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Guildhall School of Music and Drama Innovates in Live Dolby Atmos Capture for Universal Music with AUDIX A231 Microphones

“By arraying eleven AUDIX A231 microphones from the listener’s perspective we’re enabling incredibly lifelike, live Atmos captures of orchestral performances.”

Guildhall’s professor Julian Hepple, Head of Recording and AV, and Mimi Hemchaoui, Audio Operations Manager

 

London, UK (July 08, 2024) Guildhall School of Music & Drama is a vibrant, international community of musicians, actors and production artists in the heart of the City of London. Established in 1880 and ranked number one in Arts, Drama & Music by the 2024 Complete University Guide, the school offers training in all aspects of classical music and jazz along with drama and production arts.  Driven by a need to capture film soundtracks performed by their newly instituted Alumni Session Orchestra, the school recently added twenty AUDIX A231 large diaphragm condenser microphones and a DP5A 5-piece professional drum microphone kit to their production arsenal.

Impressed by their great sound, simplicity, utility, and build quality, Guildhall soon found the AUDIX microphones to be their go-to choice for everything from student projects and recitals to groundbreaking live Dolby Atmos capture. Former Prince FOH engineer and now Guildhall’s Head of Recording and AV, Professor Julian Hepple, and Audio Operations Manager, Mimi Hemchaoui describe how they came to choose AUDIX microphones and the amazing ways they’ve become central to nearly everything they do.“I got first exposure to recording at the age of 8 by making tea for the Spice Girls and other UK pop acts at Steelworks studio in Sheffield,” recalls Julian. “but I got my first real exposure to AUDIX as the front of house engineer for Prince on his Hit n Run tour in 2014, where we used the AUDIX i5,D2, D4 and D6 on the drum kit. Since then, I’ve come to rely on various AUDIX microphones with Anoushka Shankar, Robert Glasper and many others.”

Now a professor, and Head of Recording and AV for Guildhall, Julian had a unique opportunity to embrace AUDIX microphones once again. “Our decision to acquire twenty A231 and a DP5A drum microphone kit centered around the launch of school’s Alumni Session Orchestra, who provide full film tracking at proper studio specifications for our film composition students.”

“When we do these sessions, we might have 100 people or more in the room.” commented Mimi. “Ordinarily, condenser mics pick up lots of unwanted sound, but if they’ve got great off-access rejection like the A231, that means that even with 20 mics in the same space, there’s not going to be many phasing issues.”

But the decision to go with AUDIX, also had to do with the microphones’ ease-of-use “The simplicity of the A231 can’t be overstated,” said Julian. “Recording five or six performances a day, we wanted a mic that we could put in place and know that we’re good to go.”

Durability was also a deciding factor “There’s a nice ‘built in the USA’ ruggedness to AUDIX microphones. I can give one to a student who’ll do their own thing with it, and I don’t need to worry about it coming back damaged.”  Julian added.  “So, considering all the large diaphragm mics on the market through a filter of simplicity, utility, superior quality, and affordability, the A231 was the logical choice.”

One thing that impressed Julian was the customer service that he received from AUDIX’s UK distributor, SCV Distribution in acquiring the microphones “I likely couldn’t have gotten 20 of anything else here in the same time frame, but I got Ian Young from SCV on the phone and said, ‘We’ve got exactly 20, when do you need them? I can have them on a plane tonight.’  We decided that was a good sign and ordered them straight away.”

After Guildhall received the AUDIX microphones, they quickly found them indispensable for all types of audio capture, from jazz festivals, to opera, to student recitals, and more, but the most exciting application has been the groundbreaking work that they have been doing in their 7.1.4 Atmos mixing studio which was tuned and approved by Dolby and delivers pre-approved masters to Universal Music.

“We work differently by capturing orchestras in Atmos, live at the source, rather than fake it afterward,” Julian explains. “That’s one of the reasons why we bought the AUDIX mics, to enable us to capture acoustic music in a more spatial environment.”

Mimi elaborates, “We use AUDIX A231 microphones to enable 11-point Atmos recordings of an orchestra using a configuration called an PCMA 3D Array. Each captured channel is intended to be played back through a corresponding speaker in a 7.1.4 configuration. We arrange the mics to mirror that setup. Then we position the tree in the room based on where we want the listener to feel that they are. On many recordings, we place the tree in the middle of the orchestra so that the listener feels as though they are in the middle of all the action, but for a more natural effect we can also place it in the audience.”

When asked what’s next for Guildhall and their AUDIX microphones, Julian rattled off a weighty list of projects that are coming in just the next two university terms alone “Scoring sessions for eight films, capturing 250 final student recitals, a jazz festival, a drum & bass meets orchestra event at the Barbican Centre, staging a full opera at a night club…essentially, there are seven or eight things a day and our AUDIX mics are essential for almost all of them.”

He then went on to describe a project pending approvals from the Civil Aviation Authority, where they plan on sending weather balloons into space to record audio as they go up, “We’re going to learn what interesting acoustic phenomena we can then replicate in Atmos, and this work might translate into more accurate audio based on elevation in films.”

“In short, we like to be driven by projects, not by what we can do, which is why it’s so important that you can open the mic locker, grab the AUDIX mics, plug them in and they just work, “Julian concluded. “And it’s not just ‘record an orchestra in this room and a big band in this room,’ there’s a lot of fun experimental and investigative stuff going on, too”

Mimi adds “Guildhall prides itself on being at the forefront not just of the conservatoire network, but the AV industry in general. We’re really just curious creatures.”

About Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Guildhall School of Music & Drama is a vibrant, international community of musicians, actors and production artists in the heart of the City of London, England. Established in 1880, the school offers undergraduate and postgraduate training in all aspects of classical music and jazz along with drama and production arts. The school has students from over seventy countries.

Ranked number one in Arts, Drama & Music by the Complete University Guide 2024, one of the top ten performing arts institutions in the world in the QS World University Rankings 2023, as well as the number one higher education institution in the Guardian University Guide music league table, we deliver world-class professional training in partnership with distinguished artists, companies and ensembles. www.gsmd.ac.uk

About AUDIX

Celebrating the milestone this year of four decades of audio excellence, AUDIX has been a trusted companion for musicians, engineers, and audio enthusiasts since 1984. From the introduction of the groundbreaking OM1 in 1985 to the distinctive design of the legendary D6, AUDIX has consistently set new standards for innovation, performance, and quality.

Proudly designed & crafted in the U.S.A, the company’s cutting-edge facility based in Wilsonville, Oregan is a hub of creativity and ingenuity where artistry meets technology, and we continue to push boundaries to redefine industry standards. Every AUDIX microphone undergoes a meticulous process to guarantee it attains the pinnacle of performance and reliability, a reflection of our dedication to quality and meticulous attention to detail. That is why AUDIX is recognized among musicians, vocalists, sound engineers and other industry professionals for delivering microphones that capture audio with clarity and precision for an exceptional audio experience.

www.audixusa.com

About Videndum Media Solutions

Videndum Media Solutions is a division of Videndum plc, an international group of companies serving customers in the growing content creation market. Videndum Media Solutions designs, manufactures, and distributes premium branded photographic and video equipment such as tripods; bags; filters; backgrounds; motion control; lights and microphones for professional and hobbyist photographers and video-makers; and content creators. Positioning Videndum Media Solutions as the leading global provider of accessories within the fast-growing digital multi-media content market, the portfolio includes the following premium brands: AUDIX; Avenger; Colorama; Gitzo; JOBY; Lowepro; Manfrotto; Rycote; Savage and Syrp Lab. All products are distributed on a direct basis in 11 markets across the world through Videndum Media Distribution, as well as many other markets through a network of qualified retail partners.

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