In order to attain the Wall of Sound, Spector's arrangements called for large ensembles (including some instruments not generally used for ensemble playing, such as electric and acoustic guitars), with multiple instruments doubling and even tripling many of the parts to create a fuller, richer sound. Spector also included an array of orchestral instruments—strings, woodwind, brass and percussion—not previously associated with youth-oriented pop music, characterizing his methods as "a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids". Larry Levine recalled, "I found out later that there were other engineers along the way who tried to duplicate the Wall of Sound by turning up all the faders to get full saturation, but all that achieved was distortion."
The intricacies of the technique were unprecedented in the world of sound production for popular records. Wrecking Crew guitarist Barney Kessel would note: "Musically, it was terribly simple, but the way he recorded and miked it, they’d diffuse it so that you couldn't pick out any one instrument. Techniques like distortion and echo were not new, but Phil came along and took these to make sounds that had not been used in the past. I thought it was ingenious." According to Beach Boys leader Brian Wilson, who used the formula extensively: "In the '40s and '50s, arrangements were considered 'OK here, listen to that French horn' or 'listen to this string section now.' It was all a definite sound. There weren't combinations of sound, and with the advent of Phil Spector, we find sound combinations, which—scientifically speaking—is a brilliant aspect of sound production."
During the mid-1950s, Spector worked with
In the 1960s, Spector usually worked at Gold Star Studios in