Department Chair John Little has noticed a change in Media Arts & Technology degree program applicants at Mount Wachusett Community College since its studio rebuild. “We are a small community college whose student body mostly commutes to campus from within 20 miles. Website photos from the renovations are now drawing audio students from hundreds of miles away, some of whom rent apartments so they can train here.”
John Little on ASP8024: “…with this one board, we can teach a lot”
Five years on, the college is still enjoying the fruits of its Media Arts & Technology facility upgrade, which included a rebuild of five audio control rooms. Little commented on the new ASP8024 at the time: “We’re especially happy with the Audient console we put in Studio 5,” and he stands by his statement today. “I chose it before I knew how many colleges around the world use them. I insisted on an actual console with real audio paths over a controller. This one has the feel of a large format desk, yet is elementary enough for students to embrace quickly. It has gorgeous preamps, it’s quiet as a mouse and the dual layer module provides DAW controller options and automation, so with this one board, we can teach a lot.”
Coming from a background as a recording engineer, Little had ample experience working with film makers, who would often berate the lack of training in audio for visual media disciplines. When he started teaching at MWCC, he wrote the audio curriculum to address this deficiency. Upgrading the studios was the next logical step. “Our curriculum constantly evolves for efficiency and relevance to a changing industry. Part of choosing the Audient console was in anticipation of how well it would last as a valid training tool,” he added, confirming that it has lived up to these expectations.
“[ASP8024] has the feel of a large format desk, yet is elementary enough for students to embrace quickly”
MWCC’s Studio 5 features an 80 input Audient ASP8024-HE with Dual Layer Control. Recording is handled with a ProTools HDX system running 32 analog channels of Avid HD/IO and 32 channels of Dante via Focusrite Rednet. The room is also networked to the Avid NEXIS E4 storage server. Additional software includes Waves, Izotope, and Lexicon plug ins. This ProTools system is equipped with Avid Video Satellite, patched to an Avid Media Composer Video edit system, which provides synchronizing to full HD quality video for Foley work and mixing to motion picture.
Outboard includes compressors from Empirical Labs and FMR Audio, Drawmer DeEssers, Lexicon effects, and Tascam CD recorders. The room has five video monitors, switchable through electronic routing. On the large video monitor, while recording multi-camera events, the audio students will view a duplicate of the video control room’s multi-display of all cameras, just as the video directors see. Audio monitoring in this room is also provided by Mackie HR 824 monitors, tuned through a DBX 1231 referenced by Audio Control Industrial SA-3050A spectrum analysis.
“quiet as a mouse”
The Audient console is also central to recording concert videos out of the theatre, which involves students from eight different classes throughout the college. “Annually, this is the biggest task for our ASP8024 to as much as 48 inputs of Pro Tools. Audio students record this along with video students who operate cameras in and around the concert,” says Little. “In addition to the live switched video recording, all audio sources and camera images are recorded discreetly, and the final edit/mix is created in post-production. When COVID restrictions end, we will invite military bands and national acts to record concert videos here – either by us or with our involvement.”
Little’s plans for MWCC’s future are manifold – despite the spectre of the global pandemic which still looms large. Another audio control room is under construction, which will include recording, 5.1 mixing and connection to the video control room for live TV audio. A new audio course specific to live sound is also being developed, helping to nurture collaborations with neighbouring universities.