After years of design and planning, the Ray L. Kimber music and sound recording studio at Browning Center is finally complete and open.
A VIP open house was held on October 1 for architects, faculty, donors, students and others involved to see the final product of the new state-of-the-art studio.
The studio setup includes three rooms. Mark Maxson, Sound Production and Recording Program Director, explained that the first is the engine room. It’s the smallest room, containing only the computer hardware and fans needed to run the studio equipment. It is closed with a soundproof door so as not to disrupt the check-in process.
The second is the mixing room, containing the large Neve studio console, large screens and speakers. Maxson said they will also be bringing a sofa and a few desks, and that this room is where the main teaching will take place for students learning to produce audio.
The third, the monitoring room, is separated from the mixing room by two heavy sliding doors which, when closed, soundproof the room. This is the room where the artists will play for the recording.
During the tour, Browning Center director Jim Craig invited guests to stand in both rooms and close the doors to attempt a scream test. Everyone on one side screamed and waved their arms to visually indicate they were screaming, then those on the other side screamed. Both sides could only hear a very low noise, even with many people shouting simultaneously.
Double doors are not the only features of the room that create its soundproofing quality. Shane Sanders, lead architect for Sanders and Associates Architects, explained that there is a lot behind the walls that occupants don’t see that make the room what it is. The whole room is a structure in itself, completely isolated from the building and sitting on rubber insulators.
“It’s very unique, and a lot of unique things that you don’t see,” Sanders said.
Also in the monitoring room is what Maxson called the mic cabinet, containing the program’s collection of microphones. Maxson explained that there are different microphones for different purposes – for recording singers, various instruments and drums, and recording podcasts – and each has its own unique characteristics and tone. They even have vintage 1950s microphones that produce a sound unlike any modern microphone. He said microphones are the key to recording.
“Where we really shine is in our microphone collection,” said Maxson. “We have so many different types and different microphones that we can record almost any situation. “
Guests visiting the studio could be heard commenting on how impressive it was and all the great work Weber State University will be able to produce in the future.
Peter Grueneisen, principal architect of nonzero architecture in California, and Sanders said the final result of the studio was beautiful and they were very happy with it. Grueneisen was the studio’s lead designer and works with them often during his career.
“It’s always exciting to see places like this go to schools where people start to learn these things and get into the industry, so it’s really exciting and satisfying to see it,” Grueneisen said. .
While the recording studio will be used by many College of the Arts and Humanities students, Maxson said it was specifically aimed at training the new minor and associate degrees in sound production and recording. It is these students who will learn how to professionally record and edit audio, how to use sound equipment and software, and how to work with others in a studio.
“I think it really prepares them for the real world,” Grueneisen said. “Their ambition is to work in these studios at some point, and having something very similar and comparable to what you would find in a commercial studio is really great preparation and I think it makes a big difference to the students. And that will also help attract more students, I think.
Ray Kimber, the main donor on whose behalf the recording studio has been dedicated, has been involved in the Browning Center and audio production since 1968. He has designed microphone setups for the university to use in the Austad Auditorium, and the power outlets he designed specifically for audio were installed in the recording studio.
Kimber said it was “awesome, awesome, awesome” to see the studio completed. He explained that there are three feet on the music stool – composing, performing and recording – and how this new recording studio is helping WSU complement that third foot to achieve better quality in music production.
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