Chad LoughrigeThe Audient ASP8024 mixing desk being installed at Ohio’s Capital University is the centrepiece of its Music Technology Area studio. This console was chosen to assist the teaching of signal flow to music technology students of all levels – and the route to its selection is as educational as the reasons behind it.

Chad Loughrige, Head of the Music Technology Area and specifier of the desk explains…

Much of our research was through online resources. The Audient website was extremely valuable in referencing current users of Audient products. Inclusion of all of the reference materials were very helpful in the decision making process. With these resources, we were able to pre-determine how the desk could be integrated into our current facility.

Since we didn’t have access to evaluate the desk personally, we also used a multitude of online video tutorials to help in the decision process.

The teaching environment

Music Technology Area studioThe philosophy of the Music Technology faculty at Capital is that as a student masters the concepts of analogue signal flow, they will obtain a greater understanding of digital technology (the signal flow of DAW systems).

We are in the constant process of upgrading our equipment in order to keep it current with industry trends and standards. We currently have 170 students in the Music Technology area at Capital, and space is at a premium. Our philosophy is that of a ‘hands-on’ nature of learning, so it’s important to us to give students their own personal studio hours each week for their course work. With this in mind, we have just begun renovation of another area in the Conservatory of Music that will house a 750-sq-ft control room and live room with an isolation booth.

Since the ASP8024 will be used in a teaching environment, ease of use is of the utmost importance. The layout and labeling of the components are very intuitive, and after our in-depth discussions of signal flow, our students will be able to easily transfer that knowledge to the console without feeling confused or overwhelmed.

Other features of the console that are particularly valuable include the use of DB25 connectors for easier and cleaner installation, the stereo bus compressor and the TT patchbay, the integrated Dual Layer Control Surface that allows the students to understand how an analogue and digital system can be integrated.

The studio is mainly used for upper-level courses in the Music Technology curriculum. In these courses, we continue to discuss analogue signal flow and how that signal flow carries over to our Pro Tools DAW. The students are required to do recording sessions as assignments for their recording related classes. As the recording studios are located in a Conservatory of Music, these recording sessions could include nearly any genre of music, from a rock band to a blue-grass group, or a four-piece trumpet ensemble to a 100-piece orchestra.

Technologies of learning

We are using the ASP8024 as a recording and mixing desk tightly integrated with a Pro Tools HD 2 system. For tracking, Pro Tools acts only as a multitrack recorder, with inputs and outputs routed to their corresponding channels on the desk. In mixing, students can choose to either continue using the console as a mixing desk, or switch over to the Dual Layer Control surface for mixdown. They also have the option of combining both methods (mix per individual channel and use Pro Tools automation features for advanced mixes).

We also have a Universal Audio 2-610S preamp; two dbx 160 compressors ; two dbx 266 compressors, three outboard effects units from Lexicon, Yamaha and Alesis ; and a Yamaha Graphic EQ. Our Pro Tools HD system has an expansive set of professional plugins from manufacturers such as Waves, McDSP, Anteres, Bombfactory, Uunversla Audio, Bias and Aphex.

Finding an excellent teaching desk that also introduced our students to large-format analogue consoles was the main goal. The audio production curriculum in the Music Technology programme begins in the analogue domain, and focuses on ‘generic signal flow’. We felt that the Audient ASP8024 followed this standardised signal flow accurately, which seamlessly aids our students in the transition from lecture discussions to hand-on use. As beginning audio production students, they are able to easily visualise how the audio signal flows through the various components because of the well-labeled screen-printing, colour-coding and metering options.

The live performance theatreDuring their intermediate years at Capital, our students transition into the use of DAWs – mainly Pro Tools. We were looking for a system that could then be re-introduced in their junior and senior year that would offer advanced features of a hybrid analogue/digital system.

Many of these systems are found in high-end recording studios, and we want to prepare our students for all that they may encounter in the industry. The ASP8024 can be easy to use, but it also has the ability to perform complex routing options that are not found on low and mid-level consoles.

The integrated Tiny Telephone patchbay acts as great support in teaching these complex routing options. Lessons in signal flow patch points, aux sends and returns, and foldback routing can be completed as either in-class projects or outside assignments.

Audient in the classroom

As our programme continues to grow, we want to offer our students learning opportunities on a variety of recording platforms. This includes small portable systems for recording on-location audio, mid-level digital systems, and high-level analogue/digital hybrids. Before our Audient console was purchased, we were able to offer the preceding two system types. Now, we can provide our students with the necessary audio production education to search for internships and job opportunities in large markets like New York, LA, Nashville and others. This would not have been possible without the affordability of the Audient ASP8024. The feature set is comparable to these high-end systems, but the price of the other consoles did not match our budget. The Audient console gave us the best of both worlds – features and affordability.

We will incorporate the new console starting in the fall of 2011. The first class that will focus on this console is our Intermediate Recording Techniques course. In previous courses, students have studied the basic components of recording systems and signal flow on other smaller desks. During this course, we will use the Audient to refresh their knowledge of signal flow, and introduce them to more advanced subjects. This will also be their first introduction to how digital and analogue systems can be integrated together.

Live performance spaceAs students progress through the Music Technology program, their class sizes become smaller. Upper-level classes often have twelve students or less, and are broken down even further for recording sessions (groups of three or six). In courses such as Group Recording and Advanced Recording Techniques, students will use the Audient console for tracking and mixing sessions.

The Audient console is housed in a studio that offers great flexibility in recording spaces. All the main performance spaces located in the Conservatory of Music are interfaced into this studio. This includes our large ensemble rehearsal space, a 200-seat recital hall, and a 950-seat auditorium. These facilities afford students the ability to record a variety of genres in many distinct sonic spaces.

The curriculum for these courses has not changed tremendously with the addition of the console, but the focus of the room has changed. Before the installation of the board, the room served many purposes for music production and media production (audio for video, film, and other multimedia). Its sole curriculum responsibility will now be in music production, and our Music for Media course will now move to another room.

Capital University

The Music Technology Area at Capital University has seen great success in the past five years. One of the main reasons for this is the option we give prospective students in our degree offerings. We offer a Bachelor of Music in Music Technology, where after an audition and acceptance to the Conservatory of Music, students not only study in the Music Technology area, they also go through a rigorous Music curriculum. These students continue to perform on their respective instruments, and also learn music theory, arranging, piano, conducting, and music history.

The alternate degree option is a Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies with a Music Technology emphasis. This degree does not require an audition into the Conservatory, yet includes all of the same Music Technology courses. Students in this degree then pursue a Minor in an outside field, which often includes the University’s Business Administration, Computer Science, or Electronic, Media and Film degrees. This degree gives prospective students an opportunity to study Audio Production, but does not require performance on an instrument or in-depth study in music. This is a popular option, and has produced some outstanding students that have been extremely successful in the music industry.

Over the past five years, we have seen a great increase in our admittance. Each year we have accepted an average of 50 students into the program, and now are at 170 students. We have done virtually no national advertising, and have found that much of our promotion is through word-of-mouth. Students are excited to study at Capital. We offer small class sizes, have a beautiful campus, and opportunities in the music industry in Columbus, Ohio are vast. With small efforts is PR and marketing, we’re certain that our numbers will continue to grow.

The desk was supplied by US Audient dealer and music technology retailer Sweetwater.

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