Focusrite RedNet Interfaces Help Create an Interactive Teaching/Learning Backbone for the New Music Production Facility for Nashville’s Montgomery Bell Academy
Ray Kennedy has had a lot of roles in his long career in the music industry. He leveraged a successful career as a Nashville songwriter into becoming a successful country-music artist, going on to become an in-demand recording engineer and record producer, working on records for artists including Steve Earle, Billy Joe Shaver and John Mellencamp. And now he is making an impact as a teacher and the force behind the newly built recording classroom/lab at Montgomery Bell Academy, the prestigious Nashville boys school for grades 7 through 12. Kennedy designed the school’s new audio-production facility, where he is also the primary instructor, relying on Audinate’s Dante™ protocol and Focusrite’s RedNet range of Dante-networked audio converters and interfaces to create a truly interactive teaching/learning environment.
The lab, which Kennedy carved out of a space directly underneath the school’s 1,000-seat performance auditorium, utilizes the following RedNet components: a RedNet A16R 16-Channel Analog I/O interface, which offers 16 channels of Dante-networked A-D and D-A conversion with network and PSU redundancy; 18 RedNet AM2 Stereo Audio Monitoring Units, which combine headphone and line outputs for monitoring of signals from the Dante network; and a RedNet MP8R eight-channel mic pre and A/D converter. Collectively, these RedNet units give the school and its students an interactive, future-proof backbone that enhances teaching and learning.
“Using RedNet, the students and I are in a two-way environment – one where I can monitor them as a class and individually – which really helps deepen the engagement between us,” explains Kennedy, who takes a hands-on approach to his role – he can stop by any of the six Apple Mac Mini workstations in the classroom and listen in through the AM2 as students individually record, edit, process and mix tracks from the room’s Avid Pro Tools systems from performances done in the adjacent tracking studio, or from the auditorium upstairs or any of the networked locations across the school’s campus. “Using RedNet, the students and I are constantly interacting, teaching and learning, and doing so using a variety of spaces and environments, which really broadens their horizons as they learn about acoustics as well as the technical aspects of recording,” he says. “This kind of learning and teaching is a shared experience, and we can achieve that using RedNet.” And students are also learning what quality audio sounds like, Kennedy adds, noting the Focusrite mic pre’s used in the MP8R. “No other system can offer the kind of sound quality, interoperability and flexibility of operation that the RedNet system can,” he says. “That’s why it’s a great teaching and learning tool, and that’s why we have it here at Montgomery Bell Academy.”