Studio Visit #2: KPR Studios
This studio visit features the live music studio at Kansas Public Radio on the University of Kansas campus. This state of the art recording studio was built into the new KPR building when it was constructed in 2002-03. From the website:
Various acoustical elements were designed into the room to ensure a good sound such as adjustable curtains, floating floor, non parallel wall and ceilings, and insulation to isolate the studio from outside and interior noise. KPR hosts musical artists from around the world for special live performance recording sessions which are mastered by our own professional sound engineers.
Every recording I’ve heard come out of this studio sounds wonderful and it can accommodate a variety of groups from a solo piano to a large jazz group or a choir. I was able to stop in for a visit while the chamber group Allégresse was putting the finishing touches on their debut album which is coming out later this year.
The new KPR building itself is really beautiful. It’s all brick and stone with slate shingles and is nested away from the street on the edge of campus. There is a sensory garden outside as well.
Vines growing up the side of the building which are, admittedly, more attractive in the summertime.
Going inside the studio, this is the main recording booth. Even at my age, I had to resist the temptation to start turning dials!
Jason Slote is the master of this domain and is the production manager and main recording engineer for Kansas Public Radios. He is a great guy and really hard worker who makes everyone who walks in the studio sound amazing!
Flute, oboe and piano were on the schedule for the day, so the studio was set up in a trio configuration.
After a bit, Allégresse was all set to start warming up and checking sound levels. The recording process is very tedious and exhausting and their sessions for this CD typically ran around 4-6 hours at a time. There is definitely a period of adjustment when you start recording because having a microphone right in front of you can be a pretty stressful. Listening to these women play, you’d hardly know it!
It’s amazing how much difference the slightest mic adjustment can make. Jason has great ears and really knows a lot about the equipment.
As I mentioned before, the studio is set up as a state of the art facility. Engineering a recording is a true art form since each mic serves a different role in creating the overall sound on the recording. These are just a few of the mics that were set up.
One of the true treasures of the studio is their brand new Steinway grand piano! It arrived at KPR in early January 2008 and sounds amazing! This instrument will give the studio a lot more flexibility and, from what I heard in the booth, will give the new Allégresse CD a real richness and highlight Ellen’s incredible playing.
A special thanks to Jason Slote, Allégresse, and Kansas Public Radios for letting me come and sit in on the session. Keep your eyes out for Allégresse’s new CD in mid 2008 and if you’d like to hear any of the live on-air recordings that have been done, visit the KPR Live Studio page.