Kansas City Kansas Community College has been a proud owner of an Audient ASP8024 for over 6 years, a decision that Professor of Audio Recording & Music Technology, Dr Ian Corbett still stands by, having seen hundreds of students hone their audio engineering skills on the large format analogue mixing console. The notion to add an iD22 to his teaching arsenal this year was born out of that trust in Audient. Dr Corbett uses his new audio interface in his office to grade assignments, as well as with his laptop, which he uses extensively throughout the curriculum, at various places throughout the campus and also when travelling and representing the college, presenting at conferences and conventions.
He explains, “Tired of carting around a full rack unit interface, or suffering the hums and buzzes of the laptop’s built-in audio output, the iD22 was a small solution that also sounds better than the smaller ‘budget’ interfaces available – particularly important when I’m giving a presentation on audio quality! It also gives me the flexibility to be able to make great sounding recordings directly into the computer, and get reliable readings from a test mic when pinking or sweep-tone analyzing a room. The fact that the iD22 can function as a playback device without external power was an unexpected plus point and convenience.”
“A curriculum with extensive study and hands-on experience of the analog signal path, promotes essential signal flow and troubleshooting skills that will transfer to the widest variety of potential employment situations.” – Dr Ian Corbett
Three years ago the Audio Engineering Program moved premises, more than quadrupling the size of the facilities to a staggering 4000 square feet and now includes a multi-station classroom/lab, three control rooms and four recording rooms plus admin areas. Dr Corbett says, “The Audient desk made the move with us and went from being the mixer that first semester students learned on, to the mixer used in the second semester of audio classes. There was no need to upgrade it – it was purchased with the capabilities needed upon future expansion, and being a great sounding analog board, it is of course fairly “future proof” as the technology changes around it.”
Dr Corbett points out that this second semester is a hardware based class. “No DAW,” he confirms. “The students use the ASP8024 with a hardware multi-track recorder and outboard gear, refining their skills and knowledge of patching, routing, effects processing, dynamics processing, and later in the semester recording and mixing a music project. We do this with the multitrack recorder in ‘destructive mode’ so that they have to confidently perform operations, make decisions and commit to them with no ‘Command-Z’ to undo if they mess up.” Important lessons to learn, especially if graduates want to have the best chance at finding work after leaving college.
“a nice big mixer is also satisfying to work on – and attractive to students”
“One major ‘gripe’ I’ve heard from employers, concerns schools who are producing graduates who are great DAW operators, but struggle to quickly troubleshoot problems outside of the DAW,” continues Dr Corbett. “Given the state of the industry today, few graduates are going to end up using a DAW in a music recording studio as their main source of income, so it is important that we prepare them to easily transition into the widest variety of potential employment opportunities – and only extensive training and understanding of an analogue signal path can give them this flexibility.”
And it was this analogue console from British audio manufacturer, Audient that caught the attention of Dr Corbett. He lists a few of the reasons why: “The features for the mid-price-point: the in-line design with a fader on both input paths, the flexibility to switch most sections of the channel strip between each input path, the design and layout of the console (it is not cramped or cluttered, and it is less intimidating to new students than more compact consoles). It is very easy to understand and teach on, and a good preparation for students moving on to less intuitive consoles or digital consoles. I was 100% comfortable teaching beginner students in their first semester audio recording classes on the ASP 8024 – it’s THAT easy to understand and get around.”
“The fact that just about every section of each channel is switchable between the long fader and short fader paths is very useful.”
Dr Corbett believes Kansas City Kansas Community College, centred around analogue consoles as it is, to be “…well prepared for the future. Unlike large control surfaces built by the DAW software company, there is no worry about the board or its audio quality standard being obsolete in 5 years, or being stuck with a partially functional control surface when the favoured DAW changes.
“So far the console has stood up to years of hard student use (and the mistakes that are part of learning!) and a major facility move, with only a couple of minor repairs,” he continues. “As a community college, our tuition rates are very low, and that combined with the type of equipment the students get to be hands-on with from day one, results in an educational experience unrivaled in the area.”