Unbeknownst to many, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor is home to one of the best recording studios in North America. Located at the Duderstadt Center, the studio was entirely renovated during the summer of 2015. Taking up about 1800 square feet, the studio is complete with a control room, a main recording room, an isolation booth, machine rooms and a storage closet.
Probably the most profound addition that was made during the studio’s renovation was its new 40-channel, API Vision analog surround sound mixing and recording console. David Greenspan, coordinator of audio resources at the Duderstadt Center, says that “Using an analog console is a more effective teaching tool than a digital console because the layout is easier for students to learn the fundamentals of audio signal flow.”
With the popularization of Blu-ray and HD streaming, surround sound mixing and recording is gaining popularity as well. Never before has an audience been able to experience sound in such an immersive way. Surround sound recording is a technique that enriches the quality of sound by adding audio channels to provide sound from a 360-degree radius on a horizontal plane. This is in place of “screen channels” which only provide sound from the listener’s front left, front right, and center.
Surround sound is actually characterized by the location of the listener, also known as the “sweet spot.” This is the spot where the surround sound effects work best.
By using multiple discrete audio channels, the surround sound technique exploits sound localization, or, a listener’s ability to detect the origin of a sound. This will enhance that listener’s perception of sound spatialization.
There have also been major advances in Digital Audio storage, like DSD Recording, SACD and DVD Audio. These advances are digital disruptions themselves, and they require a new level of performance from the equipment used to create audio masters. The API Vision surround sound mixing and recording console has he ability to perform at this new level, therefore responding to the technological advances in storage.
This technology has changed the way those in the music industry construct and record their music. Another device that has transformed the music industry is SoundCloud. SoundCloud has provided a new platform for music distribution, and its popularity has skyrocketed since its launch in 2007. The platform breaks barriers, creating a sort of a global musical village. One can share his or her music from nearly anywhere to nearly anywhere across the globe. This is especially important for artists that do not live in a community with a thriving music industry; artists living in Ann Arbor, for example. Now, students can reserve time in the University of Michigan audio studio and record their music using the API Vision console, then easily upload to SoundCloud. From there, the options for that music’s next destination are endless.
“…digital protocols change, and I couldn’t promise the provost that a digital console we installed today would still be relevant twenty years from now. With an analog heart, we can be flexible and stay current with the evolving digital technologies that surround it,” says Greenspan, bearing digital disruption in mind.
It is difficult to say what the future holds for audio recording techniques and technology. I predict that sound quality will continue to evolve as it has for years, until it reaches a point at which the only way to distinguish recorded sound from reality, will be the quality. And the recorded sound will be better than reality. Perhaps surround sound will eventually be able to reach not only 360-degrees on a horizontal plane, but on a vertical plane as well. As Digital Audio Storage techniques advance, equipment like the API Vision console will evolve as well, as it has no other choice. With all of these evolutions, audio recording/mixing will become quicker, easier, and the sound will be richer than ever.
With its new API Vision console, and all of its other recent amenities, the University of Michigan’s audio studio caters to and beyond the needs of those who wish to record and distribute their music. Its new technologies have responded to the advances in audio recording and to the digital disruptions within the music industry. Those with access the studio are very fortunate and should take advantage of the opportunity while they can. Read more about it on the university’s website, and begin taking the necessary steps to become certified to use the studio here.