The music and audio recording studios have a few features conducive to quality production. Sound isolated heavy doors, offset double-partitioned walls, and even concrete floor isolation techniques were all employed.
“The concrete between these rooms is separate, it’s been cut, so even the floors don’t touch each other,” says Jon Clark, associate professor in film and theater programs at SLCC. “So I could drop a big object and bang, making a tremendous noise, and you’d barely hear it in the next room.”
The sound studio is essentially composed of four rooms, according to Stephen Sue, music recording technology instructor at SLCC, who also teaches basic audio production. Two isolation booths flank and are tied to the control room that features both state of the art hardware and software tools for student use.
“The studio itself, a large control room, is designed around a Solid State Logic Duality, 48-channel console that is tied into a ProTools system. We also have Cubase running in that room as well. Lots of plug-ins. Lots of outboard microphone preamps, compressors, and EQ’s, and effects processors. We have a large collection of microphones that we have been able to put together, which is also a very nice thing,” says Sue.
The audio studio console is “basically a hand-built, analog sound console from England. It had to be ordered four months in advance, then three weeks on a ship between England and the United States before we got it,” says Clark.
All the rooms have visual access to each other via large double-glass panels, each panel a part of its own wall so partitions are completely isolated from another.
“This piece of glass is sitting on a wall. The piece of glass on the other side is sitting on a totally separate wall,” says Clark.
Square rooms with flat perpendicular and parallel walls would be a poor design for an audio recording room, causing unwanted reverberations and echoes. The isolation booth rooms are irregularly shaped to combat this. The live recording room is large and tall, and seemingly rectangular, but mounted on the walls are a pattern of sound diffusers that deflect sound.
“The best description I’ve been able to come up with is that it makes the room sound bigger than it really is,” says Clark. “So all these things scatter the sound in a predicted way and make the room sound bigger.”
Along one wall is a large curtain that can be pulled out to alter the room’s sound if needed. The curtain is located about six inches away from the wall, and as sound passes through, it loses energy, then reflects off the wall, scatters and loses more energy passing back through the curtain.
“It totally changes the acoustic nature of the room,” says Clark. “Now instead of sounding like a really big room, it sounds a lot more cozy and intimate. If you are recording a drum set or a rock group, you’d want the curtain out as you’d want a lot more depth control.”
In addition to music media recording, such as music composition, music for video games and other commercial compositions, the studio can also be used to record sound tracks and effects for films and television.
“We just finished doing a scoring session for the student film summer bootcamp film. We can go in there with film sound students and work on doing foley and sound effects and film sound track editing, so it has a lot of dual use,” says Sue.
Across the hall from the music recording studio is a film screen room with 30 seats, a 2k projector and Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound; the entire suite of rooms were designed by acoustics specialist Charles Salter and Associates, of San Francisco, Calif., who also designed spaces for Dolby Laboratories and Skywalker Sound, according to Sue.
The screening room is tiered much like an actual movie theater and can be used for formal presentations, but it also has some high end production features, according to Clark. The room is designed to also conduct final sound level editing and is outfitted with beautiful acoustical wood panels.
“You would expect a room with this much wood to sound like an echo chamber, but it doesn’t because half of the panels in here have little slots and little holes in them. That allows the sound energy to pass through into some absorbers behind, so it’s about 50 percent absorbent,” says Clark.
CAM’s film screening room has struck the perfect balance between live and dead sound.
“It gives just the right amount of liveness, and it doesn’t sound unpleasant. A lot of movie theaters you walk in they’re so dead, you can hardly hear your neighbor talking to you because they just soak up all the sound. This is the ideal. This is the way movie theaters probably should be made, but they’re not,” says Clark.