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The new SSL Duality Fuse SuperAnalogue console in the main control room at the recording studio facilities at the North Las Vegas Campus of the College of Southern Nevada.

The College of Southern Nevada Installs Solid State Logic Duality Fuse At Its North Campus

48-channel desk is being used to instruct students enrolled in the Audio Recording Technology Program at the college in a project that also incorporated an SSL Fusion outboard processor and a facility-wide Dante network.

The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) recently installed a Solid State Logic Duality Fuse SuperAnalogue console in the main control room at the recording studio facilities at its North Las Vegas Campus, where the 48-channel desk is being used to instruct students enrolled in the Audio Recording Technology Program at the college, which attracts more than 30,000 students annually to its three campuses.

John Jacobson, who has been at the college for 24 years, says that CSN offers a 30-credit Certificate of Achievement in Music Business and Technology as part of the Music Program within the Department of Fine Arts. “We’re the biggest program in Nevada,” says Jacobson, who was appointed audio recording technology program director 18 months ago. “About 400 students go through it each year.”

The facility’s main control room was previously occupied by an SSL AWS 900 console that was installed in 2005. Between the main studio, which can accommodate a 50-piece orchestra, and a large iso room, there are 35 analog microphone lines to the main control room, with additional lines available on a Dante network. “Our AWS only has 24 inputs,” Jacobson says. So when funding became available, after evaluating the large-format analog consoles on the market, he ordered a 48-channel Duality Fuse with SSL δelta control and integrated Fusion coloration processor and moved the AWS 900 to another room.

Any number of mixing consoles from various brands offer similar functionality, but Jacobson says he gravitated toward SSL and the Duality Fuse because, “It sounds accurate. It’s really about the quality of the components, and how good the mic preamps are. I also like the dedicated DAW controls and the fact that it will work with any DAW, and with either a Windows PC or a Macintosh.”

Jacobson had his first opportunity to use the new Duality console on a series of commercial tracking dates shortly before the new semester started, recording a classic organ trio and, for a documentary project, eight horn players, eight singers and a rhythm section. He doesn’t market the studio’s availability for commercial sessions: “It’s word of mouth — former students who want to book time and people who knew me when I had my own commercial studio or as a professional musician playing shows around town for the past 40 years.”

Further, he reports, “We have a bunch of outboard mic pre’s, but with only a couple exceptions we used all SSL mic pre’s on the sessions.” As for the Duality’s EQ section, he says, “I’m familiar with it because we’ve been using an SSL AWS 900 for 18 years and the EQ is almost identical,” adding, “Having a dynamic section on every channel with a compressor and a gate/expander is also great.”

During the tracking dates, he says, he experimented with the console’s integrated Fusion processor, which provides six analogue coloration tools. “I did what I would call in-session mastering,” he says, sweetening the playback mix for the musicians. In particular, “With the violet EQ I could add some ‘air band’ at 12 kHz or higher. The compressor will do parallel compression, which I do a lot. I can add not just the Fusion, but also the Stereo Buss Compressor on the Duality, in either order. That’s a cool thing, because you can try it both ways to see which you like better. And the musicians liked the stereo image control.”

Jacobson, who leans toward an “old school” approach to recording by combining great microphones, careful mic placement and first-rate musicians and instruments, says that he appreciates the ability to define the input path on the Duality Fuse. “You can set it up for a real purist approach, where it’s just mic pre in, straight to the direct output. But because we had a fair amount of bleed on the sessions, because everybody was basically playing in one room, I set all the channels to post-EQ, pre-fader. That way, by pushing ‘EQ In’ on any channel the high-pass filters came into play, and I could take the low frequencies out of the high instruments, like the trumpets.”

The new console was installed after renovations performed by in-house technician Donnie Whitbeck that included implementing a facility-wide Dante network and reworking two equipment racks, the analog patchbays and the monitor system in the main control room. The carpeting, paint and acoustical treatment were also refreshed. Jacobson, Whitbeck and the staff also re-purposed an iso room and relocated the AWS 900 into the new third control room and dedicated recording space, where it can also access sources over the Dante network.

“Through John’s vision, he has been able to make a contemporary audio environment with all his vintage equipment, from 1970s keyboards to two-inch and two-track tape machines,” Whitbeck says. “A student can come in and learn how to use an analog synth and have all their stuff tied together through Dante. Out of all the places in Nevada, nobody’s tied together the gamut of recording equipment from the 1970s to 2023 before.”

“This program is almost vocational in a way,” Jacobson concludes. “People in the industry might be using a Duality or something else, and a lot of recording studios are doing everything in-the-box. We could have done that, but it made more sense to do this. We can integrate old equipment, new equipment and anything in between”.

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