Located in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee, Belmont University is a storied institution with close ties to the music industry. Ranked #5 in the Regional Universities South category and named for the seventh consecutive year as one of the top “up-and-comer” universities by U.S. News & World Report, Belmont University consists of approximately 7,300 students and offers more than 80 areas of undergraduate study, 22 master’s programs and five doctoral degrees. Notable alumni include country music stars Brad Paisley, Trisha Yearwood, Florida Georgia Line and Josh Turner.
Belmont University’s Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business (CEMB) was established in 2003 to provide educational programs of study for future entertainment industry professionals. The College offers four academic degrees and five areas of study, including the world’s only AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)-accredited Music Business program, and the first ABET (Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology)-accredited Audio Engineering Technology program. Our other areas of study include Entertainment Industry Studies, Songwriting and our newest major, Motion Pictures.
Belmont University also offers an M.S. in Audio Engineering, which the University developed to enhance the academic experience with real-world applications through the combination of challenging scholarly inquiry and career-oriented practical learning. Graduate study in audio engineering gives the student the opportunity to apply new knowledge and skills to develop competencies in the science, art and application of audio engineering for sound recording, music production, acoustics and signal processing.
Belmont University’s audio facilities include the Robert E. Mulloy Student Studios on campus, which contain four professional-quality studios as well as two technical classrooms. Off-campus facilities include Ocean Way Nashville and the 34 Music Square East building. Ocean Way Nashville contains three world-class studios. The 34 Music Square East building contains the historic Quonset Hut Studio and the recently renovated Columbia Studio A.
Opened in the 1960s, the historic Columbia Studio A has recorded many of music’s greatest artists, including Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Simon and Garfunkel, George Jones, and many more. However, by the early 1980s it had been converted into an office space. Thanks to the efforts of Belmont University and a donation by the Mike Curb Foundation, Columbia Studio A is making music again as a multi-purpose space for classes in recording studio engineering and sound reinforcement.
It also hosts workshops and seminars for a variety of university activities as well as for organizations like the Audio Engineering Society (AES) and the U.S. Copyright Office. “In order to serve our academic requirements, Columbia Studio A features a wide variety of recording equipment dating from the 1960s all the way to the present, as evidenced by our purchase of the JBL M2 monitors,” said Michael Janas, Instructor, Audio Engineering Technology and Director of Recording Studio Operations at Belmont University.
Studio A boasts an eye-popping assortment of restored vintage and modern cutting-edge gear, all routed through an API split-monitor console that once resided in the RMU-2 mobile recording truck of recording pioneer, Walley Heider. When Belmont decided to restore Columbia Studio A, the school not only wanted to keep history alive through the preservation of the room, but also wanted to extend into the future and make the studio a resource for its students.
“In restoring Columbia Studio A, one of the goals was to let students experience the evolutionary roots and the historical and technical context of multi-track recording studio technology as we know it today,” Janas stated. “In order for the students and faculty to best hear and understand the aural characteristics of this wide range of equipment, it was important to choose a modern monitoring system that would best reproduce the sound of the source audio in our new ‘old’ studio.”
For advice, Belmont University turned to the acoustical consultant on the project, Dave Rochester of Lebanon, Tennessee’s Technical Audio Services. Dave and his team have more than 20 years of experience serving the recording, broadcast, entertainment and house of worship markets, and Belmont relied greatly on Dave’s expertise in this restoration project.
Rochester recommended the JBL M2 Master Reference Monitors. The JBL M2 Master Reference Monitor is a 2-way powered large-format loudspeaker that delivers studio monitor performance with remarkable detail, full-range frequency response from 20Hz-40kHz, spatial accuracy and wide dynamic range free of power compression. Designed specifically for the M2, JBL’s Image Control waveguide enables a seamless crossover transition between the woofer and high-frequency driver while delivering extraordinary imaging and rich musical detail to a broad area of the room.
Ultimately, Belmont also conferred with JBL Professional and the staff at Guitar Center Pro (GC Pro) in Nashville. Janas and his team liked what they saw and heard, and finalized the decision to purchase a pair of M2 monitors and a Crown I-Tech HD Series 4x3500HD amplifier to power them. The Crown amp provides four channels of amplification for the pair of bi-amplified M2s and its internal DSP provides the crossover and also room EQ to optimize the M2 system performance in any room. “The JBL M2 is stunning in its ability to present fine detail,” Janas pointed out. “The outstanding imaging of the speaker is by far one of my favorite attributes of the system. The M2 not only provides a wide stereo sound field but also depth and height. It’s made a significant impact on everyone who’s heard it.”
Designed specifically for the M2, JBL’s Image Control waveguide enables a seamless crossover transition between the woofer and high-frequency driver while delivering extraordinary imaging and rich musical detail to a broad area of the room. “The M2 turned out to be absolutely perfect for our application,” Janas added. “It enables students and staff to hear everything that’s going on in the studio with exacting detail. It reveals the sonic characteristics of every piece of gear we add or take out of the recording chain, whether a microphone, reverb unit, EQ or other link in the recording chain. In fact, it showed us that some of that vintage gear is a lot better than anyone realized.” With the new audio system in ColumbiaStudio A, the past is meeting the present and future in all the right ways.