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Recording Studio Users' Guide
The CCRMA recording studio is available for course-related work only. Users are expected to have taken Music 192A/B in order to learn the details of studio operation in this facility. Use for other CCRMA courses is permitted with staff assistance. The studio may not be used for commercial recording - you may not charge for your services if you record others.
The recording studio consists of a control room and an adjoining recording studio. Equipment available currently includes:
- A Tascam DA-78 8-track digital recorder
- an Otari MX-80 2" 24-track recorder
- an Ampex ATR-800 analog 1/4" stereo recorder
- a ProTools HD|2 system w/Mac Pro 8-core Macintosh computer & Universal Audio UAD-1e card
- a Yamaha DM2000VCM mixing console
- an API 3124+ microphone preamp
- an Apogee Big Ben word clock system
- a Universal Audio 2-610 mic preamp
- a Waves L2 Ultramaximizer digital limiter
- a Panasonic SV-3800 DAT recorder
- a Tascam CD-RW700 CD-R/RW recorder
- a Tascam 122 mk III cassette recorder
- a Lexicon 224XL digital reverberator
- an Eventide Orville effects processor
- Westlake BBSM-10 and JBL 4208 monitors
- ADAM 5.1 surround featuring 2 A77x and 3 A7x speakers
and outboard gear including:
- equalizers (Furman PQ-6 parametric, Rane GE-30 graphic)
- compressors (Teletronix LA-2A, Universal Audio 1176, dbx 166 and Ashly CL50)
- Line6 POD X3 Pro
A color flow-chart of studio connections is available near the mixing console.
All digital recorders and the mixer are synchronized to world clock from the Big Ben. All analog equipment in the control room is connected through a patch bay, and all connections are to be made through the patchbay: NEVER DISCONNECT ANY AUDIO CONNECTIONS IN THE RECORDING STUDIO. In addition to a Mac Pro, a Linux PC-based computer system is available in the control room.
Microphones available in the recording studio include:
- one Neumann U87ai
- one Neumann TLM-193
- two AKG C414 XLS
- one Audio-Technica AT4049
- two Shure KSM-141
- two Josephson C42
- one Beyer M-500
- one Sennheiser MD-421
- two Sennheiser E-604s
- two Electrovoice RE-20s
- one Electrovoice N/D868
- one Shure Beta-57
- several Shure SM-57s
Microphones are stored in the file cabinet in the control room closet; condensor mics in the top drawer and dynamics in the second drawer. Microphone adapters and mic stands use quick-disconnects for easy mounting and these should not be removed.
There is a Yamaha DC7 Disklavier MIDI grand piano in the studio.
Two snakes connect microphone inputs from the studio to the control room: one connects directly to the first 16 DM2000 mic inputs and the second is currently unused but will be connected soon to something cool. Returns 17/18 of the larger snake sends headphone signals to the Furman HA-6AB studio headphone amplifier for monitoring. Returns 19/20 connect to the stereo output of the mixer for potential monitoring via speakers.
A loudspeaker talkback system operates between the control room and the recording studio, located on a panel in the patchbay rack. The talk switch is off in the center position and on in either the locking (up) or momentary (down) positions.
The studios are available 24 hours a day, but ONLY to registered CCRMA students (who are taking or have completed Music 192, Theory and Practice of Audio Recording), faculty, and staff. Priority is given to students currently enrolled in 192. During the school year, users are limited to 8 hours of studio time per week. Occasionally, larger projects may be undertaken with prior permission, but these must be planned well in advance. User sign-up is handled through the CCRMA room booking system. If you need greater access, please talk with Jay Kadis. Do not use the studio without booking it on-line!
Some Studio Etiquette
When using the studios, it is necessary to adhere to the CCRMA security procedures, especially those regarding building access: NO DOORS ARE TO BE LEFT OPEN UNATTENDED. Equipment may be brought in for recording, but it CANNOT BE STORED here. CCRMA is not responsible for loss or damage to any equipment left here. Cables for studio use are stored on the wall inside the studio. These cables are for temporary use in the studio only: if you need cables for use outside the studio, see staff. The cables should be stored on the wall, either wrapped up with no ends hanging free (longer cables) or draped over the hooks (shorter cables). Please see that the cables you use are not tangled hopelessly when you return them. (Extra credit if you use the over-under wrapping technique correctly.)
NEVER disconnect any audio connections in the studio (Exception: you may connect microphones to the mixing console directly to the mic inputs.) Be sure to return the snake fan-out connections when you are done.
Food and drinks are not allowed in the studio control room. This is necessary to prevent accidents from damaging the equipment. There are kitchen facilities upstairs and you should use that area for eating, as long as you clean up after yourselves.
If you sign up for time, you are expected to use it. If you cannot make use of a booking, you should delete it from the signup program and notify local-users@ccrma. If you bring non-CCRMA people into the studio, you are responsible for their adherence to the CCRMA rules. Please be respectful of others working at CCRMA and limit disruption: keep the studio door closed to keep sound from disturbing others. Try to minimize the impact of your project on the general CCRMA community.
The Mac Pro runs Pro Tools 9 HD, Logic Pro 8, Reaper and Harrison Mixbus. The Linux machine runs Ardour, Mixbus and Audacity.
For a detailed description of the Yamaha DM2000, read the DM2000 Users' Guide. A familiarity with the mixer's operation is essential as the connections are all programmable and may be changed from user to user. The main Stereo L-R output is connected to the Tascam CD-RW700 CR burner through the Waves L2 Ultramaximizer digital limiter. This AES/EBU connection allows the limiter to be applied to the stereo output recorded to the DAT without patching. If you do not wish to use the limiter, set it to bypass. To employ the limiter, take it out of bypass mode and adjust the threshold control. The lower you set the threshold, the more limiting you will get and the louder the output will be. You can set the maximum level to 0 dBFS or lower. Try the ARC automatic release function before you play with release times. Clocking should be set to Digital and the input must be set to AES/EBU. If you record to DAT or CD, you should use the L2 16-bit dither setting.
The DM2000 stores many user I/O presets. The CCRMA Default (#7) preset is the usual setup for recording and playing back via the mac Pro using either Pro Tool or Logic. Both use the Digidesign 192D interface that connects to the mixer via lightpipe connections. There are 16 channels in and out available. For recording and playback using Ardour or the Tascam DTRS recorders, separate presets are available. The presets may be accessed from the Scene Memory section of the mixer.
Help! How do I get some light?
Lighting in the recording studio and control room is controlled by a pair of rotary switches, one for on and one for off. To turn on lights, push in and turn the ON switch. To turn off the lights, push in and turn the OFF switch. Each switch has numbers that correspond to the banks of lights, so each bank can be switched on and off independently. A map next to the switches details the location of the various banks. (This confusing system allows dimming the light level without using conventional dimmers, which contribute lots of electrical noise.)
Help! How do I get some sound?
So what's the simplest way to get some sound into the console? Line level signals are fed via the patch bay into insert returns or from digital tape machines into the digital tape returns. Microphone signals from the studio are directly connected to the first 16 mic inputs through a snake (multichannel cable), so that mic channel 1 goes to input channel 1 and so on up to channel 16. Mic inputs from the second snake go nowhere until further notice. You must adjust the DM2000 preamp trim controls to get mic signals into mic/line inputs 1-24. The Universal Audio 2-610 dual microphone preamp connects to a 2-channel floor box in the control room. It can be used in the control room or connected to channels from the snake that normally feed the DM-2000. The outputs connect to the mixer through the patch bay. (If you move these connection, be sure to put them back when you're done!) Mixer connections from the patchbay use the Inserts rather than line inputs, so any patchbay signals need the appropriate input channels to be set to Insert, rendering the trim controls inactive.
The API 3124+ four channel mic preamp is connected to a floor box in the control room, which is connected to a floor box in the recording studio via a snake. If you want to put signals into the API from the control room, you may plug into the floor box behind the DM2000 but be sure to restore any connections you break before leaving. The API outputs are normalled to mixer inserts 13 - 16 but these connections can be changed on the patchbay. (You need to engage the Insert button on these channels to activate the API inputs.)
There is also an Eventide Orville effects processor connected through the AES/EBU digital connection. Connections to the Lexicon 224XL reverb are made through the analog patchbay. The Otari 24 track recorder is partially normalled to the inserts of the DM2000: the first 12 and last 4 (channels 21-24) line inputs are normalled to the Otari outputs while line inputs 13-20 are normalled to the patchbay from external microphone preamps (to be added soon). These outputs from the Otari need to be patched to the line inputs on the patchbay. All inputs to the Otari must be manually patched through the patchbay. The control room monitoring system is controlled by the Monitor section of the DM2000. The four inputs to the Eventide Orville processor are sent via slot 6 (AES/EBU) from Aux sends 9-12. Returns are sent to inputs 45-48 (Pro Tools layer) labelled FXR1-FXR4.
The eight source selection buttons for the control room monitor system can be mixed by pushing multiple buttons. If you monitor the mix and the tape return from the DAT or CD burner simultaneously, you will hear phasing. This is due to the time delay created by the digital machine. Simply select one or the other. Sources available currently include DAT playback on 2TR D2, CD playback on 2TR D3, analog cassette playback on 2 TR A1. Selecting "Stereo" plays the stereo mix to the monitor speakers. "Small" will select the JBL 4208 monitors, otherwise the selected source will play through the Westlakes.
Studio talkback is available through headphones connected to the headphones return to the studio with the talkback button on the DM2000. Another talkback system is located on the patchbay panel, which uses a speaker in the studio. This system is turned on by a switch which is momentary in one direction and locks on in the other. Be sure to turn it off when you're not using it or everyone in the studio will hear you. For more complete information, see the DM2000 manual in the control room.
Connected to the main stereo output (through the L2 Limiter) is a Tascam CD-RW700 CD-R/RW recorder. To use the CD-R recorder as a stand-alone recorder, set its input to Coaxial, which is connected to the S/PDIF output of the Waves L2 limiter. The CD-RW700 can record track-at-once or disk-at-once in automatic or manual modes. See the manual for more detailed information. The simplest method is manual mode, controlling start and stop manually. To duplicate DAT tapes, the input of the CD-R recorder is set to Optical and the DAT machine must then be switched to optical S/PDIF output. This may be accomplished by placing the SV-3800 DAT machine into its menu mode by holding the mode and reset buttons while depressing the Pause button. The first menu item is the digital mode and it is toggled between AES and S/PDIF (IEC-O and IEC-C) by pushing the >>| (skip ahead) button to advance the selection. IEC-O is the optical S/PDIF mode to use. Be sure to return the CD-RW700 input mode to coaxial when you are done.
There are three speaker monitoring presets on the DM-2000:
7 - Westlakes stereo - stereo output goes directly to BBSM-10s and to headphones
8 - ADAMs 5.1 - busses 1-5 feed the 5 ADAM speakers in 5.1 configuration
9 - ADAMs stereo - bus 1&2 feed ADAM A77x stereo.
For headphone output on ADAM presets, desired channels must be sent to "Stereo" as well as busses 1&2.
Laptops can be connected to the DM-2000 through the Rapco Iti-100 laptop interface. The 1/8" TRS jack plugs into the headphone/line output and connects to channels 23 and 24 line inputs on the DM-2000.
The Yamaha SY-77 is connected to the MIDI interface for MIDI input to Pro Tools. The stereo audio outputs are also connected to line inputs 21&22 on the DM-2000.
Help! How do I use ProTools?
To log into the ProTools Mac Pro, you can use you CCRMA system login. All sound files must be stored on the ProTools drives (ProTools 1, 2 and 3) and not on the system drive. You can use your own external FireWire drive, but note that ProTools sessions may not span internal and FireWire drives in the same session. ProTools output is connected to inputs 25-40 of the DM2000 via AES/EBU connections to the Digital 192 interface (There is no direct analog input to ProTools.)
In order to start using ProTools, the first time you create a session you must set the hardware setup correctly: Both channels 1-8 and 9-16 must be set to AES/EBU (the default is AES/EBU) and the clock must be set to External. Subsequent sessions will remember your settings. The sample rate set by Big Ben and the session sample rate must agree. Sample rates up to and including 96 kHz are possible, though the Eventide Orville cannot run some of its presets at that sample rate. Pro Tools is gullible and will use whatever sample rate you tell it, regardless of what is actually being fed to the external clock input. It is up to the user to verify that the session and clock sample rates are the same.
All systems are clocked externally from the Big Ben and all recorders and mixers should be left in external word clock mode at all times. To monitor ProTools, you bring up channels 25-41 (25&26 are the default stereo output from the ProTools mixer.) Users are responsible for backing up their ProTools files, and files may only be left on the ProTools disks while they are in current use. Disk space is limited and abandoned files may be deleted by staff when space becomes necessary. Be sure to back up any files you cannot afford to lose!!! The Mac Pro has a CD/DVD burner.
Calibrated Listening Levels
Optimal listening levels are generally considered to be about 85 dB SPL, as the equal loudness curves are flattest at that intensity. The mixer is calibrated so that -12 dB FS on the Stereo meters corresponds to 85 dB SPL on the Westlakes with the volume knob a "4" (it ranges from 0-10.) Pro Tools -12 dB gives the calibrated level when the input channels are set to - 3 dB. If 85 dB SPL proves to be too loud for prolonged work, the volume knob can be set to "3", which is about 80 dB SPL. The ADAMs are also calibrated when Bus 1/2 are set to -10 dB on the Master fader page.
In practice, 85 dB SPL is too loud for prolonged mixing and should be used mainly to check nearly-finished mixes for tonal balance.