The Studio Improvement Project was set in motion in 2008 to diversify, update and enhance each of the college’s primary three audio studios as part of an ongoing effort to expand and improve the capabilities of the facilities. The construction of Studio B represents the second phase of three in the Studio Improvement Project. The first phase of the project was the redesign and construction of Control Room A was completed last fall. The third phase will be the acoustic treatment and reconfiguration of Control Room C planned for later this year.
“Our goal is to prepare people for the various aspects of the audio industry,” said Dr. Timothy Duncan, Director and Associate Professor of the Digital Audio Technology program. “We wanted the studio to be more than technically proficient workspace but we also wanted something that was aesthetically pleasing – a place where people feel like working and are inspired.”
Studio B’s construction was significantly less involved than that of Control Room A. In many ways though, its tuning needed to be much more precise. As a 5.1 post production studio, speaker placement was paramount to the accurate reproduction of content.
Unlike Control Room A – B, as an in-the-box studio, required no outboard gear, no sound stage or iso-booth in/outs, no large mixing board and thus no patch bays. The use is meant to be simple and straight forward, letting students focus on the sound and not the setup. The conversion of Control Room B to Studio B happened in four stages. The planning and design; removal of the recording equipment and peripherals; construction and application of acoustic treatment; and calibration of the speakers and workstation to the 5.1 surround sound specification.
After creating a design and clearing the room of all the old equipment and wiring, we began the third stage. Evan Peebles, a Cogswell graduate in Digital Audio Technology in 2007, first constructed a soft wall as a large broadband absorber across the front of the room to help eliminate standing waves, control reverberation times and separate the initial and room sounds. Panel absorbers were then placed throughout the room in precise locations to further prevent early reflections, eliminate flutter and add diffusion. As a final touch, sculptures from Cogswell’s visual arts students were added to the rear of the room to add diffusion and beauty to the room.
The third stage involved installing the gear. A Motu 192 digital audio interface, Blue Sky 5.1 monitor system, McIntosh amplifier, Klipsch stereo main speakers, Mackie Control Pro control surface and an Apple computer system were all installed and configured together. As the wiring finished, the calibration began. Finally, speakers were each carefully measured and calibrated to the Dolby 5.1 surround sound specification used for post production studios and theaters. From start to completion the studio took approximately three weeks to convert.
“The most challenging aspect of the Studio B project was creating a mount for the surround studio monitors,” said Peebles. “They needed to be precisely the same distance from listening position as the front speakers but one meter higher up. With the room’s dimensions, this forced me to hang a twenty-five pound speaker such that the sound was emitted from a point over two feet off the wall, seven feet high.”
Working with Marvin Argon, Cogswell’s facilities manager, they created the “diving board” style plastic mounts which flexed to point the speaker perfectly as well as reduce the effects of wall coupling.
The best feature of this room is that it is an accurate representation of the growing trend in post-production studios. The aspect of the studio of which Evan is most proud is the level of enhancement not only in precision, but also beauty both sonically and visually, he was able to create from almost entirely reused components. Only the MOTU interface and the Mackie Control surface were purchased specifically for this enhancement.
This new configuration gives Cogswell students real-world experience and enables them to work with the tools and formats of tomorrow.
-Bonnie Phelps, Dean of Institutional Advancement