Northwest College’s control room, looking into the live room
Photo: David Vaughan
Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG) project manager Romina Larregina worked closely with AES member Robert Rumbolz, the Music Department Coordinator and Director of Music Technology at Northwest College in Powell, Wyo., and with local architects, to maximize the school’s $700K budget for a teaching/recording studio. Northwest College offers 2-year, A.A.S. degree programs in electronic music technology, radio production and television production.
Rumbolz says that at recent AES Conventions, he attended Broadcast Facility Design Panels chaired by architect/acoustician John Storyk and in 2009, Rumbolz visited WSDG’s booth at the AES Convention to seek Storyk’s opinion on drawings prepared by an architectural firm. Storyk’s initial take on the plans revealed some design issues. A discussion with Rumbolz led to WSDG coming onboard as a design consultant on the project.
“Our music technology program has been in place for over 10 years,” Rumbolz says. “Kerry Boggio, a key member of the school’s advisory board and former Hollywood-based audio mixer for such TV series as Diff’rent Strokes and Three’s Company, recommended upgrading the program with a professional level studio. Having worked in a number of studios myself, I knew the original plans needed an expert opinion. With WSDG on board, we were able to revise the design to accommodate sophisticated acoustic treatments, technology selection, systems integration and workflow, and improved line of sight between control and live rooms. Our goal was to integrate a core analog-based signal flow education with contemporary Pro Tools, digital-based recording techniques. We believe it is critical that students learn to use their ears, not just their eyes in the mixing process.”
“It was fascinating to see the difference our acoustical experience made in getting this project on track,” Larregina says. “These complex rooms can be compromised by even minor miscalculations. It is critical to address issues such as room geometry, equipment selection, console positioning, and systems integration at the earliest design stage. Nothing can be taken for granted or left to the last minute.”
At right, Northwest College’s Robert Rumbolz adjusts a mic for a student recording session in the school’s new live room designed by WSDG.
Photo: David Vaughan
To facilitate performance recording and/or broadcast over the schools’ TV and radio stations, the new studio was constructed adjacent to the college’s Nelson Performing Arts Building auditorium. WSDG developed an infrastructure including wiring and a full systems integration program designed to take full advantage of this proximity and provide complete interconnectivity between the auditorium, the live recording studio and the control room. This enables live recording and/or broadcast capability throughout the entire complex.
The overall flexibility of the studio was further enhanced by the incorporation of a three-wall system between the recording and control rooms and the college radio station to facilitate live streaming sessions.
“WSDG has always been firmly committed to audio education,” Storyk says. “We were very pleased to have had the opportunity to assist Northwest College in strengthening their program.”