VENUE Expands Education at Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences

Since its founding over three decades ago, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences (CRAS) in Arizona has become one of the most highly regarded audio recording, sound engineering, and music production schools in the country. Recognized for intimate class sizes and highly qualified instructors, CRAS fosters a supportive environment where students are prepared for successful audio careers, with its two Phoenix-area campuses offering plenty of hands-on access to the industry’s most relevant technologies.

With live sound mixing and recording as one of the fastest growing segments in professional audio today, CRAS recently upgraded their live performance room’s analog console to an Avid VENUE D-Show System to reflect the strong trend toward digital mixing in professional live sound circles.

"We are extremely excited to have made the move to the Avid VENUE system," says Kirt Hamm, administrator at CRAS. "Integrating the D-Show into our curriculum ensures that we’re teaching valuable, cutting-edge skills that make our graduates more competitive and employable in today’s sound reinforcement industry."

The D-Show System at CRAS consists of a 24-fader VENUE D-Show console with D-Show Sidecar, a 48-input VENUE Stage Rack, and VENUE FOH Rack. The latter is loaded with a VENUE HDx Option Card for easy integration with the conservatory’s existing Pro Tools|HD systems.

Training students for live sound success

As one of the most popular courses, the conservatory’s sound reinforcement curriculum incorporates a wide variety of subjects. Regular band clinics facilitate training in everything from how to fly a line array to shooting a room with Smaart, as well as proper recording and mixing techniques. Here, the VENUE system’s flexibility, intuitive user interface, and easy learning curve help students hone a highly marketable skill set that reflects the demands of today’s market.

"Adding the VENUE system allowed us to significantly expand our curriculum," explains Kevin Becka, director of education at the conservatory’s Gilbert, AZ location. "We can now teach digital signal flow and get students involved in building a FOH mix. They do their own set ups, create it as a session, save it, and recall it on the board later. The console’s recall capabilities are an extremely useful educational tool."

The Virtual Soundcheck feature in VENUE and tight Pro Tools integration are also cited as critical advantages for the conservatory’s training efforts. "When we do band clinics, we are often recording both locally and remotely, passing audio between several different classrooms," Becka elaborates. "We capture 16 channels from the live performance, then feed each room via MADI. Students are able to route the feed to separate Pro Tools rigs for easy recall later."

The process not only provides optimal hands-on experience under real-world conditions, Becka observes, but "it also ensures that all of our students have easy access to a library multitrack that is constantly refreshed and easily retrievable. This is something that simply wasn’t possible with our old analog system."

Innovation saves space and expense

The conservatory also chose D-Show in order to take full advantage of VENUE’s powerful onboard plug-ins.

"The system is fully loaded with a nice complement of plug-ins," says Becka. "Keeping all the processing onboard reduces [hardware] expenses and space requirements for the conservatory. More importantly, it allows our students to sharpen their ears and mixing skills by providing direct access to a large library of different sounds and processor options."

Technology aside, the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences is all about the students. Providing each and every graduate with the skills necessary to launch a prosperous career is the school’s number one goal and the driving force behind every technology upgrade.

"Installing the VENUE system puts us right in line with what’s actually happening in the real world," concludes Becka. "Upon graduation our students are now well prepared to move easily between mixing a small band in a club or going on the road with a big act. Wherever they go, they’re bound to encounter a VENUE system when they leave here."