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ACM’s Neil Martin on how its new studio will ‘significantly’ impact students

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) worked with Metropolis Studios to equip its Guildford campus with a world class recording facility earlier this year. Neil Martin from ACM’s technical team tells PSNEurope about the project, and how it will be of great benefit for students…

How did this partnership come about?

ACM and Metropolis are intrinsically linked and have formed a really strong collaborative relationship; Nick Wrate (head of technical, Metropolis) and I have been in contact with each other over various projects during the past four years so I had great confidence that we could make a real success of the design, and have a significant effect on student experience. Nick has done a lot of studio builds at Metropolis and recently re-built Studio B last year so his experience was critical for creating the best acoustic environment.

How collaborative was the studio design process?

I came up with the initial concept of how we would use the space we had, to get as much functionality out of it as possible and to achieve the desired de-coupling between spaces. I often consulted with Nick using his wealth of knowledge to fine-tune the spaces and bring them up to the standard of a world-class facility. Nick provided the entire electrical specification which is an immensely important consideration when designing studios.

We arrived at the design from several angles. We had to think about what students require to become confident and knowledgeable in a recording environment

Talk us through exactly what the studio has to offer and how you arrived at the final set up.

The studio will be a versatile space, offering a main live room large enough to record anything from a band to a large ensemble, an isolation booth with stone diffusion on the walls, and a vocal booth adjacent to the control room.

The console will be a 24-channel SSL Duality, with Dynaudio monitoring, and a full suite of Digital Audio Workstations such as Pro Tools, Ableton and Logic, as well as plugins from Fab Filter, Native Instruments, Brainworx, Plugin Alliance, Steven Slate, and many more. We will also have the ability to connect from here to all sorts of other facilities such as the Electric Theatre, which is the latest live venue for the students.

We arrived at the design from several angles. We had to think about what students require to become confident and knowledgeable in a recording environment; incorporation of the ideal room shapes with the requirements to teach to a group of people, and how to balance the aesthetics of a teaching environment retaining as much natural light as possible whilst keeping the recording facility at the forefront of our minds, and also making use of the fantastic characteristics of the Grade II listed Rodboro building.

How much of a benefit will this new facility be for ACM students?

Learning to understand recording requires lots of experimentation, and the new studio will provide the space and the versatility to experiment with all sorts of combinations of microphone setups and live recording techniques, using the separation capability of the spaces. It will also provide the students with experience of how a studio is set up and functions in a real-world environment, meaning that after graduating here, they can walk into any studio environment, understand those spaces implicitly and work confidently. Giving this kind of experience to our students means that they are eminently more employable as engineers once they progress into the music industry. The space will have benefits for other students too; if you’re in a band you will get real-world experience of being recorded.

How will the studio be used? Will it have further applications beyond student use?

We will be able to use the studio to teach both studio and live sound techniques, connect to the Electric Theatre as well as other spaces in ACM to record performances, and use the space for live band and ensemble performances.

We will be able to run a multitude of different sessions, for example, we would have the ability to use the space for filming recording sessions as you might in the broadcast industry, and the students could run these sessions, giving them experience of various studio applications.

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