Sharjah Performing Arts Academy (SPAA) has made a significant investment to its audio department, offering its students the opportunity to get hands-on experience with a range of industry-leading equipment.
The upgrade came on the recommendation of Lead Sound Tutor, John Parkhouse. “On joining SPAA, I embarked on a thorough analysis of existing stock and compiled a wish list of how it could be enhanced,” he explained. The primary request was the newly released DiGiCo Quantum 225 console with optics, plus DANTE and MADI DMI cards, as well as a DiGiCo SD Rack fully loaded with 32bit Stadius i/o cards and an SD Mini Rack fully loaded with Stadius i/o and AES/EBU i/o cards. “I want to provide training and experience on the best equipment available, which is also chosen with long-term future-proofing a significant priority.”
Parkhouse, who brings extensive industry experience to his role at SPAA, described the purchase as “major for an educational establishment”. He added: “It is crucial to provide access to the latest technology found in the best-equipped venues and shows regionally and indeed worldwide. Additionally, the DANTE capabilities and loading the racks with the 32-bit Stadius cards gives current, cutting-edge capabilities for optimal sound quality and interoperability.”
The audio department also purchased four Luminex Gigacore 14R units – which have been used to create an audio network for system control, optimisation, and DANTE/AVB streams in the institution’s main theatre – as well as two Apple Mac Minis, a Universal Audio x8 with ‘Ultimate 9’ plug-in bundle, and two Rational Acoustics SMAART Live systems. “The computing, Luminex, Universal Audio and SMAART Live systems give access to deep dive into system design, networking, control, analysis, and optimisation,” Parkhouse outlined. “We will also explore the excellent class-leading dynamics, EQ and effects plugins available from Universal Audio via the x8 in live, recording, and playback scenarios.”
The investment also includes a range of DPA microphones and accessories, including 16 4488 headset mics, 16 6060 lavalier mics, and a 4099 10-way touring kit. “The DPA mics are chosen because they are simply the mic type of choice for most theatres, broadcast and live events of all kinds.”
According to Parkhouse, further upgrades are planned. “We are also planning for further updates and enhancement of RF systems mics and IEMs, stage monitoring, stage line and patch systems, wired microphone stock, and potential revamp on recording studio capabilities,” he revealed. “It’s exhilarating for me to be at an institution that wants to provide access to real-world, industry-leading equipment, allowing students the prospect to be trained and gain valuable experience in technology they will find at all the best rental companies and venues. Ultimately allowing them possibilities to feed into the industry within internships and upon graduation.”