More than in other academic disciplines, the practical aspects of Audio Technology require a focus on the facilities of the program. As the purpose of the degree is to train audio engineers in the operation and maintenance of recording equipment, it is essential that students receive training on technology comparable to industry standard.
American University just completed a new recording studio designed by the Walters-Storyk Design Group, one of the premiere studio design firms in the country. The new 2200 square foot complex opened in January of 2011 and remodeled with new equipment in 2016. In addition to this new complex, existing facilities that will continue to be utilized by the Audio Technology program consist of three performance spaces, and a shared multi-station classroom.
The recording facility consists of three control rooms, a main recording space with variable acoustics, a drum room with a removable floor that will access six foley pits, four isolation booths, and a machine room enabling interconnectivity through the entire studio complex.
In addition to the studio spaces described below, the Electronic Music Studio houses a synthesizer collection which includes a Moog modular synthesizer, an EMS Synthi, and an Arp 2600, and a collection of other MIDI and software-based synthesizers.
Control Room A
Control Room A functions as the primary tracking room for most projects. A brand new Solid State Logic (SSL) Duality with full surround sound capability serves as the primary console for this space. The new console features 48 channels and both an analog and a digital mode allowing students to manipulate the sound as they desire. Students often use this equipment in their classes and receive hands-on training.
In addition, Control Room A contains outboard pre-amplifiers made by Earthworks, Focusrite, HHB, Millennia, Thermionic Culture and UA; compressors made by API, Universal Audio, Thermionic Culture, HHB, Teletronix, Tubetech, and Valley People; and outboard DSP units made by Lexicon and Effectron. I also houses a Pro Tools HD2 system running the Waves Diamond bundle, Antares Auto-Tune, Native Instruments Komplete, McDSP plug-ins, and numerous other software plug-ins.
Control Room B
Control Room B is the primary mixing space in the recording facility. A 32 channel API 1608 serves as the recording console for the space. The modular design of the 1608 enabled the program to not only include API equalizers in its construction, but also Avedis and A-Design equalizers.
In addition to the mixing console, the studio features outboard gear made by SSL, Tube Tech, Thermionic Culture, and Briscasti Designs. The studio also houses a Pro Tools HD2 system running the Waves Mercury bundle, Antares Auto-Tune, Native Instruments Komplete, and numerous other software plug-ins.
Control Room C
Built around a Wunder Audio Wunderbar 36/44 inline console, Control Room C enables the program to offer courses in sound design, ADR (automated dialogue replacement), and foley. The fully analog console with three mixbusses for storing sounds. The system allows for additional recording capabilities to produce a warmer, fuller sound for student projects in music.
The studio is based around a Pro Tools HD1 system and contains sound effects from the Hollywood Edge collection as well as various software plug-ins. It also enables users to mix in 5.1 surround sound for film or television broadcast.
Post Production Editing Suite
Built around a Digidesign Control 24, the post-production editing suite enables the program to offer courses in sound design, ADR (automated dialogue replacement), and foley. The room is based around a Pro Tools HD1 system and contains sound effects from the Hollywood Edge collection as well as various software plug-ins. It also enables users to mix in 5.1 surround sound for film or television broadcast.
The live room is a large space, designed with variable acoustics for recording music of differing genres. A drum room and four isolation booths allow for complete separation of performers. The session room is equipped with an extensive professional microphone collection, a number of professional amplifiers, and a drum set. A machine room connected to the studio allows for complete interconnectivity between the different recording spaces and control rooms.
The Harold and Sylvia Greenberg Theatre opened in March 2003 with the mission of providing the Washington, DC and American University communities a place to experience live performances in music, theatre, and dance. Audio is run at the Greenberg Theatre by an audio technology student, hired to a part time position. In addition, students in the audio production major learn lighting, sound design, technical operation, and other related issues in courses run by the theater department. In 2004, the Greenberg Theatre hosted the Washington premiere of Most High, a film scored by audio technology professor Paul Oehlers.
Katzen Arts Center
The Cyrus and Myrtle Katzen Arts Center brings all the visual and performing arts programs at American University into one 130,000 square foot space. Designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration in the arts, the new center provides state-of-the-art instructional, exhibition, and performance space. The facilities in the Katzen Arts Center used by the Audio Technology Program consist of the Abramson Recital Hall, the Studio Theater, and two shared classrooms, Katzen 135 and Katzen 210.
The Abramson Family Recital Hall provides a second concert venue. As with the Greenberg Theatre, students in audio technology assist in the operation and maintenance of this facility. The control room contains a Pro Tools system, a Soundcraft mixing console, and other outboard digital signal processors. The hall is equipped with an automated microphone, video projection, and lighting systems. The opening event in the hall was a concert featuring the music of composers from the music, multimedia, and audio technology programs.
The studio theater provides a black box configuration for students to set up lighting sets, and audio and experiment with production techniques. Current projects utilizing the studio theater include the recording of dramatic monologues by theater students for the inclusion on portfolio DVDs made by audio technology students.
The computer classrooms in the Katzen Arts Center provide interactive and hands on learning experiences for the students. In previous classes, teachers in audio technology had to design the curriculum with class discussions that consisted almost entirely of passive learning experiences. The new classrooms in the Katzen Arts Center provide active learning experiences for students at all levels in the program. The two classrooms used by audio technology are Katzen 135 and Katzen 210.
Katzen 135 contains eighteen iMac workstations, with M-Boxes and keyboard controllers. Each station also has software such as Pro Tools and several plug-ins, as well as music software such as Sibelius and Finale. The typical lecture style configuration lends itself to classes that require more of a lecture/demonstration approach, such as the introductory class, Fundamentals of Audio Technology, and its related lab course.