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10 Fostex LR16 Digital Mixers Bridge The Learning Gap At Atlanta Institute of Music

United States
5th January 2011 — Atlanta Institute of Music (AIM) has installed ten(10) Fostex LR16 digital recording mixers to teach recording techniques and signal flow in their main studio classroom. Located in suburban Duluth, Georgia, AIM is an accredited educational institution that offers both music and recording programs. One of the challenges facing the recording program was finding a reliable hands-on method of teaching recording techniques and signal flow to students in a group situation.

“We have a very nice studio set-up, with a full live room and tracking studio,” explains Ryan Williams, director of the recording department at the school. “But with up to 20 students in a class, we needed an efficient way to give them experience with the real basics of recording and mixing.” To give students experience in multi-track recording without having to take turns on the main console, AIM invested in a set of ten Fostex LR16 mixer-recorders, one between each two-person workstation. “We needed something that covered the full range of functions – mic preamps, basic EQ, signal processing, routing, and of course multitrack recording. The Fostex LR16 does all that for us.”

The LR16 offers 16 channels of discrete hard disc digital recording, plus two additional tracks to capture a stereo mix. The record module is paired with a fullfeatured mixer via a Cat5 cable, all in a rack-mountable package that seamlessly integrates within the AIM studios. Ryan Williams, who recommended the purchase, notes that both functionality and price were important factors in the selection process. “In doing my research, I saw the Fostex LR16 as a digital mixer-recorder that I could fit into 12 rack spaces and do virtually everything I was hoping for – not just now, but moving forward as well. It starts with the 16 tracks of pro quality recording and mixing, plus it has on-board effects processing. Every other solution we looked at was either missing some key functionality, requiring more outboard gear, or was priced way out of reach. But what also attracted me was the ability to patch in external gear, which will allow us to integrate patch bays at each workstation. The LR16 gives us everything our students need in a compact, intuitive package.”

The classroom layout features ten 6-foot workstations equipped with a pair of iMac computers and an M-Audio key station controllers. The Fostex LR16s are mounted vertically in Middle Atlantic angle racks between tables, with the mixer section on top and the recording module below. “That puts the mixer controls right in front of the students,” says Williams. They all get independent adjustment of gain, monitoring and effects, working in headphones so everyone can do the same exercises simultaneously, tracking the same signal coming from the live room. It’s a really efficient classroom tool.”

Another benefit Williams sees in using the LR16 in a group situation is the performance aspect. “With 20 people in the studio and an artist in the live room, it shows the importance of being prepared, to develop the ability to perform your job with speed and accuracy in a technical environment,” he notes. “I’ve always been a little reticent to graduate students who are great with DAWs but don’t have any experience in working on the fly. These machines are a great way to simulate that environment.”

“In designing a 900-hour vocational program, it’s important to tech the basics quickly and efficiently, so that as they move into the world of Pro Tools and DAWs, the knowledge transfers between platforms. The design of the LR16 does that; it’s very logical and intuitive,” Williams summarizes. “It’s absolutely perfect for a growing school like Atlanta Institute of Music, where we have to make smart decisions on how to provide the gear our students need within a fairly modest budget. There’s no other professional device that offers this much functionality at anywhere near the price.”

Photograph: Ryan Williams, AIM’s Director of the Recording Department
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