Roundhead Studios Page 2

Desert Sounds
Roundhead was, and still is, Finn's own studio, which he officially opened in June 2007 after a five-year build collaborating with revered designer of sonic spaces, George Augspurger. Named after the earliest painted 'rock art' (geddit?) in central Sahara from around 9500 BP to 7500 BP (Before Present), Roundhead is located in an art deco-styled building built in 1928 as the Fountain of Friendship Lodge at 151 Newton Rd, Eden Terrace. Roundhead was a huge step up from Finn's home studio. 'I never wanted to be a studio manager', Finn quipped. 'I just wanted somewhere to put all my stuff'.


Neil Finn's son, Liam, performs in Austin, Texas in 2008 at the South by Southwest festival

Desk To Impress
Roundhead consists of two main studio spaces. The first is Studio A, which features a classic 1974 Neve 8088 console that was moved from Albert Goldman's Bearsville Studios [HFN Jul '22] in Woodstock, upstate New York, having been originally built for The Who for their Ramport Studios in south London. Just some of the artists who have used this particular console over the years include the aforementioned Who, Joan Jett, Judas Priest, Motörhead, Jeff Buckley, R.E.M and Alice Cooper. Apparently, it's the only black 8088 ever built.


Finn on stage (far right) in 2009 with Radiohead's Ed O'Brien

Roundhead's website describes Studio A as featuring 'spectacular lighting technology to create the perfect ambiance. While it is one of the quietest rooms in New Zealand, it is a fully customisable acoustic space, with variable surfaces, plus curtains and wooden louvers to add richness to sound'.


The Brick Room is located underneath Studio A and boasts an API 1608 console

Techy Feely
Much of the outboard gear to be found in Studio A's main control room was purchased from the Hit Factory in New York [HFN Apr '22], yet for all the ace equipment, Finn says he didn't want to build a studio that felt 'too techy... I've been in plenty of studios where you feel like the spaces have been built for engineers, not musicians. I didn't want this place to feel like that'.


The two studios are isolated from each other by a 100mm-thick concrete pad that floats on rubber mounts

With that in mind, he decided to build an additional studio space to aid the creative vibe. 'When you know other people are working hard in the next room, you know you'd better keep it coming', he said. 'There are also those odd times where you meet at the water-cooler or whatever and have a chin-wag – that's a nice feeling.'


The live room houses a Lipp upright piano

The second facility is the Brick Room, which is located underneath Studio A. Sound isolation between the two is provided by a 100mm-thick concrete pad floating on rubber mounts. Described on the website as 'a dynamic space, newly renovated with an API 1608 console at its heart', it includes a live room with a Lipp upright piano and a house drum kit, an isolated vocal booth next to the control room, and the option to connect with two untreated rooms for additional isolation spaces. It's been used for live-to-air performances, album recordings and launches, as well as songwriting sessions. Slowdive are one of the latest acts to broadcast from the Brick Room.


The Neve 8088 console, which today resides in Studio A, at its original home in The Who's Ramport Studios. The man with his hands on the controls is Chief Studio Engineer, the late Dave 'Cy' Langston

Beyond The Buttons
Roundhead has become a go-to venue for musicians who want to create in a comfortable space away from the distractions that can hinder recording in big cities in the UK or USA. In Auckland you're out from under the record company's feet and, being on the other side of the world, the chances of being hassled by hangers-on are minimal.


Singer Rachel Goswell and guitarist Neil Halstead of Slowdive. In July 2023 the group broadcast live from The Brick Room for student radio station 95bFM

As Jim Scott puts it: 'After working at most of the best recording studios in North America, such as Cello, The Village, Sound City, Sunset Sound, The Record Plant, Oceanway, The Hit Factory and my own PLYRZ Studios, Roundhead Studios blew me away. Amazing facilities, tons of incredible recording gear and musical instruments, and a crack engineering staff'.

Finn succinctly sums it all up: 'I subscribe to the theory that a studio needs to be built with performance in mind the whole time. Roundhead is primarily about musicians; it's not a technical space. It's been designed to feel good playing music in, and that's been the overriding concern. Nothing else is as important'.

Key Recording Timeline


Wilco win a Grammy for their sixth studio release, Wilco (The Album), recorded at Roundhead Studios

British indie folk singer Passenger records songs for Young As The Morning, Old As The Sea. It's a No 1

Neil Finn livestreams the making of his fourth studio album, Out Of Silence, on his Facebook page

Neil Finn and son Liam collaborate on their first album, Lightsleeper. The set goes Top 10 in New Zealand

American singer Pink records sections of Hurts 2B Human. It's a No 1 in eight countries on release

Country singer Tami Neilson's album Kingmaker goes straight to No 1 on the New Zealand official chart