The main control room at the Recording Studio Facilities at the North Las Vegas Campus of the College of Southern Nevada (CSN) now has a Solid State Logic Duality Fuse SuperAnalogue console at its centre.

The desk is being used to instruct Audio Recording Technology Program students at the college, which attracts more than 30,000 students annually to its three campuses in and around Las Vegas.

SSL Duality Fuse at the Recording Studio at the North Las Vegas Campus of the College of Southern Nevada John Jacobson, who has been at the college for 24 years, reports that CSN offers a 30-credit Certificate of Achievement in Music Business and Technology as part of the Music Program within the Department of Fine Arts. About 400 students go through it each year.’

The facility’s main control room was previously occupied by an SSL AWS 900 console that was installed in 2005. Between the main studio, which can accommodate a 50-piece orchestra, and a large iso room, there are 35 analogue microphone lines to the main control room, with additional lines available on a Dante network. As the AWS has 24 inputs so, when funding became available, Jacobson installed a 48-channel Duality Fuse with SSL δelta control and integrated Fusion coloration processor, and moved the AWS 900 to another room.

Jacobson first used the new console on a series of commercial tracking dates shortly before the new semester started, recording a classic organ trio and, for a documentary project, eight horn players, eight singers and a rhythm section. ‘We have a bunch of outboard mic preamps, but with only a couple exceptions we used all SSL mic preamps on the sessions,’ he says. ‘Having a dynamic section on every channel with a compressor and a gate/expander is also great.’

During the tracking dates, he experimented with the console’s integrated Fusion processor, which provides six analogue coloration tools. ‘I did what I would call in-session mastering,’ he says. ‘With the violet EQ, I could add some “air band” at 12kHz or higher. The compressor will do parallel compression, which I do a lot. I can add not just the Fusion, but also the Stereo Buss Compressor on the Duality, in either order. That’s a cool thing, because you can try it both ways to see which you like better. And the musicians liked the stereo image control.’

He believes the console to be ideal for an educational environment, not least because it follows a one-knob-per-function design philosophy. ‘It has its digital features but it’s primarily an analogue mixing console and it’s designed in a traditional, easy to understand way. Students pick up on it really fast.

‘You can set it up for a real purist approach, where it’s just mic pre in, straight to the direct output,’ he continues. ‘But because we had a fair amount of bleed on the sessions, because everybody was basically playing in one room, I set all the channels to post-EQ, pre-fader. That way, by pushing EQ In on any channel, the high-pass filters came into play, and I could take the low frequencies out of the high instruments, like the trumpets.’

Jacobson might have been tempted by a larger Duality Fuse for CSN but for one issue: ‘We got 48 channels because we couldn’t fit more in our control room…’

In addition to offering tracking through its 48 microphone preamps and EQ sections, Duality’s split mode architecture, supporting two inputs per channel strip, has an additional benefit. ‘If we have a lot more tracks in Pro Tools then we can align the outputs and bring them up on pairs of faders. At that point, the Duality becomes a monstrous summing amplifier with all kinds of features, including EQ, gate, expander, and compressor/limiter on every input module.’

The new console was installed during the summer after renovations performed by in-house technician Donnie Whitbeck that included implementing a facility-wide Dante network and reworking two equipment racks, the analogue patchbays and the monitor system in the main control room. Jacobson, Whitbeck and the staff also repurposed an iso room and relocated the AWS 900 into the new third control room and dedicated recording space, where it can also access sources over the Dante network.

‘Through John’s vision, he has been able to make a contemporary audio environment with all his vintage equipment, from 1970s keyboards to 2-inch and two-track tape machines,’ Whitbeck says. ‘A student can come in and learn how to use an analogue synth and have all their stuff tied together through Dante. Out of all the places in Nevada, nobody’s tied together the gamut of recording equipment from the 1970s to 2023 before.’

‘This programme is almost vocational in a way,’ Jacobson says. ‘People in the industry might be using a Duality or something else, and a lot of recording studios are doing everything in-the-box. We could have done that, but it made more sense to do this. We can integrate old equipment, new equipment and anything in between’.


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