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Charting the Future at McGill

Nov 1, 2011 9:00 AM, By Gary Eskow

RESEARCH MEETS REAL WORLD

McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) is taking a holistic approach, with one foot in the present and another peeking into the future. Thanks in part to a generous endowment from John Eargle, the institution is establishing itself as one of the most advanced audio research environments in the world. At the same time, the Schulich School of Music has made a determined effort to attract recording industry professionals of the highest order to serve on the faculty. Mix spoke with a few of them, including Richard King, who won a Best Engineered Classical Album Grammy for Bernstein: West Side Story Suite and another for contributions to Yo-Yo Ma’s Obrigado Brazil.

McGill’s mix room with 22.2 surround playback features ME loudspeakers with Cascade Flying Mole amps.

McGill’s mix room with 22.2 surround playback features ME loudspeakers with Cascade Flying Mole amps.

Photo: ©Doyuen Ko

“I started as an associate professor in August 2009 at the Schulich School of Music,” says King. “I graduated from McGill 20 years ago and have always considered returning to teach. Our graduate-level department has grown to four full-time faculty members, including the program’s founder, Wieslaw Woszczyk; producer Martha deFrancisco; and producer/engineer George Massenburg. I am continuing working on projects out of New York with producer Steven Epstein and others for various labels, as well as the occasional film score.”

Composer Bob Belden (left) and Richard King at McGill’s API Vision

Composer Bob Belden (left) and Richard King at McGill’s API Vision

At McGill, sound-recording students work in several mix rooms, three concert halls and a large scoring stage. “The small mix room, with a new 22.2 surround playback installation, is a Ben Kok design [Holland],” says King. “It has Pro Tools and Pyramix workstations, and our proprietary Space Builder, which we are working on with NHK Research in Japan. Loudspeakers are ME [Germany] with Cascade Flying Mole amplifiers. Approximate dimensions are 13-by-16 feet with 19-foot ceilings.

“Our other new rooms include the MMR studio and the John Eargle Studio,” he continues. “The MMR [multimedia room] is an ARTEC design [New York], though the acoustic treatment has yet to be finalized and installed. We are using it in its unfinished state, with theater curtains helping to bring the reverb time down to around two seconds. The dimensions are 80-by-60 with 56-foot ceilings. The adjoining control room is also nearly finished, and has a 64-channel API Vision console, Pro Tools and Pyramix, and is outfitted with five B&W Nautilus 802 loudspeakers on a Classé amplifier. Its dimensions are approximately 27-by-32-by-19. The John Eargle studio and control room are being designed by Martin Pilchner of Pilchner-Schoustal [Toronto]. The studio is approximately 30-by-20-by-19, and the control room is 22-by-26-by-19, equipped for 22.2 with Wave Field Synthesis using ATC active loudspeakers. There are also three isolation booths that can be shared between the three control rooms.”

At this point, the large stage is used primarily for research and large ensemble rehearsals, but real-world recording projects also take place there, including frequent client The Montreal Symphony Orchestra and many chamber music recordings. There are film scores on the books, and King did a large-scale jazz mix, Miles Espanol (E-1 Entertainment), on the API last summer.

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