Thursday, 19 December 2013

Alchemea College

Those who follow my blog might remember that I have a friend who lost her student status at Point Blank College in London due to the UK government's new immigration policy. I didn't have anything flattering to say about that policy!

However, Alchemea College in London maintained the right to sponsor non-Schengen students and offered the students from Point Blank a transfer at reduced rates. It may seem like a hassle shifting your college in the middle of the academic year, but fait had it that the transfer was not at all a hassle. Point Blank is an accomplished college but some of the guys that transferred felt Point Blank was more about beatmaking and in-the-box-work. As music writers and recording/ mix engineers they ended up feeling more at home at Alchemea.

While I was in London for the recent Music Production Show I met Alchemea there and got a tour around their facilities
by my friend later. Under I have posted some pictures from their studio, but if you really want to get in-depth information there's nothing like visiting the campus. This is not your million-dollar promotion-campaign college with a polished exterior and mediocre equipment (trust me, I've seen some), it's rather the other way around. The equipment is great, the campus is functional and with slightly worn studio floors. The latter is a badge of honour and speaks of a 24/7 campus with dedicated students (at least the ones I met!). The lecturers double as industry professionals. (Fulltime staff on this link & industry tutors on this link.)

Alchemea offer both accredited college courses and industry training forthe likes of ProTools and Logic users. They even offer training in video production.

I have an MA in Music Production, but if I'll ever feel the need for a professional skills-upgrade I've added Alchemea to my list of desired destinations already. For anyone looking around for this type of college I have a very solid impression of Alchemea. If your heroes in recording were learning the ropes in established studios in the 70's and 80's, this is as close as you'll get to that way of learning in our days.

Post production mixing-cinema. Two rows of elevated movie theatre seats, DigiDesign D-Control and a big canvas.
SSL G-series.
SSL Duality. Here you can read more about why Alchemea chose this desk.
Outboards in the SSL Duality Studio. Amongst other things you can see a Universal Audio 6176.
Outboards in the SSL Duality Studio. Amongst other things you can see two Pultec programme eq. clones and a Thermionic Culture Rooster.
Probably the room that excited me the most. This is the first studio the students are aquatinted with because it is the easiest to learn and operate. But on another note there can be so much focus on expensive pre-amps today that it is refreshing to see a set-up like this. An old Soundcraft desk don't have to cost much and is well worth considering if you are setting up a multitrack facility yourself. This studio like several of the others have both DigiDesign/ AVID converters and 2-inch tape.
All recording-suites have an option of digital converters and 2-inch tape.(Nice old Otari MTR-90)
Programming the hardware way. There are also some keys in the room, amongst them a Yamaha DX-7.

The boring and exciting truth: the patch-bay room. If you don't know what it does it's hardly a picturesque place to sit down for tea; but the exciting part is that every studio and live room in the house is linked through the patch.
(If you are new to patchbays see this video and article.)

Update, Summer 2015

Earlier this year Alchemea College stopped trading after 23 years in business. The lease on its London facilities will run out next year and new investments wereneeded but could not be obtained. SSR in London took over both current students and the portfolio of alumni. I have visited SSR Manchester several times and have a very solid impression of them.

The world is better off with dedicated specialist colleges like Alchemea! We will miss it!

From Alchemea’s Facebook

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