Engineering & Applied Sciences

In pursuit of the 'perfect' live recording

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Alin Kenworthy, foreground, and Stephen Roessner look at a file created in Pro Tools for Roessner’s class, AME 191: The Art and Technology of Recording.

“There’s a concept that there’s no such thing as the perfect recording of a live sound. I’m interested in trying to get as close to that as possible,” says Alin Kenworthy ’18.

He’s found a great way to pursue that quest: The Hajim School’s new audio and music engineering degree program, which prepares students to enter such rapidly emerging fields as management of musical content, music information retrieval, and music recommendation engines (such as Spotify). They graduate with the skills to work for computer and Internet companies, to produce and distribute online and live music, do sound design for video games, design musical and audio equipment, and develop core audio technologies and electronics.

It is not surprising that Kenworthy was drawn to the program. He has played violin since first grade and did a lot of work in theatre while in high school, producing at least 15 musicals as a technical student director responsible for everything from lights to sound to stage design.

“I really enjoy working with live sound, and mixing sounds. I enjoy working with people who have talent, and helping them sound good,” Kenworthy said. “It’s kind of like an art; you’re not the most important person there, but you’re mixing something everyone is going to enjoy. You don’t have to go out there and be the performer, but what you’re doing is vital and gives you a great sense of accomplishment.”

 So he appreciates the opportunity to take classes from instructors like Steve Roessner, a Grammy-winning audio engineer who has operated his own recording studio for 15 years. In AME 191: The Art and Technology of Recording, Roessner demonstrates all the technical tricks of the trade but also shares hard-earned insights about audio engineering that he has picked up over the years – like kicking musicians out of the studio for at least an hour when he starts to mix tracks.

“If you’ve ever worked in audio before, you know exactly what’s he’s saying, and then you can start relating to him and at that point you really start to learn from him because you are on the same page,” Kenworthy said.

Kenworthy is president of the Audio Engineering Society chapter. He has played violin for the River Campus’ Symphony Orchestra, and helps the varsity swim team with his backstroke; at the Liberty League Championships in December 2014 he recorded four top-8 finishes to help the Yellowjackets take the team title.

He’s also taking Chinese. Proficiency in that language, he believes, will help when he looks for a job after graduating.

Especially when combined with the solid foundation he’ll have with a B.S. in audio and musical engineering under his belt.

“It’s been a great experience so far,” Kenworthy said.