ESP Studio Resources (guidelines and troubleshooting)
Studio Rules (please respect them absolutely)
  1. No food or drink of any kind in the ESP studio at any time
  2. Use only phantom-powered condenser microphones in the ESP studio (no dynamic microphones)
  3. Use only headphones for live monitoring during recording sessions (turn studio monitors/speakers OFF)
  4. Be very careful at all times not to bump into studio monitors/speakers on stands: if you are using the isolation booth, carefully make sure studio monitors/speakers are moved out of the way of the booth door
  5. Do not reconfigure, remove or reconnect the connections on the back of the audio equipment (including all loudspeakers as well as the rack-mounted audio-interface etc) as this creates problems for other studio users.

Booking Sessions
  1. To book your studio session: use the online booking system here
  2. To book microphones and pop filter for your session: use this online booking system

What to bring to your session
  1. External hard drive
  2. Microphones and pop filter
  3. Studio-grade headphones for monitoring during recording, as well as headphone adapter (available from Humanities, Media and Computing if you don't have one)
  4. Multiple copies of any scripts

Recommended Microphones
  1. for voice recording: Rode NT 1000 microphone, and don't forget to book a pop filter as well!
  2. if you want to run a second microphone for voice recording: AudioTechnica AT-2050, in its cardioid mode (there is a mode switch on the microphone)
  3. Stereo recording: Apex 185 pair - these microphones have two types of capsules which can be unscrewed and replaced - one pair is omnidirectional, the other is cardioid, and a diagram in the box helps explain what the two types of capsules look like.
  4. If you are in a 3rd or 4th year audio course you may book the superior AudioTechnica AT-4051 pair for stereo recording instead (cardioid pair for XY, ORTF, NOS, etc techniques)
  5. Note: Please only use condenser microphones in the ESP studio in order to reduce the risk of preamps being damaged by accidental application of phantom power to dynamic microphones.

Other, General Recommendations
  1. If your studio session involves outside talent (i.e. voice actors) schedule them to come 20 minutes into your session rather than at the beginning. This will give you time to configure the studio for your specific requirements without people waiting for you.
  2. Leave the computer and Presonus interface ON unless you are the last booked studio session for the day(this helps other studio users).
  3. Work directly off your external hard drive always - this helps ensure that you get your files out of the studio. If you like and have time, when you are finished your session, make a backup of your complete session folder onto the desktop of the ESP studio computer (just don't rely on it being there when you need it - the primary files need to be on your own hard drive!).

Detailed Notes on Specific Procedures/Components

A. Connecting a microphone to the microphone preamplifiers in the Presonus Firestudio [a specific analog connection]
  1. Place the microphone clip on a stand in the booth, attach the microphone to the clip, and attach a pop filter (if using one) to the stand).
  2. Use XLR connections/cables to connect the microphone to an available microphone preamplifier on the front of the Presonus interface (for example: connect the microphone to channel 1 in the stage box on the floor of the isolation booth. From the patchbay at the top of the rack of equipment there should be a cable then taking that signal from the top left XLR connection to channel 1 on the Presonus interface.)
  3. Turn phantom power ON for channels #1-4 or #5-8 of the Presonus audio interface (phantom power buttons are on far left of the Presonus audio interface where it says "48V")
  4. Verify the connection by turning the preamp gain for that input all the way up and tapping the microphone. You should see the red "clipping" light on front of the Presonus interface flash a bit. This is important information! It verifies that you have a working analog connection between the microphone and the microphone preamplifier. Now turn the preamp gain all the way down - ready to later set an appropriate level of gain for the particular material you are recording.

Note #1: don't use anything other than standard XLR microphone cables for these connections. If you use other cables, you may break the phantom power connection.
Note #2: Make sure you are following the studio rules and only using condenser microphones that require phantom power (including Rode NT 1000, AT 2050, Apex 185 or AT 4051). Connecting dynamic microphones with phantom power could severely damage the audio interface and/or microphones.
Note #3: While step #4 above verifies that there _is_ an analog audio connection, it doesn't guarantee that there is a _solid_ analog connection. If, when you listen on headphones (further down in these instructions), there is a lot of hiss/electrical interference in what you hear, this tends to suggest that one of the analog connections is dodgy. Try different cables, routes, combinations of analog connections in order to figure out where any problem might be.

B. Connecting the Presonus Firestudio to Reaper [a general digital connection]
  1. Reaper: Preferences: Audio: Device: Audio Device = Presonus Firestudio
  2. Reaper: Preferences: Audio: Device: Request Sample rate is checked and matches your intended project sample rate (i.e. 48000 Hz, or maybe 96000 Hz)
  3. In the application “Universal Control” (which controls the Presonus audio driver), check that Clock Source = FireStudio-Master (if this is wrong, the power light on the right of the Presonus audio interface will flash alternately red and blue).

C. Prepare a specific track for recording [a specific digital connection]
  1. In Reaper, create and save a new project on your external hard drive if you don't already have one, or open an existing project on your external hard drive.
  2. Create a new track in your Reaper project, if you don't already have one you would like to record to.
  3. Set the record behaviour of the track to "Record: input". There is a button that combines the control of record monitoring with this. Click on the right side of the button where it says "in out" (on the left it will be an arrow icon that sets diferent record monitoring). This will bring up a menu from which "Record: input (audio or MIDI)" should be selected.
  4. Select a specific ADC input for the track from the drop-down menu in the left area of the track. For example, if you are doing mono voice recording you would select Input: Mono: and then the specific number of the input on the front of the Presonus Firestudio to which you connected your microphone signal.
  5. Arm the track for recording. There is a button, usually on the top left of the track) that turns red when selected to indicate that the track is record armed. Normally at this point,

D. Monitoring through headphones
  1. Plug your headphones into the 1/4" headphones connection on the front of the Presonus interface
  2. Make sure the record monitoring button on your track is on to be able to hear. (In the default configuration of Reaper 5, the record monitoring button is second from the bottom left of each track. If you hover over it, by default, you'll see "Record Monitoring: off". When you click on it it will change to look "active" and hovering over it will produce "Record Monitoring: on"; in the default configuration of Reaper 4, the record monitoring button is a little arrow pointing to the right - it is grey when disactivated and green when activated.)
  3. Slowly turn up the headphones gain control on the front right of the Presonus interface
  4. Keep the loudspeakers turned off anytime record monitoring is on (for example, during a recording session) to avoid dangerous feedback situations between microphones in the isolation booth and the loudspeakers.

Common “Problems”
The light on the far right of the Presonus audio interface is flashing alternately red then blue: This is usually a problem with the clock source setting. In the application “Universal Control” (which controls the Presonus audio driver), check that Clock Source = FireStudio-Master.
The peak level registered on the Reaper track's input metre is –infinite: This suggests that there is no connection between Reaper and the Presonus interface and/or its driver. Check all of the recommendations above under B (Connecting the Presonus Firestudio to Reaper) and C (Prepare a specific track for recording). If you still see -inf in a track input level after that, try this first:

  1. Open Reaper Preferences and navigate to Audio: Device. Unselect the tick mark for apply a sample rate and click apply AND THEN reselect the tick mark for apply a sample rate and click apply. This changes nothing in the configuration but does seem to "wake up" the connection between the software and the audio interface driver.
  2. If the above driver reset doesn't work, try closing Reaper and turning off the Presonus Firestudio, then restarting the Firestudio, waiting for the status light on the top right to go solid blue (not flashing) and then restart Reaper.

Multichannel Routing in the ESP studio (for students in 3rd year audio courses)

The following chart shows the normal configuration of the ESP studio for multichannel (surround) work. This is a consequence of the normal settings in the Outputs/Routing matrix of Universal Control, together with the actual physical connections running from the Presonus Firestudio's outputs to the speakers:
Location of Speaker
"Physical" DAC output from Presonus Firestudio
"Logical" output from DAW/software into audio driver
Front-Left
1
1
Front-Right
2
2
Front-Centre
3
3
Side-Left
7
7
Side-Right
8
8
Rear-Left
5
5
Rear-Right
6
6
Rear-Centre
4
9
Subwoofer
Main Out L
4 as LFE, plus all other channels 1-3 and 5-9
So, given the configuration above, here is how 5.1 signals (listed in standard channel order) would need to be directed from software (for example, DAW, Max, SuperCollider etc) to end up in the right place:
Location of Speaker
Logical Output of DAW/software
Left
1
Right
2
Centre
3
LFE
4
Left Surround
5
Right Surround
6
And here is how 7.1 signals (listed in standard channel order) would need to be directed from software to end up in the right place:
Location of Speaker
Logical Output of DAW/software
Left
1
Right
2
Centre
3
LFE
4
Left Rear Surround
5
Right Rear Surround
6
Left Side Surround
7
Right Side Surround
8
Octophonic (8-channel) configurations come in a variety of different physical setups and channel orders. Reaper's ReaSurround plugin has an octophonic preset that is a circle of speakers 1 through 8, starting from the front-left (and including a centre speaker). This would map as follows onto the configuration described above:
Location of Speaker
Logical Output of DAW/software
Left (1)
1
Centre (2)
3
Right (3)
2
Side-Right (4)
8
Rear-Right (5)
6
Rear-Centre (6)
9
Rear-Left (7)
5
Side-Left (8)
7