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Advanced Studio Production I: Syllabus
MCO 3340 – CRN 42534, Purchase College Fall ‘16
Room #MUS-0001 Thursdays 4:30-6:20

Instructor: Peter Denenberg / 914.251.7933

Course Description

Advanced Studio Production covers a variety of music production workflows as well as the “hardware” side of things found in the modern recording studio. Both technical and creative aspects of producing music are explored, in particular where they intersect. Discussions include the “business of producing music”, production agreements, client interaction and ethics in a variety of situations. On the more technical side; microphones, microphone preamplifiers, analog consoles, balanced and unbalanced wiring, studio design and signal flow are discussed as they relate to project studio design and “real world” environments.

This course is the logical compliment / follow-up to Digital Audio I& II. Classes will be part lecture, part demonstration.

Recommended Reading

The Recording Engineers Handbook / Bobby Owsinski
ISBN-10: 1285442016,
ISBN-13: 978-1285442013

This subject requires all students to have access to a digital audio workstation (DAW). The recommended DAW is ProTools 12. The following DAWs may also be used, though only limited support and instruction will be provided: Logic (Pro or Express), Cubase, Reaper, Digital Performer, Sonar, or FL Studio, Ableton Live. The Purchase library has ProTools installed on several computers and these can be used for classwork.

As a result of meeting this course’s requirements students will be able to; understand the intersection of analog and digital in the modern project studio and how to properly interface the two. Students will learn how to assemble an intelligent project studio and run a multi-microphone ensemble session for a variety of genres. A framework for identifying production styles and strategies as young producers should develop. Continued experimentation is encouraged in Purchase Studios throughout both semesters of this class.

Weekly outline

August 29 – September 4
Week #1
The history of analog recording methods, the birth of the modern PA system, early archival recording technologies. Fast-forwarding to “what it means to be an engineer / producer today” and what skill-sets are required.

September 5 - September 11
Week #2
Introduction to analog signal flow
In-class demonstration / discussion on analog signal routing and systems design, also how to read block diagrams. Discuss “The mixing console” and advanced routing concepts (analog &/or digital, the similarities). Pre-post fader, pre-post eq., phase, etc. Historical technical chat and demonstration with regard to mixing console evolution.

September 12 - September 18
Week #3
Begin in-depth recording hardware exploration.
Microphones, their polar patterns, microphone types and applications, continue discussions of basic mixer / studio terminology.

September 19 - September 25
Week #4
More in-depth hardware exploration.
Microphone preamps, class “A” electronics, tubes, transformers and their impact on musicality. What sounds “good” to us and “why?”. Balanced/unbalanced connectivity, mic level, line level, cable runs, types and limitations.
Assignment - due IN CLASS for week 7; “The Great Suny Purchase Mic Preamp Challenge” Students will download session file and review as will be discussed in class, presentations are week #6.

September 26 - October 2
Week #5
Microphone placement / how to record conventional and unconventional instruments-
Demonstration and discussion of basic microphone techniques, choices and best practices, contact microphones and PZM’s also explored.
Proper gain staging, levels, equalization strategies and types.

October 3 - October 9
Week #6
Outboard gear while tracking
Review compressors, limiters, outboard eq’s, reverb types in detail, compare to “in the box” equivalents. Discuss application and best practices for “committing” to signal processing (or not!).

October 10 - October 16
Week #7
“The Great Suny Purchase Mic Preamp Challenge” results day
Students present results, tally board is set-up and trends analyzed with group discussion.
Also, Cue systems, setup options, what makes a “good” cue mix? (delay compensation issues with this, headphone phase too).

October 17 - October 23
Week #8
Producing & Engineering
Where is the “line” between producing and engineering? How to manage the business of engineering when sometimes it evolves into production as well.
Behavior and ethics on a tracking session, what are the roles of; producer, engineer, contractor, manager, writer(s), band members, how to navigate the “intersections”.
Brainstorm recipes and techniques for producing a variety of artists.

October 24 – October 30
Week #9
Live production and recording workflows and options, analog vs digital splitters, clocking protocols, Digital signal routing, AES50, Dante, Madi, Fiber, Cat6, AES etc
Also, troubleshooting---- various problems/puzzles for groups in the class to solve with signal flow for tracking set-ups and session files. Gain stages, what may be distorting and where? (and what to do about it).

October 31 - November 6
Week #10
Studio design / basic room acoustics & design
How to “float a room”, a/c systems, diffusion, near and far field monitoring. Construction resources---- How to function in a “less than perfect” control room, moving things around to work better in any given space, guerilla acoustic treatments. 
Choosing an equipment list to design your own studio, based on project specific goals and budgets.
Ground loops & potential issues, hum, d.c.- equipment failure, shocks & injury, tube amps, outside shows & water!
Assignment - due IN CLASS for week #11; Research studio – design – budget, details reviewed in class.

November 7 - November 13
Week #11
Review studio – design - budget assignment / students present / class discuss

November 14 - November 20
Week #12
Guest lecturer (TBA)

November 28 - December 4
Week #13
Session technical planning, disk allocation, storage types and speed- Firewire 800-400, SATA, USB 2,3, Thunderbolt, discussion of “safe” session practices and preparations. Emphasis on proper “advancing”, testing & troubleshooting BEFORE a session/show starts.

December 5 - December 11
Week #14
Digital vs analog summing
In class assignment comparison of digital to analog summing vs all “in the box”, can we tell? Analog/digital level review and discussion.

December 12 - December 18
Week #15

Attendance Policy

Students are expected to meet all attendance and participation requirements in music classes. Unexcused absences, tardiness, or lack of preparation for class will not be accepted; students are allowed two excused absences (with prior permission only), three unexcused absences in any course earn a student a failing grade for that course. Two late arrivals equal one absence. Leaving class early is considered equivalent to arriving late.

Course Grading

There will be graded homework assignments during the semester covering material from reading, class lectures, discussions, and listening.

Grades based on attendance 30%, class participation and quiz grades 30%, and final exam 40%.

All graded activities will be reflected in the final grade.  All projects and assignments should be completed neatly and completely.  They will be graded on content and grammar (when applicable). In order to receive an A on an individual writing assignment, students must submit complete, thoughtful answers that are grammatically correct, and that demonstrate good academic writing style.  They must be turned in on the stated due date to receive full credit — no exceptions.

Academic Honesty

In this and all of my classes, every student must be aware of and adhere to the college’s policy on academic honesty.  See the Student Handbook and other college publications for the policy

Academic Progress within the Major- Conservatory of Music Policy

A grade of “C” or better must be obtained for all core music classes within a major. Core classes are any music courses that appear on the 8 Semester Plan for graduation. A C- or below constitutes failure to progress academically and is grounds for dismissal from the major. Once the Conservatory is notified as to a student’s standing he or she will meet with the BOS area head. A letter will follow from the Director’s office informing the student that due to “poor academic progress” he or she will be counseled into another in the program of study. 

Professional Standards – School of the Arts

Breaches of professional conduct are grounds for dismissal or probation depending on the severity of the infringement. Examples of poor professional conduct include, but are not limited to, poor treatment of facilities and studios, lack of preparation for rehearsals and/or lessons, disrespectful/disruptive behavior directed toward peers, faculty, administration and staff. The Conservatory of Music follows the SOA procedures for due process for any possible infractions.