SAE Launches Audient Console Simulator for Education

An Audient mixing desk was chosen to be at the heart of the ground-breaking, SAE Audient ASP4816 Simulator launched this month. The brainchild of Dr Mark Bassett, Director of Academic Quality Assurance for Licensed Territories at SAE Creative Media Institute, this unique digital tool provides students with remote access to a fully-functional, audio capable, photo-realistic simulation of the small format Audient ASP4816 console – and is publicly and freely available.

“I designed the software as a teaching tool to allow students to learn the signal flow of the ASP4816 and practice using the console while off-campus,” explained Mark, highlighting the advantage of giving students the chance to download the software at home and really get to know the desk before they tackle it in a school setting. 

“The simulator was created by taking a high-resolution photo of the console and programming it to function from a UI perspective, so the interaction is as authentic as possible to the physical console; all the dials, switches, lights, and faders are visually and functionally identical to the real thing. Once the console is ‘visually functional’, it is then programmed to function from an audio signal processing perspective so that it replicates the audio functions of the physical console. Learning and teaching assets and modes of operation are then added.”

Mark continued: “As it is a digital simulation, students cannot connect microphones to the console, so I created the Audio Inputs feature to allow students load audio files to function as microphone inputs or as digital audio workstation inputs.” The simulator also incorporates interactive tutorials and custom console scenarios to help walk students through signal flow and routing, as well as the desk’s features. “I chose the ASP4816 as it is one of the most deployed consoles throughout SAE globally,” he added.

Audient’s Marketing Director, Andy Allen, was happy to help. “Audient consoles are teaching the next generation of audio engineers across the globe, thanks to their logical layout, easy to teach signal flow and intuitive user interface. We are delighted that Mark and the SAE Institute have chosen an Audient desk for this pioneering project and especially pleased that the SAE Audient ASP4816 Simulator software is in the public domain.”

The reaction from staff and students at SAE has been overwhelmingly positive. One senior audio leader described it as “an excellent tool that has enormous benefit for SAE’s teaching and learning,” whilst another called it a “lifesaver and gamechanger!” A student commented: “The software accurately replicates the features of the mixer. It can be very helpful for practising when you’re not able to use the real mixer.” All appreciate the potential of the SAE Audient ASP4816 Simulator as a learning tool for students – even after COVID-related restrictions have been lifted.

Although it was COVID that created the impetus to fast-track the development of the technology this year, Mark has been busy developing interactive education software for over a decade. Indeed, his earliest prototype console simulations date back as far as 2015.

Today, as we adapt to the realities of a new normal – a COVID normal, Dr Bassett’s work has become even more vital. When quizzed as to whether there are similar projects in the pipeline, he replied: “Yes, but we can’t elaborate at this stage.” The audio education community will be watching closely to see what else he has up his sleeve.