Volunteer State Community College: Endless Possibilities in New SRB Building Recording Studio
We live in a digital age, so we may assume that digital is always better. But that isn’t necessarily the case when it comes to audio recording. The new recording studio at Volunteer State Community College is state-of-the-art analog. Another room has home studio equipment. That may seem strange at a college with yet another studio that is fully digital and fully automated. The reason is simple: learning.
“The vision for our process is to have three different recording environments,” said Entertainment Media Production Director, Steve Bishir.
The original studio has a fully-digital, fully-automated console. In the new big room it’s a full analog environment using a console with no automation. Each time a student brings up a song here they have to mix it. That builds skills. The new smaller control room is designed like a home studio. It’s all digital, with no console. All of this gives students experience for whatever they need to do in the real world.
Analog recording is increasingly popular with musicians. In the new Vol State studio you can see the many knobs and buttons on the effects racks. The console is all faders and knobs, and each one has to be carefully adjusted for the mix. All of the analog equipment impacts the sound that is recorded.
“It has its own personality and feels more natural when you’re mixing. It’s hands-on control,” said student Robert Conray of Hendersonville.
“Analog adds color and depth to the mix,” added Bishir.
The variety of recording environments, the range of outboard equipment, and the extensive selection of microphones gives students experience with more choices than they could possibly imagine. “I feel like I’m more prepared to walk into any situation and know what I’m doing,” Conray said.
The new studio space is more than three times larger than the original digital studio, which is still in use and in demand. All of the new areas are specially designed for acoustics and technology.
“We have endless possibilities here and tons of space,” said student Aaron Gatz of Hendersonville. “The bigger space in the new live room helps with the sound. And we can connect this studio to the choir room or any other sound room.”
Those music rooms are down the hall in the new Steinhauer-Rogan-Black Humanities Building. Wiring provides the technology to record large groups, from a chorus to an orchestra. There is even a camera network and a large HD monitor so students can see and talk to musicians across the building. The entire set-up is a labor of love for Bishir, a multi-Grammy Award winning sound engineer. There are many benefits to designing a studio from the ground up.
“Everything here has been engineered for sound. I worked with the architects on how the room is designed,” Bishir said.
The new studio is part of the Entertainment Media Production (EMP) degree program at Vol State. It gives students four academic tracks to choose from: music production, video production, multi-media and web design, and music business. Students collaborate on group projects. They are also connected to internship and job opportunities in Nashville. EMP has an advisory board of Nashville music professionals and relationships with record companies, studios, agencies, and artists.
Aaron Gatz runs the analog board, while Robert Conray tweaks the Pro Tools system, which is one nod to digital technology in the new Vol State recording studio.
Eric Melcher is Coordinator of Communications and Public Relations at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee.
Opinions expressed in Member Spotlight are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the League for Innovation in the Community College.