Washington, D.C. - Sept. 2009:
The programs and departments at American University in Washington D.C. strike an appropriate balance between traditional disciplines and newly evolving fields of study. The Audio Technology Program definitely falls into the latter category and has grown exponentially since coming into its own less than a decade ago. In 2005, the year that star student Matt Boerum graduated from the program, he was in a class with fifteen peers. Today, Boerum is studio manager for the program, as well as professor, and teaches to sixty-five students seeking their bachelor's degrees from the program. The facilities have kept pace with the growth in enrollment, the latest addition being a new thirty-two-channel API 1608 small-frame console at the center of a dedicated mix room.
With its connection to the Department of Performing Arts and its origins in the physics department, American's Audio Technology Program maintains a unique blend of art and science. When it started out, the program had only a synthesis room and a recording room. That has expanded over the years and now includes three recording studios, two audio-centered classrooms and a mix room. While the program provides a broad education, covering topics such as synthesis, acoustics, electrical engineering, and music business, most students emphasize in audio engineering.
"Paul Oehlers, program director and I worked together to overhaul our mix room," explained Boerum. "The brand on our mixing console was one that any sound engineer would recognize as 'cheap' - not a big sell for the program! Since we offer Pro Tools certification, our students already have ample exposure to the world of software mixing and we thought it would be best to put a nice analog board in the mix suite. Since Mike Harvey, professor of audio technology and I love API gear, and since API is headquartered just thirty minutes down the road, the 1608 was a natural choice."
The API 1608 is a small-frame console built as the modern extension to the company's cherished 1604. The standard model ships with sixteen channels, each with API mic pres and equalizers, eight main busses, eight aux busses, one stereo bus, eight effects returns, VUs on every channel, and 5.1 monitoring capabilities. American University added a sixteen channel sidecar, bringing their channel count to thirty-two.
Part of the 1608's appeal is its modularity. The main board and the sidecar each have eight unpopulated slots that fit 500-series modules, which are currently being made by API and other manufacturers. "Modularity opens up new avenues for teaching," said Boerum. "We already have some A Designs and Avedis Audio EQs, and we expect to expand that list. It will make it easy to impart a deep understanding of the differences between types of circuits and manufacturers."
Boerum is also glad to be able to teach signal flow on the 1608. "With few tape machines around, our students get a lot of exposure to software-based recording systems, which in my opinion is not the best learning experience. With the 1608, signal flow is much more intuitive - I can simply point to different modules and trace the signal flow."