RNCM Studio 8 is the UK’s first Meyer Constellation system in higher education.

Completed by R&W Technologies and unveiled in 2021, Studio 8 is the flagship resource of Ensemble+, a four-year Research and Development project that considers distance learning within a Higher Education network.

As a result, it’s ideally suited to distance and blended learning. Classes and ensembles are able to communicate remotely with partners without the need for individual microphones, and with careful consideration given to room layout, flexibility, and camera sight lines. This research also directly informed the RNCM’s response to Covid, allowing us to quickly develop portable distance learning systems, bespoke distance learning systems for percussion and piano, and our online support system.

Studio 8 features acoustically transparent fabric walls and ceilings, 70 custom-made acoustic diffuser panels, 20 wall speakers, 16 ceiling speakers, eight sub-woofers, 20 flown microphones, 11 customised facility panels, three control processors, two lighting processors, five audio processors with 18 audio DSP’s, a layer three stacked network topology 40GB backplane and WiFi5 mesh distribution for control, wireless presentation and audio and video over IP routing. It also offers architectural and performance lighting including ambient, low-light LED and circadian lighting, all controlled through a central control system.

Will Minty, R&W Technical Director, said: ‘The goal of this project was to design a system that enabled the user to control sound within the studio for a unique and immersive high-quality, real time audio experience. The work involved advanced system integration and innovative sound mapping for the development of a digitally acoustic reverberation system.’

The RNCM prides itself on offering high-quality performance and rehearsal spaces alongside outstanding resources. Activities for Studio 8 include commissioned surround sound audio and video installations, teaching and research in acoustic and virtual reality, and being used as a high-power resource for creative electronic music making and teaching.

Audio equipment manufacturer Meyer Sound Laboratories described the project as ‘a showcase’ for R&W’s work, shining ‘a spotlight on the exciting teaching, research and artistic applications’ on offer at the RNCM.

Ensemble+ and Studio 8 was made possible by a Catalyst Grant from HEfCE/The Office for Students and generous support from the Garfield Weston Foundation.