University of California, Irvine Uses HARMAN’s JBL LSR4300 Studio Monitors for Master of Fine Arts
Sound Design Program

NORTHRIDGE, California – The Claire Trevor School of the Arts at the University of California, Irvine has a unique program for aspiring sound designers. UCI’s Drama Department offers a 3-year Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree in Sound Design. The graduate program provides training in all aspects of sound design, including recording, mixing and monitoring using HARMAN’s JBL LSR4300 studio monitors.

“We believe that training in theater is the best springboard into any of the related fields our graduates may choose to enter,” noted Professor Michael Hooker, Head of the Sound Design Program at UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. “We strive to find the critical balance of theatrical aesthetic/process, audio engineering, musical inclination and professional practice that is unique to each student. We aim to provide comprehensive training in the latest in audio technology.”

Hands-on learning is fundamental to the Program. “None of our audio courses are lecture-only,” Hooker noted. “Our students design sound for our main stage, studio and workshop theater productions on a level comparable to regional theater, and our musicals are supported with a level of technology comparable to Broadway. Our students can access all of our studios and labs 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

The program has equipped one of its studios with eight JBL LSR4328P powered studio monitors and one LSR4312SP subwoofer in a unique configuration. Suspended from a carbon fiber truss system, the LSR4328P speakers can be positioned anywhere around the perimeter of the room. “We often leave the speakers arranged in a traditional 5.1 surround sound configuration,” noted Hooker. “However, in theater productions we rarely place loudspeakers in the same location, and the ability to move the LSR4328P speakers around enables us to do proof-of-concept demos in the studio. Also, as industry surround formats evolve, we will be able to reconfigure this space with little effort and no additional construction.”

The sound experts in the School’s drama department auditioned many studio monitors and the LSR4300 Series was the clear winner for many reasons. “They have a wide sweet spot, and linearity that is very forgiving for off-axis listening,” Hooker said. “This kind of coverage, especially in the high frequencies, is important in the audio classroom environment, where an entire class must be able to hear with nearly equal clarity and fidelity.”

“The LSR4328P’s are also extremely robust,” Hooker added. “Students will make mistakes—and in fact, learning from your mistakes is an important part of gaining experience. We haven’t lost a driver yet, even after extremely hard use that sometimes includes inadvertent feedback, high-SPL mixing and nasty sounds caused by digital audio mistakes.

With a unique curriculum, a commitment to hands-on education and an investment in world-class technology, the future certainly looks bright for the UC Irvine Sound Design Program and its students. “It’s hard to place a specific educational value on a piece of equipment, but these monitors are an integral part of both the success of the actual facility, and the quality of the projects and mixes coming out of it,” Hooker concluded.

For more information on the UC Irvine Sound Design Program in the Claire Trevor School of the Arts, please visit

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