Drexel Opens State-of-the-Art Sound Studio
Future music producers, audio engineering and music executives being trained in Drexel University’s music industry program will now have access to the most technologically advanced recording studio of its kind in Philadelphia. The University opened a new music industry facility at One Drexel Plaza, that was conceived by faculty in the program, in collaboration with the acoustic design team behind Jimi Hendrix’s legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York.
The $4-million studio, made possible by support from Thomas R. Kline, and Drexel alumni Virginia S. and Richard A. Rose, Jr. (’84), Cynthia C. and Ray Westphal (’59) and Monica and Howard M. Benson (’80), boasts a state-of-the-art 1,500-square-foot recording studio, two large electronic music labs, audio archive space and a small production studio designed by Walters Storyk Design Group.
“Our Music Industry program, with its student-run record label, was a pioneering program in this discipline. Year in and year out it is among the most in-demand majors in the entire University and we’re grateful to our donors and the University for providing the support for these outstanding facilities in which our students will do great things,” said Westphal College of Media Arts & Design Dean Allen Sabinson.
When Westphal’s Music Industry program established MAD Dragon Records, one of the nation’s first student-run record labels, in 2004, the school also opened a 700-square-foot studio designed by Assistant Professor Ryan Schwabe. Since then the program has expanded into six other studio spaces and two electronic music labs, in which MAD Dragon has produced 32 titles from 17 artists over the last 13 years and students from the program have learned the tools of the trade while working on class projects and their own ventures. The new facility demonstrates a renewed commitment to keeping the program at the forefront of music industry education.
“This new studio has the best acoustics of all of our spaces,” said Ryan Moys, a Grammy award-winning engineer who will serve as the studio’s manager. “Having our labs, archives, student lounge area and two studios centralized also provides a home for our program and will hopefully contribute to more collaboration between students.”
Moys, who contributed to the technological design of the control room, notes that its 32-channel centerpiece, a Rupert Neve Designs 5088 console, makes this the most advanced recording operation in town, and a destination for professional musicians who are passing through. In addition to the console the studio is fully equipped for ensemble recording with the latest in audio equipment.
Howard Benson, the Grammy-nominated producer and alumnus whose contribution with his wife Monica helped make the studio a reality, knows how quality studio spaces can amplify the talent of skilled producers, like the ones coming up in Drexel’s music industry program. Benson studied engineering at Drexel before working his way into the music industry where he was twice nominated for Producer of the Year Grammy Awards and has worked on multi-platinum albums with artists including The All-American Rejects, Hoobastank, Flyleaf, Daughtry, Kelly Clarkson, Seether, Three Days Grace and Santana.
“The new studio will give Drexel Music Industry students the most modern technologies and recording gear that is available,” Benson said. “The way it was designed will foster interactive discourse that is at the heart of the creation of great music.”
The studio has already played host to several notable recording artists including Wyclef Jean, who stopped by for an interactive lecture with music industry students in October. And renowned reggae artist Bitty McLean and his producer Guillaume Bougard, who were the first ones to lay down a track in the new studio as they worked on their “Bitty in Philly” album in early November.
“The Music Industry program at Drexel has long enjoyed a reputation as one of the leading programs of its kind in the United States,” said Jim Klein, a professor in Westphal College and director of the Music Industry program. “The completion of the Walters-Storyk designed facility at One Drexel Plaza will provide Music Industry students the opportunity to work individually and collaboratively in a purpose-built, world class technology space that includes recording and production studios, electronic music labs, an audio archive of over 7,000 historic master tapes, and meeting and lounge space for students and faculty. This new facility represents a huge step forward for the program and will increase our ability to serve the students, university, and community.”
Westphal College is home to 17 undergraduate and nine graduate programs in the fields of media, design and art. For more information about the College, visit: http://drexel.edu/westphal.