Pascal Bonnet recently made the drive through afternoon peak-hour traffic to visit Brisbane educational icon Ian Taylor at the new Southbank Institute of Technology to catch up with him and the team one and a half years on from installing a series of AT speakers and systems throughout the incredibly impressive facility.
The relatively un-assuming block of buildings that makes up the Southbank Institute of Technology houses educational faculties including facilities for engineering, food & catering, health sciences, sports & recreation & tourism to name a few. Right at the heart is the aptly named Southbank Rock School, one feels slightly displaced as you walk into the live room – what could be any other live venue in the city – albeit the usual fridges and beer taps have been replaced by high quality sound systems, consoles and staging.
Ian’s passion and excitement for this place and its significant reputation for churning out tomorrows live and studio engineers, crew members and stage managers, is slightly overwhelming as we’re led through the various project studios, control rooms and lecture theatres. The attention to detail from the line arrays chain motors right down to the meticulously wired patch bay looms is a pleasant surprise, having experienced first hand the sub-par standard of gear housed in one of this state’s largest university studio.
When Ian and his team designed this facility, the choice for main PA, project studio monitoring and lecture theatre reinforcement systems using a quality local manufacturer was a top priority.
“I’ve known Harry for 30 years, used his PAs and watched them get better and better over that time and the gear deserves to be used! We’re a brisbane-based facility and we should be using Brisbane-made or Australian made gear instead of something from Europe, America or Asia. The end result for us is guys standing in that room – good band, great boxes and everything sounds good. Backup and service doesn’t get any better – its incredibly valuable to have someone we can rely on and get in touch with quickly to fix anything that goes wrong – and in this industry its not IF they go wrong – its when. In the last facility we used another manufacturer and it could take up to 6 months just to get replacement drivers out.”
The institute offers full-time courses in Music Performance, Sound Engineering and Music Business, and specialist short courses in ProTools, Logic Pro, Music Video making to name a few. The main room utilises a Blackbird TLA306 line array system and SFM24 stage monitors. The main studio control room features a BB05 for sub bass reinforcement and the project studios house a bunch of Sierra Studio 5.1 monitoring systems. The remainder of the facility is packed with a variety of wall-mounted LG series cabinets to provide general sound and voice reinforcement.
“People come here and their jaws drop – most of them can’t believe the quality of the gear and the accessibility these students have to simulated real-world environments. They don’t believe what’s in here and what can be done. The feedback I’m getting is when guys come through then go out to a bar or venue and compare it to how things are sounding in here – they really notice the difference – it just sounds nice!”
The main room has been running SSB24 dual 12″ subs under the line array – although these are soon to be replaced by larger dual 18″ BB07 subs to cope with the growing number of shows being presented in the venue and the need for solid bottom end.
“We need to get some stronger bass reinforcement happening in the live performance room. The room really takes off around 100 Hz and we need the headroom in the bottom end to really push the subs but also enough to be able to properly correct for the room frequencies. Once we get the new 18’s, its really going to improve things – that combined with the new HD7 amplifiers that we’ll be running here soon.”
Ian is unashamed of his support for Australian and specifically, Brisbane suppliers.
“There are a lot of poor perceptions of local manufacturers in this industry which on one hand I think is crazy – but on the other hand perception becomes truth. I’ve taken AT systems out on tour with The Witlams and David Campbell recently and they’re great! I reckon if you hung a black on them and people got past their perceptions they could not tell the difference between these systems and other high-end systems. For some reason no one thinks we can have anything good come out of Brisbane. These days though I think people are coming around – bands like Powderfinger are coming out of here and people are starting to think things are cool – so it’s a really struggle to change people perceptions which can take a long time. Despite this – I’ll use AT stuff everywhere and it’s brilliant.”
For more information on the Southbank Rock School and Ian Taylor, head to www.southbankrockschool.com