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dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies Chooses PMC's Loudspeakers

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PMC's reputation as an industry leader in the immersive audio market has led dBs Institute of Sound & Digital Technologies to choose the company's loudspeakers for two new Dolby Atmos Music studios it is opening at its Manchester and Bristol campuses.

dBs Institute, which also has a campus in Plymouth, offers degree and master’s programmes across a range of music production, audio technology, games development and digital technology disciplines. The new Dolby Atmos studios will be used by all students, including those working in Game Development, Game Sound and Sound Design.

"We are always striving to be at the forefront of all technologies, as our facilities demonstrate," said Nige Burt, dBs Institute's Director of HE. "As such, it is vital that we provide Atmos facilities for students to access as it is becoming increasingly commonplace in the industry."

Matt Bernard, Head of Operations at dBs, added: "We spent a lot of time researching Dolby Atmos setups and received a lot of support from Dolby and our acoustic designer, Miloco Builds. It became clear from the research that PMC is an industry standard for Atmos studios, and we wanted to make sure our students were working with the same kit that they will find in commercial environments.  Also, the fact they sound incredible helps!"

Originally founded in 1998, dBs Institute believes sound is a powerful force, and one that should be leveraged for good. This philosophy informs everything it does, including how it approaches audio technology education. Students are given personalised attention and support and are encouraged to foster enduring relationships with each other, with staff and with the local community.

With the centres in Plymouth and Bristol well established, dBs turned its attention north to Manchester for its newest campus. Often nicknamed the 'Gateway to the North', Manchester has a rich musical heritage and a strong reputation in the creative world for its media, sound and gaming scene, so it was the ideal place for dBs Institute to focus its expansion plans.

"Manchester is such a thriving city for the creative industries that we felt we could really help in improving that development further," Nige Burt says. "It's vitally important in our provision that we have great links with top employers in the area and with Manchester being such a hotbed, it made sense for us to set up in that environment."

Further impetus was given by the redevelopment of Manchester’s New Century Hall, which is where the new dBs Manchester campus is based. Dating back to the 1960s, this iconic venue has played host to artists such as Jimi Hendrix, The Hollies, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Kinks, as well as being the venue for the legendary all night Acid House parties of the 1980s MADchester era.

"We had the opportunity to be part of New Century's redevelopment and we saw it as an amazing opportunity," Nige Burt said. "The venue is absolutely incredible and our involvement with it means that dBs Institute’s Live Sound students can gain practical experience in a real working environment. The venue also links down to our studios, providing endless opportunities for exciting projects."

dBs Institute Manchester opened in September 2022 and has already welcomed its first cohort of degree students. In terms of technical facilities, it has one 7.2.4 Atmos studio with 11 x PMC 6s and 2x PMC Sub 8-2 monitors. It also has a large control room with an AMS Neve Genesys Black console and three more production studios, all of which are equipped with PMC result6 monitors. There is a large live room and two separate recording booths which can be patched to any space via analogue and Dante tie-lines. In addition, there is a 40-seat lecture theatre with a 2.1 monitoring system comprising PMC 6 and Sub 8 monitors.

"PMC's new SoundAlign software was really helpful when we were setting up the lecture theatre as it allowed us to easily calibrate the monitors in the room," Matt Bernard said.

This year's upgrade to the facilities at dBs Institute Bristol have also been significant. Alongside the installation of a new Dolby Atmos studio, dBs installed a Games suite, made improvements to the common spaces at its Mitchell Lane campus and invested in more d&b T Series speakers so that it can provide a full line array for small festival stages.

"When we decided to install an Atmos studio in Bristol we faced some particular challenges with the allocated space," Matt Bernard said. "To ensure we met the height requirements for the overhead speakers we needed a thin speaker, so we opted for PMC Ci65s because they were perfect for this.  Similarly, the Atmos studio also has to accommodate a number of students, so we wanted side and rear speakers that did not protrude too far into the room. The Ci40 speakers were the answer as they worked within Dolby requirements for the sides, while PMC Ci65s gave the required SPL for the rears."

In total three PMC6-2s were installed, along with six Ci65s, two Ci140s and two PMC8-2 subs. The studio, which also had an Avid MTRX, is now fully operational while the Atmos room in Manchester will be ready for students to use in January 2023.

Staying at the forefront of emerging technologies in the creative and technical arena and providing students with both the practical and personal skills they require to succeed in the audio industry are key tenets of dBs Institute’s philosophy. Alongside regular staff, the Institute also brings in guest lecturers whose experience of the real world is vital for student learning and development. PMC will be supporting these efforts by organising workshops in Bristol and Manchester so that students can learn tips and techniques from audio professionals who are already mixing Dolby Atmos projects.

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