Resonance, a new music institute based in the West Midlands, has effectively been transformed into a recording studio, whereby each student has their very own board to use and the same source material to work with as part of their education.
The facility is centred around very small classes (no more than 200 students per year) to accommodate as much hands-on training as possible.
Resonance CEO and principal, Rick Benton, commented: “In a traditional class situation, you might have ten or twelve students around the console, each waiting for their few minutes at the board. What we wanted to do instead was to have ten students in ten rooms, each with their own board and getting the same source material to work with.
“Perhaps in one room a student gets this phenomenal kick sound with perfect EQ and gating. The other students can come into that room and look at the board to see how it was done, then go back to their own rooms and try it live without having to wait their turn. It's all about a hands-on approach, where students get hours rather than minutes behind the desk to really try things out and play."
Alex Prince, course leader for the Performance and Production Degree course, added: “When I was at university, we had eight studios, all fully equipped… and in three years, I was in the studio four times. A major part of what makes my job at Resonance really enjoyable is being able to say, 'The studios are free right now, guys – if we want to learn about compression, let's go to the studio and do it rather than just talk about it.' It's far superior to a rigid lecture schedule.
“The lid has been lifted off what's possible. If you can put each student in front of their own mixer rather than gather them around one board and have them wait for their chance to use it, then a major block has been removed from providing the hands-on experience that these students require. It's very freeing."
Resonance has three recording studios, each complete with its own control room and live room with analogue connections, equipment, and workflow. There are also eight rehearsal studios for live work, six acoustically isolated practice rooms, and a Mac Lab for basic DAW-based study. A selection of small digital mixers and other equipment can be shared between these rooms as required.
“The centrepiece of Studio One, our 'project studio,' is a Red 16Line interface connected to two 8-channel ISA 828 MkII preamps with Dante converters in them — that's 24 analogue inputs, with 16 of them being excellent ISA preamps,” Prince continued. “There are fader controllers for the DAWs rather than a mixer; after the ISA Pres, everything is 'in the box.'
“In Studio Two, there is another Red 16Line connected to two A16R MkII analogue I/O, which are in turn connected to our Audient ASP Heritage inline console that's been modified for 48 discrete buses. If the students want to plug in every input from the two live rooms as well as our rack of vintage audio gear, the board and the interfaces can handle it — I insisted on that mod because when you're limited to 24 channels, there's nothing more devastating than needing just two more.
“In that studio, we have two ADAM Audio S3H monitors as our main midfields, with a Sub12 to take care of the low end. Since the control room is specifically designed to hold a full class of 20 to 30 students, the monitoring system must be able to fill that large space.
“Studio Three is still under development, but it is in operation and uses a Focusrite Clarett 8Pre USB. It uses a Novation controller and a Mackie HUI fader bank; the long-term plan is to put in another flavour of console, such as an SSL Origin or Delta. In the meantime, students can grab any of our small Dante-enabled digital desks such as the MIDAS M32 and Yamaha M7, bring them to Studio One or Studio Three, and either use them as fader controllers or run signals through them to take advantage of the onboard compression or other effects.
“The Mac Lab has 16 Macs, each with a Scarlett 2i2 and a Novation Launchkey Mk3 controller, monitored through headphones. The six Practice Rooms are essentially single Mac Lab stations, but with a set of ADAM Audio T7V monitors to allow students to mix in an independent, isolated room with acoustic treatment. We can bring in other equipment to create a 'recording van' or a control room.”