New Dolby Atmos studios at the Manchester and Bristol campuses of the dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies in the UK are both outfitted with a variety of monitors and subwoofers from PMC.
“We are always striving to be at the forefront of all technologies, as our facilities demonstrate,” says Nige Burt, dBs Institute’s director of HE. “As such, it is vital that we provide Atmos facilities for students to access as it is becoming increasingly commonplace in the industry.”
Matt Bernard, head of operations at dBs, adds, “We spent a lot of time researching Dolby Atmos setups and received a lot of support from Dolby and our acoustic designer, Miloco Builds. It became clear from the research that PMC is an industry standard for Atmos studios, and we wanted to make sure our students were working with the same kit that they will find in commercial environments. Also, the fact they sound incredible helps!”
Manchester has a strong musical heritage and reputation in the creative world for its media, sound and gaming scene, so it was a prime place for dBs Institute to focus its expansion plans. “Manchester is such a thriving city for the creative industries that we felt we could really help in improving that development further,” Burt says. “It’s vitally important in our provision that we have great links with top employers in the area and with Manchester being such a hotbed, it made sense for us to set up in that environment.”
Further impetus was given by the redevelopment of Manchester’s New Century Hall, which is where the new campus is based. Dating back to the 1960s, the venue has played host to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Hollies, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Kinks as well as being the venue for the legendary all night Acid House parties of the 1980s MADchester era.
“We had the opportunity to be part of New Century’s redevelopment and we saw it as an amazing opportunity,” Burt explains. “The venue is absolutely incredible and our involvement with it means that dBs Institute’s Live Sound students can gain practical experience in a real working environment. The venue also links down to our studios, providing endless opportunities for exciting projects.”
dBs Institute Manchester has a 7.2.4 Atmos studio with 11 PMC 6s and two PMC Sub 8-2 monitors, and it also has a large control room with an AMS Neve Genesys Black console and three more production studios, all of which are equipped with PMC result6 monitors. There’s a large live room and two separate recording booths that can be patched to any space via analogue and Dante tie-lines. Also on-site is a 40-seat lecture theatre with a 2.1 monitoring system comprising PMC 6 and Sub 8 monitors.
This year’s upgrade to the facilities at dBs Institute Bristol has also been significant. Alongside the installation of a new Dolby Atmos studio, dBs installed a Games suite, made improvements to the common spaces at its Mitchell Lane campus and invested in more d&b T Series speakers so that it can provide a full line array for small festival stages.
“When we decided to install an Atmos studio in Bristol we faced some particular challenges with the allocated space,” Bernard says. “To ensure we met the height requirements for the overhead speakers we needed a thin speaker, so we opted for PMC Ci65s because they were perfect for this. Similarly, the Atmos studio also has to accommodate a number of students, so we wanted side and rear speakers that did not protrude too far into the room. The Ci40 speakers were the answer as they worked within Dolby requirements for the sides, while PMC Ci65s gave the required SPL for the rears.”
In total, three PMC6-2s were installed along with six Ci65s, two Ci140s and two PMC8-2 subs. The studio, which also had an Avid MTRX, is now fully operational while the Atmos room in Manchester will be ready for students to use in January 2023.
“The ability to be innovative requires that the students have the freedom to be so but also access to innovative teaching concepts and the facilities to push the limits of what exists at present,” Burt adds. “That has been a major aim of the dBs Institute for the past 25 years and remains so.”