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Southampton Solent Uni: major studio upgrades from VDC

Sponsored: Following the successful refurb of Studio 1 in 2016, two more facilities have been redeveloped in time for the 2017/2018 academic year

Posted by Julian Owen | January 10, 2018 | Higher education

Named as a top 100 university in the 2017 Times/Sunday Times Good University league table, Southampton Solent University is recognised as an innovative institution and one that has invested considerably in its facilities in recent years. In 2016 it opened a new £33m campus building, the Spark, part of a £100m programme of investment running up to 2020 that has also benefited individual schools, including the music and performance students.

The department has nine rooms in total, five large full studios and four smaller workstations which can be used for mixing. Studio 1 was upgraded in 2016 but the remaining studios hadn’t been touched for around 10 years so were showing signs of wear and tear.

When the decision was made to redevelop Studio 1, Technical Instructor Jon Wills contacted VDC to supply the cabling infrastructure. Wills explains: “I’ve been using VDC in my freelance work since the mid-1990s and I introduced them to the University when I joined in 2007. We’ve used their Tourcat Ethernet cables in our outside broadcast equipment, so we know they offer a robust solution.”

VDC supplied three patchbays in Studio 1 with a custom wiring solution. “It’s wired as I asked them to, it’s bespoke for me,” adds Wills. “It all comes out to 25-way D sub connectors and then, off-the-shelf from VDC, I purchased D sub tails to connect all the equipment up. It just meant it was flexible for me.”

The centrepiece of the studio is an Avid S6 M40 control surface. “We did have a big analogue desk in here but we wanted to move more into the box and give students the experience of working on a large-format control surface. The patchbay gives students the ability to patch all sorts of equipment into their sessions and learn about using analogue equipment with Logic or Pro Tools, in a digital workspace.”

Following the success of the Studio 1 refurbishment, the team at Southampton Solent once again turned to VDC this summer when a further two studios were upgraded. VDC again supplied all patchbays as well as a bespoke wiring solution. “Working with the academic staff we decided what was going to go into these rooms and I knew we wanted VDC as part of that. Their workmanship is excellent; I’ve always been very impressed. We’ve also had some custom cables made up by VDC on the video side and it always arrives looking really nice and robust and is completely reliable.”

One intention of the refurbishment was to make the studios more collaborative. “We’ll shortly be adding Korg synthesizers into Studios 1 and 9 which will then patch into the whole system so students will be able to make music in the control room enabling collaborative music creation.”

As with so many projects in the education sector, timeframe proved a challenge with installation compressed into the end of September, but, as Wills explains, VDC were again onhand to help: “One of the reasons I purchased pre-made cables from VDC was because I didn’t have time to make those cables, so being able to purchase them off-the-shelf or have them made specifically for me by VDC with the confidence that they’re going to work properly out of the box was very important. I didn’t have any problems with any of the cables.”

Despite the tight timeframe, the project was completed in time for the new academic year and feedback from students has been positive. “The reactions from students returning after the summer has been extremely positive and the academic staff have been very complimentary about what we’ve done,” concludes Wills. 

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