meters, with two distinct-sounding areas—dry at one end and wet at the other. The room is big enough for bands to set up and play together, and (when the bedrooms upstairs are full) there’s even plenty of room for the drummer to sleep in there, too.

A warm, characteristic 1960s' Steinway Piano and an early B3 with 251 Leslie also live in Studio A.

We hear "show us your Neve" a lot, so here she is—our beautiful baby that keeps us up on many nights because we love her sound.

Studio B is now called The Neveroom. Two years ago, we purchased this vintage 1972 Neve 8016, formerly owned by Walt Disney Studios. She’s been completely restored, and with 24 channels and 1064 preamps, the sound is amazing. Plus, it’s kind of cool that our favorite Disney movies—like Robin Hood and others that were made between 1972 and 1979—were mixed on this desk.

Combined with Pro Tools and our Burl Mothership, it’s the best of both worlds. We use a CLASP system to integrate analog tape recording with Pro Tools to save artists both time and money. (Previously, we had an MCI JH-500 console in Studio B.) We also have a Studer A80MKI 16 Track 2“ in Studio B—a beast. A Studer C37, Studer A80 ½-inch, and Studer A820 ¼-inch are also part of our collection.

We recently re-cabled our studios and installed a new analog monitor system so now all the rooms are linked. If you want to have your whole band record in our large Studio A but want to track with the Neve, it’s no problem.

Love vintage? Powerplay Studios has a huge inventory of vintage musical instruments and equipment available in-house. But, before we get to that, let’s take a break in the Lounge.

No recording session is complete without time to hangout and chill. It’s in moments of deep relaxation that creative ideas float to the surface just in time for the next session.

Powerplay Studios is like a big house with lots of space. We want to offer the best possible experience for artists to get in the zone. Moving in for a few days or a few weeks makes that easier, we believe.

There are five bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen, billiards table, garden, and, of course, the lake. When bands stay with us, we do most of the cooking. Lady Gaga had breakfast at her hotel the first day, but had breakfast with us every morning thereafter.

It’s amazing to see how the music takes shape when everyone stays together at the house, with no distractions. Enjoying studio life, comfortable surroundings, and beautiful nature with a quick walk along the lake for a spark of inspiration is really the best way to work.

One of the missions of Powerplay Studios is to have a collection of vintage and contemporary instruments and equipment for artists to use to create their best work. Like paint brushes and colors, having a large variety of tools available will help you create your best soundscapes. Chances are, we’ve got something here in our playground to help you create and capture that sound you are looking for.

Our intention is more revolution than evolution in creating sound. It’s this mix of old school with contemporary tools that we like to share with new musicians to help them create the kind of sound they already hear in their heart and soul. For us, the philosophy is not one or the other, but rather the best of everything.

We have a collection of vintage and modern mics, including classics like the Neumann U 47, U 47 FET, U 67, M 49, AKG C24, and all the ribbons like Royer 121, RCA 77DX, BK5, Coles 4038, and many more.

The studio collection includes vintage guitars from Fender and Gibson—like an original J45 from 1949 and a Les Paul Junior TV Yellow from 1957 from Jonny of Social Distortion. We also have many old Harmony guitars with a lot of character, old Silvertones, Hofners, and more. You’ll also find some newer brands like Duesenberg and the great-sounding guitars from the Swiss Brand, Relish Guitars.

We have a nice collection of guitar amps. Some old Fenders, like a Twin, Super Reverb, Bassman, Bandmaster, and Princeton Reverb, a ‘65 Marshall Bluesbreaker, Super Bass, Vox, Silvertone, as well as some modern amps, like a Bogner Ecstacy or Diezel VH4—a rare blue-face model. Lenny Kravitz loved our Mesa Boogie MKII.

Vintage and new drum kits are here in abundance: Ludwig, Gretsch, WFL, DW, GMS, to name the top of the rack.

In Studio D (our songwriting and overdub studio) lives our synth collection. Moog MiniMoog Model D, Korg MS-20, Roland Juno-60 and Juno-106, Dave Smith Prophet Rev2, Mellotron D4000, Yamaha DX7, and an original Roland TR-808 drum machine.

We would love to sit down with you for a chat about how we can help you create your next project. We have a professional team, great atmosphere, and top equipment to help you with your create music. For more info, please visit our website and follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

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