Nottingham University has expanded its Music Technology provision by building a new recording studio and live room in a space formerly occupied by three offices.
The studio is now the focal point for the Universitys recently launched Music and Music Technology degree programme, which was established as a direct response to the rise in the number of students taking A-Level Music Technology.
International studio design consultancy White Mark Ltd handled the acoustic design and technical specification for this project, while project management was provided by the Universitys Estates Department. The studio is situated next to the Universitys 200-seat Djanogly Recital Hall, which was opened in 1994 and subsequently listed as one of the UKs top ten venues for chamber music (Classical Music Magazine). Tie lines between the two facilities mean that performances in the Hall can now be recorded to a professional standard.
Simon Paterson, Assistant Professor and Director of Music Technology for the Universitys Department of Music, says: I chose White Mark because I was aware of their reputation for high quality studio design, plus when you get to meet them they are great people to deal with. They have been exemplary from start to finish and have spent a great deal of time on this project, from design stages through to their final seal of approval. They have always responded quickly to technical questions or issues raised by the builders, which was very helpful in terms of keeping the project moving in the right direction.
White Marks design involved de-coupling the studio and live room from the buildings structure and setting them both on a neoprene-mounted floating floor. The acoustic treatment is extensive and offers a sweet-sounding performance space that is tonally interesting yet balanced across the frequency range and with no resonant frequencies or untoward standing waves in the audio spectrum.
It is always rewarding to work with clients that know exactly what they need from a project, says White Mark Director David Bell. Here, a strong wish was for a flexible recording space to allow realistic voice over recording and close miked music sessions. Also required was a volume and response that would give a good acoustic to chamber-style projects with air around the microphones and, consequently, the need for a balanced and smooth reverberant field. The close proximity of the adjacent performance space set the requirements of full frequency isolation at high levels but offers the opportunities to tie into a truly high quality acoustic environment for performance and larger scale recording sessions. We are very happy with the result!
Simon Paterson adds: The larger end of the live room is suitable for chamber music, acoustic guitars, drums and other ensembles, while the smaller end is more acoustically dry and therefore best suited for vocals or voice overs. In terms of equipment, we have an SSL Matrix 2 console with an SSL X-Rack system offering total recall of analogue signal path alongside comprehensive DAW control. The University already owns some high-end microphones and mic pre-amps, although we will be stocking up on more in the future.
Paterson, who joined the Universitys Department of Music in 2013 and has already introduced successful modules in Digital Composition, Sound Design and Synthesis and Music Production, says students are delighted with the new recording facility.
Alongside Music Technology degree students, the studio is also being used by students on the existing Music BA course, as well as post-graduates who specialise in electronic composition and/or sound recording, he says. The students love the space and everyone who visits the department is thoroughly impressed with these new facilities. Currently, our Music Production students are recording a wide variety of ensembles made up of Music degree students for a festival of music composed for silent films. They are also recording more traditional band set-ups for their portfolios.