CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: Flashpoint, The Academy of Media Arts and Sciences, has purchased two TRUE Systems P-SOLO single-channel microphone/instrument preamplifiers and installed them in two sound-for-film suites in its new 32,000 square-feet production/post complex.
The educational facility, which opened in the heart of Chicago's Loop in September 2007, offers two-year courses in digital arts and entertainment technologies at its campus, which features multiple sound stages, graphics bays, Avid edit suites and audio rooms outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.
"We bought the P-SOLOs specifically to install them in our mini suites," says Bernie Mack, a Chicago-based recording engineer and educator for over 15 years and a Flashpoint Academy Recording Arts faculty member. "They have everything we were looking for - features, controls, design and performance. They're perfect, especially for the price."
Flashpoint Academy chose the TRUE P-SOLO preamps after a lot of research, explains Mack. The physical form factor played a part in the decision, he says. "It was the fact that they are tabletop - they're heavy, solid boxes - and they have all the functions we were looking for: 48 volts, a pad and a nice big knob."
As for the sound quality, John Murray, Chair of the Recording Arts, comments, "The reason we purchased the TRUE P-SOLO is that they are very transparent and also the noise floor is significantly low. When we first plugged it in, we turned it up and said, 'Wow, that's pretty quiet.' But we really love them for the transparency. They're mostly for doing voice over work, so we wanted something that wasn't going to color the sound a lot."
Murray elaborates, "In our Recording Arts program we have a large recording room, two post control rooms for sound design and four mini suites. Two are built out right now and two more will be built out in the future. The mini suites are for doing sound for film, with Pro Tools|HD, a small control surface, a plasma television and a pair of nearfields. They're connected to a narration booth where students can record voice overs."
The two P-SOLO preamps were installed in December, he says, and although they have only been used for voice overs, it may only be a matter of time before they get used in other rooms, perhaps with visiting guest musicians, who have, so far, included Michelle Shocked and Rob Fetters, former frontman of The Bears, Psychodots and Raisins. "We have a main music control room where we do a lot of our tracking," says Murray. "We're impressed with these preamps, so we're potentially going to be looking for more in the future for other rooms. The P-SOLOs have been rock-solid so far and I can only say good things about them."
A total of approximately 150 students were accepted for the inaugural year at Flashpoint Academy, which offers two-year programs in Film, Game Development, Visual Effects & Animation, and Recording Arts. "The concept is that everyone works together," explains Mack. "What's awesome is that, for instance, the film students produced a two-minute film and were paired up with a Recording Arts student who did all the location audio as well as sound design and editing."
The academy expects the total student population, which this year includes about 45 on the Recording Arts program, to rise to about 250 next year, he says. "Our goal is to cap out at 1000 students. We never want to get larger than that. We have selective admissions and a big screening process. We look to make sure that our students are engaged and passionate about what they want to do, and that they have drive and a good work ethic."