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New equipment puts sound studio on cutting edge

Jan. 28, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A significant upgrade in recording and other equipment has sent Western Michigan University's recording studio soaring to a new, high-tech level.

"It's a giant leap forward for the studio technologically. We've just made the most dramatic leap forward in all of my years running the studio," says John Campos, who for two decades has managed the WMU School of Music's Western Sound Studio, located in the Dalton Center.

The studio has recently been equipped with the top-of-the-line digital audio workstation offered by audio equipment leader Digidesign. The console is capable of recording 192 separate tracks simultaneously, more tracks than even the most demanding production could need, and is furnished with a Protools HD Accel recording, editing and mixing system, which has become the audio industry standard.

"Oh, what the Beatles would have done with this," Campos muses. "It is absolutely the flagship workstation available."

The new equipment greatly enhances the recording and editing capabilities of the studio, Campos says.

"It allows us to handle much more complex projects," Campos says. "Before, we were limited to just 32 tracks at one time. Obviously, that's a heck of a leap forward up to 192. And we can do far more complex and demanding processing, such as removing noise from recordings, clicks and pops from LPs, things that were simply not possible with the older system."

Tied in with the upgrade is the purchase of a mobile recording system, Campos adds. Recording technicians will be able to take a "stripped down" version of the new workstation with them to a venue and record performances live.

"The whole thing can be taken easily to any location to record with very high-quality audio and can be brought back to the 'home' system in the studio for further processing and work," Campos says. "We've never been able to do that before either. Our ensembles perform all over the place, and we now have the capability of capturing all those recordings."

But, Campos adds, perhaps the biggest plus of the new equipment lies in educating students.

"Now our students can learn on a system that's up to date, and they can really learn about what's the latest and greatest," Campos says. "They're very excited about that. It's not only the School of Music ensembles who are benefiting from it, but the School of Music students as well."

The new equipment also has streamlined production and increased efficiency. Part of that has to do with vastly increased storage capacity of works in progress. No longer do large projects have to be split up on different computer hard drives and then reassembled.

"Those of us who have been here a while talk about how spoiled we've become," Campos says. "Tasks that used to take hours can be done now in minutes. Everything's right there for you."

The majority of the sound studio clients are School of Music groups. But customers from outside the University will benefit from the upgraded equipment as well.

A third component of the upgrade has to do with the purchase of sophisticated, high-end condenser microphones and improvements to Dalton Center Recital Hall itself, making it a much better venue for live recording. Noise created by the air-handling system has been greatly reduced, and engineers now have remote control over it.

For more information, including rates for recording, call the Western Sound Studio, located in the Dalton Center, at (269) 387-4720.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400