Syracuse University Shifts to Digital

Nov 22, 2002 12:00 PM, Editors


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Students who graduate from S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, Department of Television, Radio & Film will now have access to facilities that were recently upgraded to handle fully digital projects with 5.1 surround capability.

Key to the new setup were three Yamaha DM2000 Digital Production Consoles, Digidesign Pro Tools 5.1 hard disk recording systems, and Yamaha center-channel speakers and subwoofers. All equipment was supplied by Boynton Pro Audio of Kenmore, N.Y.

The department uses 17 studios that include two large TV studios, four AVID and eight Final Cut Pro post-production facilities, plus three audio-only production and post-production rooms. There is also an extensive array of TV, film and audio equipment available for location production.

The three audio-only studios house the DM2000 consoles and the Pro Tools systems. Some analog outboard gear and a 24-track analog tape recorder remain, but, according to Dr. Stan Alten, professor and author of Audio in Media: The Recording Studio, "all of the studios are now completely digital and capable of surround sound. In the past, each of our studios had a different array of equipment, including consoles, so that if a student took a course in one studio and then another course in another studio, they would have to be re-taught. We were spending too much time with the learning curves, so the idea was to make the audio facilities uniform.

"The studios were all originally analog, with Pro Tools systems added later. We figured that we really had to make the complete conversion to digital, not only for instructional purposes, but also to make our students more marketable."

Alten chose the Yamaha DM2000 because "the flexibility is extraordinary, plus the capability of having 96 channels in a compact chassis, the signal processing, the automation and the ability to use SmartCards to save and restore settings. Also, the console’s surround sound capability was pivotal in the decision. Practically all of the features of the DM2000 are being utilized, except for the tape-transport functions, which we don’t need because we use Pro Tools. The Yamaha Studio Manager software enables the students to either use the console or Pro Tools as their central platform and work going one way or the other."

Although the Yamaha consoles offer 96-input capability, Alten feels that beginning students should be limited to 24 channels at first. "Working with more may be too overwhelming. In more advanced courses, they can obviously handle more [channels]."

To complete the upgrade to surround, additional speakers were needed for center channel and subwoofers. The department was happy with its existing KRK speakers but needed compatible speakers. "We found that the Yamaha NS AC40X center-channel speakers and YST-SW305 powered subwoofers worked extremely well. We may bring in an acoustician to run some tests, and we also want to explore the possibility of putting variable acoustics in the studios."

Each studio is equipped with a Korg General MIDI-synthesis system and Hafler power amps. The installation was handled by the school’s technical support staff and supervised by senior support technician Mark Schnell. "Mark is a brilliant technician who also understands the creative aspects of production," notes Alten. "Paul Fitzgibbons [Boynton Pro Audio] was helpful as there were a number of technical questions, and he was more than forthcoming in his assistance."

For more information on the S.I. Newhouse program, visit Contact Yamaha at

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