North Carolina, USA - The Hayes School of Music, part of Appalachian State University, has installed a 48-channel Solid State Logic Duality δelta console in its Robert F. Gilley Recording Studio as part its on-going investment in the Recording and Production aspects of its Music Industry Studies degree course.
The new console has gone into the John Storyk-designed Studio A control room, and current students were invited to take a leading role in the installation, including wiring and patchbay design, with the guidance of the school's Chief Recording Engineer and Associate Professor of Music, Scott Wynne.
In recent times the University had invested in a lot of outboard equipment and, according to Wynne, had run into a 'bottleneck'. He felt that the digital console they had at the time was not making the most of the extensive analogue kit, especially when it came to issues caused by managing conversion delays and so on. "There was of course a lot more to it than that," he notes, "But that's where the process started.”
Once the Provost - Dr. Darrell P. Kruger - had seen the programme and talked to the students he felt like it was a worthwhile investment. The purchase was approved in Spring 2016.
"Now it's in, I'd say the total recall system is one of the things I really enjoy about it,” says Wynne. “Recalling the entire 48 channels is fast and easy, which is great for the students. The recording studio runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and our sessions are booked five hours back-to-back. You can waste a lot of time recalling other consoles. That was a big consideration for our facility."
Only 15 students a year start the Recording and Production course at the school, to ensure every one leaves with extensive and valuable experience in a wide range of technologies and techniques. During their time at the School students record and mix a huge range of material and original projects from simple mobile and live mixes to full multi-track and surround productions in Studio A, culminating in a final four song EP or postproduction project. The final semester is a 14-week studio internship. "Rather than taking 100 students and weeding them out," explains Wynne, "We want to make sure those 15 students all graduate and are really well qualified, with lots of hands-on experience."
Four students signed up to do the bulk of the Duality installation work, while another five contributed to the effort as required. The core team worked through the summer to finish the installation, putting an estimated 280 man-hours into the project. Wynne: "By the time the console arrived we had built input and output snakes for eight channels so we could test and sign off on the console. Then we went on to the main cable work, teaching the relevant skills and techniques as we went."
Wynne had to leave the school for a few weeks at the end of the summer, with one week of installation to go. "What the students love about this console - what I love about teaching on this console - is that 15 students wandered into a studio they had never operated before, with a completely new patchbay, and were operational by the time I got back - with only two weeks of messing about on it. That justifies the investment."
One senior student on the installation team, Kyler Rabe, comments: "I don't like that I no longer have an excuse for when what I do sounds bad! Everything sounds good on it, so if it's bad, it's my fault - it's all on me!"
"I've been sitting in on other people's sessions and helping them out," says Shea McKissack, a Sophomore student also on the installation team. "Everything makes sense... It flows perfectly and it works so well. And like Kyler says - the sound is just crazy. It's an awesome board."
The top picture is of the Robert F. Gilley Recording Studio, The Hayes School of Music, Appalachian State University – complete with the new SSL 48-channel Duality console. The people featured in the picture are Chief Recording Engineer and Associate Professor of Music, Scott Wynne (Sat in front of the console) with Students (Left to right) Shea McKissack, Graham Sloboda, Kyler Rabe, and Chip Cannon.