The Royal Academy of Music is a college part of the University of London. The Academy’s Jack Lyons Theatre was due to be demolished in the summer of 2015 to make way for a new theatre. At the same time, the Academy’s recording studios and control rooms were to be demolished too. The redevelopment, including a new theatre, a recital hall and a recording studio above it, was due for completion in 2017. They were faced with having nowhere to record from.
Serendipitously, the redevelopment coincided with a major network upgrade at the Academy. David Gleeson, Head of Recording at the Academy, saw a way to continue recording while the development was going on. His answer was to build a Dante-based networked audio system around Focusrite‘s RedNet components that could link the major performing centres at the Academy as well as making it possible to quickly establish a temporary control room.
“Today, we have RedNet 5s interface with a Pro Tools HDX system, RedNet PCIe cards, a good number of RedNet 4s — each of the main performance areas has one or more racked locally. We’ve got a RedNet 1 in the server room acting as an output device for video recording and another as a floating device for talkback,” Gleeson notes. The Academy recording team is also using other Dante-compatible products like Shure radio mics to add to the range of sources available on the network. There are permanent RedNet installations in the Duke’s Hall and David Josefowitz Recital Hall, to which they can add extra units when required. This is particularly useful when the music requires a mixture of overhead and close mics.
Not only was the system an instant hit, it also delivered a significant increase in audio quality, thanks to RedNet’s mic pres and the replacement of traditional analogue multiways with Ethernet cable.
“I would just say that RedNet are great devices to work with,” Gleeson concludes. “The mic pres are open and transparent and offer excellent fidelity for recording classical music, particularly if you have good mics to put in front of them. And the flexibility of what you can do with simply an Ethernet switch and a laptop has made it so much easier even than ten years ago, when we had MADI for location recording. It’s a lot more accessible, a lot more affordable now. A lot of barriers have been taken down.”