From the Surround Pro Website


Conservatory Students Learn From Leading Industry Veterans; "[CRAS Students] Not Only Train on Great Gear, but Learn the Different Aspects of the Business from the People that Know the Industry Top to Bottom"

Posted July 3, 2001 by Savona

It's all about whom you know, not what you know, right? Well, that isn't entirely true, especially in the professional audio business. Whom you know and what you learn from them definitely makes a big difference...just ask the students at the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences in Tempe, Ariz. Over the course of the past few months, many big name industry veterans from many different facets of audio have come to the school to lecture and teach today's latest technology as well as the dos and don'ts of getting into, and ahead, in this very competitive market.

Since March, Mike Sokol (JMS Productions Inc), Jorge Wuttke, (Schoeps Microphones), Ron McMaster (Capitol Mastering), Ed Simeon (TC Electronics), and Eric Chun (Creative Music Services) have personally furthered the education of dozens of CRAS students.

"The most recent seminar I've taught at CRAS was on 5.1 surround mixing," explains Sokol, an audio engineer for the past 30 years and technical writer for the past 15 years. "This is the third time I've been invited to their facility, and each time I've been impressed with both the enthusiasm of the teaching staff and the attention of the students. Virtually the entire school turned out for this three-hour advanced session. They asked all the right questions, which showed they were intelligently considering the topic and had already been taught the subject by the CRAS staff. Mixing for 5.1 surround is both exciting and technically challenging, since it pushes the envelope of traditional stereo production."

Sokol has published hundreds of articles in magazines, such as Electronic Musician, Onstage, TV Technology, and EQ. He's also written a book for Prentice Hall titled The Acoustic Musician's Guide to Sound Reinforcement and Live Recording. He, along with Hector La Torre (of Fits and Starts Productions), has produced more than 60 seminars in the past two years on Mixing 5.1 Surround Music for studios.

Sokol continues, "CRAS is one of the few facilities that have followed up on my first surround seminar from two years ago and have since installed a fully operational 5.1 surround mixing and demonstration room. This isn't just a few classes of dragging out some speakers in a circle and panning a saxophone around the room. This is a real, professional-quality surround mixing room with proper bass management, acoustic treatment, and listening positions. For the students, this means exposure to the latest audio technology that will offer future employment opportunities."

"Since 5.1 surround mixing for music is in its infancy," Sokol explains, "any production chops learned now on the subject will certainly add to the students' marketability. Also, CRAS is one of the few facilities where the teachers themselves are working on independent 5.1 projects, which brings a sense of reality to the students. Mixing in 5.1 doesn't have to be done at Lucas Films, or on a half-million dollar console. It can be done in a bedroom on an 03D mixer or a Windows Workstation. That's why I like to teach at facilities like CRAS, since it brings opportunities to many students that then can go out and do things for themselves".

The Conservatory's curriculum is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the facility's studios, including Studio D, CRAS' new, state-of-the-art 5.1 surround mixing suite. It is used as part of an advanced curriculum, the Master Recording Program II, which extensively explores advanced concepts such as automated mixing, post-production technique for film and television (such as surround mixing), and Digidesign's advanced Pro Tools Course 235.

Students at the Conservatory learn from faculty and staff that consists of a wide variety of professionals who have all excelled in their individual fields, including sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, digital recording, troubleshooting/maintenance, and music business. Students also get to train on industry standard equipment, including the renowned Solid State Logic SL4000 series console, the Digidesign Pro Tools 5.0 system, Hafler reference monitoring systems, and TASCAM digital mixers.

"I really enjoyed speaking to the Conservatory's students about my experiences in this business," explains Ron McMaster, mastering engineer for Capitol Records for the past 18 years. "It gave me the opportunity to share my perspectives of the business that I've been a part of for the past 20 years. The students asked some very good questions, which allowed me to give 'real world' answers for them to build upon. In order to get ahead, they will have to know the tools of the trade and make relationships, and I was very please to see that CRAS offers the students these tools to train on equipment that they will use eventually use in the business. Also, by allowing its students to be exposed to industry pros, such as myself and Eric Chun, they have opportunity early on to form the relationships that may help lead them to a future job."

McMaster has mastered such projects as Luis Miguel's Grammy Award-winning "Romances", Placido Domingo's "Por Amor", Richard Thompson's "Action Packed Best Of", Gladys Knight's "Many Different Roads" and singles for Fat Boy Slim, The Spice Girls and The Foo Fighters. Other projects include Blue Note Record releases for Dexter Gordon, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Chet Baker and the entire Blue Note Connoisseur Series.

"The school is great," McMaster adds. "I was very impressed with the classes and staff. They not only train on great gear, but learn the different aspects of the business from the people that know the industry top to bottom."

For more information on the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences, visit