Conservatory Hosts Microphone Shootout

The Conservatory recently played host to an interesting microphone shootout. Director of Education, Mike Jones was in charge of the setup and procedures of the test, which took place over an entire day. Studio A was action central for the shootout with students playing a big part in the setup and execution. Signals were routed through the SSL 4000G+ console and then recorded to the Otari RADAR II hard disk recorder for later reference.

As for the setup in the room, the speaker was placed three feet back and the tweeter was placed dead center of the pack of microphones. A 1k tone was played through a Hafler TRM8 self-powered monitor and the level in the room was set to 90dB using a decibel meter. Once the level in the room was established, then each channel’s input was set to zero. Since the preamps on the SSL are detented and not linear, the level was generally set using the preamp level and then the fader was used to make fine adjustments.

The test was done by switching the microphones on one at a time, then listening to various pre-recorded program material. ZZ Top's She's just Killing Me from Rhythmeen and Beethoven's Works for Cello and Piano Sonata No. 1, second movement were two of the CDs used in the test. Microphones from Neumann, AKG, Røde, Avlex and Audio Technica were setup by students in a tight circular pattern for the test. Students got a chance to listen to the results and judge for themselves which microphones fared better than others. Although not a true test of how a microphone would react in a specific situation, it provided the students experience in how each microphone’s frequency response effects its performance. Later in the day, live musicians were brought in and select microphones were tested in a more real-world situation.

Photo caption: First Picture: The microphone array used in the test; Second Picture: Conservatory Students at the SSL 4000G+ console;
Third Picture: Student centering the speaker for the test

Conservatory Grad Hired By P. Diddy

Richard Allis knew what he wanted to do for a living, work in the entertainment field, but how could he prepare himself? With the help of the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Science’s he got the education he needed and then was placed in an internship at Sean "Puffy" Combs’ Bad Boy Entertainment.
"My daily routine at Bad Boy ranges from everyday office tasks to working with superstars," explains Allis, now a management assistant who first started as an intern in September 2000. "Sometimes you have to come in at three o’clock in the morning to deal with Europe. Other times you have to babysit an artist’s dog while he is conducting business with management. You have to do whatever is asked of you if you want to get ahead." Paying his dues did the trick for Allis who was hired full-time by Bad Boy in January 2001.

John Eaton, Bad Boy A&R’s Senior Director Management for the past five years, says that Allis had earned the respect of his fellow workers and employers. "Rich is an exemplary human being. This part of the business requires many long hours and much self-sacrifice for comparatively little return. He has hung in there and earned the respect of his fellow workers and employers. In fact, he is one of the most dependable workers we have and hence often gets thrown the most difficult workloads."

Working the occasional 20-hour day would seem like a burden to the average person. But, when you get to work with the likes of stars Puffy, Faith Evans, Cheri Dennis and Total, and producers and engineers such as Bink, D-Dot, Mario Winans, Nisan & Dante, the opportunities that arise overshadow the loss of personal free time.

Like Allis, many others have learned that this is not an easy business to get started in. But, with the right education and help getting your foot in the door, the rise to the top for many has started at The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences.

Photo caption: Rich Allis and Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs

Neve VR Gives Students World Class Experience

Redesigned studio C features Neve VR with Flying Fader automation.

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