LOWELL - This fall, the UMass Lowell Sound Recording Technology (SRT) Program unveiled its newest and most distinct classroom, the Critical Listening and Recording Studio, tucked in the back of Durgin Hall.
According to Bill Carman, associate director of sound recording technology facilities at UMass Lowell, the just-completed sound laboratory is unique among educational facilities.
"This room isn't just providing cutting edge technology, it's defining it," says Carman. "The room was designed to allow students to examine the idiosyncrasies inherent in sound, especially music, without the distortion usually associated with amplification equipment or the physical characteristics of a space itself. It will provide an unparalleled listening experience."
The room design provides this transparency through a combination of the highest quality surround-sound monitoring system and an extraordinary level of detail in the planning of the room's physical structure. Sound controls are built right in to lumber of the floor and walls. Sound absorbent and reflective panels alternate along the walls in zigzag pattern to provide just the appropriate amount of reinforcement. And these panels can be changed depending on what's desired for sound recordings.
The flexibility of the structure is built right in to allow for two distinct uses: recording and critical listening. According to Prof. William Moylan, chair of music and sound recording coordinator, SRT students will be able to record sound in a way that allows them to capture the exact attributes of a particular instrument or voice. And, as a critical listening lab, he says the room will allow about 30 students at a time to be able to recognize, understand and use creatively the unique qualities of sound.
The room's sound reproduction is "perfect in its accuracy," says Moylan. "All students will hear pretty much the same thing and it will be exactly what's intended."
Carman adds, "Students will hear the subtle differences in sound technologies -- digital vs. analog, surround sound vs. stereo."
In addition to supporting projects of undergraduate SRT students, Moylan anticipates the half-million dollar studio will be important in attracting industry partners that will bring select companies to campus to perform cooperative research.
Carman says numerous audio professionals have already expressed an interest in touring the facility. An open house is being planned for later in the school year.
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