WERS-FM assistant chief engineer Bruno Caruso
Emerson College in Boston recently underwent an extensive overhaul of its broadcast media equipment and the WERS-FM facility, including the post-production room and, most recently, the performance studio—a 13- by 19-foot space with a 9-foot ceiling used for live and pre-recorded performances. In addition to installing a new 54-channel Yamaha PM5D and Pro Tools HD-102 system, the five-week upgrade included physical alterations, new mixing and recording gear, new patch bays, snakes, cabling, terminations and final testing.
Parsons Audio of Wellesley, Mass., served as the audio vendor, while Sound Construction and Supply of Nashville, Tenn., provided a console table to house a new Yamaha board, and a side rack to house interfaces and patch bays for the Pro Tools system.
“The Performance Studio is a multi-purpose facility,” explains Bruno Caruso, WERS assistant chief engineer. “It’s used to track bands for broadcasts, and the station also sponsors a ‘Live Music Week’ several times a year, which involves band interviews, live performances and so on. They’re mostly local acts, but we do get a quite a few national acts that happen to be in Boston, like Willie Nelson, The Donnas and Medeski Martin & Wood.
“One of the goals at Emerson is to expose students to products that are used in ‘real working world’ situations,” he continues. “WERS has had (Yamaha) 03Ds and 02Rs in the past, and they always performed very well, and ProTools is now a standard. We had purchased a DM1000 for our Post-Production Room, and found it to be very powerful, easy to use, and we especially liked the compact footprint. [Yamaha Commercial Audio’s] Martin Dombey showed us a PM5D, and it fit the requirements of having the power of a digital board with world class onboard effects, recall, scene memory and rerouting, as well as a live sound format.”
An Aviom Personal Mixing System fed through a Y1/Yamaha A-Net Output Card in an expansion slot of the PM5D is used for the in-studio live mix, which allows the engineer to assign and send 16 channels of digital audio directly from the console surface to external modules and daisy-chained CAT-5 connectors. “Everyone can control their own mix,” says Caruso, “and we’ve had some of the best sessions using that system.” For those acts preferring a traditional monitor mix, the studio keeps a supply of EAW SM109Z wedges on hand.
“For tracking, the mix busses of the PM5D send everything discretely to ProTools,” he says. “We’ve got two ProTools 192 units cascaded together via Yamaha MY16AE AES/EBU expansion cards in the back of the PM5D. After we track, the mix gets some posting to clean it up, and the band or the client has a quality final product to take with them. We’re mainly using the PM5D’s onboard effects—gates, EQs, compressors, some reverb here and there—but generally, there’s not much processing going on. However, we did purchase some outboard gear that we thought would go well with the new setup.”
The WERS Performance Control Room also includes several pairs of studio monitors from Yamaha, Genelec and Meyer; outboard processors from Rane, Empirical Labs, TC Electronics, Millenia Audio, TL Audio, Drawmer and dbx; a variety of playback equipment; and microphones from Rode, Blue, EV, Audio Technica and Shure, Neumann and AKG.