Tag Archives: audio

Truck Festival 2017

It doesn’t get any better than this for a Live Sound or Audio Engineering student: an empty big top, three vans of PA system, lights and power, and three days to hone their craft with various artists across three days.

Truck Festival is now celebrating it’s 20-year anniversary and it was great for Media Technology students to return once again to design, set-up and manage the Veterans & Virgins (V&V) stage. As the stage’s name suggests, the line-up includes a mix of ‘veteran’ acts that have played the circuit – including Truck Festival – for a number of years and the ‘virgin’ up-and-coming artists supported by BBC Introducing. This year the festival had a capacity of just under 15,000 punters…not a small crowd!

We arrived at the festival a day early with a coach of enthusiastic student crew, three vans worth of equipment and a mixture of academic and technical staff from the department. We are also lucky enough to have support from a professional events crew supplied by Event Production Services who are a local events company owned by one of our own alumni Rob Nisbet. This gives our students invaluable training from a range of professionals with vast industry experience.

We put the students to work straight away and within minutes the flight cases are down the ramps and emptied into the tent. The PA is the first to go up, then trussing and finally lights. The students worked tirelessly to align the PA system, programme the lighting and setup the stage and backline for the music to begin. Over the next three days the students were in charge of stage management, audio patching, lights, front of house and monitor mixing. This really is invaluable experience in the pressure of a real world live event environment.

This year the festival had a spot of bad weather but the show must go on and the V&V stage was praised by artists, punters and festival management for its professionalism and quality of service.

The traditional festival accommodation of tents and porta cabins wasn’t exactly luxury given the rain and mud but the students still had a great time and as far as we know only one of them couldn’t wait to go. Well done to all involved!

My Year in Industry at Focusrite

I recently caught up with Adam, who is about to finish his year placement at Focusrite; here are his thoughts and reflections.

“I’m currently studying Bsc (Hons) Audio Engineering and I’ll be starting my final year in September. I applied to the course because, unlike many people, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. My degree title is actually in the name of the company I’ve been working for – Focusrite Audio Engineering Ltd. I picked this course and University specifically because it stood out head and shoulders above the rest. I visited a few other Universities with much stricter entry requirements before visiting Solent but the team, facilities and course in general stood out by a mile.”

“I decided to take a placement year for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I figured that applying for a job after University would be so much easier. I can’t put into words how much I’ve learned since being here and developed already existing skills; there’s no better way to learn than actually doing something. It’s not only that though, a good reference from a well-regarded company carries so much weight and the opportunity to socialise and network with people that you aspire to work alongside is priceless.”

“Secondly, I hope that it will make my final year much easier. I’ve had an extra year to develop skills that are necessary for my final major project and I’ve also had to manage my time, workload, deadlines and personal life around a much tighter schedule. “

“I’ve worked on a couple of big product-based projects since I’ve been here; unfortunately I can’t talk about them yet! Major projects that I’ve worked on (that I actually can talk about) include a new factory test system, the migration of all engineering data between PLM systems and more factory test stuff!”

“Our new factory test system replaces a standalone C++ application that’s been neglected over the years and is just u-g-l-y. It ain’t got no alibi. It’s ugly. The new system (pyFactory) is a web-based application hosted solely on Raspberry Pis. Using Focusrite’s existing audio interfaces we can run extremely high performance audio measurements very quickly. We can also test MIDI devices and perform firmware upgrades with the system. The system runs in a master/slave configuration, with one master device (serving database access and also as a system update manager) connected to multiple slaves – test stations running a web app that connects directly to the master’s database. The system also supports RS-232 comms, allowing us to control pneumatic test fixtures and automate entire tests (connector insertion, gain pot adjustment, etc…). The latest products to be tested on this system are Novation Peak and MonoStation; we’ve been working on porting over other product ranges, but new products always take priority. On the old test system, a Scarlett Solo (2nd Gen) would take ~60 seconds per test. The new test system can test ~2.5 units in this time. We’ve not yet figured out exactly how much money this has saved, but it’s a lot!”

“I’ve learned an incredible amount. I’m aiming to have a more software-focussed career; comparing my current code to code that I’ve written previous to this year is like comparing a Mr Men book to Stephen Hawking’s ‘A Brief History of Time’. I’ve developed my knowledge of networked audio, electronics, software development, project management, and manufacturing.”

“I’d like to return to Focusrite upon graduating, hopefully as a Production Systems Developer (or, more likely, a junior one of those). This would involve developing production systems software including test systems, analysis tools and workflow automation. I’m tempted to do a Masters but I’m not sure whether I could turn down a job offer! Focusrite are great in that you quite often have the opportunity to study for an advanced, or second, degree. We’ll see where it takes me!”

Thanks to Adam for sharing his thoughts and experiences – we look forward to seeing him again in September. Keep an eye on the Facebook and SOL pages for placement opportunities and get involved with extracurricular events to help make your own.

Sound Insulation: from Poster Day to Poster Boy

It’s always nice to hear what our graduates are up to and we were especially pleased so see Stephen recently become the face of his profession after Anderson Acoustics produced an infographic showing a day in the life of a sound tester.

Stephen graduated in 2015 with a first class honours degree in BSc (Hons) Sound Engineering and an Institute of Acoustics (IoA) Certificate of Competence in Environmental Noise Measurement. Since then he has worked for a number of events companies and is now employed by Anderson Acoustics as an assistant acoustics consultant.

Stephen’s interest in sound started from music production and DJ’ing and his time at Solent introduced him to acoustics. He became interested by the challenges posed by the field and comments that he enjoys pushing himself and his knowledge through projects. Of course he still finds time for music production in his spare time! The full infographic is reproduced below with kind permission and the original is available via Anderson Acoustic’s website. Well done Stephen and we hope to see you again soon.


Noise Monitoring at Balter Festival

Two students from Media Technology drove to Chepstow earlier in the month to provide noise monitoring services with Vanguardia Consulting at Balter Festival. The festival ran between 2nd and 4th June and describes itself as a “travelling convoy of misfits and weirdos, wacked-out racers and disco divas”. According to their website to Balter is “to dance artlessly, without particular skill or grace, but always with great contented enjoyment”. There were 14 stages featuring over 60 artists of a reggae-electronic ilk.

Photo Credit: Marco Antonio Campagnuolo 

Marco and Rianna were on hand to ensure that the merriments could be as intense as possible without adversely affecting local residents. They were monitoring sound pressure levels off site and liaising with front of house to subtly control levels. Marco commented how the knowledge from his Audio Engineering course helped him to understand how to apply targeted frequency equalisation and multiband compression to get the best possible experience within the space.

Media Technology students usually get involved with noise monitoring at a number of festivals over the Summer thanks to our links with Vanguardia and Solent Acoustics.

A Headphone HAT-Trick

A hat-trick of staff from Media Technology went up to G.R.A.S. Sound in Vibration in Bedford yesterday (15/05/17) for a series of seminars on headphone and headset measurements. Matt, Lee and Paul attended sessions on headset test systems and tools, learning about the latest improvements to ear couplers and anthropometric pinna. They saw a range of their tests fixtures from the fully-fledged KEMAR Head and Torso Simulator (HATS) – aimed at research and design applications – to simple flat-plate systems for checking consistency in production lines. It was a great opportunity to see some technical data on the systems and understand how they relate to current standards. There were interesting discussions around testing Bluetooth and noise cancelling headphones as well as the importance of phase response and filtering in high resolution audio.


AES Up Your Output! 2017

Southampton Solent University was pleased to host the Audio Engineering Society’s Up Your Output! event this past weekend 18th & 19th of March, co-organised by the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration (ISVR). This annual event, which has run since 2011, offers students and recent graduates the opportunity to learn, network, and develop both friendships and career opportunities.

This year’s event included a student poster competition, where students from across the country exhibited their project work in the form of an academic poster. There were great prizes including plugin packs from sponsors Acustica, iZotope and Solid State Logic.

The event featured a number of keynote speakers namely:

  • Barry Grint (Alchemy Mastering). “Old is the new New – Mastering for Vinyl in 2017“
  • Adam Sawkins (Independent Games Developer). “Boy is a car complicated – Developing audio engines for driving games“
  • Jim Simmons & Adam Wisbey (BBC R&D) “Audio for mobile: Loudness standards for online streaming, and its effects on portable devices”
  • Rob France (Dolby Laboratories) “No Going Back – Immersive audio for live Sports”
  • Charlie Slee (Big Bear Audio) “This little bear went to market – taking a product from the drawing board to the marketplace“
  • Simon Short (Focusrite) “This is the future – how Audio over IP has changed the design of Live and Studio workflows”
  • Varun Nair (Facebook VR). “Making it Real – Audio for Virtual Reality”
  • Kyriakos Papanagiotou (KP Acoustics). “A unified approach to acoustics – Echotectonics, Soundscapes and Acoustic Particles”

And workshops:

  • Live Sound Workshop: Andrew Horsburgh (Front of House engineer for Sundara Karma) and Tim Southern (Front of House Engineer for Gengahr).  Sponsored by Harman International (mixing desk) and d&b Audiotechnik (sound reproduction)
  • Mastering workshop: Ioana Barbu (Bauer Media)
  • Transaural audio – Development of a 3D soundbar: Marcos-Simon Galvez. (ISVR)  Sponsored by ISVR, University of Southampton)
  • Audio For Games workshop: Chris Barlow (Solent Acoustics). Introduction to integrating the Wwise Audio Engine and Unreal 4 games engine.
  • Audio Test and measurement: Graham Boswell (Prism Sound).   Sponsored by Prism Sound
  • Pure Data – Zero to Hero: Andy Farnell
  • Careers in the audio and music products business: Richard Wear and Jo Hutchins (Interfacio).  Sponsored by Interfacio
  • Transmission Line vs Sealed cabinet vs ported reflex design: Ian Downs (PMC).  Sponsored by PMC Loudspeakers
  • Optimising your studio monitoring – speakers, acoustics and room calibration: Paul Mortimer (Emerging UK).   Sponsored by Trinnov/PSI
  • Delighted audience. Happy neighbours: Oran Burns (d&b audiotechnik).   Sponsored by d&b audiotechnik
  • Guitar Speaker measurements – from Anechoic to Studio. Andrew Harper (Celestion).    Sponsored by Celestion
  • Integrated & Holistic Sound System Design in Buildings. Andy Lambert (Arup)  Sponsored by Arup Acoustics

The conference featured a large 24 channel spatial audio array in the main atrium. This was used for a soundscaping installation throughout the week leading up to the event and delegates were treated to a live 3D music performance within the array on the Saturday evening. Recordings were also presented by David Monacchi, Dr Chris Barlow and Sebastiane Hegarty.

The event was enjoyed by a good number of delegates and the organisers would like to thank the many sponsors that made it possible:


Industry Visit to Naim Audio

On Friday 17th March 2017 a group of Media technology students descended on Naim Audio’s headquarters in Salisbury for a tour of their manufacturing facilities and a demonstration of their flagship ‘Statement’ product range. Naim design and manufacture high-end hi-fi amplifiers and loudspeakers with a focus on precision engineering. The students were shown around by Live and Studio Sound graduate Will McKeand who is now a software test engineer at Naim. Will never expected to work in a research and design environment but appears to be making excellent use of the skills and knowledge acquired during his time at Solent. Our thanks go to Naim and Will for your hospitality and insights.

Photos: Tom Rogers