Beyond the Mix: Journey into BYU’s Innovative Recording Hub
Catherine Halstead, Marketing Communications Manager | December 20, 2023
Professionally designed spaces that offer the latest in technological advancements are paramount for those studying music recording, like the students in the new music building at Brigham Young University. These spaces serve as the foundational environment where budding audio engineers, producers, and musicians hone their craft. The value they offer cannot be overstated, as they directly impact the quality of recordings and the development of critical listening skills.
Specialized environments like the new Studio Y recording hub at BYU are essential for nurturing artistic talents and perfecting technical skills. The studio features a live room large enough to accommodate whole ensembles, complete with isolation booths for louder instruments. These recording spaces provide excellent sound separation and visual sightlines when simultaneously recording a range of instruments. The live room incorporates adjustable baffles with a sound diffusive and sound absorptive finish to fine-tune the reverberation time of the space to better suit a particular ensemble or instrument while also provide baffling similar to typical recording studio “gobos.” The engineered baffles are 12’ tall by 10’ wide, mounted to heavy-duty steel posts and hinges to allow for students or faculty to move them into their desired position easily and without taking up valuable storage space. In the upper volume of the room, the acoustics can be further adjusted by deploying motorized acoustical drapes.
The control room is unique, as it features a spacious tiered seating area that allows up to 24 students to critically listen to music with great detail and accuracy. This is accomplished by designing the main baffle wall ATC loudspeakers to provide coverage to the entire seating area with full frequency sound and accurate imaging. This allows for students to experience excellent audio no matter where they are seated. This design concept differs from typical control rooms where a small acoustical “sweet spot” only supports accurate imaging and frequency response for a few people at the mixing console. The control room offers three different sets of speakers to monitor sound. It is set up for full Dolby Atmos immersive mixing that is rare in most educational settings, although it has become a prominent feature in recent Jaffe Holden projects such as the New York University Paulson Center which also features a Dolby Atmos mixing studio.
Room acoustics are critical in control room environments so the room doesn’t introduce unwanted resonances or distortion that will affect the accuracy of the sound from the monitors. In addition to shaping and physical room proportions, deep bass traps were utilized to control low frequency sound energy. These unique bass traps were integrated into the seating risers and front and rear walls, providing a tight, accurate bass response. The control room included many diffusive treatments to maintain and redistribute sound energy in the room, preventing the space from being too acoustically dead and fatiguing to the ears. The diffusion was strategically concentrated towards the rear of the room to enhance the aural experience for students in the back of the control room.
Check out this 360° tour of both the control room and the live room in the video embedded below.
Pro tip to improve viewing quality:
- Press the gear symbol (top right corner on mobile app, bottom right for desktop).
- Click “Quality.”
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Surrounding the main Studio Y are five smaller MIDI studios that students can also use to create, record, and edit music tracks. These learning environments are tailored to music production and outfitted with the latest digital technologies, providing access to specialized software, virtual practice tools, and online resources that help students develop their technical and artistic skills. In the digital age, these resources provide valuable opportunities for practice, collaboration, and the exploration of innovative techniques.
Students studying music recording at BYU gain hands-on exposure to industry-standard equipment within an acoustically accurate sound environment. This practical training not only familiarizes them with cutting-edge technology but also allows them to develop a keen ear for sound quality. They can experiment, make mistakes, and learn from them, all within a controlled acoustic setting that rivals any professional recording studio.
In a setting where sound is managed professionally, students can work together on recording projects, share insights, and provide constructive feedback. This collaborative atmosphere mirrors the teamwork required in the music industry, empowering students to bridge the gap between artistic expression and technical excellence and enabling them to thrive in careers that demand both creativity and precision.
Find below Jaffe Holden’s technical drawings which further illustrate the acoustical design quality of this room:
Control Room Section with Highlighted Bass Traps
Live Room Reverberation Time Measurement Results
Jaffe Holden – Mark Reber, Mark Holden, and Matt Nichols, Principals of Acoustics
HKS – Mike Vela, Principal
HKS – Lance Shields, Project Manager
HKS – Brian Barker, Designer
HKS – Cortney Roundy, Architect
HKS – Leslie Hamil, AIA, Architect
BYU – Ray Bernier, Campus Architect, Managing Director of Facilities Planning and Construction – Major Projects
BYU – Travis Dance, NCARB, Project Manager, Architect – BYU Physical Facilities Planning and Construction Department, Major Projects Division
BYU – Ed Adams, Dean, College of Fine Arts & Communications
BYU – Jeremy Grimshaw, Associate Dean, College of Fine Arts & Communications
BYU – Diane Reich, Director of Administration, School of Music
BYU – Aaron Merrill, Associate Teaching Professor, Commercial Music Division
Big D Construction
Image and 360° View Credit – Y Magazine