View Full Version : Music Studio for School
May 23, 2011, 04:00 PM
After about 10 years of lobbying, the music department at my school has finally got funding to fit a music studio up. As far as I understand the budget is "a few thousand" pounds, and we need a computer, interface and mixer.
I understand that the new iMacs are very powerful, and that the performance of one is similar to a pro of the same price? The peripherals should not be a problem, as the school already posesses large quantities of monitors etc, so it is a mac pro, iMac comparison.
The interface needs to have a minimum of 10 input and the mixer needs to be large enough to handle such.
I guess software would start off as Logic, but any suggestions are helpful!
Basically we are trying to do the majority on a budget (ikea rack mount ;)) so we can spend the largest possible on technology!
Does anyone have any experience with setting up a studio of such proportions, I need gear recommendations :)
May 23, 2011, 04:42 PM
I believe I can offer some help, firstly you need to decide which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software you're looking to use. The main three choices are Logic, Cubase or Pro-Tools... I'm not even going to attempt to get into a debate about the pros and cons of each system, but I can say from my experience, all school studios / education studios use Cubase as a method of teaching. You should note that each of these DAW's will run on a Mac or a PC system.
Having said that, an iMac would be easily capable of running a 10 input / output system, as it very much depends on the interface you get. There are many questions to be answered to provide a proper list of equipment, e.g. are you looking for an all digital studio or an analog desk, 2.0 or surround sound, audio monitors, room location, etc...
If you want to DM me, i'd be more than happy to help draw up a rough spec list for you...
Just let me know!
EDIT: I have experience setting up and maintaining budget studios for local schools, colleges, and radio stations.
May 23, 2011, 10:32 PM
to save cost, i'd look at a mac mini and use an existing monitor, and going with the free Audacity instead of paying for a DAW.
what are the other requirements? mics? monitors? stands? any build out for rooms? what kind of recording is the studio meant to handle?
May 25, 2011, 04:14 AM
I'm at a private school, and so when they built a new music block 2 years ago, their budget was set, and money left over was used to buy musical instruments, that poorer student could borrow. Hence, the room that they built as a recording studio became a storeroom. It has holes in the wall through to our music hall, so cables can be run through.. The school already has plenty of mics (SM57s etc) and likewise cabling, also, decent studio monitors from a much older setup that existed in the old building.
It is quite literally just the three items that I mentioned that they need to purchase. As far as the DAW, I use Logic at home, and it's fantastic, but the school used to use Cubase (it was network hosted on PCs, a NIGHTMARE) so staff have basic training in it.. I guess I need to discuss what they want..
I was really looking at gear suggestions though, what interfaces and mixers do you use of comparable size? Bearing in mind the school needs to puchase new for tax purposes...
May 26, 2011, 02:03 AM
not sure why you want/need a mixer if you get an interface big enough.
check out the presonus firestudio, see if that will handle the input needs. if not, say you need to actually record 10 mics at once, you may be looking at a 16-channel a/d converter with 10 dedicated mic pre's -- that won't be cheap.
or maybe there's a firewire mixer than can handle what you need, i'm not very well-versed in them. just make sure it can record each channel separately into the DAW. i.e. you don't want the mixer to collapse all inputs to stereo, forcing you into recording a pre-mixed, stereo signal into the computer.
May 26, 2011, 04:31 AM
You can get mixers with built in A/D interfaces, this can work out cheaper than a separate mixer and interface. With regards to zimv20's comment i think having a mixer is quite a nice thing for a teaching environment it can help the kids understand the physical flow of audio through a channel strip rather than just into a computer, tweak some settings and out the other side.
If you do a search for firewire mixers or usb mixers you'll come up with a lot of options, (don't know if i'm allowed to post this but digital village in the uk are a good online music equipment website, no affiliation to me, they even have a sister educational website for schools to buy equipment mv education i think).
I quite like the look of the Allen & Heath ZED-R16 as it looks amazing value for money if i'm correct in thinking that it can output each channel separately. They are quite a good name in the world of live mixing, don't know how good they are in terms of A/D quality, but the fact that you can use the mixer as midi controls for the actual DAW mixer is a real bonus, much better than clicking and dragging pictures of little faders. As zimv20 also said just make sure the mixer can output each channel separately to the DAW rather than just a stereo mix.
Jun 1, 2011, 03:27 AM
16 inputs and a nice control surface.
An iMac will do for school projects, just get some reliable 7200 rpm usb drives for storage.
Jun 2, 2011, 05:08 AM
Thanks for all the advice guys. I really like the idea of going the full digital way, might as well future proof! I now understand that as the school is going to be hopefully starting to teach Music Technology for A-Level in 2012 that it seems all the more imperative to get the best stuff! We have also just managed to get Cubase 6 on another budget, so more money saved!
I'll let you all know with some setup photos when we finally sort it out! But any more advice still is useful...it's still in the design stage!