Audio Education, Part 2: Pro-Audio Manufacturers Are Proactive on Training

Broadcast audio remains a marginal area in the curricula of pro-audio education. Several schools have added the field as a module in larger agendas, but most barely acknowledge it, if at all.

However, some pro-audio manufacturers are becoming education powerhouses, using live and online tutorials to teach prospective users the ins and outs of their platforms and, in the process, perhaps turn them in to potential customers.

Some of these education initiatives have achieved substantial reach. Less than a year after launch, in partnership with the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in August 2013, Harman Professional Group-owned console manufacturer Studer’s has amassed more than 1,000 participants across 90 countries.

The online course is a version of its in-person Studer Broadcast Academy training course, which has had a total of 170 engineers complete the entire course and become factory-certified. Training is done aboard a 73-ft. demo-truck-cum-classroom fitted with various versions of Vista consoles.

In addition to knowledge about Studer’s Vista line of consoles, the program has an additional practical component: those who successfully complete the course can opt to be listed on the Studer Website in a searchable database used by companies and productions looking to employ Studer Vista engineers. Studer states in a release on the program that more than 85% of those who have taken the course in person have chosen to participate in the database.

Studer’s online courses comprise a series of modules, for which participants must achieve scores of 100% to officially certify as a Studer Vista Operator. The course has an interactive format, and students can download the Virtual Vista software that gives them a graphic, active representation of a Vista console. Virtual Vista can also be used for offline console configuration and online remote control of the mixing consoles. Video segments, system and technical diagrams, a dictionary of terms, and other resources round out the program.

Other manufacturers’ programs also have active training programs on their own audio platforms:

  • Sennheiser continues to run its mentorship program that pairs promising undergraduates at media schools with veteran A1s as part of its larger Sound Academy program.
  • Yamaha’s AudioVersity focuses on live sound, including inside sports venues.
  • Shure holds seminars and workshops nationally, including Advanced Wireless Seminars and Axient Certification training sessions. According to Media Relations Manager Mike Lohman, a new training initiative will be relaunched under a new brand identity in the back half of 2015.
  • Lawo’s Website and YouTube channel make available instructional videos on practical application of Lawo’s products.
  • DiGiCo is producing a series of training videos on its SD10B and SD9B broadcast consoles. They are being created by Olympics audio mixer Dennis Baxter, who penned the Television Sound Engineering textbook and teaches advanced classes at his TV Sound Workshops. The videos will be available for free through DiGiCo’s Website.
  • Calrec continues to do ad hoc training sessions at its office/showroom locations in Los Angeles and New York, with occasional additional sessions at customer locations. Dave Letson, director of sales for the U.S., says the informal nature of the training timetable derives from the freelance A1’s hectic and unpredictable schedule. The offices maintain what Letson calls “an open-door policy,” allowing training sessions to be set up on short notice when mixers are in the area and have time. The Los Angeles office held training sessions for about 20 engineers in the first six months of the year, he estimates, adding that an online video training program is under discussion at Calrec’s UK offices. “Freelancers have had to fend for themselves,” he notes. “That’s why it’s important that manufacturers whose equipment they use pick up the slack to the extent they can.”