The Conservatory is one of the few schools that has a massive focus on analog sound gear. 6 of our 8 full studios incorporate analog consoles from Neotek, API and SSL, as well as 24-track analog tape recorders from Otari and Studer. While this provides a lot of on-board signal processing capabilities, you can’t forget our outboard gear racks.
Connectable via bantam jack or TT patch bays, each studio has an array of outboard gear, and most notably we have a large collection of HARMAN Lexicon processors. We have four Lexicon MX400 units, two PCM92 processors, and some classic PCM80 and PCM70s.
Before students get too immersed in the digital recording realm, they get hands on experience working with these units. Our curriculum fully revolves around understanding the way the audio signal chain flows, from the mic, through cables and eventually out to the speakers. By getting this fundamental signal flow knowledge in class, and being able to practice it hands on outside of class, students can build an incredible knowledge base that works great for studio recording, live sound and so much more!
The MX400 is a four input, four output reverb and effects processor. It has a powerful processor hiding behind and very intuitive and user friendly interface that allows for maximum efficiency with the least amount of time wasted.
The PCM92 is a sleek, single rack unit that has Lexicon’s Room algorithm, which can create pristine and realistic aural “spaces”, whether they are halls, rooms, stages or infinite space. Coming with 1200 factory presets, and up to 96kHz sample rate, this is an amazing unit.
The PCM80 is a reverb and delay unit that has been a mainstay in both the studio and live sound venues. Nearly every concert that I go to, I see at least one of these in the gear rack. Simple, quick and easy to use, this is a great piece of technology to learn on!
“Our students get exposed to Lexicon early on,” said Tony Nunes, audio recording and production instructor at CRAS. “They start by learning basic chops and how to integrate outboard gear into the total recording setup. Our focus is very much hands-on, and we want students to be familiar with Lexicon as it’s what they’ll be running into in professional record production studios.”
Recently CRAS hosted Shure’s wireless mic seminar in our huge 6,000 square foot live sound room. Shure microphones are a mainstay of the audio industry, and it’s no surprised we have quite a large collection of Shure mics, from SM57s and 58s to KSM32s and SM7Bs.
Pictured: Instructor Pete Bish, Adolfo Acevedo, Administrator Kirt Hamm, Instructor Keith Morris
As a thank you gift, Shure representative Adolfo Acevedo presented us with some incredible new gear! We now have our hands on the KSM313 dual-voice microphone, as well as the SRH 840 and 940 headphones.
The KSM313 is a dual-voice ribbon microphone. One side of the KSM313 provides a brighter character that shines on your vocals, while the other side offers a rich, full sound that’s ideal for your amplified instruments. The ribbon in this mic is made out of Roswellite material, which is capable of withstanding up to 146dB SPL! The list price on this mic is $1295, and while it appears to be out of stock at SweetWater.com, you should be able to find one soon.
The SRH840 and SRH940 are high quality, professional grade headphones that are incredibly comfortable and provide great performance. Thanks Shure!
MOTU, or Mark Of The Unicorn, is an audio company that has been making music software and technology since 1984. While they aren’t as widely known as Avid, they do make solid gear. Their main software, Digital Performer, was initially designed to be a comprehensive audio recording and production software for the Apple Macintosh line of computers. Digital Performer is a great non-linear DAW production suite, and they have just released their latest version – Digital Performer 8.
This newly created version was written from the ground up and is designed to work on both Mac and PC based systems. Providing both 32-bit and 64-bit processing capabilities, some of the new features to this DAW include 17 brand new plug-ins allowing for over 80 different effects, multiple visual themes to help you get into the creative mindset, 1080p video playback, as well as VST and ReWire support.
Some of the more exciting features include the ability to adjust not just left and right panning content and dynamics, but also how much of that content is in the middle of the stereo spectrum using the Spatial Maximizer. The Subkick plug-in allows for a quick and easy sub-bass enhancement designed to rock the floors and rattle your windows.
Check out more info on their page here – Digital Performer 8. There is also a free 30 day demo available for both the Mac and PC versions.
All month long Sweetwater will be having incredible sales on mics! If you’ve been wanting to get some good deals, now is your chance. There are some insane deals going on right now – an AKG C4000B that normally retails at $739 is on sale for $229. Buy a Blue Bottle for $5999, and get the entire capsule collection (a $4199 value) for free! They even have bundles where you can get a mic and a preamp at a discount, or a mic and an outboard compressor, or even other mic accessories. Definitely check out these sales!
Neumann TLM 67 with UA 6176 Preamp/Compressor – Retail $5398 – Sale Price $3999
Bluebird with Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 – Retail $699 – Sale Price $499
In the early 1900s, French engineer Leon Gaumont designed and patented audio playback systems. One issues with early motion pictures is that there was no easy or accurate way to store audio with the images, or even to sync audio and images together. That is why the motion picture industry started off with silent movies, which were occasionally accompanied by a live pianist for entertainment and scoring purposes.
In 1910, Gaumont unveiled his Chronophone system, which was designed to synchronize sound and film. By having a dual platter setup, he effectively doubled the amount of playtime for the audio associated with a film, without having to have any interruptions in the performance.
The platters are driven by an electric motor, and there is a curious air-pump that supposedly controlled the cross-fading between the dual platter system. Since the records used at the time ran at 78 RPM, having a two platter setup allowed the sound engineer to cue up the next available disc while the first was playing. The chronophone was designed to provide sound to 4,000 people.
There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of information about this, but you can read up a bit more at the following links:
Bringing a refresh to their Launchpad line, Novation has come out with the Launchpad S. The original Launchpad was a dedicated Ableton Live controller, allowing users to have a 64 button grid that could be used to trigger sounds, samples and sequences in real time. There have been some incredible performances made using these nifty MIDI controllers.
The Launchpad S provides a slight redesign on the body style, still allowing for an LED lit, 64 button grid. What’s new to the table, among other things, is MIDI and USB class compliance, meaning this will work seamlessly with any USB connection, without the need for drivers. It is fully bus powered, and has two power modes – one “lightweight” mode where the LEDs are dimmed to preserve battery life, and the full power mode, with brilliantly light LED buttons. The LEDs have been upgraded and can be clearly seen in daylight.
They’ve also developed a Launchpad App, allowing direct connection to iPads. The software hosts its own sound and loop library, and also has built-in time stretching and quantization options.
The Launchpad S should be available soon at an estimate price of $169. You can find more information at Novation’s website here.
Since 1961, Neve electronic devices have been the paramount of aural perfection. British born Rupert Neve has been credited with being the innovator of what has become the modern large format, multi-channel console. Neve consoles and accessories have been the staple of high quality studios for decades – even Dave Grohl, drummer from Nirvana and singer of the Foo Fighters, prefers to use Neve consoles. Perhaps that is because the hit album from Nirvana, Nevermind,album was recorded on a Neve console. Here is a brief interview from NPR about Grohls’ desire to use the Neve console for the Sound City movie:
MELISSA BLOCK: Let’s talk about that board. It’s a Neve 8028 soundboard and that was the studio console at Sound City. What was so great about it?
DAVE GROHL: Well, you know, that was a great era for recording equipment. The late ’60s and the ’70s, a lot of this really beautiful equipment was being made and installed into studios around the world and the Neve boards were considered like the Cadillacs of recording consoles. They’re these really big, behemoth-looking recording desks; they kind of look like they’re from the Enterprise in Star Trek or something like that. They’re like a grayish color, sort of like an old Army tank with lots of knobs, and to any studio geek or gear enthusiast it’s like the coolest toy in the world. But they’re pretty simple. They’re not filled with miles and miles of cable and wires — they’re pretty simple. And what you get when you record on a Neve desk is this really big, warm representation of whatever comes into it. What’s going to come out the other end is this bigger, better version of you. And so it makes you sound real, but it makes you sound really good.
So Sound City had this Neve board, and I think it’s the only thing we knew about Sound City when Nirvana went there. We’d never been to the studio; we just picked it because we heard it had this great old Neve desk. So when we came down in that old van and opened the doors to see that the place was a total dump, we were kind of shocked, you know? We had no idea. We’d been rehearsing those songs for months and months in this little barn in Tacoma, Wash. That’s where we practiced. And we knew that we had 16 days in the studio to make an album, which, to us, seemed like an eternity. I mean, we were used to recording 16 songs in a day. So this was our big break, in a way. We had signed to a major label — the David Geffen Co. — and we were coming to Los Angeles to make our record. We didn’t think that what eventually happened was going to happen but we really took it seriously. So we practiced really hard and came down to Sound City and that short amount of time to make the album. And it really did change my life forever, those 16 days. I don’t think I’d be here now if it weren’t for that time at Sound City.
Neve has recently started production of their 5060 centerpiece, evolved from the original vintage sounds of the classic Neve consoles. The 5060 is a 24 input, 2 output summing board that is designed to give your mix the extra analog kiss that only Neve circuits can deliver.
Designed to accept two 12 channel DB25 connectors, ideally working in conjunction with the 5059 satellite unit and the 5012 Portico mic preamps, this summing board can give a vintage flash to any studio setup. Of course, they would prefer you to have a 5088 mixing board output to your 5060 centerpiece for finalization.
This unit provides three balanced stereo outputs, individually selectable, allowing you to connect a host of speaker configurations to test your mixes on. It supports eight send and return channels to interface with outboard gear, such as reverb, delay, harmonizers, compressors and gates.
Continuously variable Texture control for Silk Red and Blue modes allows you to fine tune the harmonic ratio and tonality of both stereo outputs when extra “color” is desired. Both Silk modes reduce the negative feedback on the output transformer, adding harmonic content as the texture is increased. Silk red mode accentuates the saturation in the high-mids and highs, while silk blue mode features more saturation in the lows and low mids.
This device also connects via USB to your computer, allowing the jog wheel and shuttle controls, as well as MIDI routing, to interact with any DAW (digital audio workstations) you want to throw at it.
The Conservatory strives to be at the forefront of modern technology. While we hold on to the building blocks of all that has led to what we know now as audio engineering, that doesn’t mean we stay in the past. We have classic gear, from PCM-80s to Studer A-827s, Universal Audio 1176s to Pro Tools HD2s, CRAS encompasses all that exists in the audio realm.
While we teach all that is analog, from Otari to SSL, we also cover modern gear, from Komplete 6 USB interfaces to VENUE D-Show systems, we cover everything you’ll need to know to be a comprehensive audio engineer, ready to take on the most daunting tasks, from doing sound design for Bates Motel, or sound quality assurance for the newest video games like Bethesda’s Dishonored .
We always have visits from big names in the industry – the past year we’ve seen visits from PRG and Shure, had involvement with local music festivals, and even had audio industry leaders visit our school – from studio managers to PR people, we have it all.
Here is a video from when Studer visited our campus in 2012 and showed us some of their hottest gear. You can believe this was a unique visit and something that should not have been missed!
Last Thursday, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences was lucky enough to be one of the stops on the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus US tour! Aside from CRAS, they visited NAMM, the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, the Summer X games, as well as countless other locations.
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit, state-of-the-art mobile audio and HD video recording and production facility. In its sixteenth year, with the very newest technology and gear, the Bus continues to be dedicated to providing young people with tours of the studios and participation in free songwriting and multimedia production workshops. With the assistance of three on-board engineers, students learn how to write, perform, record, and produce original songs, produce and shoot music videos and documentaries and complete a broadcast quality music video – all in one day!
We got an exclusive tour of the bus and all of it’s incredible workings! I was amazed that they could really fit all that technology into one bus. From pre-production to post-production, live instruments to video creation, this bus can do it all. Three individual rooms, each separated by audio and visual isolating doors, contribute to the ongoing promotion of audio education in the world. Recently they’ve been touring the United States, but once they are done with this tour, they are headed over to Europe to bring the same amazing show to a new stage.
We will certainly have more about this, but for now, check out our quick video slideshow:
Today CRAS will be hosting a special guest – the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus! The bus is a three studio engineering dream on wheels, funded by a non-profit organization designed to encourage the youth of America to follow their musical and video dreams. The bus is a full fledged production suite – containing three separable studios focusing on video, music and production arts. Full of gear from Avid, Apple, Apogee, Audio-Technica, Neutrik, Genelec and SSL!
If you can’t make it down to our Gilbert campus between 10:30am and 5:30pm today, you can certainly check out this video walkthrough of the bus: