| Audio Recording Program Courses
Basics of Digital Audio
Computers are wonderfully powerful devices. They have become indispensable in modern digital music production. However, getting the most out of them requires more than general computer skills like cut and paste. In this course, students learn about the internal workings of the computer and how to interface it with other audio software and external equipment. We discuss different types of storage media and compare them in demonstrations of digital audio production. Students learn about industry-standard audio applications and start working with them on individual computer workstations.
This course is the gateway to an understanding of audio electronics. It is an essential part of becoming a “power” audio equipment user. The course lays out the fundamentals of audio and computer equipment, and introduces the student to important signal routing and patching techniques. We explain the details of connecting computer interfaces and audio equipment in a step-by-step process so that the student can begin working in digital audio. A hands-on component to the course introduces the student to working with wiring and repair tools. The student will construct useful audio cables and audio processors. Students receive their own set of tools—a soldering iron, wiring tools and testers—indispensable materials for repairing cables and audio gear.
Ear Training and Acoustics
Sound is all around us. But how is it generated? How do we hear it? This course introduces the student to acoustics and ear training-two essential areas of knowledge for every engineer. Through extensive demonstrations and listening sessions, the student comes to understand how the ear and brain work together to interpret sounds, and how the skilled engineer can use that knowledge to produce sound that has a desired effect. Room acoustics play an important part in our appreciation of recorded sound. The student learns about room environments and how to achieve the best possible room design. We discuss the physics of how musical instruments generate and direct their sounds with a direct connection to how to record those instruments.
The Business of Music
This course focuses on the structure of the music business and the process by which an artistic creation is brought to market. It examines the roles of the record label, artist, writer, producer, manager and attorney. Topics also include royalties, recording and producing contracts, publishing and protecting music, the Internet, and other legal issues and business considerations.
Audio Processing and Storage
Samples, beats, loops, vocals. Everybody uses them and everybody has a different sound. There seems to be an infinite variety of sound. Sometimes you can recognize an artist by their “sound” alone and some songs seem to have sound you never heard before. How does that happen? Audio processing. There are a number of tools that an engineer can use to manipulate sounds. In this course you learn about and, through the hands-on part of the course, get familiar with compressors, expanders, equalizers, delays, reverb, mixing console operations, and analog and digital storage media. All these devices and processes can help you create your sound.
Digital Music Production
Back in the “analog” day, life in the audio world was simpler. You could go anywhere in the world there was a tape machine and know that you could play your music. This is not the case any longer. In our digital world we have music software codes that differ from one manufacturer to another, file format differences, different types of storage and delivery systems for your masters, and so on. Technology is changing so rapidly that today’s format may not play on next year’s equipment. This course helps the student understand the operational differences of the various digital audio workstations (DAWs) and how to work with and around them. The student learns about quantization, aliasing, analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog conversion, digital delays, AC-3, DTS, and MPEG compression algorithms—all critical issues when creating a product. The course features a hands-on component allowing students to work on individual computers mixing music selections using industry-standard DAW software. This hands-on experience allows students to explore music mixing techniques, non-destructive editing, virtual patchbays, effects plug-ins, and CD burning.
Microphones, Amplifiers, and Speakers
Until someone invents acoustic instruments and voices that generate digital ones and zeros, and until humans can “hear” those bits as music, we will continue to need microphones to capture the sounds, and speakers and amplifiers to reproduce them. This course explains the design and operation of all types of microphones amplifiers and speakers, and their similarities and differences. Through many demonstrations and live recordings in the classroom, the student gains an appreciation of how to select and place microphones for recording. The student learns how to calculate the amount of amplifier power needed to play music at specific levels and how to design a system with speakers that will accomplish that level of sound. This information is especially important to those people interested in setting up small home studios.
Much of today’s popular music is made with synthesizers and samplers being “played” by a computer. The device or program that runs this is a sequencer. It controls sound generating devices and tells them when to play. The control of these devices is done though a digital language called Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or “MIDI.” In this course you learn how to use all the power built into the MIDI language to control not only instruments but also other machines and devices as well. The student designs and programs sounds, creates music by using samples and a popular virtual synthesizer program, and produces tracks using the MIDI protocol, synthesizers, and sequencer.
Mixing Music 1
Mixing has become an integral part of the creative process in producing a finished product. It is up to the mix engineer to add the sonic cues that allow the different parts to become one whole. This course traces the history and philosophy of mixing from the early days of single microphone recording of the 1950s, through the multitrack tape era of the ‘70s and ‘80s, and up to the digital workstation production techniques of today. Through demonstrations and the companion hands-on workshop classes, the student gains valuable experience mixing music of varied genres. Student mixes are played in class, allowing for further development of critical listening and evaluation skills.
Mixing Music 2
This class continues the focus on the art and craft of the mixing engineer, but moves forward by emphasizing techniques of using the all-in-the-box DAW. We re-examine issues first discussed with analog mixing, this time in the digital realm. Topics include gain structure through a signal path, metering, virtual patchbays, and plug-in effects. Each student works at individual computer workstations mixing and burning CDs of work for evaluation.
This studio class applies principles and techniques learned in lectures and labs to actual digital multitrack recording sessions with live musicians. Established professionals, as well as aspiring musicians, are recorded by student engineers from the laying down of initial tracks through the final mix. Students rotate through assignments including engineer, assistant engineer, digital tape machine operator, session set-up and breakdown.
This course introduces students to the production of an audio soundtrack synchronized to video. Topics include location sound production, SMPTE time code, dialogue replacement, sound effects design, and final mixing. Using the DAW, students build a soundtrack to enhance the visual experience. They use a QuickTime video imported into the audio DAW, and prepare sub mix stems of music, effects and dialogue, prior to doing a stereo mix.
This class takes students through resume writing, interview techniques, networking, and job search strategies to prepare students for the workplace. Helpful tips on the current job market are discussed. One-on-one time is available to students to polish their resumes and help steer them towards suitable employment.