School Facilities

NJ High School Adds New Recording Studio to Learning Spaces

A career and technical high school in New Jersey has added new professional recording gear to one of its teaching spaces. County Prep High School, part of Hudson County Schools of Technology, added hardware from Solid State Logic (SSL), a UK-based company that manufactures analog and digital audio consoles for music and audio production. Students in the music and audio technology program learn how to write their own songs and produce their own music. The senior project involves putting a label together and releasing songs.

To help students learn on industry-grade equipment, the high school acquired Solid State's SuperAnalogue AWS console with 48 inputs for a main studio classroom. The school already had an SSL XL-Desk studio console in a smaller recording space.

Although studio construction started in 2019, equipment deliveries were held up in 2020 due to the pandemic, and the space finally became operational earlier this year.

NJ County Prep High School Recording Equipment
The new studio at County Prep High School features professional equipment from Solid State Logic.
Source: Solid State Logic

The AWS 948 δelta is installed at the front of a teaching space with seating for about 16 students that overlooks a tracking room with a piano and two soundproof booths. In addition to the console, students can work with microphone preamps, equalizers and dynamics processing equipment from multiple manufacturers, installed in twin 19-inch racks. The setup also includes a Bricasti M7 stereo reverb processor, a rack of 500 series modules and a pair of ATC main monitors to support stereo listening with a 5.1 setup of Genelec nearfield monitors available for surround-sound projects.

The SSL XL-Desk was the first console installed at the school, and that's where students begin their mixing education. After they've mastered that, said Wilkis Figuereo, supervisor of Instruction, Music & Audio Technology for the schools, they're brought into the bigger studio for "large platform recordings," such as those requiring orchestral music.

"I need my students to learn real signal flow using a real console," said Figuereo in a press release. "And I wanted to be able to use the AWS not just for recording into the digital realm but also as a fully functional analog console. We're very happy with the console. It sounds beautiful."

Both studios sit on a facility-wide Audinate Dante network. The analog patch panels feed the console directly and all inputs to and outputs from the AWS desk interface via AVID Pro Tools software.

Figuereo said he added the Dante interface into the mix, to allow him to "capture and record 64 channels of audio from anywhere in the building and patch them into the console. And we can monitor everything throughout the recording studio and classroom spaces."

The studio also supports streaming. "We have a Crestron system with cameras and SDI connections everywhere," explained Figuereo. "I'm able to show the console with a camera and I can talk about signal flow and how it works. We can have video in all the rooms for the students, and also livestream performances."

Students receive Pro Tools and Dante network certification as part of their music and audio technology training. "We are exposing them to being able to record in a professional recording studio," said Figuereo. "I wanted to make sure we brought some real-world experience into the space. And you've got to have a real analog console for that." As he noted, "We’re just trying to change the game. How many kids get out of high school and can say they’ve had training on an SSL AWS 948 console?"

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @schaffhauser.