“Our current count is nine Audient desks,” says Richard Liggins, Technical Production Manager at the University of West London (UWL). “Seven ASP8024s and two ASP4816s, plus a number of ASP510 5.1 monitor controllers and an ASP800,” which puts it in the running for the facility with the most Audient desks in the world. Most recently, London College of Music (LCM) – part of the UWL – opened Paragon Annex Studio complex, an investment of more than £1 million in the development of seven new recording studios, which includes two each of these Audient consoles.
“Audio-wise, the desks hold their own in a professional studio environment”
Liggins explains: “Audient desks reflect a very clear design ethic in terms of the signal flow through the desk. We teach audio studio recording from first principles, and that means an understanding of signal flow through a traditional multi-track studio as a base for all other techniques in audio recording. The in-line architecture of the Audient range supports that teaching very well.”
“The mic pre’s are clean and accurate”
With this latest enhancementof its existing provision, LCM’s studio complex just down the road from the UWL Ealing campus, is now one of the biggest of its kind in the world. Superlative in size perhaps, but how about quality? “Audio-wise, the desks hold their own in a professional studio environment,” confirms Liggins. “The mic pre’s are clean and accurate, the EQ is flexible and supports the teaching of parametric EQ well, and the usual complement of Aux’s etc. are well ordered and clearly marked.
“We decided to standardise our main rooms onto a single platform some time ago, to allow better transfer of technique from the teaching studios, and to allow the students more time to concentrate on their recordings without needing to learn multiple platforms and workflows.
“We wanted to present a consistent approach for the students in the main studios, so the choice of an analogue console was made partly for financial reasons, but also because the traditional recording approach is the backbone of everything we do in audio teaching,” he continues. “Personally, I prefer large chunks of good analogue kit in my signal paths, the quality of the audio and the ability to drive circuits into soft clip at a number of stages is invaluable. Digital desks are much less forgiving for developing technique.” Which is important to consider when teaching.
“the EQ is flexible and supports the teaching of parametric EQ well”
“Getting a new student to engage with such a large console can be something of a challenge, particularly for those used to working ‘In The Box’, and we have found that the clear and logical layout of the ASP8024’s channel and monitor sections allows clear delivery of signal flow classes.”
As the facilities grow, so the courses evolve too. “We have just launched a multi-pathway variation of our venerable Music Tech Specialist BA (hons) degree, the students study a common first year, then specialise into a number of technique based pathways, including Electronic Music Production, Recording and Mixing, Live sound and Audio Post Production,” reports Liggins, pleased that enrolment is also increasing. “Interest has jumped by 300% at application and is holding up very well. We’ve been running studio degrees for 25 years, this is the next phase for us.”
Well over 500 students will find themselves in one or more of the University’s studios over the course of a year, with all specialist music tech students required to take a level 4 module in Studio Techniques, regardless of the course that they specialise in later in their studies, so the recording gear is certainly put through its paces. “The desks are very keenly priced for such large scale systems and are very robust indeed; we have a 12 year-old ASP8024 that is only just coming up to retirement.”
The Audient consoles were supplied by educational technology experts, Academia.