Alchemea College Upgrades Workstations with Universal Audio UAD-2!

Friday 28th November 2008

Alchemea College Upgrades Workstations with Universal Audio UAD-2!
Founded in 1992 in the north London suburb of Islington, Alchemea College has rapidly become one of the country’s most respected audio engineering schools, offering both full- and part-time courses in audio engineering and various other disciplines for the music and post-production industries. Alchemea not only provides students with the theoretical knowledge to operate in their respective industries, but also practical skills and insights drawn from the considerable experience of the staff.

Students have access to an impressive amount of equipment, including Euphonix CS3000 and SSL G-series mixing desks, two-inch tape machines, Pro Tools HD rigs, and a wealth of outboard equipment and microphones. But currently taking centre-stage at Alchemea is Universal Audio’s new UAD-2 plug-in platform.

We caught up with Alchemea’s Director of Marketing Mike Sinnott to talk about the college’s kit choices and its plans for the future. “We’ve just refitted our entire suite of main workstations with new 2.8GHz 8-core Mac Pro computers, new Apple screens and Mboxes,” says Mike. “Each is also equipped with a Universal Audio UAD-2 Solo card, plus we’re also fitting a Solo card to the Quad Mac Pro in the Programming Room.”

Alchemea decided to equip the workstations and Programming Room with UAD-2 cards after Mike’s own experience with the platform: “I had a UAD card myself a few years ago when I had a PC. But as the card was PCI, when I moved over to a Mac (which was PCI-X), I got a TC PowerCore - but didn’t like it as much.” Having tried several of the other plug-in platforms, Mike is now back onboard with UAD, and has a MacBook laptop equipped with a UAD Xpander. “I use all of the plug-ins. Of all the competition, it’s by far the best overall solution, partly because of the partnerships they have with manufacturers. The Roland stuff is just awesome, and the Neve 33609 is one of the best-sounding compressor plug-ins I’ve ever heard.”

Along with the UAD-2 hardware installations, Alchemea has installed the entire range of UA plug-ins, including all the Neve compressors & EQs, the Roland and Boss effects, and the brand new Moog Multimode Filter plug-in. Mike is particularly impressed with this latest plug-in: “It’s one of the best plug-in filters I’ve heard, up there with SoundToys. I used to own an Allen&Heath VF-1 analogue filter and it sounds as good as that. The SE version sounds brilliant on its own, and although the full version is quite heavy it sounds absolutely wonderful.”

Among Mike’s other favourites are the Cambridge EQ, of which he says: “It has so many slopes, from very aggressive to very smooth-sounding, and can be precise – plus you can use tons of instances.” The Roland effects have also hit home with Mike: “The Boss CE-1 chorus, the Dimension-D and the RE-201 Tape Delay are all very effective. You have to be careful you don’t overcook the Dimension-D, but it’s great for reverb and delay returns – it’s really simple, but it really works."

Elsewhere in the college, Universal Audio outboard hardware is also in evidence. Mike has recently purchased a Universal Audio 6176 channel strip. It’s being installed in the Euphonix mixing room to provide students with yet more mic preamp options to flavour their mixes.

“It’s great that students and other users now have the chance to experience what only a few years ago would have been the preserve of the rich, or engineers in the big studios,” says Mike. “It’s led to an enormous improvement in the quality of what people can produce themselves, partly because of access to high-end plug-ins and partly because of the opportunity to practise their skills using digital audio workstations.”

Right now, the college is expanding into a new unit, where they will be setting up new technology rooms and increasing the capacity of the Pro Tools Training Room to accommodate more students in a more comfortable environment. The college is also developing a new Live Sound course in conjunction with hire companies, some venues and The Production Services Association.

As for the future, Mike sees the representation of Universal Audio in Alchemea’s equipment list blossoming further. The college is currently considering equipping the Programming Room with even more UA equipment, including more UAD-2 cards. They must be onto something...

For further information, please contact:

Howard Jones
Director of Distributed Brands

Source Distribution
Unit 6, Pembroke Buildings
Cumberland House Business Park
London NW10 6RE

Tel 020 8962 5080
Fax 020 8968 3218

Photo caption: Alchemea's Mike Sinnott pictured with one of Alchemea's UAD-2 equipped workstations

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