Over the past three decades, 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. Featuring small class sizes and highly qualified instructors, CRAS fosters a supportive environment where students learn the technologies and workflows they need for successful audio careers.
Recently, the school made the decision to update its aging live analog console with a more modern system that can network with other classrooms and integrate with the existing Pro Tools setup. CRAS selected an Avid D-Show System for its excellent sound quality, proven reliability, and advanced workflows. The D-Show System features Avid VENUE software, the common software platform across all Avid live systems, which allows for seamless Pro Tools integration.
Adding the VENUE system allowed us to significantly expand our curriculum.
KEVIN BECKA, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION, CRAS
"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 D-Show console D-Show Sidecar, a 48-input Stage Rack, and Avid VENUE FOH Rack. The latter is loaded with an 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 D-Show 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 setups, 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."
VENUE’s Virtual Soundcheck feature 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."
Integrating the D-Show into our curriculum ensures that we’re teaching valuable, cutting-edge skills.
KIRT HAMM, ADMINISTRATOR, CRAS
The process not only provides optimal hands-on experience under real-world conditions, but it also ensures that the 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," Becka explains.
Innovation saves space and expense
The conservatory also chose D-Show in order to take full advantage of VENUE’s powerful on-board plugins. "The system is fully loaded with a nice complement of plugins," says Becka. "Keeping all the processing on-board 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. The school’s number one goal—and the driving force behind every technology upgrade—is to provide each and every graduate with the skills necessary to launch a prosperous career.
"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."