The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences (CRAS) is a technical school specializing in audio recording, engineering and production education. Its Tempe, Arizona and Gilbert, Arizona facilities train students for entry-level jobs in the recording industry.
Students are immersed in learning how to use a wide range of professional gear, including Lexicon PCM92 Reverb and Effects Processor and MX400 4-In/4-Out Reverb/Effects Processor with USB “Hardware Plug-In” capability.
Four Lexicon MX400 processors are integrated into the school’s analog and digital Pro Tools-based Studio A, B and C facilities, and two PCM92 processors are in the main Studio A rooms on each campus. In addition to being part of each studio’s gear, they’re a fundamental part of the students’ education.
“Our students get exposed to Lexicon early on,” said Tony Nunes, audio recording and production instructor at CRAS. “They start by learning basic chops and how to integrate outboard gear into the total recording setup. Our focus is very much hands-on, and we want students to be familiar with Lexicon as it’s what they’ll be running into in professional record production studios.” In addition to the MX400 and PCM92, CRAS is equipped with legacy Lexicon PCM 80 and PCM 70 reverb and effects processors.
The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences curriculum is organized in cycles, with Lexicon used in a number of programs and clinics in the cycles. Nunes begins by teaching students the basics of time-based processing including getting familiar with the MX400 and PCM92’s effects and parameters, choosing the best reverb for a vocalist or particular instrument, learning proper signal routing, when to use mono or stereo ins and outs and getting familiar with using multiple effects on different tracks.
Students progress to working on getting the best sounds from drums, vocalists, a three-piece band, electric and acoustic guitars and other instruments, using mics, the MX400 and PCM92 and other studio tools. For the eighth cycle, students must engineer a drum clinic where they choose the mics, put up a previously recorded session and overdub new tracks with a live drummer. Part of the assignment is to choose the Lexicon plate reverb that sounds best with the snare and sits well in the mix.
“We are very excited to be a small part of the wonderful work being done at CRAS,” said Noel Larson, Market Manager for Portable PA, Tour and Recording at HARMAN Signal Processing. “Lexicon defines reverb for modern recording and we want to make sure the next generation of top performers, engineers and producers feel the same way the current generation does.”
“Teaching our students how to mix is very much integrated into the curriculum at every step,” Nunes noted, “but we really start getting into time-based processing and advanced techniques for using the MX400 and PCM92 during the last three cycles.”
Here, students learn to fine-tune every aspect of their mix, dig deep into Lexicon’s choice of mono and stereo reverbs, filters and modulation effects and discover how they can be used to enhance the acoustic ambience of a track and add the finishing touches to a recording.
Nunes concluded, “In these sessions the Lexicon 80, 70, MX400 and PCM92 are always on and are always providing a contribution to the mixes.”