The ASP8024 at Université de Montréal is in use seven hours per day on average, so the analogue mixing console from Audient installed just a few months ago certainly has its work cut out. Console specifier, Jean-Michel Dumas cited cost, feature set, reputation and operating costs as important factors in the decision to go for the Audient ASP8024. In particular, he mentioned wanting to “…go back to teaching on an analogue desk”, and Audient was curious to find out how that’s been working out.
We started off with an easy question: how important is it to teach the analogue signal path to the students?
From a formal point of view, understanding the signal flow is easier in the analogue domain since you can “follow” the audio clearly. Our students also have to be ready for live sound where the analogue paradigms are still used, even if digital desks are present. Also, we did not want to get locked in a proprietary system ever again. That just cannot happen with an analogue desk.
“Having the Audient in there now feels like a huge upgrade”
What led you to choose Audient’s ASP8024 in particular?
To be honest, the low price was a big selling point for us, but also the fact that Audient preamps are known for their transparency (I have also used Audient’s preamp strip on many occasion in my personal work and it always got the job done beautifully). The fact that the DLC module could be integrated to the board was what sealed the deal since we needed a surface control and Audient found a way to streamline the process with a great driver (that Steve Flower even customized for us!) and great mapping options (presets for ProTools, Logic, Cubase). The ProTools integration is flawless.
Are there particular features of the ASP8024 that stand out so far?
The EQ section sounds surprisingly good and can compete with other, more mythical desk makers. The in-line way of doing things was new for us, but we are finding new cool ways to work because of it. We are even thinking of bringing back a tape machine to show the students an alternative way to work.
We are also very curious about automating an analogue layer with the DLC through the Faderlink plugin. I haven’t had time to try it yet but it’s a fun thing I want to do (even if I’m not quite sure of the benefits on the actual results).
“The in-line way of doing things was new for us, but we are finding new cool ways to work because of it”
Approximately how many students will get to use the desk over the course of a year?
Students actually studying and working on the board: about 50 over one year. There are countless students being recorded through it though.
What will they be studying?
There is a general class (2 semesters) about studio techniques where each student needs to record a band. Our jazz combos also all get recorded through the Audient. They are down there 3 days a week every week so there is a lot of recording going on!
Have you had feedback from the teaching staff about the new desk?
Everyone is super happy. I had to sit down and go through all the changes and new options we now have but it all went smoothly. It is a bit more work for them because there is a lot more physical patching to be done depending on the setup and the desk needs to be zeroed after every session, but everyone is going in with a smile.
What about the students?
I have only heard good things – once they are given the proper training!
“Everyone is super happy”
Tell us some more about the setup where the desk is located. Is the facility new or upgraded?
It is not a new facility by any stretch of the imagination. It’s a conventional studio (that was renovated a bit throughout the years) consisting of a main room, a drum booth, a vocal booth and a control room. We try to upgrade it as we go with the funds available. Having the Audient in there now feels like a huge upgrade since the old setup was over 15 years old.
The audio setup is this:
Desk: Audient ASP8024
Main speakers: Dynaudio Air25
Near field speakers: Dynaudio PPM2 (QSC amp)
Mono speaker: Avantone MixCube
Interface : Antelope Orion32
DAW: MacPro running latest Reaper, ProTools, Logic and Live.
Everything at the back of the desk goes to a Bantam patchbay. We also have a bunch of outboard gear that gets inserted on the Audient when needed, other preamps we can A/B stuff with, etc.
According to the website, it seems that the Université de Montréal has a thriving music department. Do the music students get to use the studio, too?
I answered this a bit, but yes, we record a lot of students in the studio. Be it in the setting of a class (like the jazz combos) or for demo purposes and grant applications where a professional studio recording is needed (opera singers mainly). Once in a while, students also write and produce the music used over the University’s telephone network.
How would you describe the future of the Université de Montréal?
We are seeing very exciting music being made here and it shows no sign of fatigue. WWII oscillators going through custom programmed DSP while a string quartet reads from a score? Hey, why not!?