The College of Arts and Architecture

Training to be an Engineer in Studio A

Overview

We frequently hear from students who have spent some time producing music on their own, and who feel that this entitles them to immediate studio access. Thus, we feel compelled to state, if somewhat bluntly, the rule of thumb governing all professional recording studios everywhere: prior experience elsewhere gets you no privileges. When you walk into a studio, you start at the bottom. You only do what you are shown how to do. If you want to do anything other than what you are explicitly shown, ask first.

If you want to record your own music, you hire an engineer.

If you want to touch the console, you must complete a training program first.

A guest engineer must work under the supervision of one of the Studio directors. 


Procedures for Gaining Unsupervised Access to the Studio

Unsupervised use of Studio A will be granted when a student has completed the following, in order:

  1. Completion of 2 courses or equivalent from the following list with a grade of B or better. A copy of the student’s degree audit may be requested for confirmation.
    • INART 50 Science of Music
    • THEA 484 Audio Recording
    • MUSIC 420 Song Writing and Recording
    • MUSIC 458 Electronic Music Composition 
  2. Completion of MUSIC 453 Recording Studio Training.
  3. A qualifying exam, consisting of two parts, 1) setting up for a recording session (actual or "mock") and 2) passing an oral test.  The test can be re-taken, if necessary.
  4. Session: The student will ideally be given a session consisting of multiple, mixed sources with a modest level of complexity.  They will then, without prompting, set up the session for either Logic or Pro Tools software with properly configured inputs and bussing, setup the appropriate microphones and stands in appropriate placements, connect line sources as needed, set appropriate input levels at preamps, react to situations prompted by the tester, back up the session, disassemble all hardware and clean up.  Grading this part is more about proper use of the equipment than about expert engineering choices, though they will also be considered.
  5. The oral test includes questions on: microphone types, uses and handling, pre-amplifiers, signal processors, physical connectors, studio maintenance and care, mixing concepts, studio rules of use, etc.

Studio A Training Topics

Microphones

  • Know all of the microphones currently in the studio:
    • Type (dynamic, condenser, ribbon)
    • Pattern(s)
    • Phantom power or not
  • Safe mic practices in general:
    • When to use a pop filter
    • Plosives
    • Mic capsule protection (condensers and ribbons)
  • How to safely put a mic on a stand and remove it
  • Proper use of mic stands regarding weight distribution
  • Microphones are only to be in a case, on a stand or in the hand
  • Ribbon microphone basics
  • Limit air movement (handling and source)
  • Pop filters for plosives
  • No 48V on passive ribbons
  • Store vertically

Computer Management

  • No installing software on the studio hard drive
  • Files saved in proper folder(s), not on the open desktop
  • Proper session file management
  • Disk allocation and external hard drives
  • Startup/Shutdown sequence

Software Operation

  • Pro Tools or Logic
  • I/O setups:
  • Session setup
  • Creating headphone mixes
  • Delay compensation
  • Bit rate and sample rate
  • Session buffer size (task appropriate)
  • Gain structure
  • dBFS
  • Metering

Studio Instruments

  • Yamaha piano use
  • Safe practices
  • MIDI interface
  • Using a MIDI controller with DAW
  • Safe guitar/instrument amplifier practices

Control Room Hardware Operation

  • All mic preamps
  • Monitor controller
  • Saffire Interface
  • Quirks and how to clean digital house

Headphone Monitoring
Operation of the headphone monitoring system, and how to use it in the DAW