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AUDIX A231 condenser mics play an increasing role in a variety of applications at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, including capturing film soundtracks performed by the school's Alumni Session Orchestra.

AUDIX Plays Multiple Roles At Guildhall School of Music and Drama In London

Twenty A231 condenser microphones and a DP5-A drum mic kit join the toolkit to capture film soundtracks performed by the school's new Alumni Session Orchestra as well as to work with a Dolby Atmos studio and more.

Guildhall School of Music & Drama, an international community of musicians, actors and production artists based in London established in 1880 that offers training in classical music and jazz along with drama and production arts, recently added 20 AUDIX A231 large-diaphgram condenser microphones and a DP5-A drum mic kit to capture film soundtracks performed by the school’s newly instituted Alumni Session Orchestra.

Since acquiring the mics, Guildhall has also been using them for a range of additional applications, ranging from student projects and recitals to live Dolby Atmos capture. Former Prince front of house engineer, and now Guildhall head of recording and AV, professor Julian Hepple, joined by audio operations manager Mimi Hemchaoui, describe how they came to choose AUDIX microphones and their application.

“I got first exposure to recording at the age of eight by making tea for the Spice Girls and other UK pop acts at Steelworks studio in Sheffield,” says Hepple. “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 in his role with Guildhall, he had the opportunity to work with AUDIX mics once again. “Our decision to acquire 20 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.”

Hemchaoui adds, “When we do these sessions, we might have 100 people or more in the room. 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 ease of use, Hepple states. “The simplicity of the A231 can’t be overstated. 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.”

The mics are also applied in the school’s 7.1.4 Atmos mixing studio that 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,” Hepple 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.”

“We use AUDIX A231 microphones to enable 11-point Atmos recordings of an orchestra using a configuration called an PCMA 3D Array,” Hemchaoui says. “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.”

Hepple provides a list of upcoming projects for the next two university terms: “Scoring sessions for eight films, capturing 250 final student recitals, a jazz festival, a drum and 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.”

There’s also 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, “Hepple concludes. “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”


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